Between managing your social media profiles, developing creative content to post, engaging with your audience online and tracking the efficacy of it all, social media management can seem like a second full-time job for any real estate broker.
If you are't sure where to get started, or if you know that you are making some of the most common social media mistakes that real estate brokers make, then having the right tools can be a total game changer.
Although there are plenty of different types of social media tools that real estate agents could benefit from, I’m including the social media tools that I use most frequently to create, plan, post and engage on behalf of my real estate social media clients.
Even though authenticity is one of the most important aspects of any social media plan, let's be realistic: we are not all professional photographers. Stock photography is a good way to mix up those feeds and add some variety beyond your listing photos.
Unsplash is my current favorite free resource for stock imagery that appears natural and not overly staged or posed. The site has more than 850,000 high-resolution images, each photo sourced from photographers around the world.
When selecting your stock photos, be sure to select images that will befit your brand and resonate with your audience. And of course, never represent your stock photos as your own -- even if an image does not require credit, it's good internet karma to share the love!
This one is a must-have phone app! VSCO is an amazing photo editing tool that you can use to create captivating visuals, enhance listing photos and overall elevate the content on your social media channels.
For example, you can brighten images if your listing photos were taken on a dreary day, and you can use filters if you want to give your imagery a more cohesive design aesthetic across your Instagram feed.
I like that you can actually save the edits you make to a particular photo so that if you like them, you can duplicate those exact edits on other photos, giving your feed more of that cohesiveness and consistency.
Once you have those photographs, it's time to customize your social media content so that it will resonate with your audience. And you guys, I love Canva! Using Canva, you can design customized social media graphics with text, shapes, icons, photos, details and more to help set your social media apart from your competitors.
Now, I will get the downside out of the way first: if you rely solely on Canva's pre-designed templates, you run the risk of having social media posts that look like everyone else's (and doesn't that defeat the purpose of using social media to build your brand?).
But it is so user-friendly and there are some features that I just can't pass up.
The first thing I love is that Canva has a library of stock photography that you can use to create graphics -- tips, quotes, infographics, you name it -- for your social media. So if you are designing something and you want to put a photo of a beautiful home as the background, you just type in "luxury home" or "beautiful house" and pop the photo right into your graphic. It's a huge time-saver!
Canva is also excellent for collaboration. If your team members have Canva, you can simply create a "team" and all share and access the same graphics.
Finally, it is so easy. Beginners can pull from Canva's extensive library of templates and then customize them with their brand fonts, colors and logo. More advanced designers can start from scratch and build their own templates. For my own real estate social media clients, I like to start things off with more basic design and then build upon that, adding more customization as I get to know the person and the brand a little bit better.
Although not all of Canva's features are completely free, you can start with the basic plan and then upgrade to a pro plan for as little as $13 per month and I promise you it is well worth it.
If you're ready to dabble into video creation, Ripl is a great tool to use to do it. You can create Canva-like images and turn them into slideshow videos for your brand.
It's a nice way to dip your toe into the video waters without committing to expensive listing videos or navigating the lighting tricks and camera positioning that it takes to get a good Instagram Story.
The downside is that the Ripl logo will show up if you're using the free version of the service. My suggestion is you use the free version while you get the hang of it, and then upgrade for as little as $9.99 per month to replace Ripl's logo with your own once you're ready to share your videos.
With Instagram being "the" hot social network of the moment (and remember: it is owned by Facebook so it's probably not going anywhere anytime soon), it's become increasingly important that your social media is not just informative and entertaining, but also visually pleasing.
Planoly lets you arrange, manage and schedule your Instagram posts so that you can see how it will look before you post. Variety is an important part of having interesting social media networks, so Planoly is helpful for making sure that you aren't inadvertently posting similar content back to back, or using two of the same templates in a row.
Some other fun Planoly tidbits: using the "Discover" feature you can easily find other users' posts to share on your feed. Especially nice for real estate professionals who are looking for neighborhood content and to make friends with other local business owners. You can also schedule content for Instagram Stories, which is convenient for posting listings and other planned content.
If you do schedule your content in advance, don't "set it and forget it" -- make sure you're staying connected by engaging with others' networks, and keep an eye on current events to be sure your posts are still timely and appropriate.
Planoly upgrades begin at $7/month -- so super affordable if Facebook and Instagram happen to be your cup of tea.
Like Planloy, Buffer is a social media management and scheduling tool that allows users to schedule posts at different times of the day. For example: if you want to share a listing every morning at the same time of day, you can schedule your posts on Buffer. People appreciate consistency and will like knowing what types of things they can expect to see when they look at your pages.
There are a lot of scheduling tools and which one you use really only amounts to personal preference, but there are a few things that I like about Buffer.
Unlike Planoly, which only supports Instagram (though they recently announced that they will also support Facebook), Buffer offers the ability to schedule posts to multiple social networks at once -- great for listings, or holiday/seasonal content that you want to share to LinkedIn, Twitter or Pinterest too.
If you do this, you can customize your post for each network -- adding links where appropriate, tagging the location on your Instagram post, and even scheduling a first comment with your hash tags for your Instagram post.
While it is free to use Buffer, you can upgrade to a paid plan to unlock some of the more sophisticated features. Pricing begins at $15 per month.
If you are looking to grow your following in a specific community, niche or interest, PeopleMap is an affordable tool to help you do that. The program will calculate your Instagram engagement rate and that of those that you follow and interact with you so you can spend your time engaging on Instagram where it will have the most impact.
Personally, I don't think that PeopleMap is the most user-friendly, but I do like to use it to pull engagement rates and occasionally to browse for users to engage on behalf of my clients.
Part of being a good social media citizen means "sharing the love" and reposting other brands' and businesses' content, when appropriate and with permission. Sharing articles written by other industry professionals (like mortgage brokers, attorneys, journalists, etc.) is not only kosher, but it's encouraged.
If you see an article online that you believe will answer questions that your clients often have for you, or that reflects your own values and perspectives, it's great to share them. Of course, it can be hard to find the hours in a day to scour the web for appropriate content, so that is where Flipboard comes into play.
Flipboard is a news aggregator that allows users to hand-pick the topics they are interested in and would like to receive news around. You can opt for local news, national news, and from topics as broad as "politics" to as narrow as "authentic Latin American, Spanish and Tex-Mex cooking." Aggregate all of the topics you're interested in onto one page for quick news scrolling, and you can easily post to social media the articles you want to share with your followers.
In 2019, I don't know why any modern company would be using Microsoft Outlook over Google Apps. Everything is completely integrated -- your email, your documents, your calendar and more. You can work seamlessly with your colleagues and team members, and collaboration is essential to your team's social media success.
The Social Broker Custom Content Calendar
I always recommend using a content calendar to plan your social media posts and Google Apps is a great place to create a content calendar, especially if your team has an integrated social media strategy.
Planning your social media content out in advance costs absolutely nothing and has some serious benefits. It can help keep you ahead of your competitors with fresh content and unique ideas. It will also help prevent the last minute "I don't know what to post" panic that all often for people, results in posting nothing at all.
If you need some help with your social media planning, I would be glad to send you my free content calendar template for the remainder of the year -- just email me at email@example.com.