What's Your Audience Worth?

Why your audience is your most valuable asset, and how to look after it

I posted this picture on Twitter the other evening.

It opened up a bit of a debate.

Some agents insisted that it works for them, generating enquiries and viewings.  Others, including Julian O’Dell, estate agent and fellow trainer agreed with me: “We have never tweeted our properties and never will”.

I have a question for you – what are you trying to achieve?

When you advertise in the local paper (if you do), your objective is clear: you want to attract more vendors.  When you canvas an area with ‘Sold in Your Street’ cards, it’s because your goal is to generate more valuations. Stock is worryingly low in most parts of the country right now and most agents are spending a huge amount of time on trying to simply get more quality properties on their books.

When you’re on social network sites, it’s easy for you to lose sight of your objective. Perhaps because you’re searching around for something to post, and all too tempting to reach for your properties as an easy form of content.  But is it what vendors want to see and read?

One agent asked me, “What harm can it do?”

Quite a lot, actually.  You see, your audience is the most valuable asset you have.  I would argue that you are abusing your audience by broadcasting a message that is all about you – not them.

So what does a vendor want to see when they come to your social channels? Lots! Tips and advice about selling and moving; local information about your local area; lifestyle information – Northfields is great at this – take a look at their Twitter account here and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s one of their latest tweets:

Guess who they are trying to attract?

Another agent argued, “Even Tesco tweet sales stuff”.  Actually, they don’t.  They tweet really engaging, funny, informative stuff about eating, living and well – anything really. Check out their Twitter stream here

Here’s a good example of a tweet that worked for them.

Another brand you could be forgiven for thinking tweets sales messages all the time, is Everest Double Glazing.  Whilst their Twitter account isn’t great – certainly not up to Tesco’s standards – they also tweet lifestyle tips and information, like “With summer just around the corner, take a look at our top tips to get your patios spruced up for the season”, and “What’s the weirdest energy saving tip you’ve ever heard? Read these 5 energy myths”. Not bad for a rookie account.

Tesco never tweet, “Come on in and buy our bread”, or “Oranges are buy one, get one free today”.   Everest don’t post an update on Facebook saying, “Our double glazing is half price this month”. Because if they did, they know that they risk losing some of their precious audience.  And you’ll never see on the Northfields’ account tweets like these:

(Sorry, Lords.)

If I add up my social audience across all the platforms I use, it tots up to a total reach of around 17,000. That’s 17,000 people who have decided that my posts and messages are worth reading.  If I want this figure to continue to rise, all I have to do is keep posting relevant and engaging content.  The first time I tweet “Buy my product for just £50”, my audience may forgive me. If I persist in bombarding their newsfeeds with sales messages however, they will leave in droves, off in search of a more relevant social account that values their attention.

I want my audience to stick around for the long term. I’m leveraging the technology that’s been made available to me via social media to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with my followers.  It’s just not worth a potential sale or two to risk losing any of my audience. It’s too great a sacrifice. I’ve paid for my audience, in time and effort, over several years, making sure that each post and update is worthy of them.  Of course, some rubbish sneaks in from time to time; I’m only human.  But never a sales tweet. I want to make sure my audience knows how important they are to me, by only sharing with them stuff that is relevant, useful and entertaining to them.

Jeffrey Rohrs has just written what is probably the best book around on the subject of valuing your audience – Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers

Who better to leave the last word on this blogpost to?

“Attention is the precious natural resource that all companies are struggling to acquire and retain.”

Thanks Jeff for inspiring this post.

Let the comments begin…….

I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic – please, leave a comment, or if you’re shy, email me at sam@samashdown.co.uk 

What's Your Audience Worth?

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31 thoughts on “What’s Your Audience Worth?

  1. Marcus Burtenshaw 7 years ago

    I liken Twitter to having a conversation with friends and strangers in a pub.

    Bear with me here.

    In the pub people engage in discussion, and as we have done throughout the ages we share news, tips and stories. It’s what the public house has always been about, a centre for the community.

    Twitter is a lot like that, albeit in a virtual space, with less beer (perhaps)..

