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Content, Creativity, Image and Imagination

Home Sweet Home On the Internet – Selling Real Estate with Social Media Marketing and Emotional Branding

Realtors are some of the best real world self-promoters among small business professionals but individual agents often miss the mark in making a useful digital connection. Even being tech-savvy doesn’t ensure success. There is an opportunity to create value and distinction through emotional branding, social media and content marketing but you have to consider what stories to share and how your audience cares. You have to engage, inform and inspire in order to stand out and connect in a meaningful way.

Maybe that sounds daunting. But think about it – selling real estate is prime territory for emotional branding. Buying and selling a home is an emotional transaction as much as a financial one. Hope, love, fear, pride and desire are sweated into every dollar of every sale. Using social media marketing, realtors can both empathize and engage with these emotional touchpoints. This type of outreach helps to create a lasting bond with potential clients and enduring value for your own brand.

But this way of marketing takes more than scratch pads and bus shelter ads. As a realtor, you have to show yourself as much as you show homes to create success with social media. It’s not enough (and often not helpful) to talk only of interest rate hikes, or where the market is at or your own sales stats. Those types of facts are cold to the touch. Instead, warm people up by showing them why you care, sparking them with useful information and desirable inspiration. Be authentic, relatable, reliable and creative and you will nurture trust and an emotional alliance with your audience. 

No small business or service professional should avoid the digital challenge . This is an age of connected consumerism. It’s not just SEO that matters – there has been a fundamental shift in personal and marketing awareness driven by the availability of a digital experience. And the virtual world is growing before our eyes. For realtors, consider that 87% of potential home buyers start their search for agents and homes online. And Google research reveals that people are digging around digitally to a much great extent before making a buying decision for all goods and services. People are looking for hits of inspiration and help with information – and realtors have lots to offer in both ways. 

Here are the 4 corners to help realtors build a solid social media foundation:

1. MAKE YOUR WEBSITE A DREAM HOUSE

For realtors, their personal brand website must not only have curb appeal – such as a great landing page – but be a dream house filled with well-edited content that sparks inspiration, engagement and trust. Whether your site is self-branded or part of a larger company, it needs to look, read and feel like an extension of your brand value. With the increased influence of mobile search, all sites must be responsive and look great no matter the search device. Image equals engagement. It’s particularly important for realtors to use high-quality photos – they not only pimp the beauty of the property but prove your own brand value. 

Aesthetics matter but content is key. All businesses should have a blog to build out the story of their brand’s interests, values, passions and service features. For social media marketing purposes, realtors are fortunate to have so many topics connected to what they do that people are interested in – and searching for. And it’s not just about “now is a great time to buy” – that line of thinking is stale and often untrue. A blog is an opportunity to add value, ideas and emotions to the discussion related to what you do. Engage with stories about interior design, architecture, local shops and restaurants, how to deal with a mortgage broker or plumber, how to repair a leaky roof or a credit score. Be helpful and relatable in a personal way. 

Everything you do through social media should connect back to your website. That is your power base. If all you’re doing is showing current listings and previous industry success stats, you’re missing out on making an emotional engagement that will spur a deeper connection.

2. GET TO KNOW THE SOCIAL MEDIA NEIGHBOURHOOD – BRING TREATS

The primary residence that is your website is surrounded by a friendly(?) neighborhood of social media stages – some as big as Carnegie Hall, others more like community theater. Figure out what types of messages work for each medium and plan out an editorial calendar of show-stopping social media performances.

Creating your own content is important to maintain your own voice, credibility and value. Certainly it’s fine to re-post or re-tweet interesting articles but your own brand must show leadership and individuality. These days, creative energy is ever more the life blood of every company. Its vital source. Indeed, in the social media sphere, it’s publish or perish – or, for realtors, watch your listings languish.

