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Is your social media working for you? 3 key metrics to gauge your success

Is your social media working for you? 3 key metrics to gauge your success

The pandemic has changed the way realtors market themselves. The days of open houses and door knocking are behind us and while they may return in the future, your marketing machine has to work now. 

While it’s becoming more difficult to generate leads in real life, now is an opportune time to deepen the relationships you already have using email marketing and social media to stay in touch and help build trust and credibility. 

Your past clients (and prospects) are spending more time on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn so it makes sense that you should beef up your presence there. But how do you know it’s working? It’s unlikely (though not unheard of) that a single post will lead to a sale. However, consistency and repetition will create recognition for you and encourage people to reach out. 

Here are three metrics you can use to gauge your success:  

Is your following increasing?

The number of people who are following you should be constantly on the rise. It won’t be dramatic, but your numbers should be going up steadily.

The three social channels I recommend agents be active on are Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. The approach to building a following on each of them is a little different. 

On Facebook, you want to start out by inviting the people you’re connected with personally. If you’re not already connected personally with past clients, connect with them as a friend, and then (not immediately, though!) invite them to like your business page. 

On LinkedIn, chances are you’re connected with more colleagues than clients, but you can be strategic and reach out to clients who will be happy to accept your invitation to connect. From here they’ll start seeing your posts. 

On Instagram, you have to be pro-active and follow people first. Begin by following people you know (Instagram will show you connections). Once you follow someone, they get a notification and there’s a good chance they’ll follow you back. 

Next, follow people strategically. Do a search for the kind of people you want to work with. Searching by hashtag, you can find people who live in specific areas or who have certain interests. As long as you’re posting interesting content (not just listings) many will follow you back and start seeing your posts. 

Bonus tip for all three channels: Make sure you have links on your website and in your email signature for all your social channels so that when people come across you online, they have the opportunity to follow you.

Engagement 

Engagement is critical to social media success. If you’re not receiving likes, shares and comments, you need to revisit the sort of content you’re posting. Even in a best-case scenario, the engagement is going to be low, but it should be there. 

Go into the analytics on each channel. Instagram allows you to check the analytics on both individual posts and your account. Facebook has insights and on LinkedIn you can look at each post and see how many people you reached.  The benefit of paying attention to these numbers is that you start to learn what kind of posts people are interested in, which will help you refine your future content. 

Conversations 

In your post, pose a question or ask for comments to help start those conversations. Make sure you’re responding to comments, questions and direct messages. It is called social media and people expect a response from you. One easy way to stay on top of this is to make sure that notifications are enabled on your phone.

If you would like to go deeper into any of these topics, please get in touch. I also offer free webinars on email marketing and social media. If you would like to know more, let’s talk!

Your Next Challenge: Make a Video

Your Next Challenge: Make a Video

I could toss statistics your way about how many businesses are using video and how many hours of video people are watching. However, if you’ve spent any time on Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn recently, you know many businesses are using video. You’ve also probably seen videos from some of your competitors.

When I speak about email marketing or social media, I always highlight video as the one tool that businesses, especially service providers, should add to their marketing mix. It’s the most effective way of conveying personality and generating engagement. However, there’s often some pushback and I hear things like “I don’t like the way I look on camera,” or “I don’t like the way I sound.” Here’s some tough love: you need to get past this. Nobody likes how they look on camera.

You also have to remember that you’ll never achieve perfection. Before the pandemic, I spoke at Property.ca Realty in Toronto, run by real estate broker and TV star of Property Virgins and Buy Herself, Sandra Rinomato. She says that you should aim for 70 per cent. The wind may be blowing your hair, you may stumble across a word or two, but if you can get it 70 per cent right, consider that a success. You will definitely get better as time goes on.

One hurdle is not knowing where to start and not knowing what questions to ask because there are a range of options for creating and editing video – from a total DIY video to hiring a company that will film and edit the videos for you, delivering a completely finished product.

I spoke with Kate Jonker, owner of Kosmic Creative, a Toronto-based video and web design company, for some advice on how to get started.

For those on a budget or looking to DIY, she says, “The most important aspect to be clear about is the key message you want to get across in your video.” Videos for Facebook or email should be under two minutes and for Instagram, you have a maximum of 60 seconds, so the message needs to focused.

