The benefits of Social Media

The benefits of Social Media - An Agents Perspective

Sam Johns By Sam Johns on 4th Jan 2016,

We do a lot of content about why you should use social media (pro's / con's) and how best to use it, we really feel that it’s important for you to grow as a business. The problem here though is we’re giving you a one-sided message and not offering you any social proof (for any of you who read our last article on the benefits of social media in your agency, you’ll know that’s a no-no)!

We thought we’d mix it up a little and ask some of our agency friends on how social media is helping them. Maurice Kilbride, the MD for Maurice Kilbride Estate Agents, Andrew Overman, Manager for Chilterns Estate and Letting Agents and Michelle Gallagher, the Sales Director for JDG were all kind enough to oblige, here’s what they had to say:

How has Social media helped your brand awareness?

Maurice:
Social media has helped raise our brand awareness both in our local community and in the industry as a whole and given us a profile we could never have achieved as a small estate agency business.

Andrew:
We are known locally for our efforts on social media. Our main successes in terms of sales/ lettings and recommendations have been on Facebook as we find that it is an area where our client base locally feel happy to engage with us without feeling that they are being sold to. We have sold 13 units directly as a result of Facebook Business Page posting our new listings in the last 18 months, we have generated numerous rental enquiries also. On Facebook we have a Group called “Chilterns…because community matters” where we encourage local events organisers to post things relevant to the town. Currently we have approaching 200 local members.

I also belong to local forums where people often discuss the rental/ sale of their home asking friends or group followers for their comments/ opinions on which agent to appoint. Generally, we take around 80% of the market share, attracting comments like “they are not the cheapest but they are the best”, “they sold my friends/mothers/sisters house and they were very impressed”, “they won’t just tell you any price to get your house on the market, their valuations are honest ones”. This is all great feedback and then I will generally DM those asking the question, asking if I can offer any further advice or meet for a coffee and a chat.

Twitter is more business to business. I have been recommended a few times from Twitter but it’s more of an engaging platform with which to develop new ideas/ initiatives by speaking with respected industry peers.

Michelle:
Social media has really increased our brand awareness. It has given our company back a voice (one which we feel the property portals took away and helped build relationships). We believe a company is about its people, they form the brand. Because of this we chose to take a more personal approach. At the heart of this are our cartoon characters and blogs, they show us in a more friendly manner.

Our blogs show that we care yet are written to give real useful advice which works.  We use social media channels to get our message out. We engage with the other local businesses and property professionals.  We also learn, as well as help educate. 

What positive feedback have you received through social media?

Maurice:
Lots of great feedback from both clients and potential clients and some very favourable comments with regards to our helpfulness and approachability which has led to a number of instructions directly from Twitter, plus lots of questions which we have always been glad to answer to position us as the go to guys on social media as most of our competitors have not really embraced social media.

Andrew:
We regularly sponsor local events and organisations and link into/ share their social channels, so we are known for being an engaging and community minded agent locally. We are also careful not to simply post our listings but to also publicise articles of local interest/ stats/ sales/ wanted ads/ community news/ advice and light hearted posts also. We feel it is important to share relevant and engaging content and not just use it as a sales tool. We are essentially building a community where we are the ‘local go to hub’ of the community.

Aside from the 13 sales generated we have booked numerous lettings appraisals. I have also attracted 4 new managed Landlords as a result of their peers giving us a rating on Facebook and them seeing the positive feedback and enquiring about our services.

Michelle:
It depends how you define positive feedback. The number of local followers? The people you engage with? Or the fact that people have actually stopped me in the street having recognised me from my social media profile (very odd but true!). For me, it is the people who ask me for help and advice. They are not all local, but even still, I make a point of fully answering with my opinion. 

We get valuation requests through Facebook (we had two last week). The fact that people ask me, shows that they trust me.  And that to me, is what it is all about. 

How long do you spend on social media per day?

Maurice:
Not as long as I used too! Or probably should!! But on average I would say between thirty minutes and an hour and a half a day.

Andrew:
I spend approximately 30 minutes a day scheduling posts and I have another member of staff who posts new instructions/ coming soon. She spends about 15 minutes a day.

Michelle:
If you ask Mr JDG, too long! On an average day probably 2-3 hours especially if the local hours are on (eg #lancasterhour, #northwesthour etc...) I'll spend approximately 30 minutes on schedule posts. Another 30 minutes in engaging with other people’s tweets. The rest is a mix, some is education, some time is spent in specialist groups that I am part of.  I also spend some time designing images for my posts and blog writing.  

Most of my social media time is out of office working hours (e.g. prior to 9am and after 6pm). If you enjoy it, it’s not chore and I gain so much from it, both from a business perspective and personal growth with new ideas.

How long was it before you saw a positive return (in terms of follower count / engagement) on your profiles?

Maurice:
Twitter was a slow burner for probably the first eight or nine months, until I took some advice from Sam Ashdown at the Home Truths and also Stephen Phillips at Growthtrack who helped me refocus on better more engaging content, asking questions and not being afraid to express my own personality/views as opposed to simply re tweeting other peoples pieces. In the first eighteen months I had just over 2500 followers on Twitter. By the end of my fourth year on Twitter in February 2016 I will have hit the 10,000 Twitter followers barrier!  

Andrew:
Timewise it’s taken us 4 years to build 1300 followers on Facebook and 4,600 Twitter followers, these figures have been achieved by organic growth only and have not been ‘bought’, I have so far resisted the urge to pay for sponsored adverts, however it is inevitable that this will change in the future, particularly with the ‘call to action’ and ‘offers’ capability facebook now offers. I’m looking into some targeted campaigns for early 2016 currently. It was about 18 months before we started to notice that our social presence was gaining us respect and recognition for being an ‘influencer’ locally.

Michelle:
From a business perspective Facebook took about 6 months and Twitter about 3 months.   Today, Facebook gives a stronger return for business however Twitter is stronger for educating and getting your name out there.  It's through Twitter I have built business and personal relationships.   We have sold houses through Facebook.

We have received valuations which have all lead onto instructions.  Social media has become part of our marketing mix.  There's so much more to it all than just Twitter and Facebook.   Branded emails are working really well.  Blogging is showing a superb return.  We also cross-market these by printing them in local press.  It all helps.  Every little bit!

Thanks to our interviewees! It’s great getting a real insight into how social media is having a positive effect on real agencies around the country. If you want to connect with these lovely individuals you can do so on Twitter - connect with Maurice here @MauriceKilbride, Andrew here @ChilternsLtd and Michelle here @JDGEstateAgent.

So there you have it, social media is helping agencies right now!

If you need a hand getting up and running, come and talk to us. We’re always happy to help.

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