Attention v retention in real estate ads

Tim Cronin, Published: Wed 8th Mar, 2017

I recently read a quote from an international business leader that went something along the lines of –

“If you don’t have a digital strategy, then you don’t have a strategy.”

That statement is as true for real estate professionals as it is for every other business looking to succeed in today’s ever-changing world.

But having a digital presence is one thing. Making the most of that presence is another altogether.

The battle for attention.

It’s a well-documented fact that people’s attention spans are decreasing. The findings of one Canadian test suggest that since the introduction of mobile phones the average attention span of a human has dropped to 8 seconds – less than that of a goldfish.

That means you’ve got a very small window of opportunity to make an impression and engage with someone. And in the digital world you’re fighting every other business out there for those precious few seconds worth of attention.

Front of mind.

For a real estate agent there are a few challenges when it comes to connecting with people on social media. Unlike a company that attracts regular business from its fans and followers – like an online fashion store, for instance – the majority of your ‘customers’ will probably only ever use your services once or twice in their lives!

But when they do it’s almost certainly going to be a big transaction. So your mission is to ensure you’re ‘front-of-mind’ when that time comes; the first person they think of when they eventually do decide it’s time to sell their property – whether that’s six weeks, six months, or six years from now.

Building relationships.

Of course, the key to being front-of-mind is building a relationship; establishing a sense of trust and developing a reputation as a leader in your field. And so it’s not simply enough to publish every new listing you get on Facebook or Instagram.

With so many entities fighting for their attention, today’s audience is a discerning one, to say the least. As soon as something feels like a waste of their time they’ll switch off – often never to return.

So ask yourself: how many of your followers are likely to be interested in any given listing you post? Let’s say you’ve got a hundred followers. Maybe one of those will be looking for just that type of property, at just that point in time. And maybe another one or two will know friends or family members who might be interested. Out of that 3% percent of your followers you may well find a buyer.

But what about the other 97%? How long before they get sick of seeing properties that don’t appeal to them as they scroll through their newsfeeds? Best case scenario they simply become oblivious to your posts. Worst case they stop following you altogether.

Staying relevant.

We’re certainly not saying you shouldn’t post your listings online. You should do absolutely everything you can to spread the word about each new listing, including sharing it with your online followers.

But you need to punctuate those posts with content that’s relevant to a broader audience. Expert commentary and insightful tips that will start to paint you as a real industry-leader, and ensure your audience returns time and time again for every snippet of info you’re willing to offer.

For me, personally, I’ll always stop and read an email, post or blog about things like changes to interest rates, rental rate shifts or new housing trends. Others might be interested in anything from interior design tips to seasonal maintenance advice.

The key is, it must be relevant, and useful. People have followed you because you’re a real estate professional. So go ahead, post the odd ‘chocolate brownie recipe’ if you must. But don’t make a regular habit of that. Keep on topic, regularly posting interesting content that will educate buyers and sellers.

Don’t worry about giving the game away.

Some agents fret that by giving away too much information they’ll be upskilling their audience, who may then feel confident enough to try and sell their homes themselves down the track.

In some instances that may be true. But most people prefer to stick to their knitting. They know what they’re good at, and they know when they need to seek the advice of an expert. And buying or selling a home is definitely one of those times where expert advice is needed.

So rather than encouraging people to go it alone, what you’ll be doing by sharing your knowledge is building up your own credibility. Your audience will know that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of every aspect of the industry, and they’ll want to tap into that knowledge when they need to make the most important financial decision of their lives.

From fans and followers to advocates and champions.

They’ll also be much more likely to recommend the forward-thinking agent who’s been posting about everything from projected interest rate hikes to the most up-and-coming suburbs in town to their own friends and family.

And when that starts happening your reach will start to grow exponentially.

Good luck!

Tim & Jarrad.

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