Social media is a powerful marketing tool and can work miracles for your brand. But, many business owners — primarily those who have been in the market since before the internet and social media — are still looking for proof on the value of building a social media presence.
Therefore, we asked Maris Callahan to join us on this episode of Curb Appeal to share her experience and her clients' experience with social media. Maris is the founder of The Social Broker, a company specializing in helping entrepreneurs and real estate companies build a social media presence and grow their businesses.
Maris and our host Rachel Gombosch discuss real estate agents' challenges when considering social media. They also talk about the key elements of a successful social media strategy, how to build a community on these channels, and why being patient is a prerequisite to enjoying the delicious fruits of growing a brand on social media.
💡 Name: Maris Callahan
💡 What she does: Maris is the founder of The Social Broker.
💡 Company: The Social Broker
💡 Noteworthy: With over a decade and a half of experience in marketing, Maris is on a mission to work with real estate agents and entrepreneurs to craft social media strategies to help them build their online presence and grow their businesses.
⚡The key to a successful social media strategy is consistency. Regardless of the industry, your goal is to expand your user/client/customer base. And to achieve it, you must be where your target audience is. We live in a digital world — and especially since the pandemic — people are spending more time on social media. Therefore, you need to find a channel that aligns with your business needs, determine the time and resources you can invest, and be consistent. ''That doesn't mean posting three times a day. It means finding a cadence you can stick to and doing it. ''
⚡Building a social media presence is not a sprint but a marathon. Many business owners, especially those who got into the market before social media became relevant, find it difficult to take that step and invest in social media. But once they do it, many of them expect express results. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen in most cases. ''Social media can take a lot of time before you see results. It's the biggest frustration in my industry. Sometimes, it takes a year and a half before you see ROI. But when you get that lead from social media, that one lead could pay for your marketing for two years because we're not selling shoes here; we’re selling property. It's high value.''
⚡Clients will choose you based on your expertise and personality. Maris explains that a successful business profile on social media contains both business and personal segments. You want to be perceived as a subject matter expert, but people following you on social media would like to know you better and see who you are once the working hours are over. Things you share on these platforms — your interests, hobbies, and pets — can make a potential client choose you over someone else. Or not. ”You're not gonna be everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay.''
We've Got Deals!
Listeners can receive discounts on Virtuance and The Social Broker services!
[00:00:00] Maris Callahan: I'm all in favor of keeping it simple. You don't need to be posting daily. You don't need to be hiring professional photographers and videographers all the time. You really just need to use social media in a way that lets your audience get to know you better.
[00:00:15] Rachel Gombosch: Well, welcome everyone. We're so excited to have you guys listening in. I am here with the one and only, Maris Callahan, the founder of The Social Broker, which is a social media and content membership and agency that's tailored to real estate agents. Maris, how are you?
[00:00:32] Maris Callahan: Hi. Well, good.
[00:00:33] Thank you so much for having me.
[00:00:35] Rachel Gombosch: I'm so excited. We've got a great discussion for you guys. We are going to be tailoring this topic around social media and lead generation, and Maris is our expert on this, as she talks to real estate agents in and out every single day. So, Maris, why don't you go ahead and just take a brief moment to introduce yourself, your agency, how you got involved in social media and the real estate world. We'd love to hear about it.
[00:00:59] Maris Callahan: Well, thank you. Yes. I have been in the marketing space for about 16 years. Started off in public relations and social media and have always had an entrepreneurial streak and love working with small business owners. I was in-house as the head of communications, a real estate brokerage, and as much as I, you know, enjoyed the corporate work I was doing, I found that what I really loved was working one-on-one with agents and teams, where I could really make an impact and help agents grow their businesses using social media.
[00:01:29] I founded Social Broker in 2019, really to give agents their time back because you have enough going on, you have so much on your plate as a busy real estate agent and social media, to do it correctly can be a full-time job. So, Social Broker has a membership where we give you the content strategies that you need to do social media on your own, in a fraction of the time it would take otherwise.
[00:01:54] Maris Callahan: And if you're ready to delegate it all together, then we can manage it for you.
[00:01:58] Rachel Gombosch: That's awesome. And I know, you know, just speaking to real estate agents also on a day in and day out basis, how valuable that is because their time is of the essence. Like, their schedules are changing rapidly. There's, what they plan to do tomorrow may not necessarily be what they're doing tomorrow.
[00:02:15] And so, I know social media is kind of one of those pain points for them and making sure that they're getting content out there and they're building their marketing and their branding, but they don't necessarily have the time to do it. So, with that, why don't we go ahead, um, and just start talking about, like, the social media basics.
[00:02:33] So, what tools do you use? Like, how specifically is your business, uh, tailoring to them and assisting them in building their social media and their brand?
[00:02:42] Maris Callahan: So, really, at the end of the day, social media is sort of a, a long game. You will get out what you put in, and you're not gonna see results right away.
[00:02:52] So, I'm all in favor of keeping it simple. You don't need to be posting daily. You don't need to be hiring professional photographers and videographers all the time. You really just need to use social media in a way that lets your audience get to know you better. And social media really is your client's window into what it's like to work with you and who you are.
