How To Use Social Media for Your Business

A woman wearing a white shirt and navy sweater holds a black mobile phone and posts on business social media platforms.

If you aren’t a fan of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, it might serve you well to become one if you want to grow your business.

Any real estate professional that ignores social media is missing a huge opportunity to reach new customers and connect with existing ones.

Facebook alone has more than 2 billion active monthly users. And they're just one of the handful of social media platforms people use every day. At last count, individuals have an average of 8.1 social media accounts, spending 143 minutes a day tweeting, liking and sharing.

That’s a lot of opportunities for your business to grow, but it can also be daunting. Who has time to write up seller disclosures, let alone post photos on Instagram? But to ignore social media is no longer an option. The good news: it isn’t as hard as you may think.

Why You Can’t Ignore Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. What other venue connects billions of people in real-time? Outside of the sheer numbers, there are a lot of reasons why real estate professionals can’t ignore social media marketing.

1. It’s Cheaper

Television ads can set you back thousands of dollars, a budget real estate business owners typically can’t afford. Radio ads and Internet ads can be cheaper but still require a financial commitment.

A free way to achieve attention is through word-of-mouth marketing on social media. That comes from the images you’re sharing on Instagram, the Tweets coming from your Twitter feed and the posts on Facebook. Social media also drives inbound traffic to your website, which could translate into more sales. Each social media post or tweet is a chance to bring a new visitor to your website.

All it requires is time and the ability to connect with your customers on social media. Do that effectively and it can be much more valuable than a 30-second spot on TV in the middle of the night.

2. It Builds Ongoing, Interactive Relationships with Customers

You can’t connect with a potential customer via a billboard but you can on social media. By being active on social media you can ensure you’re reaching current and potential customers, addressing their concerns in real-time. You can get ahead of any potential problems and pick their brains. It affords you the ability to forge deeper relationships with existing customers and the chance to reach new ones. And as real estate professionals know, maintaining your current customers and picking up referral business is a whole lot cheaper than recruiting new ones.

3. It Enhances Your Presence on Internet Searches

Being at the top of the results page on search engines is the holy grail for businesses. Social media can help with that, too. Search engine optimization is a popular marketing strategy in which content on social and on a website is optimized for the common words and phrases people search for. Your written content might be optimized for phrases like "top real estate professional," knowing that’s what your target customers are searching for in Google. The more search engine optimized your social media content, the higher your ranking in search.

Authority also gets you ranked higher. If you publish high-quality content on social media and get a lot of backlinks as a result, it gives you more authority, which means a higher ranking.

Slow And Steady Wins The Race with Social Media

Social media can business, but it can also break it. Plow headfirst into social media marketing without a plan and it’s easy to make mistakes that can be devastating to your business. The last thing you want to do is alienate potential customers. It only takes one Tweet or one Facebook post to turn off existing customers and tarnish your reputation with new ones. That’s why it pays to do some research before you jump in.

Know Which Social Media Platforms Your Customers Use

Social media is vast, and each platform is very different. There are mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that cater to a diverse audience of users. There are also niche social media platforms that are popular among certain demographics. Snapchat, the disappearing messaging app, is a favorite of millennials, while TikTok, the short-form video app, is used more by Gen Z.

With individuals using an average of 8 social media platforms, it can be hard to know where to target your marketing efforts. Before you start any social media campaign, do an informal poll of your customers either face-to-face or through email and text to find out what platforms they use. Check what your rival’s customers are using as well. You don’t want to waste time learning everything there is about Facebook, only to find out your customer base has shunned that for SnapChat.

See What Your Competitors are Posting

The last thing you want to do is make a reputation bruising mistake on social media. A way to prevent that is to follow your competition and see what works and what doesn't for them. That doesn’t mean copying their social media posts, but you can get an idea about what resonates.

Check out the tabs and features they have on their social media pages and websites to see if you are missing any big features. Pay attention to your rival’s top posts and the ones that are doing well. Do they use a lot of images? Certain colors to draw views their way? What about their content makes it popular with their followers?

Run Some Tests First

Once you figure out what social media platform you want to target, you have to learn how to use it both as a user and as a business owner.

On the customer side, you want to learn how to share links, post images, and videos and communicate with other users. On the business front, you need to understand how to target certain users and measure your performance.

Facebook offers free online resources to learn how to market on its platform. There you get tips on everything from using sound and motion to highlight a product to driving more people to your website via Facebook. Hubspot is another popular destination, where you can access eBooks, guides, courses and other educational material to gain social media skills.

Measure Your Results

Time is money, which means you don't want to waste too much of it on a social media fail. You want to know as soon as possible if something isn’t working so you can shift strategy. That’s why it's important to measure the results of your efforts.

There are a plethora of analytic tools you can use to measure how successful a social media campaign is. These tools tell you detailed information about your campaign, including the ratio of positive to negative content, top keywords and high performing posts based on shares and replies. The cost to access these data analytic tools can run from as low as $15 a month to $500 and more monthly. The more data you want analyzed the costlier the monthly subscription becomes.

There’s no question social media marketing should be an important part of your growth strategy, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Sometimes it’s better to defer to the experts. If the thought of Tweeting makes your stomach churn or you can’t even remember your Facebook password, then outsourcing your social media marketing makes sense. But if you are well-versed in everything social (or on your way there), then creating buzz may come more easily. Either way, real estate professionals can’t afford to ignore social media if they want to grow their business.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Fifth Third Bank, National Association, and are solely the opinions of the author. This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, or other professional services by Fifth Third Bank, National Association or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, and are provided without any warranty whatsoever. Deposit and credit products provided by Fifth Third Bank, Member FDIC.