Social media can be such a minefield. A scary, dangerous place where your questions never get answered and you could set off a huge landmine at any moment….
What should you post?
How should you post it?
On which platforms?
Who should do it?
How long should your posts be?
Should you outsource it?
All great questions. And ones I get asked ALL the time by my clients.
Let’s keep it simple.
Social media is just being social, online. That’s it.
You can chat to someone you meet in the supermarket, or at a networking meeting, or on a train, right?
Do that online.
It’s really not hard. My guess is, you’re overthinking it. Massively.
Now with that simple mantra in your mind, let’s dive into the top mistakes estate agents make on Social Media. That way, if you’re doing them, you can stop them. And make your Social Media a socially enjoyable place to be.
Hold onto your hats…
MISTAKE #1 – You’re posting your properties.
This is such a controversial topic, by which I mean that plenty of clever people in our industry disagree with me when I say – don’t post your properties on Social Media.
Posting your property listings is SELLING. And that’s not what Social Media is for. It’s not an advertising channel – it’s a social channel.
When you’re watching tv and an advert comes on, unless it’s hilariously funny, shockingly attention-grabbing or for something you really really want, you probably won’t watch it. You’ll skip forwards, go make a cup of tea, or pick up your phone for some scrolling time until your programme comes back on.
What’s happening is that you don’t want to be sold to; you want to be entertained. Think about that for a minute. Because that’s exactly what Social Media is for.
Whenever we visit social channels and check out what our friends are doing – their funny photos, their travels, their rant at the Apprentice – whatever it is, we get a little dopamine hit. One that is enhanced every time we see that little red notification number on our phone apps.
Your latest property listing will not give anyone a dopamine hit. Trust me.
If you want to see how to entertain, engage and enrich your audience using Social Media, check out the Innocent Drinks Facebook page. They do a terrific job of selling without selling. And their posts are hilarious. Never mind dopamine, I get an insuppressible giggle whenever I read their latest post.
Or for a slightly more sombre example, take a look at any of the big supermarket chains on Facebook. They all educate with recipes, tips and little juice morsels of information to engage their audiences. If they were doing what you’re doing, they’d be uploading posts like this:
Not exactly engaging, is it?
Another reason (I have loads but I’ll keep to only three here) not to post your properties is this: who do you want to attract to your Facebook page and other social platforms, buyers or sellers?
I’m guessing you replied ‘sellers’.
If that’s the case, why post buyer-related content?
If you want sellers, post seller-related content.
And that’s not your latest property listing.
Of course, you could just be showing off. Vanity posts say ‘Look at us, listing all these properties, we must be really good.’
No no no. Don’t fall into the vanity trap.
The last reason I’ll give you in this article on why you shouldn’t be posting properties on social, is that even if you were to attract a buyer – someone genuinely interested in the latest properties you list – once that buyer has bought, and moved on, they’ll also move on – away from your page. Because it will be irrelevant to them. At least for (statistically) another eight years.
Choose from the very best ingredients to make your Facebook page and other social accounts relevant and interesting – no matter where that person is on their home moving journey. Take a pinch of home décor content, stir in some local colour, add a big dollop of your ‘behind the scenes’ content for personality flavour, and bake it at least three times a day.
MISTAKE #2 – YOU’RE TRYING TO LOOK CORPORATE
Unless you’re actually a corporate agent, don’t try to look like one. I know, you’re a two or three person agency and you want to hide that fact from potential clients, and make yourself seem like a mighty brand. I get it. But you’re wrong.
The reason sellers are drawn to small independent agencies, is that you’re a small independent agency. They want that personal touch. They want everyone who answers the phone to them to know who they are, which property they belong to, and exactly what’s going on with their sale.
They want to be recognised by any of your team when they’re out shopping, and they love that you know the name of their dog.
You’re a personal experience agency – right? Well stop trying to hide it. Because the very thing you’re trying to hide, is the exact reason your clients love you. Want more clients? Post more personal stuff.