[00:03:14] So, I always say, "Keep it simple and do what you can commit to." Because if it's complicated and if you have to use a ton of apps and you have to spend a ton of money hiring professionals, then, you know, photographs, and, you know, if it's complicated, you're just not gonna do it. So, really, the tools that we use every day, that my team and I use to create content for our clients and that we recommend that our members, who are doing their own social, use, I'm on Canva a lot.
[00:03:46] I love Canva for graphic design, for photo editing, and for making reels, which is my new favorite application of Canva. And I also do a lot of my content scheduling and management in the Facebook Creator Studio.
[00:04:01] Rachel Gombosch: That's awesome. I love Canva too. I definitely back that up a hundred percent. It is such a time saver.
[00:04:10] Maris Callahan: There's just so much out there, Rachel, that's like, "You need to do this, and you need all this equipment, and you need the ring light and the lighting and the phone stand, and you have to hire the photographer and the professional video." And it really doesn't need to be that complicated.
[00:04:23] What it needs to be is genuine and consistent. The clients that I work with probably know, everyone probably knows exactly what I'm gonna say now, but I always talk about these three things as being, like, the most important to any social media strategy, whether you're doing reels or TikTok or whatever you're doing, this never changes, but the foundation of your strategy should be consistency.
[00:04:46] And that doesn't mean posting three times a day. It means finding a cadence you can stick to and doing it. You wanna be posting a variety of types of content. So, variety, whether that comes down to using different types of media or, you know, and it's not an or, it's and or, um, you know, could be both.
[00:05:05] Posting different types of content so that people aren't getting bored seeing those same, just listed posts again and again and again. And then, the balance, you wanna balance the business and the personal. I always say it's like when you're at a networking event, no one wants to get stuck talking to the person who only wants to talk about herself.
[00:05:21] But you don't wanna get stuck talking to the person who is all work, all the time, either. You wanna have the small talk, the conversation. I always say, "Think of the things that you would talk to a buyer client about when you're in the car between showings." It's not all business, but you're not gonna talk about, like, you know, super private, personal things, either.
[00:05:38] It's maybe the kids, your hobbies, music you like, what kind of activities you do, favorite local businesses, coffee shop, what's the, what's your coffee order, you know? Things that are sort of essential to who you are show your personality, but without, you know, being, being too private.
[00:05:56] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah, absolutely. And I, I love hearing about adding in that personal element because I think, ultimately, at the end of the day, especially with everyone beginning to really pick up this sense of authenticity on social media, I think we've kind of put the whole facade behind us and we're really seeing people become really authentic in showcasing who they are on, on media platforms.
[00:06:20] And I think that's just really important when it comes to real estate agents, specifically because a big aspect to their job is communicating and, and connecting with people and building on those connections.
[00:06:32] And, really, I think the best way to do that is to start with the personal. Because you know, as an agent, that your client isn't gonna necessarily connect with you because they don't know all of the information needed for the home selling or home buying process. That's what they're looking for you to do, but they may connect with you if, if you're a dog lover, if Starbucks is your favorite place to go, if you love this local boutique in your area, right?
[00:06:56] And I think those are the important connection points that, if you start displaying that on your social media platform, that's where you're gonna start seeing people come in and connect with you because they are in agreeance with your likes and your hobbies.
[00:07:08] Maris Callahan: It definitely is. And I think it, it's really both, right? It's you wanna have that personal content out there to make the connections, and then you wanna have the business content out there so that it establishes you as an expert, as a thought leader, you know? If you have a photo of you with your dog and then the next post is, um, a stat about interest rates, we all know what's going to get more traction.
[00:07:31] But the important part about having that interest-rate post out there is that, you know, someone who's scrolling a feed, who's thinking of working with you might see that, and they might be able to think, "Okay, this person knows what they're talking about." So, that's where you do wanna have that balance, between the content that's engaging and the content that positions you as an expert at what you do.
[00:07:51] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah, no, that's fantastic. I wanna take a brief moment and kind of go back to discussing, uh, the cadence, right? So, I think that's a major pain point for, not just real estate agents, I can, I can particularly speak to probably any business out there on this, uh, regard, but when it start, when someone is starting to develop what that cadence is for them, are you finding that there is an average consistency for agents to at least get started with?
[00:08:21] Um, so, that's kind of part one to that question, is, is there a general cadence you're seeing across the board? And then, part two is, as part of that cadence, is it solely just a, a social post? Is it creating video? What does that actually look like when it comes to the mixture?
[00:08:36] Maris Callahan: Yeah. Well, when it comes to the cadence in your posting, it's really, you know, I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all formula so much as what can you reliably stick to?
[00:08:48] I just had a call with a mortgage lender client, and we came up with a schedule that felt reasonable for, for him, and that was one reel per week and two feed posts per week. And I said, "Whenever you can hop onto stories and share behind the scenes from your day, whether you're at a closing or at a baseball game with your kids."
