As promised a few weeks ago, this week’s Natter concentrates on the importance of content, design and social media, three easily overlooked aspects of any agency’s business.
But I’m here to tell you how important they really are. I previously looked at why good content is so vital (I’m sure you all remember it very well!), but in the two and a half years since I penned that piece the need for content is arguably even greater with so many different websites vying for people’s attention and the growth of online and hybrid players.
Want to be seen as the authority on a particular topic? Want to drive people to your website? Want to use words as a way of generating more vendor and landlord leads? Well, good, engaging content can help you to do all this, and much, much more.
Content, of course, comes in various different forms – from email marketing and leaflets to tailored blogs, sponsored posts on websites, words on advertising boards and small nuggets of gold (or in too many cases nonsense) on social media. It can be used to both entertain and inform, to educate and to offer top tips.
It can be focused on one particular topic, or much broader than that. It can be about pretty much anything as long as there is some kind of property angle, some way of getting readers engaged. The longer they stay on your site, reading your content, the more time they spend in your virtual shop window – and this, of course, is when you pounce with your calls to action and your live chat facilities.
Webinars and vlogs – which are increasingly being used in the property sphere – are in themselves a form of content, as are slideshow presentations, speeches, pitches and what you choose to have on the outside of your agency’s shopfront. We are constantly surrounded and bombarded by content, in increasingly diverse and innovative ways, so yours really does need to stand out from the crowd.
It’s why many agents choose to outsource content-writing to specialist agencies, to ensure they have good-quality copy appearing on their website on a regular basis. Tips pieces, articles covering new legislation, blogs about topical research and stories reacting to the latest interior design trends tend to work particularly well.
What’s more, press releases and regular news articles are a great way of ensuring you become the ‘go-to thought leader’ in your area.
No-one can call this a fad or a flash in the pan anymore. Facebook, despite its recent troubles, is 14 years old, Twitter has been going for 12 years, Instagram is nearly eight, LinkedIn has been in existence for 16 years, Snapchat celebrates its 7th birthday this September, and Google+ was launched in June 2011.
It is now part of everyday life, playing an increasingly important role in elections, popular culture and, yes, the property industry too. It took a little while for agents to catch on, but now most have Twitter and Facebook profiles – often integrated with their websites – which allow them to share information, news, images and reaction to topical issues in an instantaneous fashion.
Some of the big players in our industry are even using Facebook to combat the portals’ ever increasing-prices by boosting their properties for sale and to rent using Facebook’s extensive targeting options and integrating more and more video entries.
Social media offers immediacy in a way few other things can. It’s also a great place for networking, for enhancing your reputation, for positioning yourself as an authority on a particular subject and for engaging with existing or would-be clients.
More than anything, social media allows you to give a more human face to your business – a more informal, chatty, light-hearted and personal face. In this day and age, it’s not something that can be ignored. In fact, it should be embraced - as both a tool for communication and advertising.
Design and branding
To stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace, you need good design. Your business has to look the part to allow people to take you seriously. This ranges from your logo and boards, to the look of your website and shopfront, to the design of brochures, leaflets, e-shots, business cards and calls to action. It all matters and it all needs to look tip-top.
Colour is an important factor. People often remember things by colour, and the more standout you can be (while not being garish or off-putting), the better. Consistency is key; keep your brand the same throughout all design work to ensure everything ties in together and to give your business a firm identity.
Decide on particular fonts, formats, styles and layouts – and try to stick to them as much as possible. The best designs are often the simplest ones, the ones that get underneath people’s skin and into their consciousness. Bad designs are the ones that are completely forgettable, or amateurish, or bland, or lacking in enough verve, vim and vigour.
Goals and messaging are also hugely important. Ask yourself what you want to get out of a particular campaign. Is your goal to increase brand awareness or lead generation? Then select appropriate messaging but don't try to say too much as the design will be affected and the message diluted.
Again, if this isn’t something you can do in-house, call in the experts to do the job for you. At Angels Media we can take on content, social media and design on your behalf, freeing up more of your time to do what you do best.
Why is it important?
Mark Readings, founder and managing director of House Network, the UK’s original online agent, offered me his thoughts on design, content and social media: “House Network rebranded in February 2018 with a new website design and user journey. When going through the detailed process of a rebrand there are always conflicts to consider and having our own marketing department that includes both design and SEO (google rankings) creates a number of difficult discussions. Personal opinions can cloud the design approval but content is crucial for you website’s ability to rank high in the search results.”
He added: “Social media is becoming more and more important as a marketing strategy. I have to admit that up until 6-12 months ago I was on the fence as to whether social media, especially if you have a small following, was worth spending money on. However, there is a clear correlation of increased instructions when we boosted the postings on social media channels. Potential clients, whilst not necessarily following your business themselves, do research brands and their social personality - and by not posting you are limiting your chances of converting. As the industry evolves, you have to evolve with it - if you can be the ones evolving it, you are in business.”
Nice insight, Mark.
That’s that from me. Until next time…
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.