Why Branding is Your Ultimate Weapon

If you’re a real estate agent, effective branding is paramount to achieving the most success. It separates the top agents from the riff-raff. There’s a particular cola brand that I hate. Let’s call it BrownStuff. For me, even the look of the BrownStuff logo is outdated and unpleasant – much like their actual product. I’d rather chug rusty pennies… which is an act that describes the experience of drinking this “soft drink”. Reasonably, anything even related to the name I wouldn’t trust with a bucket of water if my knickers were on fire – needless to say, trust with the sanctity of the taste buds.

That is the power of branding. Not the gag-inducing experience that I equate to a certain “beverage,” but the word association that ultimately drives all of us to choose or reject a product. Seth Godin, marketing rockstar, describes it best:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

Seth Godin

Brands make the world go round, and they dominate every aspect of society. They are status symbols. They are markers for quality (or lack thereof). Most importantly, revenue and success are common symptoms of a great brand.

Nowhere is this truer than in real estate. Your name and reputation is everything. Not only that, but a strong brand – consisting of values, messaging, experience, and the optics you create across all channels – is the key to guaranteeing you build a reputation that brings you that success. It bleeds into every facet of your business: from your networking, your referrals, even your online persona. While your head shot is the first thing a potential client finds when they search for you online (it’s a certainty that they will, 89% of home shoppers used the internet to search for a real estate agent) your brand will be the selling point that closes the deal.

89% of home shoppers used the internet to search for a real estate agent

It’s a given that the more successful products/services are the ones with the more noteworthy branding.  Actually, research shows that “59% of consumers prefer to buy brands that are familiar to them”Nielson Global New Product Innovation Survey. Sometimes, the branding is more important than the quality of the product itself.

As perfect proof of this fact, you have to look no further than your nearest Grande Chai Tea Latte, 3 Pump, Skim Milk, Lite Water, No Foam, Extra Hot.

Despite the fact that “many coffee lovers don’t love [their] coffee”, Starbucks remains the more popular choice for coffee internationally, and is second only to McDonald’s as the most valuable fast food chain globally. (Statista)

As a small business in their own right, this is why it’s especially important for agents to cultivate a strong brand. The first thing your client will buy is your brand, and it needs to have as much curbside appeal as the homes you show them. Your brand will be how you separate yourself in a field saturated with competition. There are many agents in every zip code, including yours.

To put it simply: “consistently presented [brands] experience [more] visibility”. Even more exciting is this increase leads to a 23% increase in revenue on average!

So basically: build your brand, promote it consistently, make money, repeat

Boost Your Business with Social Media Insights

There are no two ways about it – building your social media brand means more eyes on your listings, more potential clients getting in touch, and if you’re lucky, more closed deals.

Whether you’re trying to snag that first-time buyer or selling a property, you can do it a lot quicker with a solid social media presence. Yet this level of engagement is not easy to achieve, nor is it earned overnight. As with most endeavors, you must be able to measure the success of your efforts if you hope to reach your goals. Just like building your own brand, building up your social media popularity/authority requires constant testing.

If you’re not constantly testing and tweaking your social media tactics, you will hit a wall, resulting in the stagnation of your growth and engagement. What’s worse is that you won’t even know why, since you never monitored what was or wasn’t working. All the while the next agent is finding more business because they put in the necessary work to analyze and optimize their social media strategy.     

But don’t fret, Chet, all is not lost! Actually, it’s pretty easy to start tracking your social media metrics.  Fortunately, all of the major platforms offer analytics tools that you can take advantage of. Even checking out the most basic metrics will give you the chance to see the fruits of your labor. Optimizing your strategy thereafter will give you a leg up on the competition.

With 2.3 billion users spending a good deal of their time browsing social media platforms, getting more eyes on your social accounts should be a top priority. With insights in hand, you can optimize and tailor your content to achieve better engagement from your followers. In turn, you can look forward to more brand awareness and value, all while reeling in more prospects.

What Are Social Media Insights?

As an agent marketing on Facebook or Twitter, do you know which types of posts your followers desire? Insight tools(metrics), allow you to see exactly who your followers are and what they like.