[00:09:08] So, it's really about finding that cadence that you feel comfortable sticking to because social media can take a lot of time before you see results, you know? It's the, biggest frustration in, in my industry is that it can take time and, you know, sometimes it's a year and a half before you actually see ROI.
[00:09:30] But when you, you do get that lead from social, that one lead could pay for your marketing for two years. Because we're not selling shoes here, we're selling property. It's high value. So, those leads can take time to pay off, but the real estate industry is quick, it's fast-paced, and we're used to things happening really, you know, instantaneously.
[00:09:50] So, it can be frustrating to, you know, to educate our clients that, you know, "Even if you've been doing all the right things for a year, you might not have seen a lead yet. You also might never know how much business you're actually getting because of your social presence."
[00:10:06] Because social media is going to help increase word-of-mouth referral. At its core, social media is online word-of-mouth. My first boss told me that in 2007 and it hasn't changed. Social media, you know, if, if I'm following, if Rachel's a real estate agent, and if I'm following her for a year I'm consistently reminded that she's in real estate. And then, my friend, my friend says, you know, "I'm thinking about moving. Do you know anybody?"
[00:10:34] I'm gonna say, "You should call Rachel." She's gonna call Rachel and say, "My friend, Maris, recommended you." But she's not gonna say, "My friend, Maris, recommended you because she's always seeing your Instagram post and has been following you ever since she met you and so on and so on, barbecue."
[00:10:47] It's, the leads that come from social media can be really indirect, which is why I think of social media first as a relationship-building tool and second as a lead generation tool. 'Cause if you're not building the relationship, you're never gonna get those gates.
[00:11:02] Rachel Gombosch: That's fantastic. And let's, let's elaborate on that a little bit more.
[00:11:05] How, how do you begin to build those relationships on social media? Because sometimes it can seem very static and, again, kind of going back to the time essence, should agents be like engaging for hours on end, or what's that timeframe? How, how do they start to build that community around their social media platforms?
[00:11:26] Maris Callahan: So, the most, one of the most important things about social media is not the content you're creating, or if you're doing reels versus feed posts or if you're using all the latest trends, the most important thing you can do on social media is comment on other people's posts. You wanna be engaging regularly?
[00:11:44] That doesn't mean you need to spend hours or have it take over your whole life. But, I say, you wanna spend at least 10 or 15 minutes a day going into your stories and engaging with stories, scrolling your feed and engaging with people who you're following and then going into hashtags that you were using and engaging with other people who are using those hashtags.
[00:12:05] And, certainly, you wanna be using local hashtags, not real estate hashtags, where you're only gonna be, you know, interacting with other realtors. That's okay too. Because remember, you know, you have buyers and they have sellers, so it's great to network with other, other realtors, but of course you wanna also expand your audience to, you know, beyond your immediate sphere of influence.
[00:12:27] So, it's really the engagement, you know, you have to give to get, and you have to give about 10 times what you want to get back in order to really start seeing engagement pick up momentum.
[00:12:38] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah. I, I love that giving ten times more than what you would get back. Uh, on that note, how, if, if I'm an agent and I'm engaging with people, and I'm following these specific, localized hashtags and making sure that I am out, putting my foot out there into the community, but I'm not immediately seeing results, just as we discussed before, it's, it's taking some time before I'm really getting any traction.
[00:13:02] How do you help your agents, or just how should agents help themselves in keeping that momentum, right, and not getting burnt out on all these efforts that they're putting out there and not immediately seeing that return?
[00:13:16] Maris Callahan: Yeah. So, if you feel like you've been doing the same thing again and again and again and you're not getting results, there's sort of two ways to look at it. It depends on how long you've been, really been at it. If you can honestly say you've been super consistent with engaging proactively, posting regularly, and doing that consistency, variety, balance, incorporating all of that into your strategy, then you might think about what you're not doing.
[00:13:41] Is it that you haven't tried making a reel yet, or you haven't really been showing your face on the posts? Maybe you've been posting a lot of stock photography and graphic designs, but there's not a lot of you in your feed. So, that's where I tell clients to start thinking about, you know, "What are the other things?
[00:13:55] What, what else can we kind of layer in to help move the needle?" And then, the other question is, you know, "How often are you really doing what you need to be doing?" I remind myself this all the time, right? Because I manage Instagram and I create content for, you know, dozens of other people, and sometimes I'm the shoemaker with no shoes, right?
[00:14:17] The social media manager that I'm friendly with, we all joke, you don't wanna look at your social media manager's Instagram 'cause we're all putting ourselves last. We're doing art. We're taking care of our clients first, and then we worry about our own. But I fall into this too, I think, "Wow. I haven't, you know, I haven't been growing.
[00:14:33] Why aren't I getting as many new followers?" And it's okay because even though I do engage and I am on Instagram every day, I'm not consistent at setting that timer for 15 minutes every day when I get very busy with my client's work. So, it is important to really be honest with yourself and say like, "Am I giving this a fair shot?"
