Social media do more than just connect you to your old high-school friends. Using them is also a smart way to show your home in amazing detail to a larger number of potential buyers than a simple online multiple listing service. When more people see your home, more potential buyers could walk through your door. In addition, social media can activate your network of friends, family and colleagues for further exposure. When you post on your Facebook page, "We've put our house on the market! If you know anyone who's looking for a great, open-layout, four-bedroom in (INSERT TOWN HERE), please send this to them!" you may find the perfect connection to a buyer who ultimately purchases your home. He or she might not have seen your home any other way.
According to the 2012 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey, "buyers use a wide variety of resources in searching for a home. Top results show 90 percent use the Internet, 87 percent use real estate agents, 53 percent yard signs, 45 percent attend open houses and 27 percent review print or newspaper ads."
Dani Loebs, social media specialist with AugustineIdeas, says, "Social Media (are) influential because the most critical piece for the digital marketing of new homes is search. According to the 2012 NAR Home Buyer Survey, 88 percent of homebuyers start their research online."
You're likely familiar with the most popular social media outlets -- Facebook, Twitter and YouTube -- all of which allow you to post images and details about your home and provide easy "share" buttons that viewers click to spread the word about your property. Here are some expert tips on using top social sharing sites that help gain tremendous exposure for your home and outdoor living space, and make that exposure even more enticing to buyers:
*Get Great Photos to Share
"Invest in professional photography," says Loebs. "We've found that homes promoted with professional photography raise their perceived value substantially."
Graham Hunt, CEO of Valencia Property, agrees. "Images sell more than words will, and panoramic images are really popular," he said. "Sharing images that show the lifestyle works really well in attracting buyers."
When you hire a professional photographer, he or she can use light and the perfect angles to make each of your rooms and outdoor spaces look bigger and brighter, far better in high-definition images than your camera might produce online. By lifestyle, Hunt suggests social media-sharing image galleries that show buyers how they will live and entertain in your home, such as your outdoor terrace staged for a party or your fabulous kitchen getting viewers to imagine themselves cooking special meals there.
Chantay Bridges, senior real estate specialist at Clear-Choice Realty and Associates, says that with great photos, "a home can go from being obscure to being sold within the hour. It gives a face to the address and property. When a potential buyer can visualize themselves living somewhere, they become excited and the chances of a purchase are greatly increased." Bridges says that the first photo in a gallery or on a social media post gets viewed with the most scrutiny, for the longest amount of time. So make sure the first image in your social media-share gallery is your most impressive. Arrange your photos to start your slideshow with your home's best features. Viewers often lose interest quickly if the first two or three images don't wow them.
*Get YouTube to Work for You
"Video is a big deal if you know how to use it," says Loebs. "Create a brief (less than two minutes), engaging YouTube video that focuses on the top attributes that home researchers value, such as the (features) of the home, information about local schools", parks, shopping centers, cultural and culinary spots and hiking trails. Then share your YouTube video via social media for buyers to see.
Ask a friend who knows how to edit home-shot videos to help you create an attractive feature, or invest in a professional videographer to shoot your video that your friend can then edit using simple computer software. Enticingly title your video with buzzwords, such as "beautiful, turnkey, 4-bedroom home with pool in (town)" and tag your video with a range of smart keywords and phrases, such as "newly listed homes in (town)," "newly listed 4-BR homes in (town)" and other phrases that Google will pick up (via search engine optimization, a method Google uses to recognize top search keywords and deliver you higher in search results). Loebs says that including YouTube videos on a blog can boost online visibility greatly.
Hunt says that the downside of YouTube is "trolls" -- people who post bad reviews for no rational reason -- "but don't get drawn into battles there." If someone posts a negative comment about your home, as bored people may do, simply ask your social media network to click "Like" on your video, leave comments praising your home and share your link, which you should do with or without that troll's bad review.
*Tweet to Your Buying Market
Especially on Sundays, when most open houses are scheduled, tweet a link to your open house listing, with #openhouse and #(your town), which helps homebuyers find your details. Many homebuyers depend on Twitter to plan their open-house itineraries.
Even if your real estate agent is social media-sharing your home, you should do it, as well, to maximize exposure for your home and get it sold far more quickly, perhaps for more money, thanks to your images and desciptions.