This is the third in a series of blogs exploring the application of social media. Too often people get wrapped up in the fact that social should be applied to every business regardless of size, industry or direction. As Red Rocket Media’s Social Media Manager, I’m sure my MD wouldn’t take too kindly to me convincing companies that social just isn’t for them!
Quite the opposite! I do believe social can be applied to any business. I just think it needs thought. Sounds simple, but trust me, I’ve seen many people tackle the digital world purely because “Um, our competitors are doing it…”. That’s why I’m writing these weekly posts. The hope is that at some point, you’ll be able to come to the Red Rocket Media site and read an article about the application of social that applies to you and your company.
This week… Social Eyes on Estate Agents
At this stage I could bore you with some extract from a text book about how all marketing activity is about forming relationships. I won’t. What I will say (and this is a personal opinion) is that I’ve made the mistake of renting properties in the past with estate agents that want the ‘quick buck’. They show you round a property at the speed of light and throw paperwork at you before you can ask the monthly rent. There is very rarely a traditional buying process. Get in – get out. From a consumer’s point of view, I want to form (at the very least) a basic relationship with a company that I’m going to be giving thousands of pounds to over the course of a year. This is where social can play an important role.
Some estate agents do use social for advertising purposes. More often than not, they will have an automatic feed from their website to Facebook / Twitter giving basic information about the property (rent / sale, location, price etc.). It’s by no means ground breaking, but it’s a good start. However, there is seldom a call to action; it’s usually a case of finding them online and getting a contact number. Why not create a unique hashtag for each property and offer a call-back function?
When a prospective tenant retweets the ‘advert’, not only does this increase its reach, it also gives you a genuine lead. You can then make contact with this customer.
However, at the other end of the buying cycle, you have further opportunities for engagement across social. Why not offer a chat service on Facebook / Google Hangout. I personally get annoyed when I send an email explaining that the boiler isn’t working and the house smells of gas only to get a ‘Thank you for your recent email’ reply. By the time we do get a response, my frostbite prevents me from being able to type. Offering a chat service across social gives tenants piece of mind. Speaking from my own experiences, this USP could be the deal clincher.
There are of course numerous other avenues to explore for estate agents. With quite literally hundreds of companies in each city, surely it’s so important to set yourself apart from the masses of competition?
Exploring other platforms such as Pinterest and creating the shareable ‘perfect home’ boards as well as the important ‘current apartments’ and ‘current houses’ boards is something that very few of your competitors will be using. Not only does this encourage engagement between the estate agent and prospective customers, it is also a big selling point for prospective landlords. Why go with a company that puts a picture up in a shop window when this company publishes your property across multiple channels? I imagine this would have to be an opt-in for landlords.
If anyone in the industry is reading this, I can bet next month’s rent that you’re thinking you don’t have the resources to do something like this… It’s actually a very common response across any industry.
Cue the traditional clichéd line
That’s where we come in! In my experience, people often treat agencies as the ‘creatives’ and the guys behind the ideas. We deliver a lovingly packaged strategy and off you go – good luck! However, what often goes unnoticed is the full management process. Any company (not just estate agents) can make these differences without having to restructure…
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