Tracking your social media performance is a crucial component to any successful marketing endeavor. This is especially true in light of recent changes to Facebook’s News Feed, for example. You need the insight tools to determine exactly what is and isn’t working as well as the best time to post content.

In essence, social media metrics are statistics and data that give you valuable insights into your social media marketing performance. They allow you to track your success in several ways, such as:

  • Page Likes – the number of unique users who like your Page
  • Post Reach – the number of users who have seen content associated with your page in the past week.
  • Engagement – the number of unique users who have commented, shared, liked, and clicked on your posts.

There’s also Impressions, a metric which we’ve previously covered at length, but basically, it’s the number of times a post from your social media page is displayed, whether or not it is clicked. People might see several impressions of the same post. For instance, that one cat video that’s been shared by 10 different people on your timeline, even though you never liked it once? That would be an example of impressions.

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Social Media Marketing?

Now that you know what insights and impressions are, you need to use those metrics to grow.

The Pew Research Center reports that 72 percent of online adults in the US visit Facebook at least once per month. Millennials, however, are the most active social media users.

They also happen to be the largest group of homebuyers.

The key to boosting engagement is to make the most of your insights. To do that, you need to know how to access these tools on the main platforms.

Twitter Analytics

You can access your Analytics for Twitter by clicking on your profile image in the top right-hand corner.

On the Home tab, you’ll see performance numbers for the past 28 days along with your top tweets. Dig deeper by heading over to the Tweets tab to view the most recent tweets, number of impressions, engagement rates and overall engagements.

(Via Twitter)

With this information, you could set up goals for boosting your engagement rates.What times are best to post? What kind of posts got the most clicks? Have you experienced continual growth with your impressions? How does your engagement rate compare to that? Select the best-performing tweets and aim to match their success. Take all of these things into consideration and tweak your strategy and posting schedule accordingly.  

For more details on Twitter insights, you can click here.

Facebook Insights

Accessing insights for Facebook is even easier while providing an arguably more robust overview of insights! Log into your business page and head over to the Insights tab. You’ll be presented with an important dashboard of metrics including Reach, Likes, Views, and much more! By clicking on each stat, you can dig even deeper and set different sortable parameters.  

For example, you can see the number of views you generated over the last month, segmented by gender and age, or even page source.

Equipped with this depth of information, you can augment your social media strategy by boosting your weakpoints while enhancing your strong suits.

For more information on what each metric means and how to take advantage of it – click here.

LinkedIn Metrics

First of all, if you’re not generating leads using Linkedin, you need to get started yesterday. Then, upon doing so, you can track your efforts. To pull up Linkedin analytics, make sure you have a company profile with admin access. From here, you can view the Linkedin Analytics dashboard by clicking on the appropriate tab (shown above). Upon unlocking this treasure trove of analytics, you’ll obtain the ability to track data such as Updates, Visitors, and Followers.  All of this help you to determine which posts performed the best, how many impressions each has had, and the engagement with posts. Interestingly, Linkedin also allows you to break this data down into desktop vs. mobile usage, so you can see which post performs best for each.

To learn more, click here

Instagram Performance

Lastly but certainly not least is Instagram, which also has it’s own built-in analytics. If you followed our advice, you’re already using Instagram to advertise yourself and your business. So it’s definitely a great idea to monitor the results of this pursuit. While there is an endless amount of third-party analytics, Instagram comes with its own baked-in Insights that you can take advantage of for free. You can use this as long as you have a business account. If you currently have a personal account, don’t worry as you can still convert it into a business account. This can be done by accessing your Settings in the top-right hand corner.  

Following this, you can access Insights by clicking on the bar graph icon displayed near the top of your profile.


Or you can access insights from individual posts:

However you access the dashboard, the native insights contained within Instagram provides a wealth of information that you can utilize to optimize your strategy and boost your engagement. You can track profile visits, Website clicks (Instagram allows you to link to one URL within your profile), or even Calls! Furthermore, you can measure engagement based on the usual criteria, but break down engagement by the hour.

