You know what would be a great drinking game? Take a sip every time you read an email or social media post from a brand that contains the words, "unprecedented times."
With the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolving, brands and business of all sizes are grappling with how to handle our "new normal." The truth is, there is no one right way to use social media during a global pandemic crisis. The one thing that does remain constant for real estate agents is that there has never been a better time for you to be connecting with your clients on social media.
Although there is nothing good about the dislocation and disruption that COVID-19 is wreaking on our economy, families and society, the truth is that your clients are staying home, looking to social media and virtual communications tools to stay connected, and seeking out both optimism and encouragement wherever they can get it. So it's important for you to show up.
Even though some of your clients might be canceling deals or putting their real estate plans on hold, this is the time that you need to be using social media to stay top of mind. Eventually, when the market rebounds (and it will) you will want to be the person they think about.
Here is how I recommend you leverage social media to provide support for your community and remain a resource for your clients during these times of dislocation.
HOST A VIRTUAL EVENT
Stop what you are doing right now, and go download Zoom. It is a great tool to use for hosting webinars, delivering listing presentations, or holding virtual meetings during this time of social distancing.
This week, my friend Sabrina Bier organized a "virtual happy hour" for a group of people in the real estate community here in Chicago. It was a fun opportunity to "see" a few old friends, "meet" some new people and engage with humans who do not live in my household12.
You could try this with a group of colleagues for an accountability/mastermind session, or you could gather a group of your clients for a "sip and learn" or an informal q&a.
OFFER TO HELP
For a lot of real estate agents, it is business-as-usual right now. Even if you're putting open houses on hold, you need showings in order to sell your listings and that means you are going to be out and about when most other people are at home.
Besides the obvious -- assuring your clients that you are taking health precautions, offer to be the port in a storm. Whether it's offering a meal to a client who was just furloughed or laid off, or posting a broader offer to pick up groceries, prescriptions or household essentials like Mindy Kim in Pasadena, CA did , you'll connect with clients in a meaningful way over a shared purpose.
Another idea that I saw and loved is, from Robin Humphreys in Puyallup, WA is a "blessing box." Similar to the free library concept that communities have, you can leave supplies for others and take something that you need. If you have excess hand sanitizer or more canned beans than you can eat, they just might help someone in need and bring your community closer together.
KEEP IT POSITIVE
I think we can all agree that there is a lot of negativity in the world right now. There is hope, but there is also a lot of grim news headlines circulating that it can be very hard to ignore no matter how many social media breaks you take.
There is a quote that I have seen on social media that goes, "when you can't find the sunshine, be the sunshine." So, be the sunshine right now. The Jodi Sells Chicago Group in Chicago posted to inform followers what the "shelter-in-place" order means for real estate, while Kim Marchena in Miami encourages hers
Reassure your clients and communities that there is still a market out there for real estate and that you and your business are prepared to take on the challenges that the next few months may throw our way.
We know the road will be bumpy, but that it won't last forever!
BE A LOCAL EXPERT
Local content should already be part of your social media strategy. Even though you can't get out to capture new content right now due to the stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, you can still bring your neighborhood to life on your social media feeds.
You can re-post photos from local business' social media feeds. Just like you want to stay top-of-mind among your clients while business is slowing down, businesses will appreciate a little extra social media TLC.
You can also give your audience information about how they can support your local businesses while they are closed, or in some cases, offering limited delivery services like Reshal Ploeger in Lake Stevens, WA who has been sharing creative ideas to help her local breweries and coffee shops through this time.
I also loved this idea from Southport Corridor in Chicago. Although not a real estate account, this Chicago neighborhood is crowdsourcing community support. Post a photo from your community or make a graphic in Canva and invite people to tag their favorite local businesses. Or, you can make it a series and do one post for restaurants, one for spas, one for retail, one for coffee shops and so on.
The most important part is to keep as much of a sense of normalcy as possible in between your business updates and the necessary COVID-19 related content. Which brings us to my next point.
TALK ABOUT ANYTHING BUT COVID-19
Are you getting a little bit sick of the toilet paper memes?
Good. Because no one wants a free house with the purchase a $750,000 roll of toilet paper.
Unless you know for sure that your audience is going to enjoy humor about the coronavirus, use it sparingly. As this situation progresses, yes, some people are softening to the content and conversations about it, but the truth is that more people are becoming affected by it including the doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. And the last thing they want is to see their real estate agent mocking something that is very real and very scary.
Instead, talk about anything other than COVID-19! Think about what it is your clients know you for, and share content related to those categories.
If you're a home cook or foodie, share some favorite pantry recipes like Tacoma realtor Amanda Rivera's super simple baked tomatoes. If you're a DIY-er, share projects that your new homeowner clients can do around the house: organize the pantry, paint the kids' bedrooms, hang pictures on the gallery wall, put up the shelves you've been meaning to hang. I love Chicago real estate agent Juliana Yeager's video tips about how to prepare your home for market -- they are engaging, fun and informative!
If you're a dog lover, talk about how to keep the pets busy at home while you're teleworking...many of your clients will be struggling without dog daycare to keep the fur family from jumping on your lap during a conference call. If you love yoga, share your favorite yoga apps and encourage people to stretch out the stress of watching the news. You get the idea!
Even in "unprecedented times" (take a sip!) your clients will be craving a sense of normalcy. I'm sure you are too, and I know I am. So save the toilet paper memes for your friends and family and give your audience what they want: a consistent variety of content that informs, educates, and entertains..