Informative & eye-opening article from The Negotiator, the leading magazine for estate agents, about how some of them are beginning to realise the potential of social media marketing for the property sector, which is why we have set up our group
Social Media for UK Estate Agents, Letting Agents & Property Professionals
A growing number of property professionals have not only grasped the social networking phenomenon, but are cashing in on it, as Clare Bettelley discovers with four firms in the know.
A recent poll of The Negotiator readers about their social networking habits revealed three distinct user groups.
Firstly there are those who have absolutely no idea what social networking is, how to go about it or the inclination to do so; then there are those who have a vague idea about it and have dipped their toes in the social networking water with profiles for their firm on one of the existing websites, but have a half-hearted approach to the whole phenomenon, listing little more than new instructions.
The third camp is far more interesting, because it’s these individuals and firms who have not only grasped the concept and created profiles, but who are cashing in on the movement and making deals and money in the process.
Most readers tend to use Facebook, the community site, for keeping in touch with friends and family and updating one another about social exploits; LinkedIn for recruitment purposes; and Twitter for business to business and business to consumer networking, which is from where our four case studies claim to have generated the majority of their online business.
The estate agent
Russell Quirk is an avid user of Twitter, which one would expect from a newly-launched virtual agent. But the Brentwood, Essex-based agent and founder of eMoov refutes that social networking sites are the sole domain of the IT crowd, insisting that they should be a core part of every high street agent’s marketing campaign. “It’s about getting your brand out there as a market commentator, which we do in our own amateur way.”
The fact that Quirk has built a follower base of more than 300 individuals and firms, and that he’s generated business from his efforts, proves that he must be doing something right.
Quirk has most recently won two instructions through his Twitter commentary efforts, including a flat in Clapham and a house in Bournemouth. Interestingly, both deals were from technology professionals, one a graphic designer, one a website developer, which suggests that the IT crowd may be a market niche all of its own. Quirk says: “They really get and embrace the whole technology thing, which extends to social networking.”
The Essex agent bemoans the lack of innovation within agency when it comes to technology, particularly social networking. “Estate agents need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. When I was starting out, I surveyed 33 agents in Chelmsford and found that four didn’t even have a website at all, which is astounding.
“If one in three people is now on Facebook, they will expect agents to be on these sites, too. I think agents are missing a trick if they’re not, because this can surely only go one way given that increasing numbers of people own smartphones.”
The lettings agent
Sally Asling claims to have won over £10,000 worth of new business in her first year of trading two years ago.
Asling started her lettings agency career after university and then worked in corporate agency for over 20 years before deciding to quit. “I’d become really disillusioned with the corporate world. The cash cow element has ruined the business, as have remote call centres.”
She was adamant that her own East Horsley, Surrey-based venture, SurreyLets, would be online after noticing that more than 95% of the leads received by one of her previous employers were online queries.
“The only people who branches get in now are those taking shelter from the rain or who happen to be in the area.”
Asling specialises in lettings and property management and has stock ranging from two-bed studios in Guildford to footballers’ property in Cobham ranging from £500 to £8,000 per month, located from Guildford to Esher and anywhere in between.
She attributes her success to date to her commitment to building an online profile through blogs and Twitter, and by offering free advice to establish herself as an industry expert. “It helps you become an obvious agent of choice, which is how more than 90% of my client base is through recommendation and 50% of this is from people online who have recommended me.”
Asling also uses LinkedIn, which she says has won her nine lets over the last year. “Second generation leads are proving more valuable than first generation leads on LinkedIn – the first tends to include people who already know you and use you.”
The trainer
Julian O’Dell has just undertaken a training course for 29 agents from nine different firms across Lincoln as a result of a lead from an agency owner on Twitter.
The Royston, Herts-based trainer explains: “The course gave me the opportunity to present my wares to companies who were all new to me, so it’s not just the event that was valuable, but the potential in terms of what it leads to thereafter.”
O’Dell has 327 followers on Twitter, which he says he prefers for business rather than Facebook, which he prefers to reserve for drunken Saturday night status updates to friends. He is also on LinkedIn, but says he rarely uses it.
That’s not to say that The Negotiator columnist was without his Twitter reservations. “At the time of joining I was very sceptical and didn’t really see the point of it. But now I have followers and tweet most days and tend to receive a lot of response when I upload articles on there.”
The homestyler
Bath-based homestyler Helen Silver is a big fan of Twitter, and has regularly tweeted about her day and business activities since someone at a networking event recommended that she use the site to promote her business a year ago.
“I was already registered with LinkedIn and Facebook, but not really active on either and wasn’t sure if Twitter was for me,” she explains. However, I was already a regular poster on a forum called – a business networking site open to any business large or small – and had made some good connections through that.”
Silver, who worked previously in advertising and marketing, as well as for an estate agent, says the advice she has received from peers about how to tweet has proved invaluable and, according to her, been key to her online success. For example, she has been warned against selling her wares and advised to simply be herself. “I’ve tried to keep to a mix of business and personal tweets. You quickly get unfollowed if you spam everyone with links to your site, Facebook page or general offers. Cases in point are estate agents who simply use Twitter to bang out a list of their latest properties and rarely interact with anyone.”
And the results speak for themselves, with the homestyler having recently won two consultation contracts, one for a developer, which led to a significant show home job, and the other for a private vendor. She has also collaborated on home sale projects with an estate agent in London and one in Devon, as well as having been mentioned in articles on styling and marketing property in a national newspaper after making connections with property journalists, and been =asked by property TV presenter Sarah Beeny to write for her website Tepilo.
That said, Silver does not consider Twitter a lead generator for her firm, The Property Styling Company, which specialises in property styling, staging and interior design. “It’s an awareness campaign for me, but then I have met agents and firms who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
She adds: “It’s enjoyable, interesting and informative, and if you need to find out something or source something quickly someone on Twitter usually knows.”u can’t now turn on the TV or radio, or open a newspaper, without hearing or reading about the latest social media phenomenon. In fact, community networking site Facebook has made such a formidable global impact that it’s now the feature of a hit movie.
We are creating a forum for those interested in how social media can work in the property business sector – all welcome, especially Lettings Agents, Estate Agents & Property developers, both residential & commercial
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