But with so many social networks, how do you do it all? Don’t. Choose the platforms that can strategically help you share your brand value and invest the time to understand the particularities of each. Facebook is like a highschool homeroom – you have to be there to be counted but the energy is often frivolous and undisciplined. Instead, be purposeful, inspiring and socially attentive. Twitter can keep (or peep) your value engaged in a real-time way – it’s less about information than interaction. Pinterest is a great place for realtors to express themselves visually, particularly to a female demographic now flexing their muscles in purchasing decisions, including real estate.  But don’t just re-pin other people’s inspirations – create your own (and start with professional shots of properties sold – these are your gold trophies and they better look polished). Youtube and video is proving very useful for service professionals if done with creative flair. And LinkedIn provides a way to show thought leadership and connect to a community of peers. Agents serving the US market should master Zillow, the real estate-specfic site which is proving the potential of social-media marketing

In whatever you do, be authentic and risk putting some honest emotion into what you are sharing. Your business should be a mission – spread  that faith. And keep in mind for all these sites that you must separate your business identity from your personal one – your brand voice can be casual but it should always be purposeful and strategic. 

3. MOVE IN TO YOUR OWN SOCIAL SPACE – YOU MUST BE PART OF YOUR BRAND STORY

Despite realtors ease with putting their identity out in public using oldschool marketing ways – all those smiling faces on For Sale signs and confident-looking photos on public transit – too many try to hide behind their content. With social media and content marketing, you have to put your brand out in front of your audience. And you should put yourself in the story.

Content marketing that involves the person behind the personal brand is proving its worth in the Darwinian world of real estate where survival of the fittest (and most social) is key to the game. According to research and learned experience by a leading marketer for real estate professionals in New York City – where there are over 25000 competing for territory – personal inspirations matter: 

“without fail, when an agent is willing to create their campaign around who they really are, it works – whether it is their passion for family, their values, their beliefs or an activity or interest they truly love. And it never works when an agent tries to focus their campaign on how hard they work, how much they know, what great service they provide”.

People relate to people. The more potential clients can see common ground or shared ideals and interests, the more they value your efforts. I don’t think that’s narcissism – it’s about trust and emotional kinship. We bond with emotions – it is a stronger glue than dry stats or sales hype.

Stand up for yourself in your content – share what you believe about your business and the world around you. Tell a story about moving into your first place and how that changed you – we all can relate to that experience. Try putting yourself in the video when showcasing a property – Youtube research shows that videos “where an agent gives a tour of the home and lets their natural personality come across to build an emotional connection gets watched dramatically more and is more likely to spread.” Offer what you know as a help to others and create value in your community. Your audience wants a personal tour – lead the way.

4. Build A Community of Quality Properties

Building social media posts, blogs, pins, tweets builds a community of content and the growing size of your message metropolis attracts more notice from search engines. But if all your content is thin (without substance), or used (such as re-posts), or poorly constructed (bad grammar, ugly aesthetics) or doesn’t contain any features appealing to your market, don’t expect your visitors to stick around or buy what you’re selling. No one wants to do business with a slum lord. Quality matters as much as quality. In fact, it matters more.

Creative, practically helpful and emotionally meaningful content – ie. quality content – is key to resonance and retention and ROI rewards. According to the NY Times, longer, positive and emotional articles are shared more than short, standard pieces. But quality content is not only viral but beneficial – it helps to satisfy some practical or emotional need. Content should be a service feature as much as a search strategy. Think about your audience’s interests and needs and find creative ways to engage with them in a personal way. Realtors should be real world problem solvers and inspiration agents.

The internet is always on. Your door is always open. Greet your guests with good ideas and great content or they will go elsewhere. In Vancouver alone, there are over 10000 agents competing for business. Speak up and stand out.

Tired of living in your barely furnished, dusty and mostly forgotten about digital space? Give me a call and I’d be happy to discuss ways that social media content marketing can build awareness, engagement, leads, listings and sales. Believe me – Now Is A Great Time To Buy Your Dream Home.

Thanks to Robert Stefanowicz – a talented Vancouver-based architectural and interior photographer – for the use of this article’s cover photo. Image matters.

- b