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Righting the wrongs of bad estate agents.

How estate agents are using social media to develop positive online reputations and rectify public perception of the industry at large.

The real estate industry has long suffered in the eye of the public. From all accounts this appears to stem from a perceived lack of trust on the part of the consumer. Yet, a survey on estate agents and consumer service found that despite poor public perception of the industry, the majority of recent users of real estate services ‘report favourably on the service they received’. This disunion between public perception and personal experience represents a gainful opportunity for estate agents to capture this consumer group to promote their business and actively mend the industry’s reputation. 

95% of buyers and sellers believe that working with an estate agent is important, and yet the public predominantly classes this service as a necessary evil rather than a worthwhile, skilled service. A few bad estate agents have cast a shadow over the industry and the countless honest, credible estate agents have to work harder than ever to make up for the actions of a small group of poor performing agents. People are far more likely to voice complaints than praise and this is problematic for an industry so heavily built on customer service. When feedback is voiced online, its capacity for reach is amplified exponentially. This double-edged sword can make or break a business’s reputation and it is this online behaviour that is placing great estate agents above the rest. 

The development of digital communications and networking is enabling estate agents to distinguish themselves from each other, and agents are utilising social media to grow networks, build meaningful relationships with consumers and help customers separate the wheat from the chaff. There are more than 1.6 billion social media network users worldwide, and 76% of UK Internet users are engaging with social media regularly. Social networks provide a relatively low cost touch point with proven impact on sales and positive review and these numbers represent a vast pool of opportunity for brand visibility. 

A recent YouGov survey found that majority of consumers write online reviews to help others make better purchasing decisions, and that 79% of people trust online consumer views as much as personal recommendations. Developing and maintaining user approval can swiftly shift public perception and attitudes towards an agency. When consumers read reviews, they have generally already identified a need or issue that they require a professional to satisfy. It necessarily follows that the path from reading online reviews to business selection is short and the potential to convert ‘searches’ into clients high. Nurturing new user relationships and retaining existing client loyalty through social media underpins positive online reputations. 

Proactive agencies are swiftly integrating social media marketing strategies by populating their profiles across various social media networks and translating consumer insight into action. Social media sites are characterised by engagement, participation and relationship building and estate agencies are using image centric dashboards like Pinterest and Instagram to visually share media and information to their audience. Agencies are garnering user interest by publishing photos of local landmarks and areas of interest to prospective clients, promoting listed properties and using property video tours, as well as providing local news and information. Repopulating this media across your agency’s Facebook and Twitter, embedded with vital backlinks to agency websites and appropriate property pages generates leads and directs traffic onto your professional page at a considerably low cost. Additionally, Facebook now behaves like a real-time unofficial office for agencies and accessibility is a huge user incentive. 

Managing Director of Kemp & Co Real Estate in Dorset, Maria Kemp says that since implementing social media into her marketing plan, it has become an invaluable asset to her business. “We are booking market appraisals, receiving enquiries from across the County and beyond, tenants are reporting maintenance issues out of hours through private messaging and we have come across so many new products and ideas that we have now implemented into our everyday business that we would never have otherwise discovered.” 

Playing on the ‘social’ aspect of media, agencies are seeking out conversations with local Twitter users to bolster local exposure and share in community spirit. Campaigns integrated across multiple networks encourage multipoint interaction and make for a consistent and coherent user experience. Cultivating meaningful relationships with users strengthens user approval and builds trust between agents and consumers – something that urgently needs to be addressed throughout the industry. 

In the fluid, dynamic and amplified arena of the digital world, a positive and keen online presence endows estate agents with a competitive edge and helps to develop and reinforce positive consumer attitudes toward agents. Pro-active estate agents are implementing social media into their marketing plan in order to distinguish themselves from the poor performing agents that have darkened the industry’s reputation by establishing trusted and valued relationships with consumers. With consumers increasingly moving online to property portals like LocalAgentFinder to request agent information and compare agent fees and services before selecting, estate agents are rapidly evolving and responding to consumer demands by joining the new online conversation. 

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