I read a fascinating stat recently from the National Association of Realtors Generational Report. I was shocked to learn that over 92% of the Millennial Generation wants to use a real estate agent on their next real estate purchase or sale. This is even higher than the desire of Baby Boomers to work with Real Estate professionals. The one very strong deciding factor for this generation is how you stacked up online: Could they easily find you? Did you have a strong online presence? How well did you convey who you are online?
There is no fighting it any longer, a strong online presence is more important today than it has ever been. I am not talking about you paying an online ad company to get you noticed online. I am referring organic online marketing and how you can utilize online profiles to get some much needed free advertising to potential buyers and sellers.
When was the last time you looked at your Zillow profile? How about Trulia? Have you claimed your REALTOR.com profile? Do you even know what is on your LinkedIn page? In today’s hyper competitive real estate market and with so many new companies and agents competing for your business, it is more important than ever for you to STAND OUT online.
While you may not think about the impact of thoroughly completing these four online profiles, I can guarantee you that your potential buyers and sellers do check you out online, and if they see incomplete profiles it is a red flag regarding how detail-oriented you are.
In fact, at the beginning of this year, I issued a challenge to my ENCORE coaching group to take a look at their online profiles and to improve them. We actually went through and graded each client’s online profiles, gave them a score, and sent them away from that meeting to make the suggested edits to the profiles. They could send us links periodically and we would give them feedback. By the next meeting, a good percentage of the group had completed the suggested edits and were getting positive feedback from their clients and potential clients.
The standout moment was the $1 million+ listing that resulted from one of the ENCORE members’ polished profile within a few weeks of making these changes. Our coaching client told us that if she had not polished her profiles, then that client would never have found her. Not only did she do that one transaction, but that same client who found her online led to an additional transaction soon afterwards.
Here are some ideas for claiming and enhancing your online profiles. The suggestions below do not cost you anything to do other than time. You will need to set up an account (or claim your account), but otherwise you should not have to pay a dime to edit these profiles.
For All of Your Profiles
- Make sure you are using a professional, current photo and make sure the photo clearly portrays your personality. A great photo can make all the difference in making it easy for a potential client to contact you. Use the same photo for all your profiles.
- Make sure your educational credentials are up-to-date. If you have lots of letters beside your name, explain why those letters are a benefit to the client.
- Make sure you clearly communicate how you are different and better than the competition.
- Make sure your contact information is both complete and consistent. Format your phone number and address the same way everywhere. In other words, if you use Ste and not Suite, use it the same way everywhere. Consistency matters.
- You can use the same bio on all your profiles and we encourage you to do so.
- Link between your other social media profiles. That includes Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and LinkedIn. This way it’s easy for the visitor to find you in more places.
- Add all the areas in which you sell real estate, name them and claim them!
When creating your online profiles, take time to think about how you want to be portrayed online. You only have a few seconds to make a strong first impression, so it is essential you have the basics covered. You need to be online because people expect to find you there as a real estate agent. If potential clients go to find you online or to check you out and they can’t find you there, then that says to them you aren’t taking your business marketing seriously. If you aren’t taking your own marketing seriously, then why should that potential client think that you will do any better for them?
Zillow should also be on your list of top online places to claim. You know the old saying, “to catch a fish you need to be where the fish are biting”? Well, the fish are on Zillow, checking out listed properties. You should have a profile there and it should be as complete as possible. In addition to the above list, include:
- Your areas of specialty
- Your designations
- Make sure your listings are syndicated to your profile
- Invite your past clients to recommend you via Zillows Request a Review feature. It will provide you three ways to ask a client to review you. I also recommend responding to the review – it shows that extra client care attention.
Anyone who is a REALTOR® and has a current account has an available profile on REALTOR.com. Active accounts have a placeholder profile online along with any designations through NAR. You will need your NRDS number to log in and change your profile. Here are some things that you should include in addition to the list above:
- Add your tagline. Make sure your tagline communicates value, not just your job title.
- Add your specialties
- Since there isn’t a separate section for specialty locations, I encourage you to include this in the body of your bio.
- Connect to your Facebook Page or Blog! If you have a Facebook page or a blog, Realtor.com can be easily setup to show links to your content. That is free advertising folks!
In addition to the list at the beginning, this is the profile that you have the greatest ability to shine:
- Include a tagline – make your tagline about your niche market, or how your client will benefit from working with you. Again, don’t just put your job title here.
- Fill out your contact information thoroughly!
- Fill out all your work experience thoroughly. Include a summary of what you did at each work place especially as it pertains to real estate (and include logos)
- Include any awards and who granted them (and include logos)
- Include any organizations or volunteer work that you are involved in (and include logos). Make sure you include a summary and indicate why you are passionate about the organization.
- Fill out your education history thoroughly. Include logos, of course, and indicate any degrees or certifications obtained.
- Have a neighborhood tour video or biographical business video? Add them to your profile.
- Make your profile publicly accessible through your privacy settings.
- The other cool things about LinkedIn are the “endorsement” and “recommendation” features. Endorsements allow your connections to endorse you for certain skills that are mentioned in your profile with the ease of a few clicks. Recommendations are original written endorsements created by your connections. You can request your connections create recommendations for you through LinkedIn. Always remember to thank people for their recommendations!
- Create a business page, post some things related to your profession and territory that you find online so that it doesn’t look empty.
- Customize your header with your brand, and then invite your friends to Like your page.
- Take a look through all of your settings and make sure that you can communicate with Facebook members in a way that is convenient for you. This way you can quickly respond to business questions.
- Don’t forget to set your page’s categories, this is what will list your business in Facebook’s local business index.
- Once you are established, take a moment to verify your page. Verified pages show up first in Facebook search results.
One of the most powerful trends in real estate right now is the use of video. Real estate agents that learn to master using video in their business have a wonderful opportunity to let people get to know them before they ever show up for an appointment. Did you know that although Google is the biggest search engine by traffic, that YouTube is a close second? Creating your own YouTube channel is essential and posting all your videos there is a fantastic way to increase brand awareness and connection with online visitors.
- Take time to get your channel branded so that it looks professional.
- Add a short introductory video that tells people who you are in just a couple minutes.
- Enable the advanced channel formatting option and you can then link to your other profiles in your YouTube banner.
- Invite people to comment and ask questions when you add a new video. Asking people to take action doubles your chances of getting them to follow-through.
Yes, it is going to take time to create and coordinate these profiles. Yes, you may be requesting recommendations from past clients and that may be a source of discomfort for you. Yes, this might be a task that is low on your list, but I am reminded of another agent in our group who tackled her LinkedIn profile with gusto after our class. She was detailed. She added logos and filled out all the information thoroughly. Not a week later she got a call from a potential buyer who said, “I saw your LinkedIn profile and was impressed. I knew I had to call you.” That made her stop and wonder how many people had passed her over before and didn’t call after being unimpressed with her previous LinkedIn profile.
So, take a look at your online profiles with a critical eye! If they are not up to par, make it a commitment to get them polished.