[T]he ring light was slightly too far left. The computer, a little to the right. The exactitude of setting up an at-home studio felt far from exhausting, it actually helped build excitement about speaking on air. This time, I was scheduled to talk about content, and how the perks of good content can, like a catchy tune in a dimly lit karaoke bar, make your business sing.
A few weeks ago, the team at Real Living Real Estate reached out with a request to participate in a live, virtual Q&A during the second (and final) General Session of the Real Living On Demand national conference. In the crush of infinite lessons 2020 doled my way, virtual presentations — talking into a computer and making it feel like you’re catching up with your best friend — was definitely one of them. I feel pretty comfortable now with the gloss of my laptop screen, and even manage to keep my awkward hand movements under control, at least for the span of a 30-minute presentation.
This Real Living Q&A was a whir of really good questions and (hopefully) my sufficient answers. If you missed the session, I wanted to recap a few responses, in case they might help you out in your own world of content and words:
Question: How can I get started creating a content strategy?
What’s that saying? Failure to plan is a plan to fail. When it comes to content strategy, planning is key. And when it comes to planning content, there’s no better tool than a content calendar. I like taking a few minutes in the morning as I’m sipping my coffee, and instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, I’ll plan out my content for the week and month. If you’re a real estate agent, consider what listings you have coming up, any press or awards you might be receiving, any community events you can highlight or local businesses you might want to feature. A monthly content calendar view is ideal, and I recommend Notion (the personal version is free) and the platform’s content calendar template to create a calendar that’s easy to adjust and iterate based on what’s happening when. Honestly though, you could also find some free calendar template on Canva, print it out, pin it to your office wall or leave it on your desk and write in the content you want to post. Whatever works for you. The important thing is that you do it.
Question: How often should you post on social media every week?
Answer: I don’t know. Ah that’s a cop-out answer. It’s not that I don’t know, it’s that the answer is totally depending on your particular mix of audience demographics. What I usually suggest is starting out with a baseline number, like three. When you do your content planning, take the beginning of the week to schedule/plan your content and the end of the week to analyze how your content performed. If you see high engagement (lots of comments, shares, likes) then up the cadence of content because you know your audience is into it. If you’re seeing low engagement, hold steady at three or go down to twice a week (once a week is a little too low for my social media marketing taste). The truth is, if you focus on putting out thoughtful, intentional, value-add content, people will respond. If you haven’t been posting until now and today’s the day you start your content strategy, give your followers some time to catch on that you’re posting content more regularly and posting good content they’ll want to see.
Question: How can I increase engagement on my social posts and blog?
Answer: There are a few ways you can increase engagement (without paid advertising) on your social posts: First, tag as many people and businesses as you can, as applicable. Next, add geo-tags to your posts and sprinkle in good calls to action (known as “CTAs” in the content biz). For example, if you’re posting about a listing, ask your followers what room they like best, or if they’re fans of the bright blue pop-of-color subway tiles in the kitchen. Another way to up engagement is to engage. When you meaningfully connect through comments and shares, your audience will be more likely to connect with you. For a blog, make sure you’re promoting the content several times and on different platforms. You can’t just post on a blog and expect readers to flock (although they might and if they do, consider yourself one of the lucky bloggers). Try posting the blog as a LinkedIn article; LinkedIn is always promoting its longer-form content creators, so if the content is good, they’ll be more likely to organically promote it on the site.
Question: Should I be posting videos on social media?
Answer: Yes! There’s a reason TikTok is so popular. Social platforms tend to scale up in demographic (e.g. start young and move toward the older, no, let’s say … more experienced users) and TikTok will be no exception. Anyway, TikTok’s element is the short-form video and it’s taken the content universe by storm. If you’re not posting videos, start small. Turn your camera around (on yourself) and talk about the market in a few Instagram Stories. Videos don’t have to be ultra-professional to be effective. They just have to be.
Question: Is Instagram the best place to promote my business?
Answer: This is another one of those “I don’t know” answers. For many, yes, Instagram is the best marketing platform and you should be posting everything on there to generate leads. For others, Instagram is a graveyard of low-likes and unseen Stories, left to fester in the digital dust of a platform powerless in the fight for getting leads. Maybe then Facebook is your social sweet spot or LinkedIn and its professional, polished content is the place to post. Try a few different platforms and know that it’s best not to put all your marketing eggs in one basket (that rarely produces a sustainable content omelet). Diversity with email marketing, and at least two social platforms where you’re promoting your business.
Question: What should I do if I don’t have time to create content?
Answer: I know this cool platform, I think it’s called Elite Content Collective? If you don’t have time to create content, it’s all there waiting for you. (Shameless plug? Sorry.) If you can’t subscribe to our customizable content library, which has a TON of blog post, social posts, strategy PDFs and templates, I recommend you curate content from reputable sources (e.g. Realtor Magazine, Inman News, Housing Wire, or NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s LinkedIn updates) and add your two cents, so you’re providing your unique perspective and positioning yourself as a thought leader/local-market expert, even though the content isn’t yours. There’s nothing wrong with curation; you are, after all, in the business of helping buyers and sellers with real estate and not a professional marketer. There’s a tricky balance you’ve got to navigate as an agent though because while your full-time job isn’t marketing (when will you have time to work with your clients?) it’s an important component of your job, so good time management comes into play. Blocking out time in your schedule for personal and property marketing will help expand your business. Couple this with a perpetual mindset for learning and you’re on a fast track to greater and greater success.
Question: Should I use my business or personal pages for marketing?
Answer: Pretty sure I was sweating a little at this point in the Q&A, the questions were making me think. I actually get this one a lot and my answer hasn’t changed, even though I think we’ve seen a shift from business pages to personal pages for marketing, especially as 2020 placed small businesses front and center, on public display. People do want to support your growth and they (for the most part) like to see you win, so there’s no problem posting business content to a personal page. (I’m guilty.) HOWEVER the problem comes in when you think about the expectation of your friends vs. followers. A friend who you connected with on Facebook or your personal Instagram a few years ago (maybe pre-real estate) has the expectation that the content you’ll post will be related to your life. They’re not expecting listings or real estate advice, though they may be interested in seeing both, or none. The advantages of a business page are three-fold: 1. Your followers expect that they’ll see business content, so you can post that without any fear of pushback. 2. You can glean analytics for your page (Instagram analytics, or instance, tell you the times your followers are most active, which is helpful for planning what time to post). 3. You can boost and advertise posts in a pay-to-play model for increased engagement, impressions and reach. OK, you get the advantages of business pages. Does this mean you should abandon business-related content on your personal page? Eh, no. You can still post there, you just have to be careful about your messaging. Frame things in terms of gratitude, in terms of your business story and in terms of what you can do for others. Approaching business content on a personal page with humility will help temper any naysayers who aren’t in it for your professional posts. As a related side note: None of this applies to LinkedIn, where your personal page is your professional page. On LinkedIn, you can post as much business content as your heart desires.
Question: What are your thoughts on longer form content?
Answer: Um, love it. And longer-form content is something you can totally test with your audience. Try varying the length of your Instagram captions and based on engagement, figure out what sticks. Post a few blogs and check out your readership. If you’re seeing a tolerance for longer-form words, keep it up. If your audience has a shorter attention span, keep your words little. After all, there’s nothing wrong with little words.
P.S. If you want more on all things content, I also created a beginner’s guide with 10 quick tips you can implement into your business today. Download it here.