You can even track the success of your Instagram Stories, thereby leaving you even fewer excuses not to take advantage of this platform for all of your business building needs. 

Cultivate Your Presence and Boost Engagement

With the help of these insights, you can successfully cultivate your social media presence and the content you create. All that’s left to do is watch your business take off.

Nextdoor: Next Frontier for Real Estate Advertising

Prior to 2007, Nextdoor was merely a private social network. Once you signed up, you belonged to a neighborhood and could see and speak with nearby users.

Today, Nextdoor has quickly grown into one of the largest social networks in the US, with more than 10 million users registered across over 100,000 neighborhoods!

And now, the social app has become a vital tool for real estate businesses. 

What Exactly Is Nextdoor?

This social media phenomenon offers ways to foster relationships with your neighbors without having to go knock on doors. Nextdoor gives you the ability to start discussions and highlight important issues in your community. More specifically, people use the app to:

  • Organize Neighborhood Watch Groups
  • Get the word out about break-ins
  • Find service providers
  • Find new properties

The site even sports a house-by-house map of neighbors who are signed up.

(Not as creepy as it sounds, I assure you)

So, what does this have to do with the real estate industry?

After raising over $200 million in venture funding, the network has figured out how to make money through real estate ads. There’s no denying that this is an incredibly unique way for real estate businesses to build a relationship with their dedicated neighborhoods.

It’s brand building at its finest. It’s also the chance to consistently represent your brand on an emerging and popular platform. After all, the presentation of brands with consistency leads to a revenue increase of 23%.

Building a relationship with the neighborhoods you serve can certainly prove to be an effective way to present your real estate brand. According to research presented by Borrell Associates, the real estate industry spent more than $26 billion on advertising in 2016 alone, making it the largest local advertising category. So if you’re not pursuing all forms of advertising, you won’t be able to keep up.

Thankfully, utilizing Nextdoor to advertise your business is easy and powerful. Agents and brokers can create official business pages on the platform to build their reputation as local experts. You can even pay to sponsor a neighborhood section and purchase branded listings so that your profile shows up alongside your listings when someone looks for properties in the area.

While the platform may not have originally set out with the purpose of serving the real estate industry, it did make the effort to observe which industries were creating more profiles than others, and Real estate offices took the number one spot.

How Can Nextdoor Elevate Your Real Estate Business?

Nextdoor has been hard at work rolling out its real estate listings feature, which showcases properties for sale in local neighborhoods. And, it’s not just for people looking to buy property; it also aims to help users keep abreast of the changing real estate prices in their community.

Agents who have used Nextdoor to date wax poetic about its potential, brimming with excitement about all of the possibilities that it offers.

What’s more, getting started with Nextdoor is simple, requiring very little time and even less effort. So, let’s look at what you have to do to set up your business page:

  • Head over to https://nextdoor.com/business
  • Select the Business option
  • Type in your business name and address
  • Find your business on the list and click Claim
  • Use a separate email to establish your business
  • Verify your business via your phone

One agent, for example, set up their own neighborhood in Colorado quite easily. In his experience, he found that “Nextdoor presents a very real opportunity to engage with [an agent’s] target audience: homeowners.” He goes on to detail how Nextdoor makes it all pretty easy to connect with neighbors and invite new ones to join. It even handles the printing, mailing, and cost of postcards when reaching out to these potential clients/neighbors.

This particular agent got a couple of neighbors to sign up and then had 100 postcards emailed out.

While there aren’t many quantifiable stats available just yet, with the sheer power of networking, conversations, and all of the sharing that takes place on the site, the potential for business growth for agents via Nextdoor is humongous.

That’s it!

Is It Time For You to List Using Nextdoor?

Nextdoor’s rapid growth and massive potential is unwavering. Real estate professionals need to stay up to date with the latest tools and trends, which means if you’re not on Nextdoor, you’re missing out big time. However, if you join now, you’ll get a leg up on the competition as the platform continues to grow.  It’s a whole new and exciting way to connect with clients and bring even greater success to your business.

So what are you waiting for? Take the first step towards additional success and “become the agent that neighbors think of first” with Nextdoor.