    When you are in the midst of a discussion, the last thing anyone wants is to have someone else barge in and try to push their wares on you, regardless of what they, whether they are roses, fake watches, or million pound villas in the sun.

    They may even be desirable, but it just breaks social conventions.

    Engage first, build a network of engaged members, and prospects will flow to you over time.

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thanks Marcus, and I love your analogy! Sharing news, tips and stories is how Twitter can work best, totally agree with you. “Engage first” is a mantra we should all repeat to ourselves when on social networks! Thank you very much Marcus for your insightful comment.

    2. Sean Carpenter 7 years ago

      Spot on Marcus. I say Facebook is the backyard BBQ where you share more intimate details of your life with friends and family. Twitter is the cocktail party. LinkedIn is the Boardroom, Instagram is the slide show and YouTube is like cable TV where people will find what it is they are looking for.

      1. Marcus Burtenshaw 7 years ago

        I like that Sean!

  2. Andy 7 years ago

    Couldn’t agree more with the sentiments of this blog. I was part of the discussion the other evening and quite frankly couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

    Top advice, sound judgements.

    Great blog Sam.

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thanks Andy! You’re a great example of someone who completely ‘gets’ Twitter and all its nuances. You engage freely and generously, and your business and personal accounts are both extensions of who you really are as a person – just as your followers would hope for! Thanks Andy.

  3. Chris Wood 7 years ago

    Good points, well made and I agree with you in general but…The (very) occasional property is acceptable on Twitter, in my view but spamming timelines with property posts is a big no no.

    That said, in my experience, it works very well on Facebook if undertaken in a careful, planned way. Certainly our customers (current and potential) seem to like it and, it generates sales and new business as a result.

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thanks Chris, as always, I really appreciate your opinion. I think you have built up a terrific Facebook page – one you should be proud of. You do a great job of really showcasing properties and as a result, they get shared and commented on. I would also agree with you that it’s ok for very occasional property tweets, especially if there is something newsworthy to say, like an open day. Thanks so much for your comment. Sam

  4. Victoria Green @ VMOVE Estate Agents 7 years ago

    I wholeheartedly agree Sam.

    Rightmove and Zoopla have search functions and alerts for buyers looking for their next home. Twitter is a social entity, it should be embraced as so.

    Estate agents must think of the bigger picture, the long term goals, and what is that goal?

    Customer retention and new vendors. We are now fighting for separation not just in print but also in the World Wide Web, a portal which has every opinion, option and viewpoint known to man.

    If you do one thing differently…be yourself, after all you wouldn’t line your jacket pockets with pictures of houses and open them at every social gathering?

    Think about it…

    Great blog Sam.

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thank you Victoria! The ‘bigger picture’ is something I think that agents forget. And I agree with you totally that how better to stand out from your competition than to show your real personality on Twitter! Otherwise, tweeting properties makes you all look the same – the very thing you are trying to avoid.
      Thank you Victoria – you have a very open, engaging personality and you’re a terrific tweeter! Sam

  5. Christine M 7 years ago

    Hi Sam
    Hands up…I tweet properties.
    Social media gurus keeps saying twitter isn’t for selling – as though its breaking an unwritten law. Its a bit like saying dont post property details in your shop window cos it might put people off from walking in. If people aren’t looking for property they don’t click on your tweet…or walk straight past your window.
    Personally I tweet properties with the hope there is a BUYER out there that may be interested enough to click onto my videos. I’m NOT trying to attract new vendors! And my measure of success? For example one property video got 214 views in just 7 days, from posting one tweet per day. That’s 214 views I wouldn’t otherwise have had. And now you can attach pics to your tweets I think the platform is an even more attractive selling opportunity.
    I agree that there should be informative tweets too…links to blogs and useful websites etc, but I don’t agree that you should never try and sell on Twitter. You miss a trick if you don’t

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Hi Christine and thank you for your comment! As always, it’s great to hear the other side of the debate. I think your suggestion of tweeting a mix of content is very wise – it stops your Twitter feed becoming bland and boring! I probably disagree with you about never selling on Twitter – there are other places to sell, like your website. In fact, Twitter can be a great funnel for you – driving traffic to your website so you don’t lose followers, but still generate conversions.
      Thank you so much Christine – really appreciate you taking the time and effort to leave a comment on here. Sam

  6. Alun Graham 7 years ago

    I have only been ‘Tweeting’ for a relatively short period of time and am just starting to find my feet. I enjoyed reading Sam’s blog and will definitely try and learn from it. Thought Marcus’s analogy of liking Twitter to having a conversation with friends and strangers in a pub was a fantastic way of putting it.

