The social brokerage

The social media landscape has changed dramatically since 2012, yet many real estate brokerage’s content strategies have not.

In our client research, we end up looking at numerous brokerage social feeds for any one given project, and I’ve noticed some things worth mentioning. Rather than continue to play from the same playbook, there’s an opportunity to change things and either 1) put your social channels to more of a strategy that can work for your overall marketing and recruiting efforts, or 2) at the very least, provide some relief to your marketing team, which, in all likelihood, may be burnt out from managing so much (as in, do less).  

I’m going to make some generalizations here, as I said, based on research across several dozen brokerages companies of all sizes. Know that I’m not talking about individual agents and teams, which continue to show us how effective social content can be in business and brand-building. 

Here’s what I mean:

  • Generally, your follower counts are low, and your post engagement is even lower — even in market-leading firms.
  • You’re using your social channels for content distribution for things like press releases, blog posts, and listings, but not creating content that is aimed at engagement (e.g., discussions/replies, polls, sharing) or keeping readers on the platform. (There are some great insights here about “zero-click content.”)
  • You’re using your channels to call out local businesses you love, but in a one-dimensional way. (I.e., how about some unique, original photos of these businesses and business owners? Reels of them?)
  • You’re sharing market data in the form of charts and graphs that normal people simply cannot read and also are not in the frame of mind to absorb that amount of information in a fleeting scroll.
  • You’re repeating the same strategy and tactics on every platform.
  • You’re giving us no insight into your company’s personality or uniqueness in channels that beg for this. (E.g., let’s see some BTS — behind the scenes — posts of your office’s biggest listings this month. Show us what goes into marketing these beauties; show us your value in a human interest sort of way.)
  • From the outside, it appears you are engaging in checkbox marketing (no strategy, no point of differentiation, no brand building) and likely burning out your marketing department in the process.
  • Some of you are using some channels beautifully in terms of listings. We’d love to see more of that. But many times you’re not tagging the listing agent, which is a giant missed opportunity to show them some love and give them easily shareable content for their own channels.

First of all, I would stop everything and create a strategy. What do we want social media to do for us? Is it more of a thinly veiled recruiting tool? Great. Let’s get tactical around that objective and cut the how-to posts aimed at consumers.

Next, I would read up on the latest platform algorithms. They change all the time. And while it’s impossible for anyone to know exactly how the algorithms surface content, it’s good to understand what’s gaining favor and what’s not. (Here’s a good write up for Twitter, and one for Instagram and Facebook.

Pick one channel to start and figure out both the technical rules on that channel and the social mores there. For instance, Instagram is a great channel for brokerages because it’s predominantly visual, and brokerages have a lot of great visual content in listings. But you must know the rules of the algorithm and understand what kind of content is going to work and what’s going to be a literal waste of time for your team.

Follow some people outside of real estate to understand what’s working on the platform. Take some time to try things they’re doing (round-up posts, re-introduction posts, questions, longer-form discussions, BTS, etc.)

Spend as much time thinking through how to build your following as you do your content. Because without a following, your content is not being seen by anyone. So why saddle your people with this task if it’s a dead end?

Depending on your strategy, you may find that listings are in fact the only thing you really need to post on a platform like Instagram. And maybe your company news and agent announcements can go elsewhere like LinkedIn. The reality is social is not a one-strategy-fits-all activity anymore. It’s no longer just a place to “put” or “blast” stuff.

The social media playbook for real estate brokerages needs some new chapters and ruthless editing. No one’s saying it’s easy. But it’s definitely time.