Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest, oh my! If you’re a real estate agent looking to market yourself for potential clients, you might feel like you’re looking down the barrel of the social media marketing gun.

Here’s the good news: 92% of home buyers used the Internet to search for real estate in 2013. This number is continuously increasing. With that in mind, it’s crucial for real estate offices and agents to have a significant web presence. But a simple website does not a web presence truly make. Carefully managed social media profiles do a lot for your business; they round out your online brand, vastly improve your visibility, and increase website traffic and lead conversions.

Here are a few of the most popular social networks that should be in your marketing arsenal:

Facebook

The number of businesses that say Facebook is critical or important to their business increased by 75% from 2009 to 2012. To say Facebook is important for your business is, at this point, an understatement.

The social media giant encourages users to share their thoughts, pictures, events and various fodder from around the web through status updates. Real estate offices can take advantage of Facebook by sharing town and company information, advertising listings and open houses, and expanding networking circles.

Beyond that, Facebook allows businesses to advertise their brand, gather market insight, increase website traffic, and generate leads. Sounds promising, right? The process is simple:

1) Create & customize a Business Fan Page. Facebook gives you the choice to market yourself as a local business, a company or organization, or a brand (among other categories). Customize your page by uploading a profile picture of yourself. Consider choosing a picture of your office or community and uploading it as your cover photo. Are you a real estate agent in Burlington, Vermont? A cover photo of Lake Champlain could give your page a little personality beyond a simple logo. Boston? A cover photo of the skyline could make your page pop. Write your “About Me” description so that clients will know a little bit about you and your company.

2) Post good content. Facebook is about being social with your followers. Ask questions about your clients’ experiences, share insights about the industry, and talk about your community. If there’s a festival next weekend, go there and take pictures. Potential clients know that they are not just buying a house; they are buying a community. Take pride in your town and show it off.

3) Advertise. Facebook allows businesses to promote their posts and their page for a small budget. These promotions allow your content to reach people beyond your existing fans and often lead to increased page traffic. If you have an open house coming up, create an event for it so your fan base will know what your company is up to.

4) Accrue likes, comments, and shares.

Facebook can also be used to connect with potential clients and alert your followers of open houses, new listings, sold listings, and more. One of our clients, Robert Wallace Real Estate, does an awesome job at marketing their business on Facebook. They own a customized page and actively post about community events (like local farmers’ markets and snow sculpture competitions in the area), useful DIY articles, and current listings. Check them out here.

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Twitter

Big things come in small packages, and those little 140-character-long tweets contain a huge social media marketing opportunity. Like Facebook, the process is pretty simple.

1) Create a handle that is easily searchable (ex. @JohnDoeRealtor or @RealEstateCompanyName).

2) Follow businesses in your industry and those in related fields. (Hint: The New York Times real estate pages are a good place to start – @nytrealestate and @NYTimesHome.)

3) Tweet about your new listings, sold listings, industry news, and local events.

Make sure to include some fun, quirky tweets that let your personality shine through. Your followers want to know that they can interact with your business. Tweet daily and engage your followers by retweeting respondents and giving shout-outs to any positive (or even not so positive) feedback. If Twitter has one rule, it’s this: the more communication, the better.

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Twitter users have more than doubled since 2010. Companies with over 1,000 Twitter followers generate more than 800 new website visitors each month. Get tweeting!

Google+

Google+ was originally launched in 2011 and earned somewhat of an underdog reputation among other social media sites. Yet Google+ is quickly rising in the ranks for the world’s most popular social networking site.

As a user, Google+ allows you to connect with people through the creation of social “circles.” These circles are subgroups of people that you can place online acquaintances in; “friends,” “colleagues,” and “clients” are common categories.

Google+ resembles Facebook in both popularity and function, but Google+ draws an older crowd. The site saw more than a 225% increase in active users aged 35-44 since its inception. This older demographic offers a rich source of leads for vacation homes and secondary properties.

Marketers, listen up. Google+ also gives clients the ability to review your business on the site and spread the word about your services. And the benefits don’t stop there. Verified business information from Google+ appears on Google Maps when users begin their search. Beyond that, Google+ pages tend to perform well in organic Google search results. If we Google our client – Robert Wallace Real Estate – their Google+ picture and business information is displayed alongside the search results, creating a richer presence.

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To get onboard, claim and customize your Google+ business profile. Like Facebook, customize your page with photos of yourself, your company, and your town. Follow pages that are relevant to your business. Engage with people by sharing company news and industry insights, and connect with potential clients by adding them to your circles.

These social sites are among the most popular, but the list of sites goes on, and on… and on. Keep in mind that there are many more to choose from, but don’t get in over your head. As the old adage goes: quality over quantity. We chose these three sites to highlight because they control the biggest pieces of the social media marketing pie and will offer the best chance for exposure. Subscribing to dozens of social media sites won’t get you new leads or increased website traffic. Choose a few sites that catch your marketing eye and dedicate the time to maintain them. You’ll see the most benefit from social media profiles when you dedicate the time to updating your sites regularly and interacting with your followers. Who knows? You might even have some fun, too.