As much fun as social media can be, when we’re considering social media for real estate, we have to look at what really adds value. Often, we’re looking at statistics for this information. Funny thing about statistics: we can (and many do) manipulate them to tell others whatever we want them to know.
By omission, primarily
For instance, NAR, in its “Digital House Hunt” publication, put some study statistics in graph-form. The text accompanying the graph claims that “31% of home shoppers who take action on a real estate site are age 25-34, surpassing all other ages.”
Sadly, most of us won’t bother to do more than glance at the graph before rushing off to polish up on our “how to attract millennials” knowledge.
And, that’s a problem
Because when we look closer, and strip away NAR’s arbitrary age groups, we learn that 54 percent of these survey respondents are older than 35 and 33 percent of them are older than 45.
Which, by the way, validates NAR’s other claims that the median age of a homebuyer is 43 and the median age of a seller is 44.
Whenever someone throws statistics at you, it pays to remember Disraeli’s words of wisdom: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, da%#ed lies, and statistics.” This statement definitely applies to social media for real estate.
If you don’t, you’ll be wasting your valuable time on social media sites that make no sense for the average real estate agent.
The new year is a time many agents are reevaluating their marketing – what works, what doesn’t. Hopefully, digital marketing will be on that list.
So, today, let’s dive deeper – past the flashy numbers – to determine how effective these social media platforms are for the real estate industry.
How to digest the statistics
Even the smallest social media site has an impressive number of monthly users and most will knock your socks off with the statistic showing the platform’s snappy growth in popularity. But be careful thinking this growth will directly benefit you in using social media for real estate.
For instance, that 300 million-plus people use SnapChat every day is impressive, but it doesn’t tell you the real story (you can find that, below).
Before making the leap, get the answers to the following questions:
- How many of the platform’s users live in the U.S.?
- Where do these users live? Cities, suburbs? If you’re looking for listings you want to target suburb-dwellers, primarily, right?
- How old are they? Unless you’re going after only 35 percent of the buyer pool, first-time buyers aren’t your holy grail. Remember, the median age of a buyer is 43 and the median age of seller is 44.
- How much money do they earn? The typical homebuyer makes $88,800 and homes sellers, by and large, have a median household income of $103,300.
From these statistics we can come up with a plan – a bit rudimentary, but a plan nonetheless.
Buyers agents should look for social media platforms with the following characteristics:
- A large number of U.S. users.
- Largest share of users includes those 45 years of age.
- The typical user makes around $88,000.
And here’s what listing agents should look for:
- A large number of U.S. users.
- The largest share of users are at least 40 years of age, but older is better.
- Users have a median household income of at least $90,000, higher is better.
- A large pool of suburban users
So, how do the various social media platforms stack up when it comes to digital marketing for agents?
Total Number of Daily Active Users: 1.37 billion, according to Statista
- Of these, 214 million reside in the U.S.
- The largest age group in the U.S. that uses Facebook is between the ages of 35 and 54 (56 million).
- Nearly three-quarters of Facebook users earn more than $75,000.
- The number of users who live in urban versus suburban areas is almost evenly split.
When it comes to Facebook, there is simply no reason why all agents shouldn’t include the site in their digital marketing mix. What other platforms are useful for social media for real estate?
Total Number of Daily Active Instagram Users: 500 million
- Of these users, 25 percent reside in the U.S. (source)
- Nearly 60 percent of the platform’s users are age 18 to 29 (90 percent of users are younger than 35).
- The largest proportion of users (38 percent) earn less than $30,000 per year. However, 37 percent say they earn $75,000 or more.
- Nearly 40 percent of these users live in urban settings (only 28 percent live in the suburbs).
The most-widely touted Instagram statistic is the one detailing its “explosive” growth (100 million users in a six-month period, two years ago). This should mean nothing to you unless the new users’ ages, income and other demographic information is included.
“Instagram is a tricky one for a business,” according to Cogent Communications digital strategist, Emily Hunt. Without the assistance of a stylist or pro photographer, “your feed has the ability to rapidly devalue your brand and make it look slapdash,” she warns.
Since Instagram is such a labor-intensive digital marketing tactic, and the demographics aren’t ideal, put this one on the back burner as you watch its progress. There are better networks to consider for social media for real estate.
Total Number of Monthly Linkedin Users: 250 million (LinkedIn doesn’t specify the number of daily users, according to Fortune.com)
- More than half of LinkedIn’s users reside in the U.S. (53 percent).
