In today’s world, people can easily tell when something is an ad. Even when we try to hide it with creative graphics, social media or search engines will simply tell us it’s a paid advertisement. And as we spend more and more time on the internet and social media, the number of ads we have to go through seems to increase daily as well. A lot of us have got into the habit of scrolling past these quickly, as we instantly recognise them. And not only do we scroll past them – even when we take a look, we simply don’t always trust what the brand is saying: of course they’ll say they’re the best in business. That’s why user-generated content (UGC) is one of the most valuable marketing tools real estate agents can use these days.
We’ll take you through what exactly UGC is, the benefits for your real estate business, and how to go about obtaining more UGC.
What is UGC?
UGC stands for User-Generated Content. It’s content that has been created by users of your brand. Traditionally, we think about UGC as more product-based content: think about people such as ‘influencers’ sharing their favourite skincare products, or people sharing a photo of their meal at a new cafe in town, tagging the cafe itself. But UGC is not just for products – it’s a great way to market your real estate brand as well.
When we’re talking about UGC for real estate agents, it’s virtually anything clients post about your business. This can range from reviews, to hashtags, to photos and videos, and even something such as answering poll-questions or participating in a contest. We’ll dive deeper into the specific types of UGC for your real estate business and how to obtain them further down in this post.
Why should I use UGC for my real estate business?
First, let’s have a look at why you should be using user-generated content for your real estate business. As we touched on, these days, people usually recognise ads straight away and scroll past them in most cases. And when a brand creates their own ads, we simply don’t instantly ‘believe’ what they’re saying: of course everyone is advertising their own brand as the best in the industry.
Word of mouth is by far the most trusted advertising method. And that is technically what UGC is – digital word of mouth. On average, user-generated content such as videos get 10 times more views than content created by brands itself, 85% of people find visual UGC more influential than brand-owned photos or videos, and two-thirds of people trust online posts and reviews.
Think about your own experience when deciding whether to go with a certain brand or not; do you check online reviews first? Most of us do. And it goes further than that: how often have you actually been influenced by someone using a certain brand and sharing this online? This can be something as simple as visiting a restaurant after seeing one of your friends post a photo of a meal there.
So, it goes without saying that this also is the case for real estate agencies. UGC, such as reviews from past clients and proof of positive experiences, is extremely important for your real estate business. There is no ‘product’ involved – it’s all about the experience of the service. And when it comes to that, who more to trust than people who have actually used your service before?
Different types of UGC and how to obtain them
There are many different types of user-generated content you can obtain for your real estate business – as we mentioned, it’s virtually any content where the user mentions your brand. Luckily, a lot of them aren’t too difficult to achieve. Try out the below ideas to get started with generating more UGC for your real estate business.
Ask to be tagged
A lot of people share the purchase of a new home, moving day or sale of a home on their personal social media accounts. It’s an exciting milestone in their life! Knowing that most people will be dedicating one or more posts to their new home, ask if they could tag you/your business in the post(s).
This will give you a lot of exposure as a real estate agent – these posts often reach a lot of friends, family and other connections. As they know your client personally, they are likely to trust the positive feedback of your real estate services. It’s traditional word of mouth advertising, reaching hundreds of people at once.
Get in photos
Building on from the previous point, getting in photos is a great way to become more personable to your audience. Ask your clients if you can take a photo or selfie together at their new or just sold house. Don’t forget to ask them to tag you in the photo, or tag your clients yourself if you’re the one sharing the picture on your social media.
Showing your face to the world and to your client’s connections gives a personal feeling to your brand and will help with building a connection and trust.
Reviews are incredibly important for your real estate business, and they always will be. They’re easy to find online and evergreen. The majority of your future clients will decide whether or not to go with you at least partly based on reviews or feedback of previous clients – so it’s important you actively work on obtaining (positive) reviews. As you may be aware, people are far more likely to post negative reviews than positive ones, unless it has been truly exceptional. Make it a habit to request a review from your clients – you could include it standard in an email, and/or mention it in person when you’re with them. Google My Business allows you to easily share a link to your Google Review page.
You could potentially increase the incentive for people to provide you with a review, such as giving away a little something or donating to charity for each review.
Create a hashtag
When it comes to UGC, a great way to monitor content and encourage people to share something is to create a branded hashtag. Extra points if you create something more fun and creative than just your brand name!
Use the hashtag yourself in your posts, follow the hashtag yourself and encourage your audience to share posts with the hashtag. You can enter the hashtag in your bio as well for extra exposure.
Start a contest
Contests and giveaways are a great way to engage your audience on social media and generate more UGC. For your real estate business, you could create a giveaway where people for example enter via posting a photo of their new home, or with the ‘just sold’ sign. Your prize could be anything you are willing to offer – ranging from a relatively low-value gift card to a bigger prize for a bigger contest. Depending on your type of contest, people could win extra points for the most shares, likes, the best/funniest entry, or simply pick a winner through a random draw.
Make sure you ask people to tag your brand, use a certain hashtag etc. for their entry to the contest!
Hopefully the above ideas give you a starting point for obtaining more user-generated content. It truly is one of the most valuable marketing tools for real estate agents, so it’s worth making a habit out of asking your clients for that tag, photo or review.
In the end, the best way of getting UGC is to connect with your community, get out of your comfort zone and have a little fun. Building connections with your audience is one of the best ways to grow your real estate brand.
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