Gone are the days of using the Yellow Pages, Valpak and direct mail to successfully market your company. Today, savvy realtors use search marketing, search engine optimization and various social media platforms to market their companies.
More than 1 billion people in the world are on Facebook, including over 175 million Americans—that is, every 1 in 2 American adults. Twitter recently surpassed 400 million accounts. LinkedIn boasts over 200 million users. Many REALTORS® are trying to take advantage of these trends, by using social networks to promote themselves and broadcast their messages, but few are fully reaping the rewards.
If you stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a customer, you’ll understand the secret to social media is in the “social” more than in the “media.” It’s in being human, and being the sort of person at a cocktail party who listens attentively, tells great stories, shows interest in others and is authentic and honest. To put it simply, the secret is to be likeable.
Here are seven tips to be more likeable and ensure great success using social media:
1. Listen first and never stop listening
Before your first tweet, search Twitter for people talking about your company and your competitors. Search using words that your prospective customers would say as well. For example, realtors should use Twitter and Facebook to search for people using the words “looking for a realtor” or “need to find a good house” in your town. You’ll be surprised how many people are already looking for you.
2. Don’t tell your customers to “Like” you and “Follow” you, tell them why and how they should
Everywhere you turn, you see “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter.” Huh? Why? How? Give your customers a reason to connect with you on social networks, answering the question “What’s in it for me?” and then make it incredibly easy to do so. Note the difference between these two calls to action: “Like our page on Facebook” vs. “Get answers to your real estate questions on our Facebook page.”
3. Be authentic
Your customers don’t want to read impersonal posts about the importance of keeping in touch with their REALTOR®. Instead, be human and be yourself. Are you sponsoring a Little League team in your town? Share it with your fans! Know a few real estate jokes? Tell them! Imagine how much positive feedback you would get if you asked: “Why didn’t the hipster realtor show the oceanside mansion? … It was too current.” Write posts that show your company’s personality and watch your online community begin to engage and grow.
4. Why ask questions?
Wondering why nobody’s responding to your posts on Facebook? It’s probably because you’re not asking questions. Social media is about engagement and having a conversation, not about self-promotion. If a realtor posts on Facebook, “Come in and see what’s on the market today,” nobody will comment and nobody will call to make an appointment. If that realtor posts a question as simple as “What’s your favorite shutter style?” people will be more likely to comment online and engage with the company. Better yet, if the realtor asks “What’s the best part about home shopping?” think of the number of people who will comment on the post and bring attention to the company.
5. Surprise and delight your customers
Want to bring more attention to your company’s social media pages and become more likeable over all? Learn ways to surprise and delight your customers on a regular basis. Offer contests and raffles or encourage your community to join the conversation for a chance to win local gift cards that show off a town’s personality. Remember, free is like magic and a delighted customer will share their experience with friends and family.
6. Share pictures and videos to tell stories
People love photos. The biggest reason Facebook went from zero to 1 billion users in nearly 10 years (yes, Facebook will be celebrating its tenth year this February!) is photos. Photos and videos tell stories about you in ways a text alone cannot. You don’t need a big production budget, either. Use your smartphone to take pictures and short videos of customers and cool things around town. Then upload them directly to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A picture of a young couple in front of their new home is Facebook gold. Try a video featuring testimonials from your happy customers! A picture really is worth a thousand words — and a video is worth a thousand pictures.
7. Spend at least 30 minutes a day and use our new storytellit app to help!
Storytellit is a tool created by Likeable Local which gives you great suggestions for highly engaging posts and then automate and schedule them to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and Tumblr. If you bought a newspaper ad or radio ad, you wouldn’t spend five minutes on it or relegate it to interns, so don’t do it with social media. Not to mention, there’s a lot to learn, and every week, new tools and opportunities across social networks emerge. Spend real time each day reading and learning, listening and responding, and truly joining the conversation. The more time and effort you put in to social media, the more benefits your company will receive.
The tips listed above are critical to maintain and grow an online community, but before you even consider social media – I tell Likeable customers – consider this: Facebook will help magnify and multiply the conversations about your company. Will you be happy about the nature of those conversations?
Before you get involved with external communications – online marketing, advertising and social media – look internally at your company. The secret to the most effective marketing is so simple — just be likeable.
What do your customers say when they talk about YOUR company with their friends and family? Do they rave about easy communication, effective listening and great results? Or, will they have less than savory things to say?
Is your customer service immaculate? Are there displays of community awards? What about your company is remarkable? What about your business is likeable?
Remember to follow the golden rule: Would you yourself click the “Like” button, the Follow button, or Retweet button if you saw your company or your content here? Would you want to be friends with your company at a cocktail party? Just how likeable is your company?