Use Transparency to put the REAL back in REALTOR®

Put the REAL back in REALTOR

Being transparent with the public about some areas of your life is a scary concept that doesn’t come easily to all.

For some folks, the idea of sharing anything personal on social media is bewildering; they don’t understand why anybody in their right mind would put themselves out there like that. Others understand the value, but are nervous about taking that first step, or don’t know how to place it.

I have been professionally managing social media profiles since 2009, and the RealtyNinja Facebook page since 2012. In all those years and on every social network I’ve used, one simple fact has always remained true in my experience:

Giving your followers real glimpses into your world will always earn more engagement.

Luckily for real estate agents, the way your business happens to operate makes it the perfect candidate for marketing transparency. Your brand, in most cases, is you. So although there is certainly a need for you to produce good content that is relevant to your audience, there is also this huge demand for you to be genuine, authentic, and timely. People want to get to know you, especially people who might potentially hire you.

Let me remind you that social media was not always the massive, publicly traded business tool for advertisers that it is today. When Facebook first launched in 2004, it was only available to students with North American college email addresses and there was nothing close to a Business Pages product yet. When Twitter first launched ten years ago you could only publish a tweet by texting it to a specific number – hence the 140 character limit – and there were literally no brands with accounts.

Websites like Hi5, Orkut, Nexopia, MySpace and more were around at the beginning of the Golden Age of Social Media – they look much different now than they did 10+ years ago. Their purpose was to connect people together so that they could share and collaborate with one another from a distance. Not to sell any product or any service, or to show off any new or sold listings. The “bottom line” was not financial, it was interpersonal.

The lifeblood of social media today has trickled from those simpler times, before LinkedIn and PPC. That’s why being transparent and real online receives such a greater reaction than being promotional – even to this day.

And hey let’s face it, it’s not like REALTORS® are shy. In fact, your career is heavily public and demands you to be social. Every real estate agent I’ve known has had a large personality.

Your face is clad on bus windows and bike racks around your community and you are trying to scorch your name, phone number and tagline into everybody’s brain. You host open houses or sponsor community events and meet hundreds of current and aspiring community members every year. You are striving to be recognized as a community and business leader in your niche someday. Your clients have become your friends and your identity has become so closely knit into your business that you can hardly separate the two anymore.

So why bother trying to?

Put the REAL back in REALTOR® this year and begin leveraging your personality, your voice, and your creativity to further your brand. If you are going to adopt a modern entrepreneurial mindset, then tie your hands behind your back and run at this thing with abandon.

Who should keep reading?

Serious agents who are committed to staying (and thriving) in the real estate hustle for at least the next five years. Agile real estate ninjas who are ready to duck and weave and adapt to the constantly changing business landscape around them. Modern agents who recognize that Millennials on social media are going to represent a large chunk of the real estate buyers and sellers market in the coming years.

If you are or are striving to be any of these things, I hope you walk away from this article with some new marketing ideas.

Authenticity + Transparency = Spikes in Your Engagement

First of all, 98% of the time I talk about engagement I’m talking about the action of a social media user reacting to content online. A reaction to content online can mean (but is not limited to) any number of the following things:

  • Liking a Facebook post
  • Retweeting a tweet
  • Commenting on an Instagram photo
  • Watching a YouTube video
  • Tagging or mentioning an account or page
  • Clicking on a photo

The list goes on and on. Basically any human interaction with a piece of content is tracked and measured as engagement. But why is engagement good? What makes it important?

Well there is the obvious… the more engagement you have, the more people are interacting with you and your brand. Which means more people know about you, more people will remember you, and eventually more people will give you money for your services. But like I said, that’s the obvious bit.

The less obvious reason why engagement is important is this:

Every social media network has it’s own algorithms that are written in to the programming. These algorithms track how you interact with content, and which content you interact with. If they find that you are interacting with one person or brand more frequently, they will try to place more A) content from that person or brand on your feed, and B) similar content on your feed.

