A Commercial Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Social Media Marketing. Part 2: Planning Content
By Sarah Malcolm, COO of The Content Funnel
Our CRE guide to social media marketing is a four-part series designed to help real estate agents and brokers launch their social media efforts on the right foot. The right social media strategies push traffic to your website, build brand recognition, provide ways to interact with customers, and generate more leads.
Wouldn’t it be great if amazing content just fell from the sky? In the real world, crafting incredible original content requires more than luck. Social media requires managers to stay responsive to the ever-changing trends while doing the down-and-dirty work behind crafting original messages. Even content curation doesn’t drop in a social media manager’s lap; it requires ongoing searching through news and social to find stand-out content.
Let’s grease those elbows and make a plan for what content to share on your social accounts and how to best promote your brand message. This forms the backbone of your content strategy.
A content strategy is simply a document discussing the planning, creation, delivery, and monitoring of your content. Content includes anything you create: blogs and podcasts both count. So does ebooks, case studies, videos, and every social media post. A content strategy will detail:
The types of content you’ll create
The goals for the content (brand awareness, lead generation, contacts, et al)
Where you will post this content
Frequency and timing of sharing content
To determine what goes into your content strategy, answer these questions:
1) What is your value proposition?
The social world is noisy. Thousands of real estate agents and brokers are competing for social attention. How do you stand out in a crowded social environment?
First, do what comes naturally. Some individuals or companies become influencers thanks to a strong brand personality. Wit, charm, or humor floats their content above the cacophony. Other influencers possess such a strong, recognizable brand, they earned industry leader status long before joining a social platform.
Second, you need to know what it is you offer your audience. This is your value proposition: a statement about the benefits of choosing you or your brand. Target what characteristics make your brand unique. Add this value proposition to the start of your your real estate content strategy to keep it focused.
2) Know your target audience
If you don’t have a target audience, you’re in trouble. Focusing your social content on your market niche tailors content to your ideal customer and increase the chances of building a quality audience. Remember, there may be 20 social networks, but your audience may only be most active on two. Save time and avoid crafting a dozen different messages to pitch across a dozen different platforms.
Having a grasp on your target audience also means knowing what topics they care about. Content is all about creating helpful and informative “stuff:” blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc, people are searching for. This is how your brand is discovered organically by new people.
Say you are a local multifamily specialist. Post about up-and-coming neighborhoods, trends in multifamily design, desired amenities, or tech innovations.
Brainstorm the topics relevant to your target consumer and research what social platforms appeal to their demographics. Add these to your content strategy.
3) Know your content options
“Content” is a broad term describing an array of formats. As readers know from the previous blog in this series, each social network presents content differently. Facebook has an “everything goes” approach while Snapchat targets video marketing.
The social media network(s) you’ve chosen help narrow the social media content type. For example, when Instagram is your primary social platform, you know to create high-quality photos and videos.
In reality, your content choices are endless. Create a video series, start a podcast, design infographics, write blogs, make slideshows, broadcast Live-- there’s a platform to support any content you might create.
The next distinction is between original and curated content.When you share a post created by somebody else, that is curated content. Original content is unique to you. Yes, the content may reflect appropriately cited research conducted by others, but the main thought points within came from your experience. A good social strategy mixes original and curated content.
In your content strategy, explain the networks you will use and which ones are “primary” networks. Note how often you’ll publish original content versus curated content on each network. Keep the time involved in producing original content in the back of your mind when you plan your strategy.
4) Finding curated content
Where do you find this curated content we’ve talked about? Sourcing content can seem to be a chore of its own.
One way to find curated content is in the email newsletters you subscribe to. Set up Google Alerts for trending topics. If you use an RSS feed monitor like Feedly, create boards to track certain topics. Conduct searches for industry hashtags to see what others are talking about. Marketers using a social scheduler like SproutSocial or Hootsuite can create lists to track certain topics or people. Scan these lists to find content relevant to your audience and your brand.
Make time in your schedule to source curated content, even if all you have is five minutes a day.
5) Plan to be visual
Real estate agents and brokers know pictures are worth more than words. Check out HubSpot’s visual marketing statistics: infographics receive three times more engagement and images boost Facebook post engagement 2.3 times. Even blogs need images. Social media posts can use still photography, designed graphics, GIF videos, or recorded videos.
Whatever visuals you plan to use, make sure they match brokerage branding and reflect the post content. Get to know how to take better photos on your phone, where you can source free stock photography, or subscribe to a stock image website. For custom social media graphic design, explore free websites like Canva, InkScape, Pixlr, Easel.ly or Infogr.am.
Putting your content plan together
To summarize, planning for social media content requires creating a strategy. Create a document covering the information you want to share with your audience, the platforms you’ll use to share it, and what content types you’ll use.
Along the way, identify respectable sources for curated content. Plan time to source this content, research for your original content, and for content generation. Be honest with the amount of time you’d like to commit and what strategies appeal most to how your brokerage works. If you're not happy with the selected social platforms and content, your social media efforts will tumble to the wayside.
With social media networks chosen and a content plan in place, learn how to manage the social media workflow. Find next steps in Parts 3 and 4, or head back to Part 1:
A Guide to Managing the Workflow
A Guide to Growing Social Influence