I’m not suggesting that you post a photo of the time you fell into that fountain on holiday, blind drunk. Or about your opinions on Trump’s latest media fallout.
But I tell you what your lovely clients (because they generally are) want to see on your social accounts: your behind-the-scenes photos – your negotiator punching the air because they’ve just got a great offer on a house you’re selling, or a photo of a client’s cute dog they brought into the office, or news that one of your team just got engaged. That’s what they want to see – the real essence of your agency; what makes you, YOU.
MISTAKE #3 – YOU HAVE YOUR OWN FACEBOOK PROFILE LOCKED DOWN
Unless you have a mad axe-wielding stalker for an ex, or you have some other robust reason to value your privacy above good business sense, you should always post publicly on Facebook. You should also have a public Twitter and Instagram profile.
I wish I could leave this statement here, but I’m fairly sure I need to validate my argument, so here goes:
What I hear from agents all the time is this:
“I hate Social Media but I want to look good online”.
Perhaps you’ve said it too. Or thought it.
The number of agents who have a Facebook page but an empty profile astounds me.
This is a trust industry, folks!
And as such, people want to see WHO they will be doing business with.
You may not like it, but photos of your holiday, your car and your family are all measures of trust to your prospective clients. They want to know WHO you really are. They want to know you’re not hiding or faking.
They want to see YOU.
You may say on your website you are authentic, helpful, empathetic and caring, but can they actually see that from your online profile? If they can’t, it’s just words. Soundbites. They don’t relate to the person they are going to be getting when they sign that agreement.
And that matters to people. A lot.
I don’t like it when I can’t find someone on any social platform. I wonder what they are trying to hide from me. It raises my barriers and makes it less likely I’ll do business with them.
When I think of the people I value and do business with, I think of people like my travel agent, insurance adviser, even my accountant. They all have lovely, open Social Media profiles: all of which solidify my decision to do business with them, and reassure me I’ve picked the right person.
Oh and if they are there, in the newsfeed each day, liking my posts, commenting on my photos and I’m doing the same for them, we’re creating a loyalty bond that would be very hard for someone to break.
Even if a competitor of theirs came along with a better deal, a discount or an offer that sounded great on the surface, if I’m Facebook friends with these ‘supplier’s, how could I possibly go anywhere else? They’ve invested in my loyalty by our connection on social. A connection that’s made stronger offline, but is maintained online.
Wouldn’t you love to be a ‘preferred supplier’ too? To foster that kind of fierce and unbreakable loyalty? To know that if someone said in some random Facebook post, “Which estate agent would you recommend and why?” you’d just know that so many people would rush to say “Sam from AshdownJones – she’s the very best, just wonderful!” and tag me.
Because I genuinely know that my network would do that for me. And if you’d like to build a network who would stay loyal and refer you like crazy, give them chance to do that, on social.
Open your profile for the world to see. It could be the best business decision you ever make.
PS here’s me: https://www.facebook.com/SamJAshdown
MISTAKE #4 – YOU’RE POSTING LOTS OF LINKS
If you don’t understand ‘reach’ on Facebook, I’m going to give you a mini-lesson here. If you already know what reach is, feel free to skip this part. Go on – scroll down.
Ok, so reach on Facebook is the number of users Facebook show your posts to. Yes, that’s right – not everyone sees everything you post on Facebook. Depending on various different factors (more on that in a minute) your reach will usually be around 5% – 20% of your likes.
Let’s say you have 1000 people who have liked your page. When you post, you may only find that 200 of them have seen your post. So what happened to the other 800? Why didn’t they see your post?
Because of something Facebook call ‘Edgerank’. Edgerank is Facebook’s answer to an overwhelming newsfeed.
Let me explain.
My daughter Tess has been on Facebook for around ten years now, and in that time, I would guess she’s liked around 1000 different pages. She also has over 2000 friends on Facebook. That’s 3000 entities that have the right to show her content in her Facebook newsfeed.