If you don’t have a camera, don’t worry. “Most new smartphones have a decent enough camera that will do the trick but be sure to test your footage first to confirm it’s crisp. The typical HD standard is 1080p and at that quality, your video will present really nicely on YouTube, phones, tablets and laptops.” Another thing Kate suggests you consider is stabilization. A selfie stick can work or a tripod, but something that cuts down on camera movement will keep you looking professional.

If you’re looking to up your game, there are many digital cameras that you can buy for under $500, but you get what you pay for. Kate says renting is always an option – some companies will give you a weekend rate and you can rent a good camera for $150 or less, a fraction of what it would cost you to buy it, and you can try different options to see what suits you.

As for sound, if you’re sitting at your desk or a computer in front of a wall, you can use a headphone that has a mic. In terms of low-budget audio, it will be pretty clear.

“A great option is a lapel mic that clips on to your shirt. You can get a solid mic, which plugs into your smartphone such as a RODE SmartLav+, for around $100,” says Kate.

The next step is editing.

“If you’re a Mac user, iMovie, Lightworks and DaVinci Resolve are free tools that offer basic editing capability and allow you to use effects that, together, will make your video look somewhat professional. You can add transitions between clips, colour correct your videos, add captions and you can also combine background music with your footage to tell a story,” says Kate.

Windows 10 has a built-in video editor. Lightworks, DaVinci Resolve and HitFilm Express are also available. There are many step-by-step tutorials available online.

Hiring a professional “takes on the stress of making a production. You have enough on your plate as it is, so working with a videographer allows you an opportunity to enjoy the process. Put simply, after teaming up with an experienced filmmaker, the quality of your video will be exponentially higher in a shorter amount of time,” says Kate. “The idea is for your piece of marketing magic to be crafted behind the scenes while you continue doing your job.”

A good video company acts as a storyteller – they can help put a script together that really speaks to your audience. When it comes to editing, they also have experience in colour correction, brightness, contrast, saturation and clarity of clips. They’re used to optimizing footage and, without experience, you – as a beginner – can sometimes make it worse or the video could fall short of its potential.

Once your videos are completed, you can share them in your email marketing and your social media. Once you see the level of engagement you’re driving, you’ll be encouraged to make more.

Email vs Social Media Marketing

email vs social media

Email marketing and social media marketing are two digital tools you should be taking advantage of, but it’s important to understand how they work and what they do. 

Email primarily helps you stay in touch with the people you already know and it can also build awareness. Social media primarily helps build awareness and build your online reputation. 

If you think about the clients you’ve worked with over the past year, you’re probably doing your best business with people you already know. That’s why it makes sense to spend a time and money nurturing those relationships with email marketing. 

When you send an email, you know who the message is going to, who opened the email and what links they clicked on. It’s a great reminder to past clients about who you are and what you do and a terrific way to start conversations. 

Include a call to action in your introduction. Prompt people to forward the email to anybody they know who is potentially making a move or is interested in the real estate market and it can help build awareness.  

On social media, you begin by posting content that’s seen by people who’ve already connected to you, and you build awareness by having those people comment and like your posts. On some channels, people they know will be alerted to something that they’ve interacted with. The best thing a follower can do is share one of your posts – now your content is being shown to potentially hundreds of people who aren’t already connected to you. 

Social media also does something that email does not: help you build your online reputation. We know when somebody is introduced to you, whether it’s through a Facebook ad or a referral from a past client, they are going to look you up online. When they Google you, one of the first things they’re going to see is your social media. They’re going to check out your Facebook page, they’re going to peruse your LinkedIn, they’re going to scroll through your Instagram. Having an active, engaged presence on social media goes a long way towards building an online reputation. 

Ultimately, you really need to be using both email and social media, but you have to make sure they are working together for you. Here are four things you can start doing today:

  • Include your social media links and an email signup link in your email signature
  • Include your social media links and an email signup link on your website (if you already have these, your homework today is to test them to make sure they work)
  • The next time you send out a newsletter, make sure you include links to your social media channels in your newsletter, then 
  • Post that email on your social media 

If you have any questions about how to get email and social media marketing working for you, please get in touch! 

