Real estate agents missing an opportunity?

For saleThere was a distinct murmuring among fellow Twitterers today, led by PR-guru Nigel Morgan about two estate agents (I shall spare their blushes in this blog as I know many, many agencies are guilty) who are using Twitter simply as a free advertising platform.

The agents in question have been posting Tweets solely along the lines of “4 bed house for sale”, presumably not realising that simply bombarding users with whatever you’ve got on the books is not the most effective form of marketing or indeed efficient way of spending office hours.

So what are they doing wrong? Twitter is a fantastic way of connecting with relevant people much more easily than with Facebook or LinkedIn. It is a useful tool for building relationships, trust and perhaps eventually mutually beneficial backscratching. It takes time, effort and a little bit of knowledge. You would be well advised to seek the advice of Nigel or Twitterer-extraordinaire, Nikki Pilkington. Tweets should be a healthy mix of useful updates, informal conversation and relevant links.

What is it about estate agents? Having worked as head of marketing for a chain of rural property agents for three years, there was a certain viewpoint (some might say lazy) that actually the properties sold themselves and reflected the brand. This was true to a certain extent in the days of the property boom. However, since the slump, agents need to be looking at proactively MARKETING themselves (this is NOT the same as making quick sales). They need to be smart about it, researching who is likely to be buying or selling in their area and using all tools at their disposal, make contact with these people and begin to build relationships. Estate agents are notoriously regarded as being untrustworthy, so selling to these people is an absolute no-no until the relationship is firmly established.

Yes, it takes a lot of effort, but you will be broadening your network of potential vendors/purchasers and promoting your brand – vital for when the market recovers. You wil also find that a little bit of common sense marketing makes a lot more financial sense in the long run than hiring a long line of trendy sales speakers.

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7 thoughts on “Real estate agents missing an opportunity?

  1. Well said Claire, real solid social media advice that any business wanting to venture into this brave new world would be well advised to follow.

    Thanks for contributing to the debate and there certainly has been a dark mutterings on Twitter about these two estate agents getting it wrong (I don’t spare their blushes on my blog!). The interesting thing has been how quickly one came forward and apologised and thanked other Twitterers for their advice.

    The other is still merrily using Twitter to sell, sell SELL and has ignored Tweets encouraging them to come into the conversation and comment!

  2. The funny thing is, estate agents that really listen and take on board social media will be the first to dispel the old reputations and to start connecting with people – they’ll be the ones that make it work.

    The people that treat it as another broadcast medium will just fade away, muttering under their breath that “Twitter is a load of rubbish anyway”.

    Guess who’ll sell more houses because of it? 😉

  3. Great post Claire and a useful addition to the original posting by Nigel.

    As building a relationship with both the buyer and seller is, I would have thought, crucial in the current housing market I can’t believe some estate agents continue to speak in ‘mono’ (sell,sell, sell etc) rather than in ‘stereo’ using social media to develop a fruitful, positive flow of two way communication with customers.

    To be fair, I’m sure everyone would agree, that it’s not just estate agents that fall into the Twitter trap but lots of companies continue to ‘sell,sell,sell’. I trust that one day the penny will drop.

    Kind regards

    Gary

  4. Why do you pick on Estate Agents?

    Although I have to admit that when I joined Twitter 9 months ago Gumtree were already feeding their adverts, and I observed and thought that this was what Twitter was for!

    1. Hi Nick

      Many thanks for your response.

      Estate agents got it in the neck simply because we came across a couple of instances from agents in the same day. However, of course, the same message can be applied to any industry or sector – Twitter is full of pure sales messages and I hope and think that the article is simply a heads up to take a look at how it should be used to maximum effect. We actually got a couple of messages from agents after the posting to say thank you, and they began to use the tool properly.

      Far from it being a slating, estate agents are actually close to my heart, having worked in an agency for three years – I think they get a very bad and often unfounded press, which could actually be remedied if they began to think more about customers and marketing, rather than pure hard sell.

  5. Sorry – poor choice of work on my part – I didn’t mean “pick on” in the sense of bully, but in the sense of target. I’m sort of a lettings agent – I’m a landlord who rents direct http://www.pimlico-flats.co.uk so I compete with agents by offering lower rents, and not having the marketing budget. I also use Twitter socially. I used to feed Twitter into Facebook, but my friends complained at my stream of advertising, and boring links!

    It’s an interesting subject, and I think there is a blog inside me about it!

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