How to Increase Your Engagement Within Your Own Network

There’s no denying that social media has been a focal point for success within the residential real estate industry. We’ve discussed before the importance of building brand awareness within real estate , and given the fact that 90% of Americans go online to shop for property, it’s worth utilizing social media to meet potential clients within this popular space. Other agents are certainly using social media to do so, as 87% of marketers rank more exposure for their businesses as the primary benefit of their social media efforts.

Using social media insights allows you to measure the success of your efforts, giving you the tools to optimize your social media strategy. The question you need to answer is – are you trying to get engagement or cast impressions.

While the answer essentially depends on your goals, each has their pros and cons.

90% of Americans go online to shop for property

Impressions vs. Engagement

Digital impressions refer to how many times your post, tweet, or other content is served up to your target audience. Impressions don’t take clicks into account.

Engagement, refers to shares, retweets, likes, comments, and clicks. It’s the measurable interaction with your online content. The better your content is, the more likely your audience will engage with it.

Additionally, the more impressions you have, the higher the visibility of your content across people’s feeds and timelines. Greater visibility means more opportunities for your content to be shared across networks and that means more potential clients for your real estate business.

It’s a simple snowball effect.

When we consider that, according to Wordstream, 51% of Instagram users access the social media platform every day, and 35% look at it several times a day, just imagine how many new prospective buyers and sellers you could reach.

So, just how do you increase your engagement within your very own social media network? We answer that question by breaking down the top 5 ways to achieve this. 

Increase Social Media Engagement

Use Videos

Wordstream reports that 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook every single day. Likewise, Twitter reports that over 80% of its users watch videos every day.

It’s safe to say that your audience consumes more videos than any other kind of content. In fact, there’s extensive statistical proof that videos are the future queen of content.  To create and share social videos to boost your engagement, try these tips:

Tag People

If you’re looking to engage with existing and potential followers alike, make sure you tag them. According to Simply Measured –  Posts tagged with another user (56%) or location (79%) have significantly higher engagement rates. So when it comes to curating your content, this can help present you as an authority figure within the real estate realm, and boost your engagement rates. It shows you’ve got your finger firmly on the pulse. Here’s what to do:

  • Reference buzzworthy topics and tag other thought leaders in the industry
  • Thank the people you reference when you publish your own videos and posts and link back to their content

The point here is that social media revolves around people. Tag your friends, fans, followers, and anyone else who inspires you to build an engaged, interested community. This is especially important in light of the new changes implemented by Facebook in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica issue. In the interest of protecting privacy, Facebook has shifted to a more organic, less advertiser-friendly space. Building an engaged community using this organic approach is now essential to achieving social media success. 

Get Visual

Wordstream reports that 98% of posts on LinkedIn that have images receive more comments than posts without images and return a 200% higher engagement rate.

Social media and visual content go hand-in-hand. Using graphics or images has some serious benefits for boosting your engagement.

There are plenty of creative options for adding images to your posts, too, such as: Additionally, taking advantage of stock photo sites will go a long way to improving the look of your content. Whether you’re creating a Facebook event for your next open house, or creating buzzworthy content for your real estate blog – professional stock photos are a great touch. There are many sites that offer these visuals for free or only require that you credit the creator of the photo.  Some great resources for free stock photos are: 

  1. Adobe Stock
  2. Envato
  3. Twenty20
  4. Shutterstock
  5. iStock

These are just a few examples, yet there are a myriad of free stock photo resources you can use to spice up the visuals of your content. Here are a few of our faves:

  1. Freepik
  2. Pixabay
  3. Gratisography
  4. Pexels

Let Your Personality Shine

Your audience wants to see the actual person behind the real estate business. So, share some personal information, like your favorite pastime or your favorite home designs, for example. You could even share recommendations on blog posts you find informative (and don’t forget to tag the author!).[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

The Rule of Thirds

Social media rules dictate that a third of your content should promote your business, a third should share ideas and stories from industry leaders, and a third should be based on personal interactions. A strategy coined by the social media experts at Hootsuite, this methodology speaks of the balance needed to achieve true success.