Facebook vs Instagram

Facebook vs Instagram

I’m often asked by business owners if they should be on Facebook or Instagram or both and the answer is a solid “it depends”. 

Although Instagram is just six years younger than Facebook, it seems to be the platform more people are talking about than Facebook. but that doesn’t mean Facebook is disappearing. There are still good reasons to use it.  

In terms of demographics, there’s more overlap than there used to be, but there are still more people over 45 using Facebook than Instagram. (source: Statista)

A little information about Facebook users:

  • 25 million Canadians have Facebook accounts (Statista)
  • 2/3 of Canadian Facebook users check the site daily (Facebook) 
  • 86% of internet users with $100k+ income use Facebook (Sproutsocial)

In terms of usability, you can post anything you like on Facebook. Links, listings, videos, photos, polls, anything you can view online, you can post on Facebook. (Except for a PDF). While you should be sharing some original content, you can also share third party content (from reliable sources, depending on your industry) so you don’t have to be creating all your own material. 

A little information about Instagram users: 

  • 13.2M users in Canada (Statista)
  • 41% of Instagram users in Canada are over 35 (Statista) 
  • 81% of people use Instagram to help research products and services (Hootsuite)

You’re limited to posting photos and short videos on Instagram, but there are more places to post: feed, stories, IGTV and reels, their answer to TikTok. 

It’s easier to generate a following and get engagement (or at least likes) on your posts on Instagram. The analytics are really easy to see on each post. The challenge is that if you want to gain traction on Instagram, it’s more hands on. You’ll have to be wiling to spend time looking people up to follow them, understanding how hashtags work and figuring out a plan to create your own content, though it’s fairly straight-forward.

The benefit to using both platforms is that you’ll be reaching more people, but the catch is that you should ideally be posting different content on each channel, although there can be some overlap.

A note to realtors about how advertising has changed: Facebook pulled the rug out from realtors in December. Previously, you could target an ad to different postal codes, you could narrow down by age, you could advertise to people living in a radius around a certain address or location and you could exclude people, so you weren’t advertising to fellow realtors. 

That’s changed. You now have to self-identify your ad as housing (if you don’t, the Facebook bots are going to catch you and reject your ad). You have to advertise to people aged 18 to 65+ and you have to advertise to the entire city plus a 15 mile radius. You can still advertise to people who like your page and their friends, and you can narrow it down by interest. If you’re comfortable using the Facebook Ad Manager rather than the boost button, you may find better results that way and you can advertise on both Facebook and Instagram that way. 

The decision about whether to use Facebook or Instagram or both comes down to both demographics and time. If your clients skew a little younger (under 45) and you have the time or interest to be creating content, you’ll see better results on Instagram. If you’re dealing with clients who are mostly 35 and up, they’re going to be found on Facebook. 

How are you doing with your New Year’s marketing resolutions?

Many of us started 2021 enthusiastically, with high hopes for what the year would bring. We had big plans for what we were going to do and how we were going to get it done.

However, just as with New Year’s Resolutions, a few things stuck, and a few fell by the wayside. As we begin to wrap up the first month of the year, one initiative I’m doing is looking at what didn’t get started and thinking through what got in the way. Rather than feel guilty about it, I am figuring out at what can be outsourced or simply crossed off the list because it’s really not critical.

For weeks, I procrastinated updating slide decks for the webinars I deliver. (If I’m being honest, it was more like months). I realized that it would take several hours completely dedicated to that project and that hiring someone to do it would result in two things: more time for me and a more professional product. So, I gave detailed instructions to one of my team members, who did a great job. And, now it’s done!

I recommend making a list of the marketing activities you would like to start or want to continue and decide which of those you enjoy and which are such a chore that they fall to the bottom of the list. Willpower can only get you so far.

As a start, consider the activities that will keep you top of mind with the people you already know who may well send you referrals (thereby doing a little lead gen for you!)

The pandemic restrictions are likely to last many more months and clients are getting used to doing more research online, so it makes sense for a realtor to have a robust presence.