[00:14:50] Am I, you know, has this had the opportunity to work?" Um, because I've seen clients who, you know, trust us to manage their social media, and it takes sometimes over a year before they can attribute, um, you know, business to social media. Sometimes it takes even longer, but it always, you know, we always see some benefit if they really stick with it.
[00:15:11] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah, no, that's fantastic. I have a quick question on this topic, too. When it comes to putting forward all of these efforts, do you find it's best for agents to try and audit what they're doing to keep track of their efforts, to see if they're actually gaining traction or not, do you encourage them to be part of their own analytics process?
[00:15:33] Maris Callahan: Definitely. Yeah, Instagram and Facebook make it really simple to kind of look at, you know, particularly on Instagram, which I know is where most people spend a lot of their time on social media. But on Instagram it's super easy to go into your, your insights and take a look at what your most popular posts have been.
[00:15:50] Because there you can kind of see themes, like, you know, for example, I know that when I post a funny quote or a fun kind of joke or a funny line, like, I think in 2020, I posted something about, you know, real estate agents are all saying, "And this home has a beautiful backdrop for your Zoom meetings." Things like that, that I know they like realtor humor.
[00:16:12] So, when I, and when I post something like that, even if it took me two seconds to do, I know that I'll get engagement because that's what my audience likes to see. That means, you know, looking at your insights and maybe incorporating more of that to continue to, you know, to get traction.
[00:16:26] Or, as, like, the, you know, social media landscape changes, think about, "How can I take those popular posts? How can I take that content, that high-performing content, and turn it into a different format?" So, maybe it's, you know, looking at reels, you know? And I am a little torn on reels, everyone's saying, "Do I have to do it? Do I have to do it?"
[00:16:44] And, "No, you don't have to do it. You can grow on social without doing video, but you will grow faster, and video does help you make, you know, human-to-human connections with the people who are following you." So, it is important to, you know, to find how you can make those connections, but your insights will tell you a lot about, you know, what people want to see and hear from you.
[00:17:07] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah, that's fantastic. It actually leads right into my next question, which is trending formats. So, I think it's pretty safe to say that video is the top performing post format out there. Uh, so, we've seen a massive shift.
[00:17:23] Maris Callahan: Right.
[00:17:23] Rachel Gombosch: Especially with, like, TikTok coming out and Instagram incorporating, kind of following TikTok's back and incorporating reels into their formats and, and posting.
[00:17:34] So, are you seeing one, any other trends coming forward besides video or is video the thing to really be focused on right now?
[00:17:42] Maris Callahan: I think it's important to think about how we're using content. I think, you know, the pandemic certainly changed the way people were consuming content in all forms, and video really did become the norm for so many people because, for months, we were not supposed to be doing face-to-face interaction. So, I think that, you know, people really did become comfortable watching video content, and people did become comfortable making connections through video. So, social media is no different. Um, you know, the way people are consuming content is changing.
[00:18:13] Maybe, right now, they're using Instagram reels and TikTok as that format, but, you know, that's certainly not to say that that's always going to be the case. You know, the real, the trends that I'm really seeing right now beyond any one content format, you know, people want quick, short, and engaging content.
[00:18:34] Nobody's watching your five-minute video about tax probation, they want quick hits. They want you to be brief and engaging. That might mean instead of sitting in a room doing a video, you know, face-to-face, maybe you're walking and talking or maybe you're doing three clips, filmed from three different places in your home, so that there's quick action and movement.
[00:18:56] People are really looking for, like, short, bite-sized, easy-to-consume content, regardless of where, you know, whether it's Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn, you know? The long captions, we wanna use those more and more sparingly and really think of how to deliver information in a visual and concise way.
[00:19:16] And then, another thing that I'm seeing is that, you know, people are really reacting more to personality-driven content than content that feels like advertising. And I wouldn't say this is new, but I do think that it's become, you know, really, even stronger. Um, you know, people really wanna see you, they wanna hear from you, if they're following you, it's because they like you or they want to get to know you.
[00:19:40] So, really kind of putting your personality out there and not being afraid to have a little fun with content, even though it's business, people still wanna be entertained. And if you can entertain while you educate, then that's a really engaged viewer.
[00:19:56] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah. You get that infotainment. How are you encouraging people to start into video formats?
[00:20:05] Because some, some agents out there aren't even posting, and social media is pretty new to them, in general, and really trying to build that, that platform. But I know it's kind of a headache to think about, "Oh, there's this new format of content that these programs and these platforms are really pushing out, which is video."
[00:20:25] How are you encouraging agents to also pick up that video content to share on their social channels?
[00:20:32] Maris Callahan: Yeah. So, I think, definitely, it's practice makes perfect. Nobody is going to pick up their phone and record their first video and say, "Wow, I knocked that out." It takes time to become comfortable with any new thing.
[00:20:45] So, I just say, "Practice." Even if you, you know, need to make ten videos, put your phone on a little tripod or a stand and just practice talking into your phone. That will help you get comfortable with the format. I've been on, I used to do PR, and I've been a guest on morning shows, dozens of times, I've been on live television.
