How can I most effectively celebrate my client, win referrals, and at once serve my business interests? Club Wealth® coaches, agents representing brands and teams such as eXp Realty, Keller Williams, ReMax, and Compass, those associated with Tom Ferry, Mike Ferry, and Eric Hatch, and those generally interested in or associated with real estate sales nationwide, are asking this question and awaiting a comprehensive answer.
Another aspect of client care on which to focus is social media.
After you close on a house, the client is still your client! This could not have been done without them! Be thankful, be humble, reflect on the great experience you had together with them. Do not post a “THUMBS UP!” solo selfie, tongue out, in front of their new home, the “For Sale” sign in a dumpster in the periphery.
Do write them a handwritten note thanking them for their business (this is something Michael Hellickson of Club Wealth emphasizes as being critical); do give them a closing gift; do ask for reviews on Google, et cetera; do foreground your clients or the sale itself in a newsletter blurb or in social media posts you compose about the deal.
This latter point is critical. Prospective clients are looking for your signature: How does this agent treat clients? If your clients are getting top dollar for their homes (or closing below listing price on purchases), if they are smiling and allow themselves to be shown as such in your company’s disseminations, things must be pretty good, prospective clients will think.
If you get to the point where your recent clients are posting reviews, links, and/or photos of their experience themselves – pictures on Instagram, for example, of them moving in, opening their closing gift, sharing a glass of wine, playing a board game together as a family – then you know you’ve done a great job. You could even ask the clients if you can share their photos on your own page! Their friends then will know of you, and your service and honest disposition will have paid real business dividends in the form of happy clients and referrals.
What should my posts look like? What content should I include? How can I become a serious and stupendous social-media marketer? How do I build my presence?
Social media is an indispensable part of many a real estate agent’s repertoire. This includes Omar Harper, Steve Duran, and Robbie Johnson, each of whom have developed consistent strategies for building a social media brand.
Duran, for example, whose eXp Realty team works out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, hired a virtual assistant who helped construct his team’s social media strategy. “Social media,” Duran says, “is a database that needs to be managed.” He makes a task list for his assistant to complete and aims to add new connections daily.
Harper, whose Harper & Associates Realty Teams operates throughout New York’s Hudson Valley emphasizes authenticity and purpose regarding his social media outreach: “People buy people, and someone will relate,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to show your humor and personality.”
Johnson, who spoke at November 2021’s Business Strategy Mastermind Conference alongside her daughter, Hadley Vlahos, a registered nurse who has amassed over 1.1 million followers on TikTok under the moniker “Nurse Hadley” and who guided Johnson’s strategy on the platform, moved markets in 2013 (from Florida to Abilene, TX) and was faced with reestablishing herself as an agent. To do so, she knew she’d need to increase her social media presence. She decided to perfect one platform at a time, first focusing on Facebook before pivoting to Instagram and TikTok, the latter of which after her daughter told her that it would brand her and allow her team, Texas Lifestyles Group, to be the top in the Big Country (the 15 counties around Abilene).
“Whatever you do,” says Johnson, “you have to do it with consistency.” Johnson is a proponent of organic growth, meaning she does not buy followers; rather, she and her team build their social media presence by trasferring relationships established offline online.
Another agent who’s found success with social media is Cleveland-area REALTOR® Rebecca Donatelli, leader of the Rebecca Donatelli Team with McDowell Homes Real Estate Services, REALTOR Magazine 30 Under 30 member, and 2022 President of the Lake and Geauga Area Association of REALTORS. Donatelli earned her real estate license when she was 24 and recognized that if she rose to the level at which she planned to be, she’d be going up against big time players with significant brand recognition: She’d need to find any edge she could. To that end, Instagram served her well. Now, a curious prospective client would visit Donatelli’s page and find bright colors, smiling faces, and 17,000+ followers.
