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Leveraging Social Media for Online Lead Generation

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By Rebekah Radice

Leveraging_Social_Media_BH&G_190x158Targeting, converting and nurturing online leads are challenges many real estate professionals face. From the expense to the tools and management, knowing how and where to spend time and money can feel like an immense undertaking.

With this in mind, I sat down with Scott Lehman, owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Sonoran Desert Lifestyles to discuss the success they have seen as a franchise turning online fans, followers and visitors into life-long clients.

Explain your online lead capture strategy and follow-up system. Can you give us a peek inside how you handle lead conversion and what a homebuyer interacting with Sonoran Desert Lifestyles online could expect?

Through our affiliation with Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, we have an awesome lead capture system with LeadRouter. LeadRouter is a system that allows us to organize and consistently engage a possible buyer or seller. However, LeadRouter is just one third of the equation. Along with LeadRouter, we have one of the most detailed listing syndication programs available. This system populates our agent listings into hundreds of online real estate websites, giving international exposure to each property. It’s all about exposure and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate offers the best exposure program in the industry.

The third and final piece of our lead capture system is our very own website. Our website is designed to engage people who are searching for property in the Valley of the Sun.

All three parts of the equation work together to drive leads into our LeadRouter system which is monitored in real-time to ensure any lead that is generated is contacted within one hour. From there, each lead is added (with their permission) to a drip email campaign that also includes various phone call touchpoints.

Good online conversion rates start with quality content and a great value proposition. How did you find your online “voice” that includes the right content which speaks to and resonates with your target market?

I just love this question. I believe we have found topics that resonate with our friends around the world, but a consistent voice seems to be a moving target. As we grow our presence, it seems that our “voice” is developing and growing right along with our friends and fans.

As we define what the tone and voice of our company is, it’s been important that we not just use the voice that makes us most comfortable. That means we had to stop being a real estate professional 24/7 and start being human beings that connect in a real way with consumers.

We believe an “online conversation” should be just that, a conversation. Conversations take on different tones, topics and subjects; our willingness to meet people on a more human level is what helps us to convert buyers and sellers. We have had the privilege of supporting both buyers and sellers who have found us from our social media outlets and believe that they connected with us because they found us to be trustworthy and human. Our Social Media content is meant to express that.

That is a perfect segue into my next question. How does your website, blog and social media channels allow you to increase trust and build online relationships?

Our goal is to engage people, even if it isn’t real estate related. As real estate professionals we tend to post things that engage us, information about our industry which is not necessarily what engages other people, including other professionals. We on the other hand tend to share stories, events and general information about living in Arizona and the Sonoran Desert. Often times we will post things that are loosely related to the industry, whether it is something cute, funny or serious. The goal is to open up communication, entertain and keep people coming back for more.

There is so much information out there that can be used to post to social media, but you only have a limited amount of time to create a first impression and grab someone’s attention. While we want to position ourselves as thought leaders and industry experts, we have learned through analytics that posting about mortgage rates, foreclosure rates, and local inventory levels is a huge snoozefest. So we use this information sparingly and instead intertwine that with fun posts, photographs, videos, agent interviews, recipes, holiday decorating tips and so on.

We believe that this well-rounded, lifestyle approach creates a bond between us and our fans and followers that leads to trust and respect. Our online properties are a conduit between company and consumer that humanizes who we are and the business of buying and selling real estate.

Q: Let’s transition into the granular details. Tell us about your daily strategy. How much content are you producing and how often are you posting to your blog and social media sites?

Our daily strategy is simple, but does include several moving pieces designed to meet the needs of our unique audience.

• Early on we posted materials every hour to our Facebook page, but realized that was simply too much. We heard from people that we may be going overboard and have since cut that back. Social Media sites, whether it be Google+, Pinterest or Facebook are deeply personal to people. There is a fine line between engaging and annoying. Finding the balance is important.

• We like to begin our day with a photo of our beautiful Arizona, and as it turns out those are the most consistently engaged posts to our social media sites. I think so often businesses are too focused on pushing their product, forgetting that you’re dealing with human beings. We don’t want to be sold to, so we try not to sell. What we sell is the Arizona lifestyle.

• We use material from our Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate family, whether it’s from the Clean Slate Blog or BHG.com. We try to keep a balanced approach to our daily material, a post or two that is designed to engage real estate professionals, buyers/sellers and those who dream of living in the Sonoran Desert.

• We have created a series called “Have We Met.” This is essentially creating a one page biography of agents as an electronic calling card. We post these to our social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest as well as our own website. This series has been very well received!

We always keep in mind that Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is a lifestyle brand. This requires that we continually adapt our message and our method to embrace the brand’s position. Although Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate may be fairly new in Arizona, Better Homes and Gardens as a brand is not. Our goal is to connect the dots between lifestyle and real estate, giving buyers and sellers the better option when it comes time to make the largest financial decision they will ever make.

Have more questions for Scott? Place them in the comments below!

Rebekah is the Manager of Industry Engagement for Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate and serves as “the voice” behind the brand.

To read this story on Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s blog, “Clean Slate,” visit: http://bhgrealestateblog.com/2013/04/17/leveraging-social-media-for-online-lead-generation/

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