It’s always interesting to discuss how estate and lettings agents use & optimise the social web.
People talk of twitter and FaceBook as if they are some kind of Holy Grail … to collect as many followers and “likes” as you can.
Personally, I cannot see a great deal of value in that and certainly not any kind of tangible ROI (return on investment).
A twitter follow or a FaceBook “like” is akin to someone passing a restaurant and saying “that food smells nice” but not actually going in and buying something! It might work in a marketing context, but not in a social proof or commercial context.
When people are looking to rent or buy a property, they are looking for information about the area … the best schools, the crime rate, local facilities and amenities, transport facilities, commute times to cities etc.
They are looking for information on the area, not which estate agent has the best properties, because, at this stage, they almost certainly have not decided where exactly they are going to live.
At the moment, prospective buyers and renters have to visit a multitude of different sites around the web to get this information.
Therefore, I am of the view, that the agent who curates all this information in one place will be more find-able on the web, and prospectives customers will find them through all this curated information, and this will attract them to the agent by default.
I would love to see an agent listing everything from broadband speed in the area to mobile phone service in the area, along with WalkScore , commute times, leisure amenities, schools, crime rates, etc etc etc. For instance, I recently heard from a lettings agent that people will turn down their dream home if the mobile phone signal is poor. If they knew this in advance from the property listing … (This would have the added benefit of not wasting time on viewings, as the client would already know that the property had poor mobile phone signal).
Once the prospective buyer or renter has this information at their fingertips, in one place, they will then drill down to specific properties that meet their needs.
I believe that the agent who curates all this information in their listings will be a winner for both sales and lettings as they capture the client at an earlier stage in the process of searching for property.
The agent who supplies and curates that kind of information will be found by buyers via google, rather than using the web to go and look for buyers, which is much more time consuming.
It all boils down to your information being relevant on the social web. Where what you have merges with what a buyer needs, at the exact moment in time they are seeking it, you ignite the power of relevance. You have solved the buyer’s problem and captured their attention.
Agents can demonstrate their knowledge of the area through blogs, build social proof through networks, and build relationships by answering questions about their locale. They can show that they are part of the fabric of the community, plugged in to the pulse of the area. Web contributions can all be signed off with a “call to action”, which will drive traffic to their website, a particular property that is relevant to the conversation, or encourage the reader to pick up the phone or connect to start a dialogue.
Have a look at the blog I produce for Phillips and Stubbs in Rye to get a flavour of how I think a blog can drive sales & lettings.
From a sellers & Landlords perspective, an estate agent with a strong social web presence will be an attractive proposition, as they will potentially have more marketing reach. Due to the transparency of the web, buyers and sellers will be looking at who has a “following” on the web as well.
I have also advocated the use of video to many lettings and estate agents, but have yet to see any agency truly embracing video.
A video tour of the property adds google juice, ignites interest, and, if you are a lettings agent, keeps the Landlord tied in with you as you created a video as a marketing tool for their property.
Our new Property Tribes forum is sponsored by Belvoir Lettings. One of the things we are doing as part of that sponsorship is to create video ”Location Guides” with Belvoir franchisees, giving information to Landlords about where to invest. This gives Belvoir visibility in the Landlord community by providing information and value.
With so many free tools out there on the web, I wonder why lettings and sales agents are so slow to embrace “social power”. Any ideas anyone? I suspect it is because they are jaded with talks of twitter followers and FaceBook likes … and I don’t blame them as it is hard to see the value in that and the commerical ROI.
At the NALS Conference on 4th October in London, my husband Nick will be speaking on this topic in more detail.
You can read Nick’s blog >>> here.
Related discussion on Property Tribes forum:
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Vanessa Warwick is a former TV presenter, turned professional Landlord, consultant, and speaker. Along with her husband Nick Tadd, she founded Property Tribes, which is now the U.K.’s busiest on-line Landlord and investor community. Nick and Vanessa have just launched their new tech product, Yulpa, an on-line “property office/filo-fax” that helps you organise and manage your entire property life in one place. It comes with an iPhone app that does auto due diligence on any property being considered for purchase.
Vanessa and Nick advocate the use of technology and digital and social communications in property, and speak at events all over the U.K. as well as consulting for the BBC on property. They invest mainly in flats London and family houses in the South East and are also big advocates of holiday lets, having two upmarket holiday lets on the South Coast that achieve above-average occupancy thanks to the couple’s web efforts and vertical marketing strategies.