Social Media Blueprint for Brokers

I’m speaking at Inman News’ (@InmanNews) Real Estate Connect in New York City next week.

And I’ve been asked to speak on a panel about what it means to have a “Social Media Marketing Wake-Up Call” as part of a larger “Brokerage Bootcamp” forum.

This blog post is the foundation of the points I hope to convey during that session.

OUT: Google | IN: Social

First, let’s cover WHY this matters. I think I can sum it up in five short words, as follows:

Social is the new search.

Facebook is now the most visited website in the United States.

That’s JUST Facebook, and doesn’t include the explosion of Twitter and the rapid rise of YouTube as a search portal of extreme significance.

I’m not even going to explain this any further. For me, it’s THAT obvious and THAT ubiquitous. And if you disagree, stop reading now, because you aren’t going to agree with much of any thing I’ll say from this point forward.

OUT: Cold Search | IN: Warm Peer

The point: more and more, people are getting their recommendations from their “warm and friendly” peer groups rather than from the cold, hard analytics of Google.

And these peer groups are vast, growing exponentially and becoming more and more vocal every single day.

Why are people turning to Social search?

There are many reasons, but the biggest is simple: TRUST.

And the implications of this on real estate agents, brokerages and brands are enormous. And I am FAR from the first to voice this view.

OUT: Not in the Game | IN: In the Game

Second, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that most real estate brokerages and brands are not leveraging Social Media very effectively. I LIVE in the real estate/Social space, and I can name you every brokerage and brand that I think is doing it right. And the list is not large.

And I see a variety of problems with those who are not fully invested in Social, in that many of these brokerages and brands are:

  • Not monitoring what is being said about them by clients (current, past or potential) and competitors
  • Not monitoring what their competitors are saying about themselves
  • Not monitoring what their own agents and brokers are saying
  • Not putting forth a consistent, coherent, intentional branding image or message (1,000 unique, individual branding strategies from a single brand = no brand image)

10 Steps to Social Success

So, here’s what I would suggest a broker do to start moving in the right direction in terms of having an effective Social Media marketing presence:

  1. Define: Define the mission and purpose of your Social Media Marketing initiative. This is CRUCIAL.  This could be any or all of the following:
    • Listening to what is being said about your brokerage/brand to identify how you are being perceived and to correct misinformation or mistakes (that is, to correct, inform, disarm, diffuse, problem-solve, intercede, etc.)
    • Putting forth a specific branding message
    • Connecting with potential clients, recruiting candidates and key strategic business partners
    • Evidencing your position as the trusted expert in your market
  2. Establish: Establish a formal Social Media policy (examples)
  3. Communicate: Communicate that policy to every member of your organization (on a consistent basis)
  4. Join: Join the major Social Media channels (Twitter, Facebook, a WordPress blog and a YouTube channel)
  5. Commit: Commit to the reality that Social is big, important and here to stay. And that means devoting resources to really be IN THE GAME. I truly believe that there is ZERO ROI for those who are not truly in the Social Media moshpit…and that there is huge ROI for those who are, and who leverage this new paradigm intelligently
  6. Monitor: Start monitoring what is being said about your brokerage (easiest way: use a Twitter client like HootSuite or TweetDeck and use keyword searching to select the obvious keywords – e.g., the name of your brokerage)
  7. Follow: Follow your own agents and make sure they are adhering to the Social Media policy that you’ve established
  8. Create: Create content that mirrors the mission and purpose of your overall Social Media strategy
  9. Identify: Identify the right people to articulate and execture your Social Media marketing initiative(s). As you will find the deeper you get into Social Media, everyone has their own “tone and tenor” and I believe it is CRUCIAL to select the right people for this task. When the wrong people are handed the keys to the Social Media car, bad things can happen. Further, picking the right person or two to be the almost-literal face and personification of your brokerage or your brand can make a huge difference in how you are perceived by many thousands – if not millions, when search is considered – of people

The 10th Step…

This 10th and final step is so important I’m going to address it separately:

Focus on ENGAGEMENT rather than BROADCASTING.

A mistake I see a lot of entities make in Social Media is that they tend to spew out statistics and posts and comments that are, at their core, “all about them.” And that’s about ALL they do.

If I have learned ANYTHING from Social Media, it is this: whether you are an individual, a company or a brand, huge or small, it’s all the same: it’s all about the direct engagement.

When you engage with people, you HUMANIZE and PERSONALIZE your brokerage and your brand, and great things can happen.

When you broadcast, you’ve simply moved your traditional marketing methodologies into the Social space, where they are likely to produce poor results.

Over time, I have stopped following every – underscore that, EVERY – profile in Facebook or Twitter that I concluded was nothing but a “faceless corporate broadcasting propaganda machine.”

This is Only the Beginning…

There is SO MUCH MORE to this process than what I’ve written in this post, but I thought I’d start with the foundational elements.

Start with these steps, and you’ll be on your way to a greater level of Social Media success…



Trackbacks Comments
  • GREAT points, Michael. We can’t afford NOT to be social. But the #10 point is soooo imperative! engage=listen, broadcast=talk. Listen, then speak :)

    • I must express taknhs to this writer for bailing me out of this setting. Just after surfing around through the the net and obtaining opinions which are not powerful, I believed my life was well over. Living without the presence of solutions to the problems you’ve sorted out by way of your good guideline is a critical case, and the kind that might have in a negative way damaged my career if I hadn’t come across your blog. Your good knowledge and kindness in taking care of every part was precious. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not discovered such a subject like this. I am able to at this moment look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time very much for this skilled and effective guide. I won’t be reluctant to refer your blog to anyone who would need recommendations about this topic.

  • Grizzly Peak

    You know the problem is that monitoring costs time and money, and unless broker/owners can figure out a way to pass that cost down to the agents and hide it so they can make pennies of profit per desk, thus causing them to hire any one with a heartbeat and a license (heartbeat optional), I don’t see it happening. ;)

  • Social media has opened up my world. I wish to use it to help people as well as learning from them. I learned from Twitter a great lead generational tool that has been working for our team this week.

    Social search is also a very powerful tool. I introduced how to use that to our agents today and they had no idea and were really impressed.

    As evidenced today on Facebook, I don’t think my brokerage has anything to worry about in the way I represent them. However, I need to work on really listening to what people are trying to say and stick with the original idea expressed by the original poster.

  • Incredible insight Michael. You truly pave the way for the landscape of real estate to come. I see the dinosaurs resisting the inevitable and the new breed quickly spreading and their reach quickly crowding the playing field. I am grateful to still be in the game and as I often say to Chris Smith, @TechSavvyAgent, I hold on by a thread… It’s a privilege to follow your lead!

    Agi Anderson, eProAdvisor

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