Study Shows Benefits of Social Media for Real Estate Marketing and Sales

If you are reading this, you’re probably one of many real estate agents wondering if social media websites and social networking are worth your time. Should you incorporate Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest into your real estate marketing plan? What can you expect to get out of it, in terms of business leads and ROI?

These are valid questions, and the answers aren’t easy to come by. In many ways, the success or failure of a social media marketing program comes down to the execution – not the tools themselves.

But a new study highlights the value of social media websites for salespeople. In short, salespeople who use these tools are more successful at selling than those who don’t. This study gives real estate agents, brokers and firms more reason to consider social media as a real estate marketing tool.

Study: Social Media as a Sales Tool

The study, featured in a recent Forbes article, was conducted by Jim Keenan, a widely cited authority in “social sales.”

I know what you’re thinking: Here’s a guy showcasing the value of the very services he provides to clients. It’s a fair point. In fact, the entire article reads like a thinly veiled puff piece with questionable data at its core (we are not told about the size of the study group, or other pertinent details that typically go along with surveys).

At the end of the day, we have to trust that Forbes did some kind of vetting of the study and its author. But I digress.

Here are the key findings:

  • 78.6% of salespeople who use social media as a sales tool outperformed those who weren’t using it.
  • More than 40% of the salespeople who were surveyed said they have closed between two and five deals, as a direct result of social media marketing.
  • 50% of the respondents said they spent less than 10% of their selling time using these services. In other words, they’re getting a fairly good return on a modest investment of time and energy.

Of course, much depends on the manner in which these services are used. Saying that social media will improve your sales is like saying a telephone will make you salesperson of the quarter. They are only tools. It’s how you use them that counts.

Let’s shift gears and talk about real estate marketing.

A Strategy for Real Estate Agent Marketing

The above-mentioned study pertains to salespeople in a variety of industries. But it’s entirely relevant to real estate agents in particular. Realty professionals can bring social media into their real estate marketing programs in a number of ways.

One example would be to use Twitter as an information delivery system, providing valuable market updates to a select audience. Residents within the predefined area could follow the agent’s Twitter feed to receive information about home prices, sales data, foreclosure trends and the like.

Real estate agents can also use the networking capabilities of Facebook and LinkedIn to generate referral business from family and friends.

These are basic examples of using social media as a real estate marketing tool. Some agents are thinking outside the box to come up with more creative strategies.

How about using Pinterest as a visual relocation guide for people moving into the area? The person relocating would get an up-close look at neighborhoods, communities and other items of interest within the area. The real estate agent would get valuable exposure among prospective clients.

With social media marketing, imagination is the only limit.

Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest, Oh My

Many real estate agents suffer from “analysis paralysis” when attempting to launch a social media program. The first question, and often the biggest obstacle, is which service to use. First-timers often spread themselves too thin by signing up for every service available. The last thing you want is to spend more time managing your social media accounts than your real estate business.

Steve Strauss, author of the best-selling Small Business Bible, recommends zeroing in on one particular social media service, and then mastering it.

“Choose one,” he says. “But keep in mind that might not be your favorite or the one you’re the most comfortable with personally.”

Another common problem for real estate agents is that they don’t have anything interesting to share. The key to a successful social media marketing program is to share valuable information with an audience who can benefit from that information. The idea presented earlier with home prices and market updates is a good example.

Many homeowners these days are practically obsessed with property values in their area, especially in the wake of the housing crisis. So a real estate agent who provides news and information about local home prices should have no trouble getting people to subscribe or follow. The more valuable the information, the more attractive it becomes to the end-user.

For real estate agents, blogging and social media go hand in hand. Blogging programs like WordPress give agents an easy way to publish information online. Social networks provide an easy way to share that information. An obvious implementation would be to blog about local housing conditions, and then tweet the new blog post through Twitter, or share it through Facebook. Here again, imagination is the only limit.