Social Media 101: A REALTOR’s® Guide to Online Success

Social Media 101: A REALTOR’s® Guide to Online Success

It’s 2023: as a REALTOR® you likely already have and use a website and a Facebook page. Maybe you have Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and LinkedIn accounts.  YouTube and TikTok accounts are less likely to be part of your social media arsenal. National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) research shows that 89 percent of its technology survey respondents use Facebook in their real estate business, 59 percent use Instagram, 53 percent use LinkedIn, 26 percent use YouTube, 19 percent use X, and 12 percent use TikTok. Pinterest, Snapchat, and Clubhouse only earned single digit percentages.

Social media is an essential tool for REALTORS® in today's market. It provides a powerful platform to connect with potential clients, build relationships, and market listings. Here are just a few of the reasons why REALTORS® should be using social media:

Social media platforms have billions of users worldwide and thousands in your marketing area.  This allows REALTORS® to:

  • Reach a large number of potential clients and target marketing messages.
  • Build relationships by sharing helpful information, engaging in conversations, and responding to comments.   
  • Market to potential buyers by sharing photos and videos of listings and highlighting their key features.

The basic concept of social media marketing is to engage customers, drive them to a website, build name/brand recognition and increase sales. Marketing is delivered via platforms which have differing audience and demographics.


The Platforms and Their Users

Social media networks have been around for more than 25 years.  Remember My Space?  Though Facebook currently is the nation’s largest social media outlet with 3 billion monthly users worldwide, both LinkedIn and MySpace (launched in 2003) preceded Facebook (2004).   Here is a list of the most popular social media sites and their demographic appeal.


Facebook (2004) – 79 percent of U.S. Facebook users are age 25 and older and 55 percent of all users of all ages are women. Those demographics, along with Facebook’s familiarity and longevity, make it a great place for residential real estate marketing. Facebook posts feature words, photos and videos that allow REALTORS® to showcase listings and share useful real estate buying/selling tips.

Instagram(2010) – Facebook’s younger sister has a slightly younger user base with 69 percent age 25 and older. Women make up 56 percent of Instagram users. The platform was created primarily to share photos and short videos.  Instagram offers REALTORS® a space to share video tours of listings as well as name/brand building advice videos.

LinkedIn(2003) – Millennials are the largest demographic for this business and employment focused platform. Fifty-one percent of U.S. LinkedIn users are under 40 and 58 percent are men. For REALTORS,® LinkedIn’s appeal is referrals and networking. LinkedIn users ask their contacts for recommendations which may lead to connections with potential clients. Users also use the platform to post helpful real estate tips, share resources and post testimonials from past clients.  

YouTube (2005) – Created as a video sharing website, YouTube is extremely popular in the U.S. with 246 million users and is second in popularity to Facebook. Sixty-eight percent of YouTube users are age 25 and older and men make up the majority of viewers at 56 percent.  As a real estate application, YouTube is a powerful tool for generating leads, showcasing listings, and developing name/brand recognition. 

X (2006) – Formerly known as Twitter, 71 percent of the social media site’s users are over 25 years old and 56 percent of users are male. Designed for short-form posts, tweets can contain text, videos, photos or links.  Words in posts are limited to 280 characters, so X appeals to those who can be succinct in describing a listing or sharing a link to a listing or real estate news. You can use X to drive traffic to your website by including links in your tweets (or Xs as they someday may be called).  

Threads (2023) – The new kid on the social media block is this text-based app that is part of the Meta family which includes Instagram.  Viewed by many as a competitor of X, Threads has two major differences:  posts can be 500 characters (nearly twice X’s limit), and videos can be up to five minutes (more than twice the length allowed by X). Most recent data shows that Threads has 130 million users worldwide and the majority are males between the ages of 23-25.  You must have an Instagram account to use Threads and, once you create a Threads account, you cannot delete it without also deleting your Instagram account.  Like X, Threads can be a great place to share teasers for listings as well as real estate advice and tips. Be sure to include high quality photos and videos as well as website links.  


Taking the First Steps

There are too many platforms and too little time for a busy REALTOR® to be everywhere on social media.  If you’re a newbie, take baby steps onto familiar (and easy) platforms like Facebook and Instagram. With either, your first goals are to post interesting content and build followers. The more interesting your content, the more followers you will likely have and the more exposure the social media algorithms will give you.  Increased exposure and consistently good content lead to more followers. To first attract followers, encourage users to like and share your posts. Your algorithm appeal will climb and you will have a real audience for your content. If you need to build followers quickly, devise a contest with a prize winner selected from those who like and share a post.

Content is plentiful and can include featured listings, hot new listings, advice for first-time homebuyers, market conditions, closing photos and “under contract” posts. Posts give you the opportunity to create a sense of urgency for potential buyers to view a hot new listing.  Work to make your posts visually appealing with pictures and videos. Remember, content doesn’t have to be all business or real estate. A secondary social media goal is letting potential clients become familiar with you and to establish trust. If you are comfortable in front of the camera, let your personality show and your expertise shine.


Timing is Everything

To reach followers and garner those all-important likes and shares, post content while they are most likely to be online.  There are many opinions – some based on analytics – about the best time and day to post.   But remember, your content may command an immediate post, so consider the content first.  The American Marketing Association’s consensus is that the best time to post on Facebook is early morning on a weekday so that your post will be at the top of your followers’ feeds when they start scrolling in the morning.  The worst day?  Saturday.  For Instagram users, the best time to post is between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, and at 11 a.m. on Monday through Friday.

For more posting insights and best times for other platforms visit the American Marketing Association.


Social Media Hacks that Work

To increase your exposure, build credibility and relationships, and generate productive leads, incorporate these hacks into your social media routine.  

  • Tag local businesses and colleagues in your posts.  Posting about a closing?  Tag the closing attorney, other REALTORS® involved, and anyone else who was helpful in the transaction.  Visiting a restaurant for a meeting?  Tag it.  Spread the tags and social media love far and wide.
  • Share (with permission) listings from other agents.  Tag everyone involved -- agent and broker.
  • Use smart tools to spark creative text and captions. Artificial intelligence sites like ChatGPT and Google Bard can do everything from write a listing to caption your photos. Using a simple prompt like “write a real estate description for 101 Meadow Lane, Anytown, Alabama,” will produce a surprisingly good listing description.  Check for accuracy, of course, before posting.  
  • Keep a list of “evergreen” topics for posts. When there is a gap is listings, closings, or market news, pull out a post that is not time sensitive like marketing tips and first-time buyer education.
  • Solicit and post (with permission) client testimonials. Satisfied clients can make a difference in persuading potential clients.
  • Drive followers to your website. In every possible post, link your website so clients can see all you have to offer.

The bottom line for REALTORS® is that social media produces quality leads, builds brand and name recognition and trust, and appeals to an overwhelming majority of potential clients. Embrace the platforms that suit your style and reach the client demographics that will grow your business.