Social networking, viral marketing and the ability to establish higher quality opportunities at lower costs are driving the marketplace for 2013
N-Play, the leader in providing agent-centric real estate applications and services on Facebook, has reported that 150,000 real estate agents have become members of its social media services platform during 2012. This foretelling trend by real estate professionals further supports the view that agents are looking to social media as the next frontier to reach and connect with customers.
Traditional websites and web marketing services, that until now have been industry necessities, are being displaced with Facebook business pages and real estate applications. This includes the ability to promote services and listings, search for properties, collaborate with customers and connect with new prospects.
“The website is dead for the average real estate agent,” said Mark Bloomfield, CEO of N-Play, the provider of the Real Estate Agent Directory on Facebook. “As an agent, unless you are willing to shell out substantial dollars each year on website technology, advertising and search engine optimization, you’re not likely to create enough new customers for cost justification. Because this market is now controlled by the big real estate consumer portals, the average agent is just throwing away dollars to compete on the web for customers. As a result, the agent website has been marginalized and an underperforming asset for many years. It’s not going to get better moving forward. It’s time to change the marketing paradigm to compete, and social media is doing just that for agents,” he said.
An increasing number of agents are now allocating more time to promote their services through Facebook and other social media outlets rather than through traditional websites. Ninety percent of agents have a social media presence, with Facebook and Twitter being the largest players. N-Play has created a viral ecosystem for agents to efficiently market their real estate services, listings and consumer engagement tools. This environment is on par with the best agent websites, integrated to the agent’s Facebook page and interconnected to Facebook’s user base. Here, agents have a vibrant community to network and promote themselves, one that is socially interconnected and relies heavily on personal referrals and recommendations, a marketing staple of every real estate agent.
For consumers, there is a higher trust and more willingness to connect and engage with agents through social media over traditional websites or real estate portals. Consumers want to know as much as they can before trusting a relationship with an agent. Facebook has become a primary resource for this information delivered in a more open and transparent environment. For agents on Facebook, this connection to the consumer becomes more direct and improves the opportunity to gain the business.
Many agents are extending their brand in their cities, towns and communities through targeted Facebook advertising. Using ads, agents are promoting themselves and their listings to customers based on geographical information pulled from listing locations and agents’ service areas. Buyers and sellers are further identified using demographic data provided by Facebook that helps target the ads to the best audience.
Users clicking an agent or listing ad are linked back to the agent’s Facebook business page. On the agent’s page, they can learn about the property and engage further with the agent through a number of social plugins including messaging, commenting, liking and sharing. Consumers can also ‘pin’ the agent’s listings by social photo sharing, including Pinterest, further boosting listing visibility and viral impact. Real Estate Agent Directory members have access to a turn-key ad service through Facebook that includes ad creation, management and lead generation.
“Social media, particularly Facebook, is a driving force of the next wave of change for real estate professionals. More and more home buyers and sellers are connecting with agents on Facebook,” said Bloomfield. “Our vision is to put the agent back in the center of the transaction from start to finish, which increases the professional service value to the consumer and improves the overall experience for all parties. With Facebook’s socially-charged environment, agents are just one click away from starting a connection with a home buyer or seller through a Facebook friend, friend of friend, family member, referral, or an ad. It’s amazing to see how interconnected we really are and that’s exciting to us,” said Bloomfield.
Facebook has reported over 1 billion users worldwide. In the U.S. market, there are 100 million Facebook users between the ages of 35 and 55, a prime demographic for real estate.