Imagine if all those 3000 ‘people’ posted just once a day. There would be no room for her to see anything of any relevance to her in her newsfeed, and that’s why Facebook introduced Edgerank, to essentially curate only the best content in our newsfeeds.
So what are we seeing every time we log into Facebook?
Given that the average active Facebook user spends about 35 minutes on the platform every day, they can probably see about 15-20 posts per visit. These include 2-3 adverts, and probably 2-3 business page posts, leaving them with 10-15 friends and family posts to enjoy each time they log on.
We also know that the average user checks Facebook 8 times a day, (is that all?) for about 4-5 minutes each time, so every day they’re seeing:
25 business page posts
100 family and friends’ posts
Now this is completely in line with Mark Zuckerburg’s quest to make the newsfeed as relevant as possible to every user, hence the focus on family and friends’ posts.
But we’re also businesses. And if our users are only seeing 25 business page posts per day, yet they like say, 500 business pages, how on earth do we make sure ours is one of the ones our Facebook likes see?
To understand how to overcome this massive challenge, first I need to explain how Edgerank works.
(Still with me? Good. I’ll carry on.)
Edgerank is predicated on three elements:
Your affinity score is based on how often one of your audience has engaged with page in the past. If they tend to ignore it, that’s a point against you.
Weight is basically a popularity score. It’s decided by how engaging your posts are. In other words, do they tend to get likes, comments and shares?
Time is all about recency. It’s a good reason not to post at 2am in the morning, because by the morning, your post will be old news.
The more engaged your audience, the more popular your page and the more recent you posted, the higher the reach your post will get.
Not rocket science, I know, but it does take a bit to get your head around.
So what has Reach got to do with links? Loads.
Links rank really low with Edgerank.
Now let’s ponder on why this might be. Could it be that Facebook want users to stay on their platform and not bounce off to other sites?
I think you’ve got something there.
So bottom line – you need high reach, so don’t post links. Got it?
Exceptions – (because there are always exceptions to every rule) – you can post local links (special events, news, etc, but in moderation), and you can also post your own links. Again, in moderation.
No more links from House Beautiful, Telegraph Property, Haus, BBC, or any of the other property-related sites. They are just not worth getting penalised by Facebook for posting.
Ok, here’s the last thing you’re probably doing on Social Media…..
MISTAKE #5 – YOU’RE NOT TAKING IT SERIOUSLY
You know, we are SO LUCKY to be running a business in the age of social. I thank my lucky stars every day (ok, nearly every day) that I’m not trying to run an estate agency back when my mum was secretary at William H Brown back in 1981 and her job was to type up property ‘particulars’ and stick photos on them. With PVA glue. It was like the dark ages.
But I accept (reluctantly) that life as an estate agent was a tad simpler in those days. After all, there was no internet, no clued-up vendors and buyers, and pretty much no touting.
(There was also the second-hand smoking risk, sexism in the workplace and manual accounting, but some of you would still prefer that to the Social Media age. Right?)
So back to my point that Social Media is a GIFT. An amazing, always-giving, rewarding, business-building, FREE GIFT.
All it asks in return from you, is your time and effort.
I’m not talking 24/7 here, let’s be clear. Maybe 15 minutes, twice a day.
I know, I know – you don’t have time to go to the loo these days… but you do have time for leaflets, putting together newspaper ads, and a myriad of other things you probably (definitely) shouldn’t be doing.
Harsh, but true.
Social media can revolutionise your business. It can make your staff happier, promote a positive culture, foster loyalty, develop valuable business relationships, and make completely new people suddenly notice you.
How’s that for just half an hour a day?
Ok, I’ve come to the end of my 5 things you’re probably doing wrong on Social Media. You can breathe a sigh of relief and sneak back to carry on doing it all.
But I’ll know. Because chances are, I’ve liked your Facebook page, followed you on Instagram, connected with you on LinkedIn, and checked you out on Twitter. And if not, and you’re feeling brave enough, let me know and I’ll do it pronto.
And then there will be nowhere to hide…..
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