You’re excited, you’ve listed a new sole mandate and once it shows up on top of the results on that high traffic portal — that costs you 80% of your marketing budget - you eagerly blast the link out through all your social media channels quicker than the dude who flips the loadshedding switch at Eskom. It feels good, you’re a social media expert … or are you?
When I open Facebook or Twitter and scroll down, chances are good that I will find some new property listing an agent shared on their personal or business profiles. Most of them are boring and doesn’t tell a story, so in reality, they are pointless. Now with about half of these links, I notice them going to a property portal. Seems innocent right (maybe it is a case of ‘Look where I am advertising’)?
Let’s look at the potential impact:
- You are providing a clear authoritative link to that portal, a small ranking signal that boosts traffic to a portal and not your own website.
- Some portals charge you per lead (which includes clicks on your number/email), so it effectively costs you money should someone make contact from there.
- You are not taking control of your data, you are handing over your lead source to that portal which enables them to capture the buyer’s data and exploit the relationship with that contact further, e.g. on-selling bond origination, insurance or other services. This is unfortunately a harsh reality as some portals are owned by bond originators so you will also see your listings heavily co-branded by them. So, here is someone that follows you on social media (as they hopefully see you as an authoritative property source that took months or years in the making), and all your hard work is handed on a plate to the portal? Data is the new oil. I can’t stress how important it is to keep your contact data in your own ecosystem and website as far as you can, and this includes leads.
- You are not promoting your own brand but punting that of the portal. As we’ve seen, portal dominance leads to higher prices that is justified by the high number of page views and enquiries it generates with your help. The butterfly effect here is that by promoting that portal with lots of other agents, people will easily Google that name soon when looking for property. Brand signals is an important way to establish trust with Google for higher ranking. The Google RankBrain is thinking: Why are all these people searching for this portal brand, they must be important right? Let’s rank them higher and point people there for a good experience.
- You risk a potential buyer browsing your competitor’s listings if they don’t like the property you’ve shared. If you link them to your own website you at least have a better chance of keeping them there.
- Your competitor owns part of that portal. Every agent should research the ownership of property portals before they decide where to advertise. One of the large South African property portals is for instance owned by a conglomerate of bond originators and real estate companies, mostly franchises. You are empowering your competitors with valuable listing data, buyer lead data and subscription fees (from which yearly dividends are paid).
- Because your website creates more value than the portal. Or is it? This can be a competitive advantage, so focus on valuable and unique content, responsive design and a sleek interface with listings that are more up to date with more info than the portals (outdated listings on portals is a common problem, use it to your advantage). Give your expert opinion on suburbs you operate in (hint, people love photos!), it may just be the tipping point for someone to make contact.
Do you have a social media policy in place?
The way your brand and listings are promoted should form part of a social media policy in your real estate office. It should guide agents and try to promote your brand better across all channels and not help your competitors.
Taking it further, do you have social media policies in place in your agency to guide agents in maintaining a professional image and promote your brand with the right values? As we’ve seen over the years, one offensive post from a single agent can tarnish the image of the most trustworthy of real estate brands.
It is time to think more strategically and invest in your own brand: your logo, your business card, your branded car, your website and your social media etiquette.
So next time you share your new mandate on social media, use your own website link and personalise it for better effect. Consider boosting the post for small amount for better visibility. You can even generate unique ‘brag cards’ that puts a twist on the standard one photo display post so it stands out a bit more. You can use graphic software or automate it with systems like Base as shown below:
If you see value in highly insightful real estate & technology training for your agents that touches on important topics like these and improve your operational efficiency, check out our Entegral Training division here.
Join me and discuss current real estate topics like these on The Real Deal forum here.