As a real estate agent, you’re always juggling. You work with buyers and sellers, but you’re also tracking your finances, marketing yourself and your business, and-- oh ya-- there’s your family and friends.
Life is busy.
You’re hearing more and more about the professional possibilities of social media, how networks like Facebook and Twitter amplify the power of word-of-mouth advertising, but how do you take full advantage of those possibilities?
Or, more appropriately, when?
Are your social media profiles so important that you should keep them in-house, under a watchful eye? Or are they so strategic that you should hand them over to an expert?
We polled expert real estate agents and brokers to get their opinions.
Why You Should Definitely NOT Outsource
Marketing is the life of any industry, and social media is a powerful marketing outlet when done right.
Consider the power of social media marketing:
68% of consumers use social media sites to read product reviews.
81% of consumers use social media to get advice from friends and family before purchasing products.
85% of consumers expect businesses to be active on social media.
Networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are perfect marketing outlets for real estate professionals. You can easily share listings and information with large, trust-based networks, and you can build relationships to take advantage of the power of word-of-mouth advertising.
It’s More Efficient
Trang does not outsource social media based on past experience. He didn’t feel it was worth the investment:
Your social media accounts are not something you can completely hand off anyway. Even if you do work with an outside service, you’ll still need to check up on your networks regularly, so it might be cheaper to keep it in-house. Some numbers to consider:
**Hourly Rates. **Most full-service marketing consultants charge between $75 and $150 per hour.
**Individual Network Fees. **A full set-up and managing services on any one social network - including account creation, design, networking, posting, etc. - can run from $1000 to $9000 per month, depending on the network and your brand’s needs.
**Complete Strategy Fees. **A complete social media strategy that spans several networks can cost you anywhere from $3000 to $20,000 per month.
Those are some big numbers. When you’re comparing those estimates to how much it would cost to hire a dedicated social media marketer, think about some of these things in addition to pay rates and salaries:
**Training. **There is always more to learn, so even if you hire someone with good social media experience, be prepared to allow him time to keep learning.
It Ensures Your Unique Voice
Success in social media often requires having a truly unique voice. Share content that is uniquely you, and that will inspire more sharing from your network and fans.
@Staples. The office supply company has 268,000+ Twitter followers, and in addition to product promotion, they tweet things like, “The day you decide to eat better will be the day someone brings in cake/cookies/deliciousness. #OfficeLife”
Angela Batchelor’s Pinterest. Angela Batchelor is a realtor with over 1100 followers on Pinterest. Her “boards” cover real estate, architecture, and interior design, and all things Wilmington, North Carolina.
Share events happening in your community, humor based on your industry, or personalized content from your audience.
Many real estate professionals are now driving traffic to their networks and websites by establishing themselves as local community experts and go-to resources for this type of information. This is much harder for an external agency to do.
It Creates True Connections
One advantage to keeping your social media marketing in-house is to form personal connections that can translate into valuable customers.
Networking is beneficial in any industry, but it’s necessary in real estate. The possibility to make new connections through social media is a good reason to consider keeping it in-house and doing it yourself.
Getting Started With DIY Social Media
Looking to hire, or dedicate an existing team member to this task? Here are some things to consider:
Set clear goals. What do you want from social media? Customer retention? An increase in referrals? New customers? Define them and measure progress.
Look for someone with great customer service skills. Arguing with upset customers on social media is never allowed! Hire someone who has the skills to know when to escalate an issue to you on social media and when to unfriend/follow a troll or rabble rouser.
Select a self-starter. You want someone in this role who can work independently and consistently. Social media is not a 9-to-5 job. It happens all day everyday so you need someone who is creative and organized. This is not always an easy combination to find.
A sense of humor and good design aesthetics can’t hurt either. Part of keeping social media in-house is to demonstrate your brand’s unique personality, so let it show.
Why You Should Definitely Outsource
Do you think that Tumblr is a setting on the dryer or that Instagram is a postcard company? If you don’t have the knowledge or time for social media marketing, you might consider outsourcing.
Like any marketing outlet, managing your social networks requires resources. If you don’t have the time or the in-house resources to keep up with learning the platform updates, creating and managing content, and managing your online reputation, then outsourcing your social media marketing makes sense.
Frees Up Your Time
A good social media strategy takes time, and free time is not something that a lot of realtors have.
Successful agents are busy, and many can benefit from handing off social media to concentrate on other aspects of marketing their business. Hiring an expert can help your social media look professional and consistent.
Keeps Your Focus on Revenue
Social media marketing is effective, but it doesn’t usually generate immediate sales. Some real estate professionals choose to keep their focus closer to the revenue stream.
If you need to focus on other things, it’s okay to let a professional take care of your social media networks.
Some Tips for Outsourcing
It’s not enough to hire an agency or freelancer and then assume you are done. You need to understand your goals on social media and monitor performance.
Spend an afternoon on a few social media sites to help you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, what others are doing, and what you can reasonably expect from an outside agency.
Here are some tips to help you get started with the social media experts you choose to work with:
Create a Calendar. Put together a calendar of industry and regional events for them to feature, engage with and plan around.
Provide Content. Give them unique, personal content to share, like photos, stories, client endorsements, and fun facts.
Set Goals. Have clear goals for your social media marketing. Discuss them up-front so you and your team can agree on ambitious but reasonable expectations.
Ask for Updates. Social media is dynamic and your content must be also. Make sure your team features more of what is popular and dumps what is not. Ask for regular reports on their progress. Simple tools like Hootsuite can provide them with the necessary analytics.
You can use a service like Elance, or research and interview a virtual assistant to find a freelancer who can work on your social media project.
In the end you will need to weigh factors like the cost vs. the level of high-touch service that can be provided by a consultant in order to make a decision as to whether or not to outsource your social media marketing.
What to Do? Up to You
Whether you decide to keep social media marketing in house or outsource it, social media marketing needs to be a part of your real estate business marketing plan. It is an intrinsic component of marketing communications, lead generation, and client retention.
Invest in strategy, development and maintenance of your social media marketing endeavors and watch it help your business grow.
Your Turn: Should you outsource your social media or keep it in house? What do you think?