Will Social Search Change the Way Consumers Find Real Estate Agents?

By Todd Carpenter, Director of Digital Engagement, National Association of REALTORS®

Imagine a future home buyer choosing to do business with you because you both “like” the same coffee shop on Facebook, went to the same school, or because you did business with relatives they never talk to, but stay connected to via a social network. It’s the sort of promise that social media was supposed to deliver, but hasn’t for most. But real estate portals are looking to change that.

truliasearchThis summer, Trulia leveraged Facebook to “socialize” their new recommendations service. When consumers recommend an agent on Trulia, that recommendation can be easily shared on Facebook for the consumer’s friends to see. Then, they’re using these recommendations to socialize the search for an agent process on their site. When consumers “Search for a Pro”, they’re encouraged to cross search their Facebook friends list to see if a friend has recommended a local agent. The result is a list of agents ranked by how many recommendations they have, but superseded by agents that have recommendations from people the site visitor already knows through Facebook.

Implementing a social-search strategy might be a part of REALTOR.com’s future plans as well. Having acquired SocialBios.com earlier this summer, the possibilities for how they will use it point to the importance of making sure your Facebook and LinkedIn profile pages are as complete as possible.

We know that we connect more easily with people who are like us. These services intend to connect the dots for consumers and agents. Whether consumers adopt this technology remains to be seen, but if so, agents will be well served to focus of  their social networking efforts on local businesses, events, and causes that embed them into the markets they want to do business in.

This isn’t just about the future. Inman’s Data Summit in July brought to light some of lost opportunities that exist today. Greg Schwartz, chief revenue officer for Zillow, noted, “Over half of all of Zillow’s leads go unanswered by agents. One big reason is that agents haven’t taken the time to set up their profile and verify that their email address is correct.” Zillow’s agent review platform continues to generate thousands of new ratings and reflect yet another way consumers are searching for agents.

Leveraging the future potential of social search starts today by checking your profiles in Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, and Yelp. Make sure your contact information is correct. Check to see if you have been reviewed or recommended. Then, consider soliciting reviews from your existing client base. Developing a social SEO strategy will be the next step. This is something I intend to cover in-depth at Inman Connect NYC next year. If you want to learn more about this emerging trend, please go vote for my session.

Todd Carpenter

Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of the Data Analytics Group at NAR I'm a twenty year veteran of the real estate and mortgage industry, focusing on technology that fosters relationships between professionals and consumers. I am a subject matter expert in data analytics, online consumer trends, enterprise social media strategy, listing data, agent ratings, and public facing MLS portals.

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  1. Rich

    So many sites zilliow.com, realcircle.com, trulia.com how can an agent keep up with all of them?

    Facebook and these sites may not be a good things for privacy. But maybe I am too old school.

  2. And it’s happening now… Social media is great and has made marketing more fun and effective. However, managing a lot of sites is quite a challenge. But the hard work does pay off. This new recommendations service is definitely a plus for us realtors.

  3. Social has already impacted how I get clients in both agent to agent referrals from professionals I have met online as well the online presence of blogging, commenting, profiles and sites like Blockshopper which document my selling experience. Since liking has becoming sharing I now give more thought to what I “Like” before clicking on the Like button. Just as personal referrals have been a way to generate clients so is online sharing.

  4. Social media is like personal referrals for the next generation. It really streamlines the way we can share our favorite places, products, ideas, etc. Realtors better get used to it and start embracing the potential lead generator that social media is. =]

  5. About 95% of our clients are from our sphere of influence. My husband, Allan Wagner, and I are real estate agents in a small mountain town community where my husband has lived for 60 years,
    He knew half the town, and I knew the other half from practicing Dental Hygiene in what was once a two dentist town. The population has about doubled in 40 years. Things have changed, but so far, even though I spend about 60% of my 60 hour work week online connecting or reading or commenting, i have seen very little income from that. I mean very little.
    So even though i read that this works, in my experience it’s hard to comprehend that my time online is really that worthwhile. But I shall keep plugging away, & am always eager to learn!

  6. I can agree with Rich regarding his comment that social media such as Facebook may not be good for privacy; it isn’t! However, since the majority of new home buyers are searching for their next adobe online, Realtors will have to get used to utilizing social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. I like the Trulia blog for real estate professionals.

  7. Good way of explaining, and pleasant piece of writing to get data about my presentation subject matter, which i am going to deliver in college.