While it wasn’t initially Donatelli’s plan, once she realized Instagram’s marketing potential applied to her, she embraced it. Donatelli did everything to boost her profile. Traditional real estate wisdom instructs a new agent to contact her/his entire sphere of influence to let them know of his/her business; Donatelli conducted this on Instagram. During her downtime — any downtime she had — she was on the app, commenting on stories and posts, connecting with new people, and “making sure others [saw] and [heard her],” as she puts it. She constantly played around with content, gauging audience reaction and engagement, until she found a strategy that works.
“I include a good mix of content from both my business and my personal world,” Donatelli shares. “A lot of REALTORS drop the ball, share mostly about their closings, et cetera. But the key to connecting with folks is communicating your impression of who you are as a person: That’s more important than the houses you’ve sold.” For this reason, Donatelli doesn’t post much about her team’s sales, though they are frequent and notable. People, she’s found, want to know about her.
This confirms what Duran has believed for years about social media. “Fifteen percent of people in the country will move in the next year. You can capitalize on that,” he says. “Leverage all social platforms and engage people.”
This also corresponds with Harper’s theory of authenticity. “Authenticity,” Harper says, “is what you have to do. Share you. And be grateful, be thankful.” Harper has ridden his social media strategy to success across multiple states — he works in Connecticut, too.
Harper cannot share enough about how social media has helped him join local groups, engage in conversations, and add value to others’ endeavors. Harper equates social media to a CRM, in which he is able to create lists to section off his database — e.g., past clients, prospects, hometown, REALTORS, kids’ sports/school, alumni networks.
Nothing, however, is more important to social media success than authenticity. As important as it is to share business successes with followers (Harper recommends posting about business at least 1-2 times per week), it is equally critical to show who you are through humor, quotes, videos of kids’ sporting events, et cetera.
“There’s real power in sharing who you are as a person,” Donatelli relays. “The goal is to let people get to know you. The persona you share online should be accurate when others meet you in person: Be genuine.” It’s difficult for Donatelli to estimate how much of her business she owes to her Instagram, especially as she works with many builders/developers; she estimates, however, that around 80 percent of her clients reach her through the platform. These clients are an admixture of past clients, new faces, and “random people” with whom she connects and builds an online relationship, illustrating the value and reach of the app.
Real estate social media consultant Chelsea Peitz seconds that: “Sharing what you do and how you help people helps you grow your brand. Storytelling makes what you do relatable and provides necessary ground for human connection.” Peitz is a frequent industry conference presenter and podcast guest who prides herself in providing actionable insights rather than “high-level fluff.” She and her work have been featured across a variety of news outlets, and she has been nominated twice (in 2018 and 2019) for Inman’s Innovator of the Year award.
In any case, Vlahos, with her million-plus followers, is the social media queen of the group. She recommends, as does Harper, considering that each post should 1) Educate, 2) Entertain, and/or 3) Empower viewers. “No one cares what you had for lunch if you’re not Kim Kardashian,” Vlahos levels. “You have to make it about your audience and the people watching.” Your goal should be to “stop the scroll” with an eye-catching title or opener: for example, “Don’t even think about seeing homes for sale without this piece of paper in your hand.” Create intrigue and good feelings.
Vlahos, who has replaced her income as a nurse with that from TikTok, scored a six-figure book deal from Penguin Random House, and is a candidate for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the Social Impact Movement category, insists it is persistence and following well-worn tips — not luck — that have allowed her to find such success.
Harper, Johnson, Duran, Vlahos, Donatelli, and Peitz all have different social media strategies; however, the strategies share common facets, which we will highlight here.
First, post regularly. Keep people updated on your events – let them know how important it is to you by the frequency with which you post (of course, don’t go overboard). In Harper’s BSM 2021 talk, he mentioned filming and postings clips from a 6U soccer game. Donatelli shares an Instagram Story every day, and posts around three times per week. She doesn’t schedule content ahead of time, as she feels that impedes her authenticity and that it’s much more straightforward to share news as it comes in. Duran, however, believes developing a social media schedule holds you accountable to yourself and helps ensure consistency. Whatever works for you and keeps it fun!
