Around 2010 the words ‘social media’ started to be discussed in the world of UK Estate Agency. I am sure that there were already agencies dotted around doing ‘social media’ before, but now it was becoming a topic on the agenda at industry events. I can remember attending an ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) regional meeting and listening to Ben Harris (then working for the Property Academy) talking about how Facebook could help my lettings business, and actually believing in him and thinking ‘yes I could do that’.. Then I recall taking my meeting notes back to the board room and trying to re-create his enthusiasm and expert knowledge to my fellow Directors, when realisation dawned that maybe I was a little ahead of the times… It was going to be an uphill struggle, and, to be honest, I still come across agents who feel that social media is not a viable marketing medium and it’s never going to bring them any new business. You just have to look at Foxtons, undeniably one of the most famous UK agencies, and see their approach to Facebook marketing is pretty much non-existent to understand what I mean.
However, I happen to disagree but then, who am I to have a valid opinion? Well, from 2010 I worked really hard on social media for my (then) agency Sewell & Gardner (sold to Countrywide in December 2014) and since, I have assisted a number of agencies to implement a social media strategy into their marketing plan, and have watched the magic happen. I won the Sunday Times Social Media Gold Award in 2013 and also work with Northfields, the next year’s winner of the Gold award, so I can plenty of stats to back up my claim that Social Media WORKS.
There are a few very important things I will say:
1. It is not random, it is planned. You must understand your audience and have a strategy for communicating via the various different platforms available to you.
2. You don’t need to embrace every social media platform going. Once you know who you wish to talk to, you can pick the best platform/s and the correct content to use.
3. You must measure your output. Once you have a plan, an audience and a message you can get social, and watch as engagement happens but if it doesn’t happen overnight, you need to be patient. You might need to build your audience, or tweak your content before you start to see results. But most importantly, you have to set a strategy for reporting, so that you can make informed decisions over time.
4. Personally I would always think ‘what would I read’, ‘what would I watch’ ‘what engages me?’ before I posted something… However, you need to be a prime example of your own desired audience for that to work. There is no point posting items you’d like, if you are not the same as your typical clientele. Make sure you really do know who your clients are and never just make assumptions; go to your data and find out the correct stats before you start. So many times I have heard, ‘oh we only deal with people of 50+ and they don’t use social media’ – tosh! Look it up.
So, you probably need to have a dedicated social media co-ordinator who will be responsible for knowing all of the platforms available, for monitoring trends and understanding which are best suited to your audience. For instance, within Estate Agency, posting about your staff achievements or fun activities going on in the area, will work on Facebook, whereas career blogs, job vacancies, staff promotions and company industry achievements work well on Linkedin, and legal news or market trends do best on twitter because they are very instantaneous and that’s a fast paced audience (blink and it’s gone)…
Your co-ordinator will be the lynchpin between the marketing team (which might be the Directors) and the front-line staff, and it really is very important to make sure everyone in the company is on board for social media to really work well. Let’s face it, the people sitting in the shop front are the ones who know what is newsworthy and what is going on in their town, and the managers should know what legislation is changing, what the market trends are, or what job vacancies are coming up….and all of that information needs to go on social media.
The social media co-ordinator should understand the brand, the USPs, the company dynamics and, most importantly, the audience and what appeals to them. They need to use their creative brain to come up with initiatives to engage the customer and attract more people to like the page, to follow the tweets, to subscribe to the channel, to like, comment and share. Of course, it is vitally important for the co-ordinator to understands the tone to use, to know what is acceptable to post and what IS NOT…
If you are reading this as an estate agent and thinking of incorporating social media into your marketing plan, or improving your social media offering, please get in touch, I’d love to discuss the pros and pros with you. For anyone looking for a career in the property industry, with a good knowledge of social media platforms, please drop me a line or send over your CV, our team is expanding and we are always on the look out for exceptional new team members!
Jane Gardner, FARLA, MNAEA
t. 0330 0244982 / 07966 409627