In 15 years I’ve, I’ve never come across a group or industry tougher to advertise and promote than real estate agents. Every meetup is crawling with real estate agents. Everyone is Facebook friends with at least three Realtors, and they add 1 new real estate friend every year until they die.
I still tell all my other clients, “It could be worse, you could be in real estate.”
I’ve done work with three real estate agents over the years. The usual ideas go something like this:
- Facebook posts
And that’s about it. Maybe someone thinks of mailing postcards.
Most real estate agents operating on their own, or very nearly on their own, don’t have a big list of people to email. Nor do they have a Facebook presence beyond their personal profile. And first-time agents have no budget to send mailers or postcards.
Here’s the gist you’re after:
- Don’t bother with a Facebook page.
- I wouldn’t bother with a Facebook group, either.
- Use your personal Facebook profile (more on this in a second).
- LinkedIn’s fine.
- Twitter is fine, if you already like it.
- You’re going to have to write. A lot.
- Facebook ads will likely get you nowhere.
Just how many houses do you think I need anyway?
Not long after my grandmother died I got a little sales email from the funeral home. It wasn’t condolences, it was just an email touting the costs of a funeral, how to save for one, getting a plot, that sort of thing. All fine advice, except: just how many people do you expect to die around me this year?
Realtors are in the same boat: I just bought a house. How many houses do you think I can buy in a year? And who are these people buying and selling every other month?
To you, Mrs. Realtor, you think all my friends are going to be buying and selling and I’ll refer you. That may be true, but here’s some harsh truth: It is not my job to promote your business. There is no incentive, perk, coupon, or gesture you can reasonably do that will make me care enough to randomly talk about you. You want to know how the conversation is going to go that will?
Friend: “Yeah, we’re thinking of buying a house. We’re not real sure about our Realtor, though.”
Me: “Oh, I know someone. Here, let me text you their number.”
So what should you do to promote your real estate business?
You increase your authority as a real estate agent by solving people’s problems
Your ability to solve problems establish authority on the Internet. And you must solve those problems publicly. I’m writing this blog post and you’re reading it because you want to solve your real estate marketing problems. If I had this conversation in my head or with one other person, that wouldn’t be much help to you, would it?
Once a person buys a house, they’re done for a while. I sold and bought a house in 2007 and 2018. Both times I got tossed into a mailing list and a print mailing list. I’ve unsubscribed from both because they almost always plea for referrals. Again: it is not the job of a customer to promote your business. No one walks up to their coworker to talk randomly about their car mechanic, hairstylist, or divorce attorney. If someone asks, fine, if not, it’s just another service like buying dish soap. And how fucking annoying it would be if Becky in HR walked up to you one day and started talking about how great her new dish soap was.
Get a website, sit down in front of it, and write things about this:
- If you live in an old house, you have more challenges in insulating and weatherproofing. Here’s how to know what to look for and do.
- New transit lines have an impact on housing values. Here’s what real estate agents look for.
- Why is that house on the east side shaped like that? The unique identity behind [City Name] ’s quirky architecture.
- Buying a house with wood floors requires some work every ten years. Here’s what I’ve seen and you can do for your floors.
And many more. They’re local, they answer questions people no doubt have as they buy, prepare to buy, or just drive around town.
Can I make a Facebook post about new customers buying their homes?
Sure. It’s fine. Just don’t expect most of your followers to care one wooden nickel about the yuppies who bought a condo next to Fresh Thyme. I have no idea who they are.
In a way, it’s strange. How bizarre would it be if every time a shoe salesman fixed a broken heel they they tweeted a photo of the woman holding it up with some goofy sign with #AnotherShoeFixed!” on it? Good job, you did your job. Now go do it again. I assume you’ll do it again the next day after that, too.
The only value this serves is showing you’re busy. But to most consumers, busy just means you have less time for them. This can also be useful, however, if you have a corner of the market. Like: you’re the gay Realtor who is the go-to Realtor for gay couples Downtown.
Solving problems means solving broad problems everyone is likely to have routinely
Do not expect smashing results from a blog post about how to stage a house. I’ve been alive for 32 years and have staged a home precisely nine days of my life.