[00:21:05] It still was awkward for me when I first started doing Instagram stories because it's a different format. You're not in, like, you know, when I would be doing TV segments and, um, in, I would be able to say, "Okay, the cameras aren't here. I'm just having a conversation with this, with this news anchor." There's no news anchor sitting next to you when you're making an Instagram reel or an Instagram story.
[00:21:26] So, you do have to get comfortable with the format, kind of staring at yourself, "Where do I look? What do I do?" And it takes time to kind of get those best practices down pat. So, I say, "Just start practice." If you don't wanna show up with your, you know, if you don't wanna be a make-up-face in cam or talking-head type of video right away, think about other types of videos. Realtors, easy, you could do property tours. You can even go into Canva, take your beautiful listing photos, and make a slideshow set to music. We've been making these for our clients. We've been giving our members templates, and they're performing so well, and this, really, just a time saver.
[00:22:04] And you can take advantage of the new content format, newish reels are not that new anymore. But you can take advantage of a New to You content format without putting yourself so far outside of your comfort zone. And then, once you start to feel like you're getting, you know, comfortable with the format and comfortable with the reels camera, then you can think about, you know, going, going on and, and doing more face-to-camera video.
[00:22:25] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah. I love that. And, I think, one thing I always think about when we talk about, you know, it's, it is kind of awkward to just talk to a camera and, and know that no one's there on the other side. One, there will be when you post it, right? You will eventually have an audience who's gonna be seeing this. But I think the bigger element to that is people, again, wanna see that authenticity.
[00:22:46] And if you, in all of your videos, are constantly sounding like, "Hello, my friends, A, B, C and D." Like, "yada, yada, yada, here's my tips and tricks." And you seem very robotic, in a sense. I think that almost is more of a turnoff than if you were to start talking and maybe you stumble over some of your words, and you're like, "Hold up, guys. Like, I gotta restart.
[00:23:08] I just don't even know what came out of my mouth." Like, I think that's just so much more relatable. And I think something else that's really funny is bloopers, right? So, if you mess up a thousand times, don't think you can't use those video pieces, just re, redistribute them as a blooper reel. I mean, people love those.
[00:23:27] Maris Callahan: Exactly. And, remember, people expect you to be a realtor, right? Not a reality TV star. I always say, "If you wanted to be a reality TV star, you should have journalism school. Instead of getting a real estate license." There are, you know, some people who are really good at video, using video to inform and educate and entertain, and that is wonderful, but not everybody needs to be an influencer, not everyone needs to be, you know, posting every day and getting thousands of views and, you know, kind of leading the, leading the trends.
[00:23:54] Sometimes just showing up has a major impact and just being there and having a presence so that, you know, people who should think of you when it's time to, you know, time to hire a realtor are calling you.
[00:24:06] And that can be just as impactful as having, you know, 90,000 followers and everyone knowing your name in the industry. You know? Certainly, don't be afraid, be a little silly, post the bloopers, you know, if you stumble and make a mistake, just keep going.
[00:24:19] And it's interesting because video, people have a lot more forgiveness for, like, a video that is not a professional video than they do for photography. Now, I find, and this is certainly just my observation from my client's accounts, professional photos perform way better than a photo that I take on my iPhone. But I don't see professional video performing any better than a video that you do on your own at home. Um, I do have clients that, you know, hire videographers and if it, that's what it helps, you know, helps you create, then great, hire that videographer, but it's not necessary.
[00:24:57] All you need is a, a phone stand and you don't need to spend a lot of money. Um, you can prop your phone up against a, a vase or a water bottle on your desk. And, you know, you can get really creative. You don't need to run out and buy a hundred dollars ring light, but you need to have some natural, good natural lighting.
[00:25:14] You wanna stand facing the window, you don't wanna, you know, have that window behind you and look washed out. You need to have a stable, you know, phone, whether it's a stand or you just have something to prop your phone up against, and then you need a good wifi connection, and that's all you need to create good reels.
[00:25:30] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah. Gosh, there were so much good points that you just made. So, on the topic of, uh, video and photo and there being a forgiveness element to people who watch videos, I think that even can help agents develop what their content strategy is. So, yeah, you absolutely can post, you're just listed and just sold, but make sure you are using professional photography and, like, top-of-the-line, higher-quality images.
[00:26:00] And then, all of your videos can be that more authentic, personalized piece where maybe you've got a blooper or two. And I think, part of the reason for that is that when you're looking at a still image, it's easier for you to pick up on the mistakes that have been made, the Photoshop errors, or whatever the case may be.
[00:26:18] Whereas in video, usually, with the videos that we're seeing that are out there, you can clearly tell someone just picked up the camera and was just like, "I'm just gonna record while I'm taking my walk today." Right? And so, I think there's that barrier that comes down of, "This isn't meant to be a professional video."
[00:26:37] Whereas when you look at these images, your mind is already assuming it should be a perfect visual.