The first thing is to claim your business listing on Google so it comes up when people look for you. This will also allow you to collect those positive reviews from your happy clients. Once this is done, it will work in the background for you and doesn’t need to be updated every day. There are other review sites, but Google is still the most important. The question here is, do you want to figure out how to do it or do you just want it to be done?

Next is social media. People are spending way more time on Facebook and Instagram, so it’s important that you have a presence.

Social media is the hardest one to do yourself because it’s time consuming and the rules keep changing. First, you need to make sure your profiles are complete and up-to-date. Then, you need to have a plan to be posting good content on a regular basis. If all you’re posting is listings, people are quickly going to tune out. You need a balance of content from a range of sources to do it well and each channel (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) has a slightly different culture. LinkedIn is strictly business, Instagram is more casual and Facebook is a balance of the two.  

Social media can be one of the more obvious things to outsource. Some companies will post the same content for all clients while other take a more boutique approach posting unique content. It’s a question of budget but if you don’t like being in front of your computer, the chance is low that you’re going to start or be consistent. This is a business building activity you could be delegating.

Email marketing:

Email marketing only works when it’s done right. Sending out an email that is 100% sales focused is a good way to get people to delete your email or unsubscribe. An effective email has a balance of content and a subject line that gets people interested. Creating a monthly newsletter isn’t that difficult. Creating a good newsletter that people actually open and read, that’s much more of a challenge. Do you have the patience and skill to write an introduction, come up with a catchy subject line and find content that’s interesting? Do you even want to be doing this? Is this something you should be delegating?

If you’re going to do these things yourself, have a look at the different software  options available and see which one you’re more comfortable with. Many CRM’s have software built in, but they’re not usually as robust as a Constant Contact or a MailChimp. Create a calendar so you know when your email is due to go out. Bookmark the sites that offer the best content.

And of course, if you want someone to take this all or some of this off your hands, please get in touch! 

 

Planning Your Marketing for 2021

Planning Your Marketing for 2021

With only a few weeks left until the end of year, business owners are starting to look ahead to 2021 to get our marketing plans in place.

While open houses and door knocking may make a comeback later in 2021, the movement to doing things digitally is not going to change. So, you need to decide which online activities are going to bring you clients next year?

Reviews

Having positive reviews from happy clients is great, but in order to collect them, you need to have channels set up and a plan to ask for testimonials.

Your Facebook page is a great start, but make sure you’re set up on Google Business before 2021. Having an active profile here means that when people look you up on Google, they quickly have access to your website, contact information and reviews.

In order to leave a review, somebody must be signed into a Google account, so Google knows they are real. Get into the habit of asking for a review after each transaction – you can create set up an email template that goes out after every transaction with a link to your Google business page. It’s free!

Email

Having an email marketing plan in place will help you do two things:

Stay in touch with your past clients. A good monthly email will get people opening your email, keeping you top of mind when a friend or someone in their network talks about moving.

Nurture relationships with people who find you online. Prospects are going to find you online. If you’re asking them to register through your website or via a Facebook lead ad, you need to have a plan to engage them right away, whether they’re potential buyers or sellers. Even if it’s as simple as a welcome email and then a second email asking them to connect with you on social media, it sets the tone and lets them know what to expect when you move them to your newsletter list.

Action Steps You Can Take Now

To do:

  • Get your contact list together. Pull the email addresses from wherever they currently are
  • Make sure you have first names so you can personalize your email
  • Enter in the home purchase anniversary date
  • Enter in their birthday if you can find it (many of your clients will have their birthdays on Facebook!)

Social Media

Since the pandemic started, we’ve been spending a lot more time on social media. Now is a great time to do a bit of an audit (link to my REM DIY article). What social media channels are you currently using? Are you getting any results? One thing to consider for the next year is focussing on one social media site, learning how it works best and generating some engagement before moving on to something else.

Tip: Check out your competition. See what they’re posting that’s generating comments and shares but also see what isn’t working for them. It can help inspire your own efforts.