    Very enjoyable read.

    1. Marcus Burtenshaw 7 years ago

      Thanks Alun!

    2. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thanks Alun! Agreed – terrific comment from Marcus. Definitely worth bearing in mind next time you compose a tweet! Welcome to the Twitterverse Alun and keep up the good work! Sam

  7. Hyde Park Agencies Ltd 7 years ago

    I have taken over the HPA twitter for a short while, and although I started with “Sales” tweets, I have now opted for interesting articles, blog posts etc that I come across. Will definitely be using the tips tweet idea in the future! Enjoyable blog post!

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Hi there! Thank you so much for your comment and that’s great to hear – a convert! I’m sure the enquiries will come pouring in now ;o)

  8. Maurice Kilbride 7 years ago

    Interesting blog as always Sam.

    I agree that twitter is for demonstrating your personality, professional knowledge and sharing interesting, funny or educational posts, not a platform for constant sales pitches or streams of boring property tweets. Social Media is what it says- being social, being helpful and the business will grow as a result organically.

    I have received several valuation appointments through twitter, which have resulted in instructions and each one has said they invited us because they enjoyed following me on twitter and my mix of social and educational tweets and my personality!

    I too want to grow my following and build long term meaningful relationships. Twitter is a marathon not a sprint!

    Keep up the good work!!

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thank you Maurice! As ever, an insightful and well thought-out comment from you. Love your aim to be ‘helpful’ – that sums you up as an agent, and as a person! “Twitter is a marathon not a sprint” – I’m going to tweet that now – love it!!! Thanks Maurice =) Sam

  9. Colleen 7 years ago

    Wow Sam! Thanks so much for highlighting the @northfieldslive account as being one to follow! That means a lot to me! It is entirely possible to tweet properties in a more “lifestyle” way without the dry “3 bedroom/Apartment/£350,000” model. I use things like “I love how the seller of this house has used trunks as coffee tables”, accompanied with a picture. That way, you get the news out about a property for sale but you are also providing an interesting decorating tip. The automatic feeds of property details are just white noise, are easily ignored and frankly would they make you feel special as a seller? You want your social media feed to show that you treat all your customers as individuals, that you’re approachable and there for them – you don’t want to seem like a robot, so don’t let an automated system create your content.

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Hey Colleen! You’re very welcome – well-deserved indeed! Yes, you certainly can make property tweets much more about lifestyle – that way you don’t have to be a vendor – or a purchaser – to enjoy them!
      Love your ‘white noise’ comment! Wish the software providers out there would turn their auto-tweet features off!
      Thank you so much Colleen – your Twitter feed is one to which many agents aspire. Sam

  10. Clare Fletcher-Yates 7 years ago

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I am always cautious about following agencies and if I see all their activity is about listings, it is an immediate no.
    I love the fun and spontaneity of Twitter & it has the possibility of show casing the real people and personalities behind the business. This is far more appealing than a listing and 10 times more compelling as a reason to select an agent to assist in a move.
    If only it could be stopped completely…..
    Well done Sam on another great piece of work!

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thank you Clare! So interesting when you say you’re ‘cautious’ about following agencies – it’s such a finely balanced decision sometimes, and if you look at their last few tweets and they are all property listings, you may well think not to!
      Yes!! Twitter is fun and spontaneous – just like us! It’s why we all enjoy it so much.
      Haha thank you Clare! Your comment made me smile =)

  11. Dean Fraser 7 years ago

    Hi Sam,

    Great points all round, although I have to admit I’m 50/50 with this topic. It’s something that comes up in discussion a lot.

