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Brand This Post With Your Info!

Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Erica Campbell Byrum, Director of Social Media for Homes.com and For Rent Media Solutions.

Q: What are the biggest social media trends for real estate in 2015?
A:
Social media, digital marketing and new technology hold massive opportunities to attract new business, retain customers, create engagement and increase revenue. They’re also constantly evolving, so it’s challenging to know what will help grow your real estate business.

Since the advent of social media, we’ve tested many tactics to see what consumers are drawn to and what falls short. As we brace for 2015, let’s explore five social media marketing trends that should be on your radar for 2015.

1. Create a Sense of ‘Youtility’
In the age of “information overload,” our marketing messages must not only stand out, but be valuable enough that people share them with their networks. Youtility is “marketing so useful, people would pay for it,” according to Jay Baer, marketing consultant and author of the New York Times best-selling book, “Youtility,” and the newly released e-book, “Youtility for Real Estate.” When people share your content, they’re essentially adding their seal of approval, which has the potential to increase the quality and your rank on search engines.

Hire talented writers who generate helpful, innovative and shareable content that will stick out, portray you as the expert and keep your brand top of mind. After all, Baer says, “the difference between helping and selling is just two letters.”

2. Image-based Content Rules
Using visual content to tell stories will be imperative to connecting with your audience, as it helps them identify with your brand. In fact, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text (Zabisco).

Focus on visual-based social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. Share not only photos, but videos, including micro and time-lapse videos, like the Hyperlapse app from Instagram, that can truly showcase your brand and properties in an innovative, visually pleasing format.

Think like a journalist and dedicate resources to develop these assets and collect stories. There are dozens of free and low-cost editing tools like PicMonkey.com, Piktochart.com and Rhonna Designs to help you create your own graphic masterpiece.

Also, monitor and emulate trends like the cutting-edge formats featured on BuzzFeed.com.And look to real estate pros like Raj Qsar, principal and owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, who are doing it right.

3. Activate Employees and Fans
Empower your employees to act as brand ambassadors using their personal social accounts. This will be huge in 2015 and makes total sense as your employees have a large stake in the success of your business, and their support helps to humanize your brand. Motivate them to share their brand love with contests. Then, crowdsource their content, photos and videos for potential use in paid ads, blog posts and other formats so that they ultimately become your content creators.

4. Go Mobile or Go Home
Eighty-nine percent of homebuyers search for homes using their mobile device (NAR). In 2015, if you haven’t transitioned to responsive design websites that provide a user-friendly experience, or taken advantage of mobile ads, you are missing tremendous opportunities to connect with consumers.

5. Pay to Play Goes Mainstream
Social networks have grown exponentially, gone public and are monetizing the exposure they once gave to businesses for free. Now, if agents and brokers want to share their content with a targeted audience, you’ve got to pay to play.

The prevalence of Twitter and Facebook ads, and promoted pins on Pinterest, have gone mainstream. However, take note that Instagram is now the new player, delivering nearly 180 times more engagement for businesses than Facebook and Twitter combined (Sprinklr). Agents and brokers, it’s time to embrace this new shift and be open to the idea of paying for ads to capture these active, social and mobile consumers.

Discover five additional social trends that will be on the rise in 2015 by viewing my presentation at slideshare.net/EricaCampbell. Follow me @EricaCampbell on Twitter for more social media best practices for the real estate and multi-family housing industries.

For more information, visit www.homes.com.