[00:26:45] Maris Callahan: Right, right. Yeah. And I think, you know, a, a lot of, a lot of people will start out with good intentions, but it's also, if you're, if you're trying to have every video be the perfect, professionally-produced, you know, production, then that's gonna be harder to sustain than it is to say, "Alright, it's Monday morning, and I've got my, you know, I'm ready.
[00:27:08] I've got my phone, and I've, you know, have to get dressed up anyway to go out with clients. So, I'm gonna do a quick market update, and it's gonna take me 10 seconds to record, and I'm posting it regardless of whether I like the way my face looks." That is gonna be a lot easier to do than to, you know, have to kind of make it a big, a big production, every time.
[00:27:28] I feel the same way with photography. Yes, you wanna have that professional brand photography of you, you know, you kind of in your business, not just the professional glamor shot, not just the headshot.
[00:27:38] Rachel Gombosch: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:39] Maris Callahan: But, you know, every six months or so, every year do a new batch of branding photos, so you have social media content and marketing content for the full year ahead. You can batch video, too. If there's one day of the month where you know you can carve out three hours and just, you know, roll through, you know, ten reels that you wanna make, then you can do that all in a day and really make the most of your time.
[00:28:03] And then, you always have a bank of content to pull from. It's really, again, about finding what works for you and being consistent. You don't have to do everything. You do have to pick something that you know you can do consistently whether it's reels or, you know, being on stories or, you know, delivering timely market information. And stick to that if you want to really, you know, kind of be, be memorable.
[00:28:27] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah, that's fantastic. And, again, I think just the main points from our conversation thus far are really just, "Get started. Get started and choose something that you can consistently be doing." And just like you said, it doesn't have to be this huge, major production where you're posting four videos a day and ten posts, uh, between three days or however much, um, it just has to be consistent.
[00:28:54] Like, people just, ultimately, at the end of the day, need to know that you are going to show up. And I think that is so valuable. And it's just such a key takeaway for anyone listening, listening in to take with them is that, "Just show up for your audience because you just, at that point, never know who's watching you and who can turn into that future client of yours."
[00:29:15] On that note, I want to kind of flip the script just a little bit and talk about, so we've discussed how agents can approach social media, but I wanna flip it to see it from a buyer's perspective. And so, when it comes to that social media strategy, what is that process a buyer goes through, from that point of, they just saw your contact and your, your social platforms for the first time, all the way through however long it takes to potentially turn into that client? What is that buyer's journey?
[00:29:48] Maris Callahan: Yeah. So, I, oh, Gosh, that's a good question. I think it can really vary, right? I think it all depends on what your individual process looks like, too, because there's no one-size-fits-all formula for social media success.
[00:30:02] And just like every, every buyer is going to be slightly different. Um, there are probably people who are ready to make a quick decision and then, it's just like, you know, any buyer you take out, there are people who are gonna buy that second house that they saw, and there are people who you're gonna show, you know, five dozen homes to, before they finally make a decision.
[00:30:18] So, maybe not in this market, but one thing I was just talking about with a client is how the millennials right now are the largest group of home buyers.
[00:30:27] And so, as they, they're actually, even millennials are starting to move up, they're starting to sell their first home and buy, you know, that, that second home that maybe forever home or something that's a higher price point. And then, we've got gen Z coming up into the, the pool of home buyers and they are digital natives.
[00:30:45] They grew up knowing nothing other than the internet and social media. So, where, you know, generationally, you know, there are, you know, agents like, you know, you might think, "Okay. Well, I built, built my business without social media. I might not need this. My buyers, you know, oh, people are, I have clients, they're not looking for me on social media."
[00:31:03] Um, their kids and grandkids are and they're gonna be recommending people that they, you know, have in their sort of sphere. I have, um, clients who come to me and they said, "I don't need social media to get new clients. I have a team. And, you know, we wanna get, get leads from my team."
[00:31:17] And I also have, you know, clients who said, you know, "My, my contemporaries, my peers, they're already downsizing. They're retiring. Like, it's their kids whose business I really wanna capture. And if I'm not on social media, I know that I'm gonna lose that lead. Maybe, like, a long-time client says to their, you know, son or daughter, 'You should use this agent.'"
[00:31:40] She's like, "I know if I'm not on social media, I'm gonna lose those leads to the 30-somethings who are using social media." And it's not about having, like, that all, you know, best presence or that like, you know, perfect digital funnel. It's really just about having the presence. And, to your point, you know, just getting started so that you can see what works and what you need to tweak.
[00:32:02] I have a client, um, where at the end of last year, now, typically, at the end of the year, December, social media engagement really starts to drop, people are kind of trying to unplug, tune out. They're busy, there's a lot of advertisers spending their end-of-year dollars on, um, you know, advertising. So, you're really competing with, with people who are paying for views.
[00:32:24] So, it's, it's tough to, you know, to really, you know, to break through a lot of the social media noise towards the end of the year. Um, and then January rolled around February, and one of my clients said, you know, "We're not seeing kind of the momentum that we were before, what should we do?" And I said, okay, here's what we're doing well, and here's what we need from you."