Video

If you’re not yet using video in your marketing, make 2021 the year to you do it! Short of being in person, nothing conveys your personality, your charm and your charisma (and I know you’ve got them) like video. Click here for a past article on some how to’s . Whether it’s a market update, a profile of a local shop or restaurant or a walk-through of your latest listing, video is content that keeps on giving. you can put your video in an email, on a YouTube channel, on your website and on your social media. All you need to get started are a newish phone, a ring light with a tripod and a teleprompter app.

Now is a good time to figure out where you want to focus your marketing efforts in 2021, but don’t neglect to take some time off. If you don’t start the year a little refreshed, you’ll burn out!

Get more out of your social media

Get more out of your social media

Lead generation is increasingly challenging right now and building on those relationships even more so. It’s hard to get to know someone when you can’t actually meet in person; a video call only gets you so far. 

The most valuable thing you can do for your business is to nurture the relationships you already have, and you can start with the people you’re connected to on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram by inviting them to sign up for your email list. 

The average post on Facebook reaches about 2% of the people who like your page. The average email you send will land in almost 100% of people’s inboxes. They won’t all read it, but they’ll see your name and that’s a close second because we know the value of repetition. 

Nobody wants to receive more email, so you need to use more engaging language than ‘Sign up for my newsletter’. Let people know what they’ll receive, whether it’s early access to new listings, exclusive content or expert advice on the market.

If you have an active presence on social media, it’s not hard to ask people to give up their email address. There are a number of ways you can do this, if you are using email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Facebook: 

Add the app: you’ll see a Join My List tab on your home page or to make it more visible, customize the call to action button under your banner photo. You can point someone towards making a call, visiting your website or signing up for your mailing list. 

You can also do regular asks when you post your monthly email on Facebook. Let people know you send out a great monthly email and post the link, inviting them to sign up. Take it a step further and boost the newsletter, choosing the ‘People Who Like Your Page’ audience.

LinkedIn: 

On your profile, you have the opportunity to include three links. I suggest including your main business website, your Facebook page and the link to allow people to sign up for your newsletter! It will show up when people look for your contact information and you never know when somebody is going to look you up. Give them an easy way to stay in touch with you. As with Facebook, you can share your email on LinkedIn and ask people to click the link if they want to receive this in their inbox. 

Make sure you have an automatic welcome email set up. It should have the same design as your newsletter so they recognize you when you land in their inbox. 

Any email marketing software you’re using should be giving you these options . The value of setting this up is that it works in the background for you, so every time somebody visit you on your social media sites whether it’s Facebook or LinkedIn or even Instagram, they can click a link and give you their contact information and you can further build your relationship through your email marketing. If you have any questions about how to set this up or best practices, please get in touch. 

Three Ways To Kickstart Your Online Marketing for Fall

Three Ways To Kickstart Your Online Marketing for Fall

The end of summer is the perfect time to plan ahead for your fall marketing. If your marketing machine is working at capacity, that’s great!

However, most of us (even marketers!) can benefit from taking a step back once in a while to see what’s new and figure out what’s missing from the mix.

Marketing yourself or your business online is critical. It’s the first place people to go learn more about you. Make sure you’re easy to find and that your information is up-to-date.

Here are three strategies to consider when you do your review:

Register for a Google My Business page

When people search for your name or your business, your listing appears at the time of a search on a phone and on the right-hand side of the page on a computer, containing photos you’ve uploaded, your hours, contact information and reviews. Register here. You’ll need a Google account for this but once you’re verified (they’ll mail you a postcard to make sure you’re real) you’ll be able to collect reviews from your happy clients. This is an easy way to build credibility and keep your information up to date.

Email Marketing

Email really is the best channel we have to reach everyone we know. It’s a great tool for nurturing relationships with existing clients to help generate repeat business and referrals.

Your plan should include software: If you’re serious about email marketing, you can’t use a personal email program. Constant Contact and MailChimp are both viable options. Your CRM may offer email marketing, but it’s not my first choice because they don’t usually have the functionality of software that’s designed for email marketing nor do they look as good.

If you’re already sending email marketing (great!) it’s worth revisiting your contact list to make sure it’s complete. Make sure your recent clients are there!

If you’re just getting started, get your contact list together. You can start with people you already know such as friends, family and office colleagues if you like. Anybody you’ve done business with in the past two years can be added to a list, although it’s best practice to ask them if you can add them. (Pro tip – don’t just ask if you can add them to your email list, tell them you send out a great monthly newsletter with local information and ask if they would like to receive it!).