Let’s say we share a photo of our team on the RealtyNinja Facebook Page. Facebook Pages organically reach an average of 16% of their audience with posts (without paid ads), and we have 1,433 fans on our page – meaning our post will reach approximately 230 of our fans. But we have tagged 9 people in the post, and on average every Facebook profile has 338 friends. Now profiles have it a bit better than pages, as Facebook Profiles organically reach about 35% of their audience. So let’s do some quick number crunching… 338 friends X 35% = each of our team members has 118 friends who will see our photo. We tagged 9 people X 118 friends each = 1,062 friends reached, plus our 230 fans who will organically see the post = 1,292 total sets of eyes on our post!

Now of those 1,200+ people who saw the photo, let’s say we receive 30 likes, 10 comments, and 150 photo clicks (to enlarge the photo) from a total of 135 people. Our engagement is approximately 15% on this post – which is considered pretty good, better than most.

Tomorrow, RealtyNinja shares a new weekly article on the Facebook Page, and doesn’t tag anybody in it. It’s only going out to our 1,433 fans, which is really just 230 fans because of the 16% average. Only don’t forget, the 16% is only an average and not a firm rule – many brands are achieving far higher than 16 and many far lower as well. The link we share tomorrow to our article is actually going to reach probably 330 or 350 of our fans this time, which means we increased our reach from 16% to 24% of our total audience in a matter of one day.

Basically, by sharing something that humanizes the RealtyNinja brand, we earned a spike in engagement – a pat on the back from our fans if you will. By engaging with our content, RealtyNinja fans are telling Facebook “This brand did a good job, show me more stuff like this from them!”

This spike in engagement has a lasting effect that can snowball into more and more and more engagement if used correctly. Those 135 people who interacted with our post are going to become more likely to have our future posts placed on their feed by Facebook’s algorithm.

If you’re always sharing links to written work and you’ve noticed that nobody is engaging with your posts and that your posts are receiving only 4 or 5 views, it’s not for no reason.

That means Facebook has decided over time that practically nobody cares about anything you have to say (ouch), because nobody has clicked one of your links or engaged with your content in months. Facebook now no longer shows your posts to anybody. If you want to refuel your Facebook Page, you will need to earn some serious engagement or use paid ads – but engagement is free and totally possible.

I’m using Facebook for the sake of these examples, but similar content algorithms are present all over social media.

Casimir’s British Airways Experience

One of the co-founders of RealtyNinja, Casimir Loeber, is quite a globe trotter, taking RealtyNinja on the road with him from the Philippines to the French Alps and beyond.

He recently had to cut one of his trips short and fly in to Edmonton. This itinerary change would have cost him over $1,000 but British Airways, with whom he has never flown before, listened to his situation – and without going into too much detail – they made the change to his itinerary for free. This saved Casimir nearly $1,200 and some change. If that wasn’t enough, they saved him another few hundred bucks the following day when he had to make yet another change.

Casimir messaged me that day and told me about his experience with British Airways, and asked me to tweet them from the @RealtyNinja account, giving them a shout out. So I did. And then they responded shortly after! Check out our conversation:

Now I think it’s important that I mention that British Airways has over 837,000 followers on Twitter so it’s pretty cool when they take the time to respond! Apart from being cool, it is doing two things: 1) It humanizes RealtyNinja through a personal story about a team member, and 2) it creates a physical link online between us and a brand with over 800,000 followers.

This grants you major clout with your social media followers and also with search engines. So next time you think you don’t have anything to say on social media, think about some of the places you’ve been and the things you’ve done this week. Could you tweet any of the establishments you visited or brands you had a positive experience with, and pay them a compliment or ask them a question?

If you’re not busy right now, try to digitally engage any of the people or establishments you physically engaged this week online – from your phone or computer, facebook or instagram… this is a method of being transparent and genuine as well. If a brand with 800,000+ followers responded to RealtyNinja (who has a modest 1,511 followers) within a few hours, it’s a testament to the fact that transparency and authenticity still reign strong online.

Thank’s for reading this week’s Dojo article. By now I hope you will have started to think about implementing some transparency in your content marketing efforts. Until next time, Ninjas [-_-]~~

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