Putting your house on the market used to mean you’d hire a real estate agent, take some photos, list your property on the MLS, hold open houses, get an offer and then negotiate the price. If you or your agent decided to do any marketing, that might take the form of a physical mailer or a small ad in the local paper. And that was that.
Today it’s become more important than ever to use the internet and social media to promote your home. Just over ten years ago, only 5% of American adults were on social media. That number has since skyrocketed to 69%, according to the Pew Research Center.
You can’t ignore that kind of growth.
Dismiss highly visual and interactive networks like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and you risk losing out on critical exposure to potential buyers of all ages and incomes.
After all, social media is no longer the land of socially eager, brace-faced teenagers and bored college co-eds. It’s where people of all stripes come together to share funny memes, engage in political discourse and, yes, check out gorgeous photos of homes for sale.
What’s more, if your agent doesn’t jump on the social media bandwagon, they’ll miss the chance to network with other realtors, which is key when it comes to keeping a finger on the pulse of local real estate buzz.
There’s no good reason not to familiarize yourself with some key, image- and video-driven social media channels, especially when you’re getting ready to sell your house. Why write it off as a fad and put yourself at a disadvantage?
Here’s how you can improve your home selling strategy with social media.
Step Up Your Snapchat Game
If you haven’t already downloaded Snapchat, do yourself a favor and get on it to join the more than 60 million users in the U.S. and Canada, according to Bloomberg.
See what friends and family are posting (since they’re part of an incredible 10 billion daily video views), and test the waters yourself. If you already send Snaps just for fun, consider using the platform to share the more interesting features of your home for sale.
Just don’t post anything mundane.
If you do, people will skip over your content or tune you out, says Dustin Brohm, Salt Lake City realtor and founder of Search Salt Lake. “Because it’s so visual and authentic and personal, it’s a chance for you to show off, talk about and feature aspects of the home that separate it from the competition,” he says.
This is where your skills as a storyteller must come into play.
If your house has an amazing view of the sunset over the mountains, show it off in a short video and illustrate how you end your day with a glass of wine in front of a canvas of pink and purple clouds on your patio.
Create these little lifestyle vignettes for your Snapchat followers. Don’t methodically walk through every room of the house. That’s dull. Instead, focus on whatever is unique or attractive about the property.
Your agent will want to use Snapchat in a slightly different way, and it has almost nothing to do with home buyers and sellers. Whereas with other social media the agent is typically marketing herself and her business to the end consumer (the buyers and sellers), Snapchat is largely about agents connecting with other agents.
“I’ve found huge upside in networking with other real estate professionals all around the world,” Brohm says. He’s essentially built a large referral network connecting potential homeowners with agents in other cities.
For instance, if he’s selling someone’s home in Salt Lake City and the homeowner is moving to Washington, D.C., Brohm can put him in touch with a realtor who knows the housing market in our nation’s capital. (It’s helped him get referral business as well.)
When chatting with your realtor about using Snapchat, be sure to mention geofilters – they’re fun, graphic icons that let viewers know where you’re Snapping. Ask your agent to create a special geofilter for your house to further engage followers.
Brohm suggests having your agent run a contest (which can be done on various social media) inviting people to stop by the house and then send a screenshot, which will enter them to win an Amazon gift card or gift certificate to a local restaurant.
“Find an agent who’s already using Snapchat consistently and successfully and has a good following and network all over the place,” Brohm recommends.
While Snapchat is a great way to show off your personality and your home, it doesn’t really make sense to open an account with the expectation that it’ll help sell your house.
It’s not easy to gain followers, at least compared to Facebook and other networks. For this reason, it’s all the more important to find a realtor who’s already using Snapchat and can leverage that for your benefit.
If you already play around with Snaps though, go ahead and use the network to share some of the more special parts of your home. You never know what could entice potential buyers.
Fire Up Facebook to Sell Your House Online
Similar to Snapchat, Facebook is a great tool for showing off your home. This especially goes for Facebook Live – a feature that allows you to live stream from your smartphone.
