Meg White is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.
At the Emerging Business Issues & Technology Forum during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo this month, we learned about some low-cost tech tools worth trying. But the panelists also shared how they promote their businesses on social media without turning off followers or running afoul of social algorithms. Take advantage of their knowledge of how these sharing platforms work to elevate your web presence to the next level.
You may have heard the common advice to post at certain times of the day when more people are using social media. But the best way to engage your followers is giving them what they want at the right time. Axay Parekh, operating partner at RE/MAX Life in Tulsa, Okla., told attendees that what they post matters just as much as when they post.
“In your morning post, talk about something upbeat,” he said. “In the midday check-up, post what you’re doing or shout out about something going on in the evening.”
At night — which Parekh called “wine time,” when people are likely to be relaxing in front of their screens — post with more personal interaction in mind. “Talk about what happened during the day,” he said. “You want to post things that people can relate to. You want to post something genuine.”
Most social media platforms are secretive about how and when they decide to surface posts in users’ news feeds, but there are a few things you can do to game the system. Amy Smythe-Harris, co-broker–owner of Urban Provision, REALTORS®, in Houston, said Facebook may recognize your posts as being fresher if you react to the engagement they have garnered. As soon as you notice a comment on one of your posts, you can “bump the post by liking their comment,” she added.
Smythe-Harris also said you can help other real estate professionals by communicating with them publicly on Facebook, rather than via e-mail. For example, if you need information about another market and you’re Facebook friends with a practitioner in that area, post something like, “Hey, I know you’re the go-to real estate pro in this city. Who in your area would you recommend for this situation?” They’ll appreciate the fact that you reminded their followers of their real estate work in an indirect way in your post, and hopefully they’ll thank you by returning the favor. “You can do that with each other and nobody will tell,” Smythe-Harris said with a smile.
Parekh’s tactic requires thinking ahead. Before he makes an important Facebook announcement that he wants his whole sphere to see, he posts something silly he knows people will like, which boosts his engagement numbers. He told attendees it’s usually OK to be goofy, as long as you’re being genuine. “I take chances. There have been one or two times it hasn’t paid off, but usually it does.”
Another way to make Facebook happy is to use the new features the platform is promoting. Jacy Riedmann, vice president of real estate photo and video company Amoura Productions in Omaha, Neb., focuses much of her live social media efforts on Facebook Live due to the prominent placement the social media platform provides for those who use the new tool.
“It’s like any kind of new media; you can be a little sloppy on it, but people are going to want you to tighten the reins,” Riedmann told the audience, adding that it’s important to consider the subject matter carefully, with community events and live chats being good options. “Ask yourself: If another agent or another person were posting this, would I want to watch it?”
Also, Riedmann cautions that a Facebook Live chat may take a while to attract viewers, so users should be comfortable in front of a camera for a significant amount of time. “You don’t want to close it too quickly because you need to give people a chance to join in,” Riedmann said. “Don’t think just because you only have one or two followers you should quit. That’s like deleting your Instagram post because it didn’t get enough likes.”
Smythe-Harris suggested attendees find a sort of token they can use over and over again to represent their businesses online. “Come up with a social object that works for you,” she said. Her business had custom wine glasses made with their logo on them. She and her colleagues bring the glasses to events and post photos of them on social media as a fun yet subtle way to remind followers of what she does for a living: “I’m what you would call a subliminal marketer.”
While hashtags on Twitter whittle down your available character count, and too many Facebook hashtags may make your post look like spam, Instagram is a hash-happy place for Riedmann. “I break the rules. I use a lot of hashtags,” she told the audience.
She noted that hashtags can help people who don’t know you, but are interested in the area in which you work, find and follow you. “Somebody who wants to learn more about a neighborhood will find you, and then you’re the expert,” she said, adding that this is a gentler way of letting people know you sell real estate. “You don’t have to say it if you show it.”
Parekh noted using certain hashtags consistently can cause your followers to associate those tags with you. Not only does he incorporate his community’s identity in his profile names (axtulsa), but he also often adds the #TulsaRealEstate hashtag to his posts. “You want to brand yourself,” he told the audience. “People will start seeing it over and over again.”