Can you see how this ties into the above points? If you follow the rule of thirds, you’ll successfully execute in tagging industry thought leaders, allowing your personality to shine, and including videos and images to promote your business or listings.

Building stronger social media engagement is a full-time job, but once you establish a happy medium between self-generated content, curated content, and engaging your network, it gets a whole lot easier.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Drive Engagement, Drive Your Business

Social media is amazing for gaining traction. It’s all about your fans and followers and getting to know your network while they get to know you.

Use the tips we’ve discussed in this post to drive more business to your real estate business.

AI – The Future of Real Estate

Technology: the driving force of humanity’s evolution and apparently the bane of existence for many real estate agents. At least, that appears to be the presiding fear, espoused by every RE blogger with a pulse and especially in the face of advancements within artificial intelligence. Some go so far as to claim that these advancements will spell “the death of a real estate broker,”  suggesting that AI will usher in future of self-driving cars, augmented reality, the complete erasure of privacy and ultimately Skynet.

In a sense, they’re right, but not in the manner you would think: robots are not going to take over the world, nor will they make your profession as a real estate agent/broker obsolete. Rest assured though, the future has arrived and it is going to change the industry as we know it. However, history proves that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Long before agents’ jobs were being threatened by all-knowing robots, there were manual switchboard operators like Rose Trela – a job made defunct by that smartphone sitting in your front pocket. Before women like Mrs. Trela, it was others that were being put out of a job by the assembly line. 300 years before even that? It was the printing press – a technological marvel that made scribes obsolete. You know, because there was a point of time where every book was handwritten (imagine the hand cramps). Ironically, currently that job is the one at risk of dissolution.

Basically, this type of worker displacement has been a thread throughout all of time, across all advancements. It’s inescapable. Yet in every scenario, there is an underlying theme: we, as a people, are constantly striving to become faster, stronger and better.

As technology improves, real estate agents must adapt or risk becoming yet another footnote in history. What’s more, agents are already thinking ahead and getting on board. By 2022, 65% of top real estate executives are already more likely to invest in Predictive Data. As you’re well aware: there is no substitute for the value of a real estate agent.  From contracts and negotiations, to on-hand access to your industry expertise and experience – it’s clear that you bring many benefits to the table, to say nothing of the intangibles and the human component.

Yet when taken advantage of, technology is making that job even easier. If you don’t begin to adopt it today, you’re going to be left behind. Using drones for photography or even curating 3D virtual tours of your listings are tactics that can put you above the rest.

The one such tool that is destined to revolutionize the industry? AI. You NEED to incorporate AI within your business strategy. We’ve already delved deep into the evils of the price estimator tool [link] and the headache that it brings agents when they have to manage the expectations of a misinformed client. Even in this realm, AI stands to revolutionize home evaluations and make these issues a thing of the past.

“What if you knew about the trends and tendencies of someone looking for a home? You knew what their income was and what qualities in a home were important to them. You could price homes not just based on the market, but based on individuals.”

– (Linkedin)

And this is just one of the many ways that AI stands to revolutionize the way you do real estate. Your marketing will elevate to new heights with AI-powered personalized nurture email drips, targeting only the most viable prospects. It is capable of consolidating all of the data-driven analytics of your prospective client, giving you insights on how and when to market to specific demographics.

That is why it’s essential to begin the adoption process now. As such, when AI crowns itself as a new standard in real estate optimization data analytics, you can marry it with your quick wit and expertise to really take your business to the next level.

Rather than become a relic of a bygone era, you will evolve into the new real estate agent with adaptable efficiency, a killer instinct, and a winning smile.

6 Ways to Maximize Your Facebook Advertising

Today, Facebook has become a part of our everyday lives in one way or another, whether we want to admit it or not. U.S. users spend 41 minutes on Facebook daily, and every minute another 400 users sign up. With this growing use of social media advertising, it is imperative to maximize every dollar spent. This uptick has caused many businesses to shift their advertising strategies towards a social media platform focused on increasing the performance of their content. Below are a few tips to help you get a leg up against your competitors while simultaneously elevating the success of your business:

 

1. Determine who you want to target

The first thing to consider is your target audience. What type of people are you trying to reach specifically?

