Social media is far from dead. A whopping 3.8 billion people are now social media users — and that number is growing. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted even more consumers to spend time online, and real estate brokers and agents are finding new and creative ways to use social media to showcase homes.

The demographics of social media have always varied by generation. This ongoing tracking by Pew Research is a useful source for matching your target market to the "right" platforms.

Social Media Strategy for Real Estate Professionals

Real estate agents and brokers have more options than ever before for bringing their personality and listings to the social media world. But it all starts with your brand. Says Michelle Gerstner, co-founder of JoyByte, a team of social media experts, "Many people jump into social media without having a clear strategy for their brand personality, points of difference and messaging. No matter how big the following you gather, if you don't break through the clutter and reach your target audience with something they want or need, you'll fall flat. Track awareness and engagement, and not just the size of your fan base."

Here are a few essential elements of any strong social media strategy:

1. Facebook

Having a Facebook page for yourself or your company is a necessity. With close to 1.5 billion active daily users, Facebook remains one of the best platforms for brand-building, advertising and showcasing individual properties. Every year Facebook introduces new functionalities, so stay on top of them and experiment until you find the marketing approach that works best for you. Many brokers have created community groups where they share news about other businesses. That can be a tremendous soft-sell approach to integrating into a community.

2. Video

Web video is essential now — not just for virtual home tours but also to give prospective buyers and sellers a sample of your personality before working with you. Video now makes up 82% of online content and shows no signs of slowing. If you plan to be the "star" of your videos, consider professional training but keep your message genuine and not overly salesy.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an often-under-utilized platform. With 675 million users, its reach is lower than some other platforms, but as a business community, it's a great way to reach professionals with money to spend on real estate. Explore its capabilities. Tools such as SlideShare, polls and live video help your page come alive visually.

4. TikTok

Although you may not want to display your dance moves on TikTok, this new app has been downloaded 1.5 billion times, and more than 60 million people are actively using it in the U.S. alone. It currently appeals to a younger demographic, but stay tuned. Like other social media apps, it may start by skewing younger. Still, as more brands find smart and relevant ways to use it, it may begin to attract an older professional demographic. Some realtors® are already growing huge followings by using dynamic imagery, compelling captions, and high-traffic hashtags to generate views and engagement.

5. Sharing Data

Data can be influential in getting viewers to take notice of your posts. Webinars and podcasts (or appearing on other professionals' shows) can be a great way to establish yourself as an industry leader. Ryan Taaffe, a Virginia-based real estate salesperson with a background in market research, created simple PowerPoint charts to illustrate home sales trends and mortgage rates, which he then shares across his social media platforms.

Plan, Track and Measure

Twitter and Instagram are alive and well, as are e-mail newsletters and blogs. With all the options available to you now, having an integrated plan and process for creating, deploying, and measuring your social media activities. As in home buying, quality matters. If you're outsourcing, choose a resource with broad and deep experience — especially in the real estate industry. The time you're spending posting can be put into building relationships in the real world.

Tracking and measurement are more sophisticated now than ever before, so be sure to look at your metrics regularly to understand better which platforms and creative approaches are working best for you.

Despite the many changes and innovations in social media, one thing holds true: People do business with others they know, like and trust. Be sure your online personality is in sync with your actual character, values and areas of expertise. The media is simply a powerful amplifier of your brand, knowledge and properties.

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