[00:32:43] We needed branding photography so we could start showing this client's face more in, in, in their social media feed. We needed more video content. So, the client started providing more video that we could create reels from. And then, of course, we kept doing the, you know, the things that were working and that was really consistent, proactive engagement to build, you know, build the following and build the relationship with the followers that the client already had.
[00:33:09] And, you know, now we're seeing huge increases in engagement and in reach each month because we found a formula that works. Not to say that that's always going to work, you know, in six months, we might have another conversation and say, "Okay, we did this back, you know, earlier in 2022, and now there's something new that we need to try."
[00:33:27] So, it is constantly, you know, sort of consistency, but also evaluating what's working best so you can do more of that and what maybe you don't need to do as much of.
[00:33:38] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah, that's fantastic. And, again, you've brought so many good points to light, in the sense that social media, as I also like to refer to it, as, it is your digital resume, right?
[00:33:49] You're not going to these home buyers and sellers and, you know, taking their sheet and handing them an actual resume for them to review and see if you're the right fit for them. Like, they're gonna immediately, especially when you talk about millennials and gen Z, they're gonna immediately head your social media.
[00:34:06] They're gonna go to Instagram, they're gonna see if you're on Facebook., If you're on TikTok. And they're going to vet you on what your social channels are providing them. And so, that's a fantastic point, right? Just to, like, get across and then, additionally, as well, you ultimately have to meet their needs and needs change throughout the year.
[00:34:25] It's not something that's consistent that you can say, "Okay, I know that I need to give them information on loans." Right? Yeah, that's kind of a piece of evergreen material that a lot of people need to know. But for me, as a home buyer, I might need to know about loans when I'm buying my first house. But when I do turn around to get my second, third, fourth, I don't need that information anymore.
[00:34:47] So, how are, 'cause I know it, how are you gonna speak to me at, at that point, in that phase in my life and, to your point, it just means that you have to constantly be evaluating what you're putting out there and evaluating the type of content and information so that you can continue to not only gain new leads but also retain the clients that you may have already had.
[00:35:09] Maris Callahan: Right. And thinking about the, you know, the questions that your clients are asking you is a big way to, um, you know, to kind of cater your social media content to your audience. Um, you know, what are the things that your people wanna know is that, you know, is there specific information you need to share about what it's like to live in your community?
[00:35:26] Um, you know, really being a resource locally and in your subject matter, but if you know all your clients right now, you know, everyone you've worked with in the last six months is a move-up buyer, then that's what you should be talking about on social media. You should be sharing social proof. You should be sharing client stories.
[00:35:40] You should be giving tips. What are the issues you're running into, what is a roadblock that you ran into, and how did you solve it, um, you know, social media doesn't need to be all pretty all the time, right? You wanna be real. And, like, if a deal falls through, get on stories and talk about what happened, you know, obviously without sharing anyone's personal or financial information.
[00:36:01] Rachel Gombosch: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:01] Maris Callahan: Things happen all the time and, you know, I'll share another example.
[00:36:05] Um, I have a client who, um, shared something on Instagram about buying, you know, helping her buyers find an off-market, new construction property the day it went live or the day before it was gonna go live. It was, it was off-market, but, like, she was the, basically the first one in the door.
[00:36:24] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah.
[00:36:24] Maris Callahan: And they got their client in before I could, could hit the market.
[00:36:28] But they, another client, another person who had been following her on Instagram, saw that and was like, "We're gonna pick her instead of some other agents because we see that she has experience helping buyers get new construction or rehabs." And they ended up buying rehab, and that was, you know, it was that post about that real-world experience.
[00:36:49] It wasn't a glowing testimonial from the client. It wasn't, you know, a fancy, well, it was a reel, actually, but it was just the photo of the house that's, that's still kind of under construction. And someone else saw that and said, "That's what I wanna do." So, they hired her, and now they're under contract again. So, it's those social proof that real-world examples is really important. And even if it's not in the form of, like, a glowing client testimonial, just talking about who you helped and how you helped them shows people that you are, you know, you are the expert for them, you know?
[00:37:23] And you might have different specialties. This person knows how to navigate new construction, so that's what she posted about. Maybe you're really good at helping downsizers find 55 and older communities. Maybe you work with a lot of loan buyers or, you know, I have somebody who specializes in military relocation, relocation.
[00:37:43] You know, whatever it is that you're, you know, best at, those are the things you wanna show on social, those are the things you wanna talk about on social.
[00:37:50] Rachel Gombosch: And I think that really drives the point home, in the sense of the connection you build on your social channels, even though you might not see it at the moment that you post it, you might not see it for a couple weeks, you might not see it for a couple months, but those are the types of content that are going to really generate leads for you on social channels.
[00:38:10] I mean, just posting about a new construction and, and how that process went, right? It's not like when your client originally put that up, they've had this intention of, "I am only putting this up because I know it's going to connect with someone." There's always that potential in the back of your head, but they likely just posted it to post it and was like, "I'm just gonna share this experience."
