Social media in real estate – a new industry is born
MAIN IMAGE: Gil Sperling, Flow Co-Founder and Co-CEO; Daniel Levy, Flow Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Property Practitioners not only have a whole new set of laws and regulations to master with the new Property Practitioners Act, but in their marketing drives also need to get on top of their game when it comes to advertising and especially online marketing.
Although not complete new to the industry, the emphasis on social media marketing in the sector, has grown in dramatically. Agents who thrive on social media get more leads, close more deals, and make more money. However, most agents are struggling with social media and a recent international survey amongst property practitioners indicated that about 82% think they need to improve their social media presence.
In the space of a single year, targeted social media advertising has helped South Africa’s estate agents notch up hundreds of millions of Rands in residential sales – with numbers set to increase tenfold in the next few years. This social media boom has changed the way the South African property industry finds leads and concludes deals, while creating an entirely new revenue stream – and dragged it into the 21st Century.
With the global uptick in ecommerce adoption over the last two years has come an exponential rise in social media advertising, with brands targeting millions of users on the platforms they spend hours on, each day. This shift to the online advertising world has proven to be a challenge for some sectors as marketers have struggled to get to grips with the complexity of Facebook’s Ads interface, finding it a challenge to meet their consumers in the right place, at the right time, on the right platform.
The property industry was one which faced a real threat of being left behind in the digital world, thanks to its reliance on billboard, street pole and dustbin advertising. It also grappled with the challenge of translating the human relationships on which agents rely to inspire trust in their clients making possibly the biggest purchase of their lives, into the online space.
A year ago, social media advertising was something South African estate agents dabbled in when they found the time between viewings, fighting to understand complex targeting tools and trying to establish how to make their ads stand out for consumers in a cluttered space. A year on, 10 million of South Africa’s 26 million Facebook users have seen ads on their news feeds for properties that meet their needs and match their budgets.
Proptech company Flow has been helping agents build that capability in the social media space with an automated advertising solution that leverages Facebook Ads’ focussed targeting tools, without the need to master the complex interface.
The agent platform builds, posts and targets listings, helping them find clients and build their hard-won reputations for area expertise and trust, in the online space – and helping them and their clients close deals as quickly as possible.
“Our platform helps agents bridge the social media marketing divide, making it simple for them to take their brand, reputation and inventory online, to where their potential customers are,” says Flow Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Gil Sperling. “Proptech solutions like ours have a direct positive impact on the livelihood of agents and agencies – while also making it simpler and more convenient for customers to find the homes that meet their needs and match their budgets”.
The next step is to give agents even more control over their social media advertising management, with Flow now offering a ‘self-serve’ innovation which allows them to customise their ads with a set of best-practise templates and offers benefits beyond simplifying the process.
“This innovation is going to expand the trend of social media becoming a more obvious tool for consumers looking to buy, sell or rent properties,” says Flow Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Daniel Levy.
“Discovering properties that match consumers’ exact needs via social media – not traditional online property platforms – is going to become commonplace. An industry that didn’t exist a year ago is already flying”.
On a amore practical level, Eric Simon, aka The Broke Agent, advises: “ Switching up your location tags on Instagram is a quick and easy way to get in front of more people and boost engagement. So instead of just tagging your area as your location on every single post, try tagging different neighbourhoods, businesses, coffee shops, gyms, or even more general locations like your city or state.
“You don’t need to be in that specific location to tag it, but your tags should at least make sense. So don’t tag the country club as your location to look cool in a Story about your open house.”
Another property practitioner, Gabrielle Show, says asking questions is a good way to engage potential buyers.
“I find that when I post a listing and ask my followers a question, I will get more engagement and, in turn, more exposure. Most practitioners are posting photos of a kitchen, but when you ask, ‘What would you cook here?’ it allows your followers to picture themselves in that kitchen and living in the home. People want to follow you, not just your business. It’s important to mix it up and post lifestyle, family, and friends—and keep it real.
“After I post a photo, I’ll make sure to consistently post to my Story for the rest of that day. The photo you posted will drop further down the timeline after an hour or so while your Story will keep drawing people to your page to see your new post.”