To tweet or not to tweet...that is the question. If you're the owner of a small business, how can you afford not to?
The internet has single handedly revolutionized the way everyone does business. Gone are the days when the only option you had was to go to a physical storefront and purchase an item in person. Today, you can order anything from articles of clothing, to movies and music, even your groceries, and everything in between, online.
Real estate is no exception to the powerful influence of the internet and social media. Fundamentally, it is changing how our business is conducted, as real estate brokers are moving from more traditional marketing methods such as newspaper ads and postcard mailings, to virtual visits and videos. Simply put, there are more eyeballs on screens than there are on print material (unless of course, you're selling a house in Westmount, in which case newspaper ads are curiously still de rigeur).
That said, I have my doubts that someone would actually purchase a property online before visiting it in person first. However, property listings are now readily available to peruse online, which has had the effect of democratizing the property matchmaking process. Buyers and sellers are therefore more active in the transaction.
As the millennial generation comes of age and prepares to replace baby boomers as the largest group worldwide with purchasing power, social media is also poised to revolutionize the real estate business. There is no turning back.
Here is a social media primer detailing some of the main platforms that can assist you, not only in marketing your properties, but also in effectively communicating your brand. Most are free, which is an added bonus.
Used together, at the right time, in the right way, these channels can have an enormous impact on your business.
1. Facebook: Do you have a Facebook page? Increasingly we're seeing that businesses, especially restaurants, are foregoing the traditional website route in favour of a Facebook page. Your Facebook page permits you to interact online with clients and the general public in real time. Don't forget to invite your friends to like your page and share it. Also, post regularly.
2. LinkedIn: This is the more "professional version" of Facebook. While the platform doesn't exclude buyers, sellers, and potential clients, it is more typically seen as a knowledge bank for best practices, standards, and professional advice among peers. Add your work colleagues to your contact lists and grow your network. Endorse the skills of others, and be endorsed. Pay it forward.
3. Twitter: Twitter is the birthplace of the #hashtag. Known as a micro blogging site, you have to be succinct with your message, in 140 characters or less (and this includes spaces). Hashtags allow your tweets to be culled under a general category with other tweets using the same hashtag. This medium is best applied during a live event. In this case, you'd use it to share breaking news with your followers.
4. Periscope: Fashion yourself as a CNN journalist reporting live from the scene. Live stream a broadcast from an open house, and interact with your followers in real time. This will require a phone camera with a video function, and a good internet connection (or a great data plan).
5. Instagram: Almost everyone nowadays has a smart phone with a camera built in. Instagram is a photo sharing app that requires you to post photos with captions. Your followers can comment and tag their friends in your posts. Some Instagram feeds are even thematically based, and stunning photos will get you somewhere fast. Don't forget to hashtag, and make sure you tag at least five times. (My pet peeve is seeing paragraphs of hashtags though...it drives me irrationally mad. Use sentences, not just hashtags. Please!)
6. Snap Chat: You can create a set of digital shorts based on the footage and photos you take on Snapchat. Maybe you have a compelling story to share about a house that you just listed or some clients that you're working with. Your snap chats disappear after 24 hours, so you can live out your very own reality TV show.
7. YouTube: You should keep a repository for all of your videos on a YouTube channel. If you're popular enough, this can even become a passive revenue stream with paid advertisements (and maybe you're like me, and compulsively hit the "skip ad" button even when you have to wait for the video to load).
8. Pinterest: This medium is the electronic version of scrapbooking. You can virtually pin images and websites to your page, and create a visual wall of projects. For example, if your specialty is luxury mansions, or if you have a passion for interior decor, you can easily develop a cohesive page around these themes.
While this social media list isn't exhaustive, these tools are readily available to you as a small business owner to leverage your brand with the general public, and to market your properties effectively.
So get out there, and start posting, hash tagging, and tweeting! More than ever, the medium is the message.
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As always, I'm open to any comments or questions you may have. If there are any specific real estate topics you'd like me to cover, just holler at me: firstname.lastname@example.org.