- The primary age groups who use LinkedIn are those between 30 and 49 years of age (27 percent) and 50 to 64 years of age (24 percent).
- Forty-four percent of Linked users earn more than $75,000 in a year. According to LinkedIn, 41 percent of millionaires use the platform.
- LinkedIn’s location (urban, suburban and rural) numbers are elusive, at best. The closest we could find is that “About 1 in 3 internet users who live in an urban environment use LinkedIn,” courtesy of brandongaille.com.
Although LinkedIn is most effective for B2B marketers, here’s something to consider:
Real Trends, in its 2016 Brokerage Online Performance Study, took a deeper dive into “the social side of traffic generation,” and — no surprise here — finds that Facebook returns 97 percent of social-generated traffic.
But, LinkedIn came in second, followed by Yelp, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. All but LinkedIn, by the way, were statistically insignificant, with well-below 1 percent of traffic generated.
Since all the demographics line up perfectly for the real estate agent’s consideration, though, it may be worth your time to occasionally post your real estate wisdom on LinkedIn. Looks like this one is a good bet for social media for real estate.
Hey, CEO’s buy and sell homes too.
Total Number of Daily Active Pinterest Users: 110 million (source)
- 75 million users reside in the U.S.
- Although the median age of a Pinterest user is 40, the majority of active pinners are younger than 40, according to Omnicore. The agency also finds that “Millennials use Pinterest as much as Instagram.”
- While half of Pinterest users earn $50,000 or more per year, 10 percent earn more than $125,000.
- The largest group of Pinterest users live in the suburbs (34 percent), but city dwellers are close behind at 30 percent.
Pinterest, like Instagram, is a labor-intensive social sharing platform. If you like what you see in the demographics, plan on a steep learning curve and huge blocks of time to get your boards where they should be.
Then, plan on remaining active if you want viewers.
Total Number of Daily Active Users: 173 million (source)
- Eleven percent of SnapChat users (33 million) reside in the U.S.
- Nearly three-quarters of SnapChat users are younger than 34. Of this group, 45 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24. NOTE: The usage rate among American internet users, age 12 to 17 years old, is 83 percent.
- We could find no income statistics for the average SnapChat user. But, keep in mind, most are college students, so what they earn isn’t much.
- Information on where users live (urban, suburban or rural settings) is elusive.
Unless you’re looking for top-top-top of the funnel prospects, SnapChat is a waste of time. Since it’s growing, however, keep an eye on the site’s demographics if it’s of interest to you.
Total Number of Monthly Active Users: 330 million (source)
(Twitter doesn’t disclose the number of daily users, but analyst James Cakmak estimates it at around 125 million)
- Only 21 percent of Twitter accounts are based in the United States. This represents about 67 million users, according to Omnicore.
- The largest age group who uses Twitter is between the ages of 18 and 29 (37 percent of users). Twenty-five percent of users are age 30 to 49
- Twitter users’ income is pretty evenly spaced, with 19 percent earning between $30,000 and $49,000, 25 percent earning between $50,000 and $74,900 and 26 percent earning more than $75,000.
- The typical Twitter user is located in an urban setting
Reading the daily news might lead one to assume that the average Twitter user is older. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the typical Twitter user is a young female urban dweller.
“High-school-aged teens are the most active age demographic on the social network: a full 42 percent of online youth aged 15 to 17 use Twitter,” according to Christina Newberry at Hootsuite.
If you are targeting urban teen girls (“far and away the largest demographic segment,” according to Newberry), Twitter is ideal for you. Likewise, if you hope to attract clients who live in Brazil, Japan and Mexico, by all means, jump on Twitter.
If, on the other hand, you’re an agent who understands that if “you list, you last,” put Twitter on the back burner. Older Americans aren’t, by and large, using it. If you want to use Twitter as a part of your social media for real estate, see Twitter Marketing Excellence.
Key Social Media for Real Estate Takeaways
Take the users’ earnings claims with a grain of salt. It’s widely known that self-reported income is inflated (a tendency known as “social desirability bias.”) Look at Twitter users, for instance. Teenage girls dominate the site, yet the highest reported income is in excess of $75,000. It takes a lot of babysitting jobs to earn that kind of money.
The key takeaway here is that when researching where to spend your time with digital marketing, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where is my target audience?
- Which of these platforms will return the largest investment of my time?