The New Normal: Social Media And Property Marketing
“Property marketing trends established during Covid-19 have changed the way tech-focused real estate agencies work, and many aspects of the business are unlikely to return to the way things used to be done”, says Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property.
From an agency-management point of view, the last year has seen cloud-based systems move from a “nice to have” to an essential tool. Real estate companies that have weathered the Covid-19 storm best are those who had already embraced this trend.
But perhaps the biggest opportunity we’ve seen emerge is the vital role social media can play.
Upping your social game
With the decline of print circulation, property marketing in South Africa shifted online a while back. Many agencies neglected their online presence as portals like Private Property, MyProperty, Property 24 and IOLProperty/Property360 rose to prominence.
Under Stevens’ leadership, Just Propertyhas a well-established and mature social media marketing infrastructure that allows agents and franchisees to operate beyond the cluttered portal environment. It addresses questions like:
How do we ringfence our unique propositions?
How do we communicate our brand essence and value proposition?
How do we differentiate ourselves?
And now, with the pandemic-driven reduction in face-to-face interaction, how do we make real, lasting connections with our sometimes-isolated client base?
Clever, strategic adoption of social media platforms to reach exactly the right market is no longer a matter of posting something on your channels (with or without boosting/ advertising) and hoping buyers or sellers will see it. It’s putting your client front and centre and providing them with the property solutions they’re looking for: content that they can trust. It’s responding immediately to any questions. It’s dealing with every online comment, question or criticism with a sense of urgency and importance.
It’s also proactively seeking out potential clients where they are and interacting with them there, rather than waiting for them to come to you. Previously, astute agents would make sure they were part of the community, attending church fetes and sporting events, making connections. With social media, we can still do that even if the crowds aren’t allowed at sport just yet and the church fetes have gone online.
Say you’re marketing homes near a famous fishing spot; an agent passionate about their community will find the fishermen online, engage knowledgeably and enthusiastically in conversation with them, build genuine relationships and offer solutions that aren’t even property related. When the time is right, they can introduce the right property to the right person. Still, if they’ve forged authentic friendships and shown themselves to be generous and trustworthy, the clients come to them.
Video or virtual reality
Even before the pandemic curtailed the traditional South African post-prandial Sunday drive to view on-show homes, Just Property agents found that videos posted on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube would produce 80% to 95% more engagement than properties showcased via photographs only. With our clients wanting to minimise possible exposure to Covid-19, video became even more critical during lockdown. Stevens does not see that trend reversing. Video walkthroughs are now an expected tool for marketing properties. Related article - Video: The Secret Weapon For Attracting Buyers.
And if your development is still at plan stage or a building site? More and more, we’re seeing the adoption of emerging and now-normal tech like virtual reality. Our international research shows that 3D walkthroughs of off-plan developments and even artificial intelligence have been harnessed to stunning effect. And it’s all being promoted via social media.
Take Dubai Properties’ launch of their La Vie residences. Using a video campaign followed by Facebook Augmented Reality ads in their Facebook and Instagram feeds, an immersive virtual tour of these homes was offered. It reached 2.2-million people and half the units sold in the first fortnight.
The way ahead
Stevens believes that data-driven content strategies that demand way more than wide-angle, clearly “stretched” images of rooms will emerge. Social media done well is about building trust and relationships so sizing errors or willful manipulation of camera angles is frankly self-defeating. With the whole world consuming more and more social media, the market has become more discerning and more knowledgeable, and trust lost will not be regained quickly.
What has remained the same is that the very best agents are people’s people. They thrive on finding solutions for their clients. Their elation when it all comes together goes way beyond commission. These agents are already all over Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter. A winning ingredient in today’s world of digital marketing is content that is authentic and engaging.
Social media immersion and passion will become a determiner for future champion estate agents. The market will grow to expect it. Follow the teams from Just Property Port Elizabeth, N1 City and Zululand to see how they are tapping into the power of video on social media.