    In terms of my own social media marketing plan, we do tweet properties, as for our area we see it increases website hits which directly correlates to increased number of viewings as well as enquiries (usually in the form of direct message asking to view). We also use it as a tool to integrate our vendors with our social media channels which just maintains our positive relationship with them and we don’t just to it for all properties, as after all if we did it for all properties it would simply dominate our posts which would take away emphasis of our blogs and local info guides.

    We never tweet a blank property listing, for instance as the ones above that usually just show bedrooms, price and location in a uniformed fashion, each property will have its own tailored description (For instance, the flats we have by the beach we would usually post on a Sunday morning with a picture overlooking the coastline with a simply caption such as “what a beautiful view to wake up to”. Just to bring the lifestyle of the property in to it as well.)

    I believe it’s all about knowing your audience and tailoring it to them, as soon as our plan doesn’t work and that it doesn’t provide results for our audience, we will change and adapt!

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Hi Dean – and thank you so much for arguing the other side of the debate! It’s certainly an emotive one, and I am amazed by the passion of the responses! I for one, love your Twitter feed – but only your non-property ones! I think you do a great job on all your social networks of sharing content that is interesting, relevant and entertaining.
      It’s interesting that you get viewing requests as DMs – as you have to be following them first, I think that highlights the fact you’ve already formed a relationship with them – or the beginnings of one.
      I love your caption idea – as I said to Colleen, that would mean that your tweets are relevant to anyone, even if they aren’t buying or selling right now.
      Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment Dean, I really appreciate it.

  12. Tom 7 years ago

    Excellent article Sam! So many agents ruin their social networking credability by spamming other’s timeline with reduction after new listing after reduction.

    1. Sam Ashdown 7 years ago

      Thanks Tom!! Such a great point that agents have a ‘social networking credibility’ – love that idea.

  13. Tom 7 years ago

    Excellent article Sam! So many agents ruin their social networking credability by spamming other’s timeline with reduction after new listing after reduction. As a youngster in the industry, it is almost painful to watch,

  14. Martin G Haigh 7 years ago

    Hi Sam
    Great article. Although that probably goes without saying.
    It has spawned quite an interesting debate, hasn’t it?
    I used to follow a local lady who makes (and sells) greetings cards. Any occasion catered for, or so it seemed.
    The hundreds of tweets that came through my timeline (“Do you know someone who is starting school?”, “Do you know someone who has passed their driving test?”, “Do you know someone who is moving house?”. “Do you know someone who risks being stabbed with their own scissors if they don’t stop asking questions?” … actually I made that last one up) didn’t cause me any grief. To start with.
    By about day three, though, I’m afraid I unfollowed her.
    But I assume she must have sold some of her cards that way, or else why would she persist?

    Personally, no, I don’t think listing properties on Twitter is the right way to use the medium. At least, not for me. Or, more importantly, I don’t believe it’s what the people who choose to follow me want to see.
    There are, however, agents who swear by it. I don’t think they’ve commented here but I know that Bradshaw Henderson reckon they get great response from their listings.
    Maybe they have lots of local homehunters as followers?
    Personally, I like Twitter for engaging with people. I tweet about nonsense mainly. Sometimes it’s property related, mostly it’s not.
    Occasionally, like Dean and Colleen (but, obviously nowhere near as well as they do) I might tweet about a particularly interesting feature of a house, or a sale that we’ve worked hard to achieve.
    I think Marcus Burtenshaw summed it up best when he likened Twitter to an evening down the pub with some mates and some new acquaintances. You can chat about your day, your interests, the weather, the news, and … what do you mean it’s my round again?
    But maybe, just maybe, there are some agents who go to the pub with a group of home-seekers who are keen to know what’s on the market.
    I guess, like with the card lady, if I get bored with looking at it, I can always click the unfollow button.

  15. Sean Carpenter 7 years ago

    A tweet about a listing and nothing else is just an “look at me” interruption in someone’s stream that over time, regular users of Twitter learn to ignore. If they see enough of them – whether it’s propety listings, auto sales, product pitches, etc. – the authors will be unfollowed.

    As Seth Godin reminds us when he preaches about permission-based marketing, it is only when the customer will miss what you are sending if they don’t receive it that something is worth sending/tweeting/sharing.

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