According to Ray Ellis, CEO of First National Real Estate, agents are falling behind when it comes to social media, thanks to poor policy from above.
“Major networks are too focused on the promotion of their own social pages instead of those of their franchisees or members,” Mr Ellis said.
“Social media offers real estate agents further opportunities to attract local customers, share expertise, entertain, and to humanise their business. Unfortunately, too many agents overlook the importance of engagement and many do little more than advertise their listings.”
Midway through last year, First National unveiled FN Social Express, a service that provides online content for individual offices, created and distributed through online channels from head office.
Speaking with Real Estate Business, First National spokesperson Stewart Bunn said while most content is provided by head office, there’s still work to do on the principal's part.
“Most agents know that social media engagement can help their business; a majority say they just don’t have the time," he said. "So we provide around two thirds of the content, which significantly reduces the onus on principals.”
The service has proven to be a "runaway success". During its first six months of operation, the network has helped 127 participating offices reach over 1.5 million new customers, and increased members’ local community fans by 37 per cent, page engagements by 52 per cent, local impressions by 32 per cent and their community reach by 76 per cent.
While top-down content is helpful, it’s the hyper-local content that agents should be aiming for, according to internet marketing manager at Elders Real Estate Jhai Mitchell.
“While we’re watching what a number of other groups are doing in the social media marketing space, without the proper resources copywriters and content creators can’t generate localised content, which is what consumers want," he said.
“It’s really up to individual offices to have their own perspective on local issues and events.”
Having run his own hyper-local blog for many years, Mr Mitchell said he is now able to quantify leads that his marketing initiatives have generated.
“The local content that gets engagement, rather than national news that gets lots of views, is what generates sales and leads,” he said.
First National’s initiative is still in the roll-out stages, with almost 400 offices expected to be connected by the end of the year.
“The rollout has been a lengthy process, but since starting in June last year we hope to have the entire network, including New Zealand on the system by the end of 2014,” Mr Bunn said.