Its tough being a real estate agent marketing or selling properties these days.
While the housing market has seen some signs of growth, competition is extremely keen in real estate sales and rental.
For a start, just look at the number of flyers in your mail box, or slipped under your door. A majority of the junk mail you receive are probably ads from property agents.
Weekend newspapers are also full of residential and commercial property ads, offering opportunities for home ownership and investment in your home country and abroad.
The Crowded Online Space
What about the online space?
In Singapore, digital juggernauts like Property Guru, iProperty.com, and 99.co dominate the online property market. While it is possible to focus on a more targeted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy to get your property noticed, do be mindful that ranking for any search keywords or phrases may take months or even years.
Online advertising is the other digital marketing strategy for property sellers. However, bidding for keywords on Search Engine Ads like Google AdWords may be costly, given the high volume of real estate agents, property developers, and property sales portals competing in this space. Ditto for advertising on property magazine websites and portals.
Build Trust With Social Media
While you certainly should have a good SEO and an online advertising strategy as a base, there is one other thing you should do online to differentiate yourself from the thousands of property sellers out there. Namely this:
Use Social Media Marketing to build trust, solidify reputation and foster long-term customer relationships.
Why is trust, reputation and relationship so important?
Well, property purchases and rentals are usually the biggest ticket item for an individual or business owner. In any transaction, buyers, sellers, landlords and lessees take a certain amount of risk when they empower a third party to manage their property matters.
The business is also fraught with horror stories – from leaking bathrooms and cracking tiles to unethical agents (and home owners) who choose not to be honest with the truth.
How can you then use social media to market your properties?
#1 Use LinkedIn to Brand Yourself
Begin by tapping LinkedIn (aka ‘the other social network’) to build a solid profile of yourself as a property expert. Start with your Summary and include all the keywords that are relevant to your trade in there.
Do also weave in social proof elements such as…
- No of properties sold or rented thus far
- Total transaction value
- No of years in the business
- Awards and accolades
Here’s an example of a well written LinkedIn profile for a realtor. Beyond choosing the right photo for her cover image and including her area of expertise, Rae regularly shares useful posts for potential buyers or sellers.
(Read more about using LinkedIn for lead generation here.)
#2 Share Useful News and Trends
Given how dynamic the property market is, realtors can play a role as curators of useful information relevant to the market. This can be anything from tax laws, property valuations, market upswings (or downturns), new launches, and other insights.
#3 Join (and Start) a Facebook Group
Facebook Groups are where the magic for conversations and engagement happen. For property owners, developers and sellers, they represent a good opportunity to interact with fellow colleagues in the industry, pick up industry best practices, and possibly explore co-broking opportunities.
Here’s an example of a Facebook Group focused on Property Market Updates in Singapore.
HOT TIP: To prevent un-related spammers from infiltrating your group, you may wish to ask relevant questions to all potential members. Do also moderate all the posts to your group, and be ready to delete and even ban members who do not toe the line.
#4 Be a Neighbourhood Guru
Or what Gary Vaynerchuk calls a “virtual content mayor” in your specific neighbourhood of interest.
We’ve all heard the adage “location, Location, LOCATION” virtually uncountable times here.
As a property owner or seller, you need to be well acquainted with the transport networks, schools, gardens, markets, shops, and other amenities around your neighbourhood.
The best way to do so is to share social media posts, videos, articles, photos and other content focused on different dimensions.
Here’s an example from 99.co where the advantages and disadvantages of Ang Mo Kio and Bedok as neighbourhoods are given a detailed comparison.
#5 Talk about the Lifestyle
While every property owner agent is extolling the virtues of his or her estate, you should go one up and talk about the lifestyle in that neighbourhood.
This means the cute little shops in your neighbourhood, charming bakeries, eclectic art-filled zones, or quirky boutiques. And focus on the people in there too!
Keppel Land did a great job of this when they launched their property Highland Residences at Tiong Bahru. They came up with a hashtag #TiongBahruLang to focus on the people living in the area, and the kind of lifestyle you can expect there.
Here’s an example of a blog article on their website.
#6 Do Facebook Live Walk Throughs
If you haven’t already noticed, Facebook is prioritising ‘Live’ videos above other forms of content on your News Feed.
To take opportunity of this, use the live video feature to do a walk through of your properties, and zoom in on individual features which makes it worth buying or renting. Before you turn on the camera on your mobile phone, however, do take note of the following tips:
- Pre-empt your followers and fans by letting them know when your ‘live’ appearance would be
- Pick up basic video shooting techniques; ensure that you’ve got a steady hand!
- Make sure that your mobile data connection works well during the session
- Open up for Q&A after the walk through
- Invest in a good microphone or headpiece set, and speak slowly and clearly so that you are audible
- Minimise background noise and interference
#7 Offer Buying and Selling Tips
One of the biggest mistakes I see in property agents is that they focus so much on acquiring and converting customers that they forget about retaining them.
While I may not buy or sell a property every other week, I may have friends, family members and colleagues who do so and need a trusted property agent. Guess who I’d recommend then?
Bill Gassett knows a thing or two about building long-term relationships and establishing a solid reputation. One of the leading realtors in the US, he regularly writes and shares useful articles that helps his audiences to learn more about the ins and outs of buying, investing in and selling a property.
Here’s an example taken from LinkedIn.
Courtesy of Bill Gassett (LinkedIn)
#8 Provide Budgeting and Financing Calculations
One of the most frustrating thing about buying a new property is understanding how the cash flow part works out.
As a major purchase item, a new home, factory or office building requires a lot of thought and planning. How should you structure your budget to pay for a new place? Which method would work best?
I’ve actually taken a stab at writing a budgeting breakdown in my blog article buying a new condo in Singapore, and it remained popular for a long-time attracting continual search traffic despite being over 5 years old.
#9 Share Renovation and Furnishing Ideas
Yes, I know that you are not in the business of renovation or interior design, but wouldn’t a home buyer or seller need to know how these work?
As I’ve previously written here, you need to zoom out to a bigger, compelling, and more motivating context for your products or services. For real estate, it means going from just selling a home (eg 4-room HDB flat in Sengkang) to expanding to a bigger context (eg building a dream home next to the river).
Here’s an example of the type of articles which home buyers, sellers, lessors and lessees may be keen on (courtesy of Homerenoguru.sg)
#10 Share Happy Customer Stories!
I’m always puzzled by why there are so few testimonials and customer stories being shared by real estate agents. While there are bound to be unhappy home buyers or sellers, the majority would certainly be more delighted with their new status.
A good way to tell such stories is to shoot a short video of your buyers, sellers, renters or lessors after the transaction is completed. Just ask them 2 or 3 questions about how their experience is like, and get their permission to share it.
(The same applies for office or industrial space property lessors or lessees.)
Conclusion – Think Long-Term Relations
Selling and buying a home is a major life decision. Choosing the right place to rent or attracting potential tenants to your office are also huge decisions.
To distinguish yourself from the countless other real estate agents, property owners, and property developers, you need to be more than just a value-added intermediary. Through social media, you can provide lots of utility to your clients and build a long-term relationship that pays huge dividends over and over again.
What are your thoughts on these ideas? Do you have any others to share?