Second, don’t be afraid to share personal information! Vlahos built her following by telling stories about her work. Duran notes: “Stories sell!” If Instagram is a great way to get in front of clients, it is also a great way to place your best, most honest-to-you self in front of those clients. Include an array of content related to both your business and your day-to-day.
Third, include clients on your page! All of our sources recommend this. Donatelli notes that clients “love it when you post their photos, as long as you ask first.” Another genre of post she’s found to be successful is Behind the Scenes. More regularly now, she posts images and videos of closings, signings, et cetera, many of which include her clients.
There is real power in sharing your client connection on social media, notably related to the proof it provides of a) a deal well done, b) your bedside manner with clients, and c) your ability to close. Use the post as a chance to both reward and thank your clients for their trust. Minimize yourself and let the situation speak for itself. Foreground the client, and your business will benefit.
Fourth, and previously mentioned: Connect! Use Instagram as a gift of an opportunity to maintain and expand your network. There are tools available today which allow people to build their business and following unlike any in the past. Duran and Harper particularly emphasize joining or building groups, engaging with those groups, and adding members constantly; sending personal messages, especially on slam-dunk days such as birthdays and anniversaries; messaging connections daily; and engaging through comments on others’ posts.
Fifth, be grateful. If someone tags or mentions you in a post, comment and says thanks! This both shows who you are — a gracious servant of the community — and increases your visibility.
“Social media is farming, ” says Duran. “Keep working the dirt and watering the seeds,” and good things will happen.
Sixth, don’t get impatient if no one’s liking your posts. Notes Nurse Hadley, “It’s important to start building up a collection of posts,” so that when people visit the page they can make an informed decision on whether to follow you. Don’t wait until you have tons of followers to post, otherwise nothing will ever happen. Vlahos dispels two myths of social media: 1) You need a niche. “You are your niche! No one else has your niche, your personality. Share parts of your life to gain the trust of your followers.” 2) Buy followers. “Don’t!” If you buy followers, your posts are being shown first to fake people, who therefore won’t engage and your post won’t be shown to a wider audience. Build organically, as Johnson does, for the longest-term success.
Remember that people know you’re an agent. What they don’t know is who you are, and thus if they’d want to work with you. If you make a big sale, reference it if only to show what you can do. But don’t linger on it. Move on and show them the local restaurant you’re frequenting or the event you’re attending. Give them something to hold on to.
Peitz, for her part, believes that there’s no silver bullet strategy that fits every REALTOR. Instead, she notes three primary factors for those in real estate to consider when developing a social media strategy. The question she asks: “How can I create human connections with social media?”
First, your strategy depends on you, your team, and your goals. Know your audience and what they expect from you, whether that be a niche focus, answers, et cetera. Second, know the language of your chosen platform. While Peitz favors Instagram, she recommends choosing a platform you enjoy and creating consistently on that platform. Repurpose ideas from that primary account to post on other social media platforms: for example, turning an Instagram Live interview into a LinkedIn post with bullet points of topics covered in the interview. Third, focus on long-term sustainability. Social media can feel like a job, Peitz says, so do something that isn’t overwhelming for you to maintain.
Peitz doesn’t focus on followers and views; instead, she believes it’s best to ask yourself, “How many DMs am I sending and receiving daily?”
“You need to be proactive,” says Peitz. “You need to be a superfan of others’ content. And you need to show your face! How often am I showing up? Am I providing something valuable? How many conversations am I having in one day? If there are two things you must do, though I don’t like using that word: Put your face in the content! People connect with people on social media in a real way, even if it’s through a screen. Second, focus on commenting over contenting. An over-focus on contenting can lead to paralysis in thinking what to post. Focus on sending DMs and commenting on others’ posts; this leads to greater community and greater visibility.”
In short, show prospective clients who you are and what you can do, and in fewer words than that.
Instagram — and Facebook, for that matter — are perfect platforms for promoting your real estate business, as they provide space for both photos and text in a friendly layout and are populated by millions of US-based users, many of whom will want to own property at some point.