Facebook provides many options when considering who you want to see your ads. You can choose to focus on demographics (i.e. age, gender, location, income, homeownership status etc.), and/or behavior (likeliness to move, page likes, purchase behavior, job role, digital activities, etc). With so many options to choose from you have the ability to target the exact audience you want to reach.

A common mistake many people often make is focusing on the creative of their ads before doing research on who they will target. In reality, it should actually be done in the opposite order. It is essential to do your research first and fully understand who it is exactly that you are trying to reach. By putting these customer segments into “buckets”, you can understand how to best address each segment individually and best appeal to their interests. As simple as this may seem targeting is something that takes time to master, but once achieved it can lead to tremendous success.

 

2. Test out different types of ad campaigns

It’s vital that you choose the right type of ad to best promote your brand. Choosing the right type of campaign will successfully drive your users to your desired action as well as optimize your ad to perform well. Below are all the different types of campaigns available on Facebook and an explanation of what each is best for.

a. Awareness: These ads are focused on developing customer’s awareness for your brand and reaching new potential customers. These focus on reaching people who will have interest in your ads and that will spend time engaging with them allowing you to boost your brand lift.

b. Consideration: These ads are for the next stage of the customer buying cycle, those who are already aware of your product but do not have high enough interest. These can be great for driving traffic to your website, increasing engagement, generating leads as well as gaining video views.

c. Conversion: These ads are meant to be the last step for your customers, at this point you are trying to get them to finish the final stage and buy your product. These can be great for converting customers to make a specific action, having an ongoing product catalog and increasing store visits by reaching people that are only a certain distance away from your business.

 

3. Have a long term strategy

Before launching your advertisements you should consider what your long term strategy is going to be. What are you looking to get out of it and how are you going to make that happen? A few things to consider are:

A. Setting goals that directly impact your biggest needs.

a. Are you looking to increase sales, create brand awareness, expand your network, etc.

B. Creating a process for engaging with your audience.

a. What type of content will you post to build an engaging community?

C. Develop a cadence and budget for your ads and daily content.

a. Will your ad campaigns run for days, weeks, or months? How often will you post content? The rule we follow is that you generally want to swap ads once your “clicks to website” falls to around 25%.

 

4. Monitor performance & adjust in real time

It’s important to know what metrics you are going to track and which you are looking to improve. Facebook Insights allow you to find answers through data and research where you can learn more about specific audiences as well as overall ad performance. Some metrics to monitor are:

  • CTR (Click Through Rate) – Total clicks an ad receives divided by total times your ad is shown
  • CPM (Cost per 1,000 Impressions) – The cost of 1,000 advertisement impressions on a single web page
  • CPC (Cost Per Click) – The price you pay for every click on an ad or boosted post.
  • Impressions – The number of times a post from your page is displayed, whether the post is clicked on or not. You can receive  multiple impressions from the same person
  • Reach – The number of people or households you reach with your ad

 

5. Use eye-catching pictures and videos to increase engagement

Today, Facebook gets over 8 billion average daily video views, and according to Techcrunch, images & videos account for 75-90% of FB advertising performance. Which shows how valuable multimedia can be for advertisements. Just to give you an idea of how useful they can be, listings using a video received 403% more inquiries than without.

6. Be transparent with your ad copy to gain trust of customer or tell a story

Sales is all about creating an enjoyable and memorable relationship with your audience. This starts with building trust with your potential clients. The last thing you want is for them to feel deceived, so it is always best to tell them exactly what they are getting. Be sure to include as much information as possible, including:

  • Price
  • Square footage
  • Location     
  • Number of rooms
  • Neighborhood Info.

 

Conclusion:

Whether you are looking to increase brand awareness, promote a new service, or increase sales, these tips will help take your Facebook advertising to the next level. As the most effective platform for social media advertising available today, if you make sure to develop a solid plan, write creative copy, and use attention grabbing pictures and videos, you will be on the road to success.