You also need a plan to collect email addresses moving forward. Right now, it’s all going to be virtual so make sure your website has a popup, you’ve included a link in your email signature and it’s one of the links on your LinkedIn.

Social Media 

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn offer a lot of value, but only if you’re going to be posting good content consistently. Before people pick up the phone, they’re going to check you out online. The most robust your presence is, the more credible you will seem. 

At the very least, update your profile on LinkedIn. When people Google your name, it’s one of the first things that comes up and it’s your way of controlling the conversation. 

The two best things you can do to ensure social media success are to understand what success looks like – and to have a plan. 

Social media should help you boost awareness and start conversations. Two key indicators of success are that the number of followers you have are increasing and that people are engaging (liking, commenting or sharing). 

When: Your plan should include a calendar to help you know when you’re going to post

What: Spend some time online to figure out which sites are posting content that you think your audience is interested in

Where: Different social channels attract different people. Figure out where your potential clients are likely to be

How: Consider using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite and a news aggregator like Feedly to help you save time. 

This is a broad overview to provide you with some things to consider as you kickstart your online marketing for the fall of 2020. 

To take a deeper dive into any of these topics, please get in touch. I also offer free webinars on email marketing and social media. If you would like to know more, let’s talk! 

Hashtags #101: Maximize Instagram

Hashtags #101: Maximize Instagram

You may be using Instagram, but are you maximizing it? Are you increasing your exposure and getting more attention?

One critical step is to use hashtags properly. With so many posts on Instagram every day, it’s easy for you to get lost in the noise. Hashtags help the app identify what you are posting about and get your message to the right people.

Hashtags 101

  • A hashtag is simply a series of words or letters after the pound sign (#)
  • Hashtags started on Twitter as a way of easily finding what was being posted about a certain topic
  • Facebook and LinkedIn keep trying to get people to use them, but it hasn’t really caught on
  • Instagram and Twitter are where they’re used best

When you post on Instagram without hashtags, the only people who will see your posts are those who are already following you. If your goal is to build awareness (and that should be one of them!) you want to reach more people. Advertising is great, but hashtags are free.

Hashtags can give you real results:

1 – Instagram users follow both people and hashtags. Let’s say someone is scrolling through IG liking posts. Often, they will get a message telling them they’ve liked several posts with the same hashtag – would they like to follow it? It’s common to tap yes. So now people are following the hashtags you’re using, and you could show up in their feed.

2 – Hashtags help tell IG what you’re posting about. When someone does a search, they’re shown accounts and posts similar to who they are following and what they have liked. Use the right hashtags and your account can be one of the accounts they see that way.

3 – You can see who has liked your post – chances are a number of those people aren’t following your page. Follow them and they will follow you back!

Here’s an example of how it can work: I post on Instagram for the Toronto Film Society, which currently has about 1800 followers. One day in July I posted about Celeste Holm. The post reached 2090 people and the analytics told me that 88% of the people it reached were not following the Toronto Film Society. We reached 1403 people who weren’t following the account because of the hashtags we used.

How to get started:

Do a Google search for real estate hashtags.
Visit other realtors’ accounts and see what they’re doing

Go to Instagram on your phone (or computer) and start searching. #(yourcity) #(yourcity)realestate. Instagram will tell you how many posts are using those hashtags and suggest similar hashtags. You want to use hashtags that are popular enough to get you noticed but not too popular that you get lost.

You can use a maximum of 30 hashtags on Instagram, but it’s unlikely that there are 30 hashtags related to what you’re postings about. Ten to fifteen hashtags should do the trick.

Bonus tip #1: Make sure you’re using a professional account. If you’re using a personal account, you can switch it to professional in your settings or while editing your profile.

Bonus tip #2: Don’t forget about geotagging. When you’re posting on IG, identify where you are, whether it’s a specific neighbourhood or location such as a café or park. This helps IG help you reach out to other users who are in the same location.

If you are not using Instagram or you want to know more about maximizing your IG efforts, please be in touch.

MB Digital Communications