Potential clients can be educated about issues before buying. You know how many people ask me, “What’s it like buying a house?” As in, what are they not telling us?
How terrible is that? That as an industry you’ve made this whole big thing so complicated and people still don’t trust you. And everyone has a story after they’ve done it about “Well, watch out for this. They say it’s no money down, but suddenly you need $1,000 for earnest money, and you have to have it in cash, right then and there.”
Most agents talk about how much paperwork you’ll have to sign. As if affixing my scribble to paper is some daunting challenge. That isn’t hard. What’s hard is knowing who my neighbors have called in the past to fix a roof when the shingles fly off one day in heavy wind. Or knowing what brand of floor cleaner works best for my floor. On move-in day, there are precisely five people on the planet who I can look at and ask about the floors: the Realtor, the two moving guys, my spouse, and the Mailman.
What should I post on my real estate Facebook page?
Avoid having a Page because the algorithm is not in your favor. And don’t pay for ads, either. You’ll just be wasting time attracting low-value people of no use to you. Plus, ads are like a motor that always needs gas. As soon as you stop paying, your motor stops.
Writing high-quality blog posts with details, graphics, charts, and is better long-term. They last forever, you always own them, and you can re-share them now and again on your Facebook profile. Plus, they bring in far more valuable Google search traffic. People looking at Facebook are there to waste time. People Googling “real estate agents near me” are ready to hire.
And you can forget about using your profile privately. If you want to connect to people, that’s the best option right now. You’ll be maxed at 5,000 friends, but it’s unlikely you’ll hit that for a long, long time.
How can I promote my real estate?
Almost no one wants to look at your houses. People look at houses when they’re ready to look for houses and they do a search on Zillow or MIBOR or whatever. Always sharing photos of the homes you’re listing is like that classmate from high school still posting about whether you’d like to earn $400-$1000 a month selling vitamins.
What is the best social media platform for real estate agents?
Probably Facebook. Twitter if you’re already into that and down with keeping up with it for friends and professionals. Twitter is likely a better source for you to connect with a more extensive professional network of high-performing agents, too.
What about my email list?
Start not just a real estate blog, but a how-to blog with some funny and horrifying stories and stay consistent with it. As people like what you write, they’ll sign up for more. You’ll grow a list over time and can then use it to share posts, re-share old posts, and maybe a few listings here and there. Do not try to compete with Yelp and much better local event calendar sites. I don’t turn to you to be an expert on Meatball Fest. I need you to be an authority on how to handle houses.
How does social media promote real estate?
You promote you first. The real estate comes second and is just along for the ride.
Plus, most real estate is pretty shitty in some way. Unless you’re in the suburbs where everything is new, then it’s just shitty in a different way. Like being on a dead-end cul-de-sac shaped like a penis named “Coconut Court”.
There have been agents who have found success writing pithy and brutally honest ads for houses. They get points for being different and would be something I’d be willing to read in regular Facebook posts. Things like:
“One-floor bungalow with a crappy roof you’ll need to replace, a view of a dumpster, and a kitchen with well-used appliances. Cheap, so don’t expect much. And if you can call it living, there’s a small room for it.”
I recently saw an ad that said:
“If your house creaks and groans randomly at night, it’s haunted. Call me and I can sell it.”
“This house was vacated by five college-age boys. They had no furniture and no decorating sense, so the carpet and walls are in great shape. The oven has never been used. Microwave, however, has seen things. Four bedrooms, a basement, and two bathrooms, both of which have also seen things. All of the windows face east, so I hope you like sunrises.”
Honesty in copywriting is always appreciated.
Is there a formula for real estate posts?
There’s a formula that works for any page and any industry:
- 70% of your posts should be helpful or entertaining
- 20% of your posts should be re-shares from other sources and people
- 10% of your posts should be ads for yourself, encouraging people to sign up, contribute, leave a review, etc.
Note: I did not write out the word “REALTOR®” because writing it in all-caps with the ® mark is dumb and hostile.