Social Media Does Matter: Selling Houses During Hard Times

Everyone knows that in today’s market, it’s not enough just to get the listing—you need to have an aggressive marketing plan.

While printed flyers, signage and the basics will always have their place, we all know that over 80% of home buyers begin their search for a new home online.

In fact, second only to over-priced home, no internet marketing strategy is the biggest reason homes don’t sell.

That’s why you need advanced online marketing strategies–social media strategies–to help you create a compelling online presence.

Yet, marketing real estate has never been a hip business.

The people in it might be cool–but the advertising venues that work best for real estate have long been traditional vehicles like postcards, print newspaper ads and signage. Real estate is nothing if not a local business, after all (note the real estate mantra of “location, location, location”)–you don’t buy a house off of the Internet, right?

Maybe not yet.

Tech-savvy real estate agents and developers quickly turned to online and social media tools like video, blogs, and other new media to sell their properties. However, the adoption is so slow for the early majority [or pragmatists], and, of course, painful for the late majority [or conservatives].

Which brings me to my point.

The first step in successful and aggressive listing promotion is to make sure your property is featured where home buyers are looking.

And because offline marketing tools cost money, and money is hard to come by in tough times, its really no surprise that real estate agents to reduce their newspaper print budgets, if not eliminating them altogether.

My belief is that perhaps financial hard times might drive some normally timid, pragmatic and conservative people to finally get online and get with it, crossing that chasm faster than they normally would.

Otherwise they may have to be happy with failing. After call, necessity is the mother of experimentation.

To get us started, here are some basic suggestions to help you get the most out of your web site’s listings:

  • Promote listings on your home page—make a featured property listing highlighting a particular property, and make sure there’s an easy-to-access slide show at the ready.
  • Keep your hot news hot—announce your newest and most-desirable listings.
  • Update your open house page—drive traffic from the web into your open houses.
  • Use a hotline number with your listings. This allows you to capture contact information when they call to listen to an audio tour of the home or updated price information.
  • Add a summary to your home page—with a dedicated link to your listing page.

Once you’ve secured the listing and published it to your website–the minimum–it’s time to capture other agents and potential buyers. Let’s move on to more advanced online marketing strategies–social media strategies–to help you create a compelling online presence.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Create a single-property blog. Is this the most potent listing tool? Teresa Boardman talked about Keeping Local Real Estate, Well…Local, and how blogging can support and express your local knowledge and expertise within the microcosm of your community; establishing relationships with site-visitors and clients. [With Local, I’m speaking in-terms of relationships–referral business, repeat business, becoming known in your community for the all-inclusive services you provide consumers.]
  • Add YouTube videos along with other content such as business details, photos, and descriptions to their listings. To do so, simply upload your videos to YouTube and ensure that the ‘embed’ option is turned on. Then, associate your video to your business listing through the Local Business Center.
  • Promote Google Map as the new real estate search page. Once you’ve got your videos in Google Maps, then you got to make sure people actually use it.
  • Dominate your local search. Back in November I wrote about local search and why you should care and gave you 7 steps to improve your local rankings. The best part: it’s bootstrapalicious [read: doesn’t cost any money except your sweat].
  • Advertise your business and listings using Facebook. Putting your brand on Facebook is actually a pretty easy process. Just click on the Advertisers link in Facebook’s footer and then Create a Page.
  • Brand your listings with Trulia. Quoting from the Trulia blog: “Agents will have access to a self-service tool to highlight up to 10 listings per month for a monthly subscription fee of $50.” So, for less than the price of a typical newspaper classified ad, you can now highlight your listings and connect directly to more than 2 million unique users per month, including a highly affluent group of home buyers, 81% of who are looking to purchase a home in the next 12 months.

These steps will get you to a place where you can offer your visitors the most information-rich experience, and will help them to remember you, and thus to return to your site again and again.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the real estate marketing blog.

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Brian Horan


I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for some time now, but I was a more than a little surprised by the fact that you failed to mention as a resource while promoting Trulia and Zillow in this post. Now, I’m all for my clients getting the best of all marketing and I can see the merits of Trulia and Zillow. However, to not mention the fact that maintains a unique user count of 6 to 7 million per month is almost negligent. Especially because the majority of Realtors can enhance all of their listings on for less than the $50 that Trulia is taking.

I acknowledge that in the past has not been the most transparent entity. We are, with the help of some new management, aiming to fight that perception and dispel it as myth. I would love the opportunity to discuss all of the good things that we do for our clients, while addressing any questions that you would need answered in order to give the unbiased analysis that you are so great at bringing to our community.


Brian Horan

Gary Elwood

Hey Brian,

I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the blog. And I seriously appreciate your feedback.

I hear what you’re saying, and I’m sure there are great advantages for agents at, but I guess in my defense I have to say that doesn’t really fit the social media role I was going for, and just naturally didn’t come up during my research.

Now, I do owe you and all my readers an apology. Because I reviewed my article after your comment and noticed that neither does Trulia truly fit that role. Zillow squeaks in only because I mentioned the part about the conversation platform. But Trulia got under the radar. Sorry.

Besides, isn’t a no-brainer for most agents? At least new agents? So whether leaving out was negligent I think is debatable.

But I’m open to discussing all the good things you do for your clients. And possibly even sharing that information with my readers. Any objections?

Thanks again for writing, Brian.


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