Social selling is one of those buzzwords that everyone seems to be talking about these days, but few truly understand what it is.
Some think it's selling your services or products on social media; others think it’s leveraging social media to prospect for new business. Neither of those definitions is correct, but are merely elements of the bigger picture.
When it comes down to it, social selling is about building relationships.
Now, I am sure I am not the first person to define it this way. In fact, social selling has been around for a long time. We just called it by a different name: relationship marketing.
As loan officers and agents, social selling expertise is key since real estate at its core is a relationship business. The difference now is you have the greatest tools at your disposal that will allow you to maximize your reach and engagement.
With the rise of social media in the last decade, agents can now reach thousands of people in a mouse click and for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube have given all of us an easy and cost-effective way to connect, engage and build relationships.
While I could continue to pontificate on why social selling is awesome and give you more background on what I think it is and why it's important, I would rather give you a blueprint for making the strategy work for you.
Before we get into the process, there are five core elements you must master:
- You need to be able to build relationships. Relationships allow the consumers to know you, like you and trust you, which is key to any social selling strategy.
- You have to be willing to engage digitally. Not everyone likes to talk on the phone. I know I don't. Some like to text, use Facebook Messenger, email, etc. Meet the consumer where THEY are.
- Understand that the consumer doesn't care what you like or what you want. In short, keep it all about them: their wants, their needs and their time.
- Understand your brand. If you think that’s your logo or your marketing, you're wrong. Your brand is what consumers say when they are describing to other consumers why they like doing business with you.
- DO NOT SELL. Do add value. Social selling is not about closing and it’s not about selling. It is about adding value so you can create a relationship.
Remember to not discount your importance as a professional and a subject matter expert in the area of real estate and mortgages. This allows you not only to be confident in what you are talking about, but also to come from a place of contribution when answering questions.
Why is this important?
Because answering consumers’ questions is the easiest way to build relationships. Now let’s dive into the blueprint.
Millions of consumers have questions and are looking for answers online every day. They will use Google, Facebook Groups and sites like Quora to ask these questions and talk to their peers about their experiences.
Facebook Groups and Quora are gold mines when it comes to social selling. Facebook Groups have a lot of community groups that focus on Buy/Rent/Sell. Some of these groups have tens of thousands of members, all asking questions that you can answer as an agent. If there isn't one in your local community, create one right now! (But that is for another article.)
All of these are actual questions from Facebook Groups:
"What do I need to do before deciding to sell my house?"
"Do I need a real estate agent?"
"Are real estate agents and mortgage the same company?"
"Do I still need 20% down to buy a house?"
All of these are questions that you can answer and giving answers equals value. Below is an actual exchange from a real estate agent that took place, with personal details altered for privacy:
Hey John, my name is Jason and I am a local Realtor here in San Ramon. Having 20% down is not a requirement to purchase a house. Obviously, the more money you have to put down the better your loan terms will be, but many lenders have low down-payment programs available. In fact, I work with a lender who could give you all the details on what is available and would be happy to put you in touch with her. You can shoot me a text at 555-555-5555 or just reply to this comment.
What happened next? The consumer sent a text to the agent, and the agent represented them in the purchase of their house.
As a loan officer, do you think you could answer that same question? Of course! Just by flipping a few words you can do the same thing.
As you can see, the agent did not sell his services, answered the question that was asked, did not force a phone call, gave the consumer options to contact him on their terms, and provided value.
In essence, they checked off all the boxes on how to execute a proper social selling technique. This is how simple social selling can be and is just one of many examples.
Will this always work? No. But I guarantee you that if you spent a few hours each week answering questions online, you will generate business that you would not have had a chance to do otherwise.