Should Social Media Be Your Biggest Marketing Tool?

March 20, 2019

It’s common advice in real estate that you shouldn’t use social media strictly as a marketing vehicle but rather as a means to connect personally with your audience. Amanda Furman, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group in Appleton, Wis., rejects that guidance, saying she sticks to posting listings because it engages her followers and speaks to who she is and what she does.

Illuminated hashtag sign on table in fashion studio

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Social media is also a free tool for new agents who don't have a lot of marketing dollars to spend, Furman told attendees at the Coldwell Banker Gen Blue conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday. “With social media, you don’t have to spend any money,” she said. “I spent $6 on a tripod from Amazon, and in 12 months, I had $1.2 million in sales because of it. That’s in a market where the average sale is $144,000. But you can’t post something and expect immediate results because it has taken me a year-and-a-half to get where I am.”

Christian Montiel, a social media manager with Coldwell Banker Real Estate, told attendees that because 3.4 billion people worldwide use social media, it’s a powerful online space that practitioners must factor into their marketing plans. He cited the National Association of REALTORS®’ Technology Survey, released last September, which shows that REALTORS® list social media as the third-most valuable tech tool, at 28 percent, after their local MLS and lockboxes. “I find it surprising that [social media] was above the broker website and personal website,” Montiel said. “I always thought social media and websites worked hand-in-hand. If you want to drive people to your website, you use social media.”

Furman said she sends Facebook messages to clients on their birthdays or to celebrate milestones in their lives. But she focuses more on posting videos that raise awareness of her real estate business without being overbearing. She started a video series where she goes to local businesses ranging from coffee shops to retail stores to interview the owners and tell their stories. “It’s important for video to help people start to know who you are as a person and trust you,” Furman said. She started the series focusing on businesses she frequented. “After 18 months, people started reaching out to me.”

Dawn McKenna, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Hinsdale, Ill., said she started using social media only in the last couple of years, and it’s brought her out of her comfort zone. She said she’s not afraid to show people behind the scenes of what she and her team do at work. “People want to see the uncut version of what we do every day,” McKenna said. “I want my followers to see who I am and who my team is, and what services we provide and products we sell.”

McKenna said agents should be influencers on social media, and Instagram is one of the best platforms to achieve that. The biggest influencers on Instagram deal with fashion, beauty, and travel—but real estate isn’t in the top 10, she said. “We should be the ones influencing everybody because in that house is beauty, clothes, and goods,” McKenna said. “We need to be more strategic as an industry.” She added that she uses analytics on Instagram and LinkedIn to see who’s engaging with her content. “It’s better to have 5,000 followers with 5 percent engagement than 100,000 with 1 percent engagement. You want to focus on people that will buy a home from you or may be interested in doing so in the future. They are just getting to know you so they can eventually hire you.”