More than 1 billion people across the globe log in to the social network on any given day, so an extraordinary number of people could potentially see your content.
A good way to go about it is to announce that you’re putting your house on the market and that you’ll be doing a virtual open house via Facebook Live at a certain date and time. During the live feed, you’ll be able to interact with people watching and give them a chance to ask questions.
You can then save and share the footage to local Facebook groups or post it on YouTube. This will make people feel like they’re in your home and the exposure level grows when you share on multiple diverse channels.
You can also talk to your realtor about running an ad against the video while targeting groups of people who are likely looking to buy your home.
In fact, targeted Facebook ads can help you pinpoint people by location, interests, behaviors and more with its impressive ability to gather usable data.
What print ad can do that?
Beyond a virtual open house, you can use Facebook in a similar manner to Snapchat by showing off features of your home, and hoping people share it to further extend its reach. You can also post the listing and any other relevant information.
Don’t just focus solely on your house when it comes to your Facebook posts though. People will get frustrated and may even stop following you. “People’s attention spans are smaller,” Brohm says. “It’s very easy to tune something out and move onto something else if you’re not interested or you’re bored.”
So, instead of turning your Facebook page into a never-ending commercial, keep it about you and your life and interests. Look at what your most popular Facebook friends — even celebrities — post throughout the week and try to emulate them.
That might mean you document what you do throughout the day, and include any fun, interesting sights and items you come across. It should still be largely about you and your story, but with bits about your house here and there if your followers will be interested.
To that end, chat with your agent about avoiding overexposure, or spamming in this case. Ask what their online strategy is. Hint: it shouldn’t be to post the listing once a day to every Facebook group in a 100-mile radius. That type of deluge is spam. You’ll know it isn’t working if no one is liking or engaging with the post.
Get Into Instagram
Instagram is all about images, so you’ll want to show off only the very best features of your home. Put in that extra effort and you may find it worthwhile because posts are shared on a network with a potential audience of 300 million active daily users.
Whereas Snapchat and Facebook are a little more candid, Instagram is more for those well-lit, thoughtfully posed and edited photos you’re taking.
Like Facebook, you can create an Instagram Live virtual house tour, but you can’t save the footage or post it elsewhere. For this reason, you should only do an Instagram Live if you have a substantial following and know people are going to be watching.
Another key differentiator with Instagram is the heavy use of hashtags. Brohm says he adds up to the maximum (30) per post because it’s how the network helps users find relevant content. “I’ve seen that it helps you get more traffic over time, especially with some of the more obscure hashtags,” he adds.
Beyond some generic ones – for instance, #Utah, #SaltLake and #SLC – you and your realtor should call out features of the house or neighborhood to lure potential buyers who want what your house has to offer – think #sixbedroomhome, #hardwoodfloors, #culdesac, #backyardpool and #shiplap. Hashtags are a fun and efficient way of giving people another avenue to find you and your house.
As with all social media and marketing efforts, it’s a good idea to coordinate with your realtor and show them your content to make sure your posts aren’t in violation of any fair housing laws. Once you’ve had those conversations, stay enthusiastic and show off the coolest parts of your home.
Find an Agent Who Knows How to Sell Homes on Social Media
Whether or not you’re comfortable using your social media influence in an effort to sell your home, it’s more important that your agent is already tapped into these networks and using them successfully.
After all, more than 50% of potential homeowners start their search process online, according to the National Association of Realtors. So, you should be focused on finding an agent with a strong online presence, especially on their personal website.
If their site is more than just a boring boilerplate, has professional-looking photos and is up-to-date then go on to quickly Google search their name. You’ll want to see the agent’s name pop up on all major social media channels, as well as mentions in various web articles related to real estate.
Then you can feel confident in starting a conversation with the realtor about how they can help sell your house using innovative approaches online. It all comes down to getting a variety of exposure in as many different places as you can. The more people see your house the more potential buyers will run across it.
Ultimately, that’s what will help your home sell faster online.