Property Experts founder, Bruce Birkitt, takes a look at the UK & U.S property markets and why social media is integrated more successfully into the property sales business across the pond.
With a great number of years in the UK property market, I believed there was little left for me to learn about developing an effective property marketing and sales strategy, let alone social media for business purposes.
My views quickly changed when I took an extended trip to LA in 2018. Wherever I am in the world, I’m always keen to research the local property market, any ideas of how to improve my developments, or techniques that will assist in sourcing new property opportunities. My time in the U.S. really opened my eyes to ways I might be able to incorporate some of their ideas into my own business in the UK.
Whilst growing relationships over dinners and during conversations in Beverly Hills, I was quickly able to connect with many of the area’s top realtors through social media. Developing these relationships made it very apparent how much business our U.S. counterparts gained from effective use of social media platforms.
Whilst the use of social media is gradually increasing in the UK property market, I feel that it has been embraced to greater effect in America, where realtors have perfected the art of using it to build a personal brand that enables buyers and sellers to instantly relate to the individual prior to even meeting them. Many realtors will invest thousands per month in outsourcing their social media, top realtors have even taken to hiring their own in-house social media content creators.
As of January 2018, there are now 4.02bn internet users around the world, which equates to 53% of the total world population (Forbes). With the property market’s shark tank reputation, those looking to be successful need to start exploring these options and using them to their full potential to stand out from the crowd.
When I returned to the UK, I immediately set about embracing social media in order to attract new investors and buying opportunities. Results were instantaneous. I initially focused on LinkedIn and grew my connections to 19,000, with the business’s posts receiving up to 50,000 views. Whilst it remains early in the process, we have made several new property purchases and gained investors from the UK and internationally, whom we would never have met in real life. I attribute these successes to the content of my posts, and I would strongly advise others against posting just for the sake of it.
Moving my focus to Instagram and Facebook, I’ve continued to take a leaf out of the state-side manual, and taken on board a social media agency to monitor, manage and grow my social media presence.
The UK property development market is very much still in the traditional advertising mindset, and many agents and developers pay enormous fees to companies like Rightmove. The world is moving on fast, and social media can massively cut costs in comparison to older methods. It offers a potentially infinite reach and allows people to find out a lot about you before they meet you face to face, it can act as a fantastic icebreaker.
I believe that social media provides a modern day version of a CV. The content of your online channels gives people a flavour of who they are dealing with. Many successful U.S. estate agents share extra details about their passions, hobbies and families and I’ve found this works really well to create a well-rounded social media presence. I like to follow and interact more with real estate figures who post high-quality content on a regular basis. This kind of presence shows a real enthusiasm for the industry we are in.
From a business perspective, social media will allow potential investors or sellers the opportunity to do a full fact-find and make sure the business actually performs rather than being a one-hit-wonder. Several sellers I have dealt with have looked me up on social media and picked me over other people on that basis, the tipping point has been the seller doing their research and realising that my business does what it says it does.
With brand loyalty slowly disappearing, gone are the days of people wanting to deal with a specific firm. Many people prefer to deal with an individual, so this kind of exercise is better-suited for SMEs like my company, rather than larger developers. If one person is willing to be the face of the brand and build a social media presence, then it can be really elementary to a company’s success.