5 Ways Agents Can Build Better Relationships Online
By Kelly J. Phelan, RET Content Editor
Posted by: RET Staff
Did you know that over 90 percent of home searches begin online? According to former top-producing Realtor Shaun Nilsson, what that says is that "over 90 percent of home searches are beginning without you--the real estate agent."
While it's true that today's consumer prefers to inform themselves online in the early home search stages, agents should look at this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. "These folks are floating around out there online and yet haven't committed to another agent," says Nilsson. "Social media represents a massive opportunity to attract and capture these leads."
To learn the best strategies for doing just that, we tapped into Nilsson's expertise on building and nurturing business relationships via social media. In addition to being a former Realtor, Nilsson is also the founder of CityBlast, a social media management company that oversees the social media profiles of over 10,000 real estate agents. Here are his top five tips for building relationships online:
1. Use the Right Social Networks
There are a number of social media platforms out there, all serving their own niche and audience. Which networks should agents target?
"Facebook tends to be the best platform for building relationships because of how it encompasses every element of social media: content, images, interaction," says Nilsson. It's also has triple the number of active users of any other site on the web, making it the "must-have" social network. "If you want to catch fish, you need to fish where there are fish. In the case of the Internet, Facebook is where there are fish."
Twitter, on the other hand, is more ideal for quick announcements and events, and for following breaking local news. "It doesn't quite have the same open dialogue as Facebook," says Nilsson.
LinkedIn is geared towards your professional network, so making business connections and networking--with clients, and with other home services related professionals--is the ideal way leverage the platform.
2. Mind Your Social Manners...
As in real life, there are rules of social etiquette online that agents should heed.
"The most important thing to remember is that social media isn't about you, it's about your audience," says Nilsson. "So provide value to your online network. Post things that they will be interested in reading as opposed to an ad about how great you are." He suggests thinking of social media as a party. You wouldn't want to be the self-involved boor at the party who only talks about him or herself, would you? Avoid doing the same thing on social media.
Nilsson also recommends considering how often you post. If you notice that people are getting annoyed by your frequent posts or engaging less, you may not want to post every single day. Don't flood people's news feed, but when you do post, make it count by sharing things that your connections will enjoy.
3. ...But Know When to Break the Rules
While you should know when to follow etiquette rules, be aware that sometimes it's okay--and even beneficial--to subvert those rules.
According to Nilsson, "Every now and then it's definitely okay to ask people for things. Ask them to like your fan page, to like/comment/share your posts, give you feedback, etc." Nilsson notes that doing this all the time can alienate your base, but that it's perfectly fine to ask for a favor once you've built a relationship with your audience.
4. Know When to Take an Online Relationship Offline
Social media is a great channel for building your brand's visibility, but ultimately you still want to use it for nurturing and identifying warm leads. How can an agent know when it's appropriate to transition an online relationship offline?
Nilsson suggests waiting until a connection shows some real interest in a property. "It's not a great idea to call someone every time they 'like' your post," he says. "But when they show some real interest in selling their home or buying a new one, that's probably when it's time to call them or meet them in person. One really cool feature of CityBlast is that we'll notify you when you get a real lead so you'll know exactly the perfect time to call."
5. Pay Attention and Be Available
Finally, remember that online networking is a form of inbound marketing, so it's all about creating value for your clients. Be mindful not only of what you post, but in how others respond to those posts.
Nilsson suggests that agents should "pay attention to which posts are getting the most positive responses and focus on those. Reply when someone leaves a comment so they know that you're friendly, approachable and knowledgeable."
According to Nilsson, making sure agents look "friendly, approachable and knowledgeable" is at the heart of CityBlast's business philosophy. "We want to provide as much value as possible for you and your clients by making you look good online and keeping your clients well-informed."
Want to try CityBlast for yourself? For a limited time, they're offering offering a free, 2-week demo and a 30% lifetime discount when you sign-up using promo code BIG2016. Visit www.cityblast.com to learn more.