[00:38:32] And the great part about that is, yeah, the great part about that is, is that it's so authentic with how it was delivered. Again, it was right in the moment. It wasn't necessarily planned, but, at the end of the day, it earned that leads trust because it was like, "Wow, this is a really, she's just letting it out there."
[00:38:53] Like, "They are just mentioning how this home buying new construction process went, and that's exactly what I need, is I need someone who knows what they're doing and is just a real human, as a person. And they're willing to explain that process to me without it being this big production or this big show."
[00:39:11] Maris Callahan: Right. No, absolutely. And I think, you know, there's so many ways to, to just be memorable and to be unique. And a lot of that starts with who you are and what your personality is and what kind of experience you deliver that the next person doesn't. Um, I've recommended agents to friends and, you know, I work with agents, so I can never say, "Here's this one person to use."
[00:39:32] I always have to give options. But that's it, you know, I see different people resonate with different people. A handful of Chicago agents who I frequently will give to friends who are looking to buy or sell, and they, you know, everyone will, will pick a different personality, and it's not a, a, you know, it's not a bad thing.
[00:39:52] It's just that different people click, and different people are looking for different types of expertise at different types of service.
[00:39:57] Yeah. Do you find that agents tend to try to take on too much when we talk about these niches and these different target audiences? You know, we're all in the service industry, right? We're all in service-based businesses. I'm a client. I, my job is client service. You know, as a realtor, you wanna help as many people as you can, but I think that just because you claim one niche or you have expertise in one area that doesn't mean you can't help people outside of that space.
[00:40:27] Rachel Gombosch: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:27] Maris Callahan: Um, my niche, my specialty is working with realtors, and I have clients that are outside the real estate space, who I've met various ways, and we felt there was a fit. Just because I mostly serve realtors doesn't mean that I can't help a different type of business, but it means that I'm not actively, you know, pursuing those leads.
[00:40:46] And I think with, you know, with thinking about your, your expertise, it might not be a, a special, you might not wanna say, "Okay, I only help first-time home buyers." But maybe you help, maybe what sets you apart is that you explain the process in a certain way or maybe you have a certain method that you like to kind of call the, you know, maybe you have, like, the Rachel method of working with buyers and you have a special checklist.
[00:41:11] You know, when they get in your car, they get to listen to a certain type of music they want or maybe...
[00:41:15] Rachel Gombosch: Mm-hmm.
[00:41:15] Maris Callahan: ...maybe you have snacks in the back seat for them to choose from, you know? What does that, like, experience look like, and what is, what is your process, that's what's someone is going to be attracted to.
[00:41:24] Another example I always like to use is when I was buying my home. Our realtor, my boyfriend, was off doing something else and couldn't come with me to this open house that I drove by, so I called my realtor, and she said, "I'm out riding bikes with my daughter, but we're in the hood. We'll come by." So, she showed up, you know, in her, like, jeans and flip-flops.
[00:41:44] They were riding bikes in the neighborhood, sweaty, like, her nine-year-old was with her, and they came, and that's the kind of experience that you get, right? She's gonna drop what she's doing and come meet you at the open house. That's, you know, her dedication to her clients. Now, if all of her social media was pictures of her in a blazer and heals, like in fancy downtown buildings, well, that experience that she's showing on social media doesn't match up with the experience she's providing.
[00:42:12] So, that's why. And someone who is going to want that, like business, all business, downtown, stylish, sophisticated kind of presence, um, you know, that's gonna resonate with somebody. There's someone who's selling a condo in the Gold Coast who wants that sort of persona.
[00:42:28] But for, you know, for my partner and I, we didn't need that. We wanted an agent who was just gonna be dedicated, and it doesn't matter to us if she's casual and laid back or if she's, you know, all business all the time. So, it's, it's not so much about saying, you know, "This is my, I target exact audience." But it's, "This is my personality, and this is the experience you'll get when we work together."
[00:42:48] And knowing that you're not gonna be everyone's cup of tea and that's okay. You know, someone might pick a different agent just because their personalities click better. But social media is a great place, just really find, you know, find and make connections with the people who really will, you know, be your people.
[00:43:04] Rachel Gombosch: Yeah. And that's fantastic. I mean, ultimately, that question is what's, what impression are you gonna leave on a buyer or a seller, right? 'Cause that clearly made a huge impression on, on you, for your realtor to show up full bike gear with their kid. I mean, normally what we think that, that, thought process of, of what a realtor is, is they show up in their snazzy car, and they're all suited up, and it's like, that is such a different picture from what you would normally think about.
[00:43:34] So, i, I think a good, you know, question agents can ask themselves to get them started into this niche is, "What impression do I wanna leave on anyone who interacts with me?" Right? Because ultimately, it's a connection business. So, you can't just focus on, "I'm just gonna target, you know, strictly home buyers and home sellers."
[00:43:54] No, you're going to build a community. And how are you leaving that impression on a community so that when someone is ultimately ready to buy or sell, they turn to you.
[00:44:05] Maris Callahan: Absolutely.
[00:44:07] Rachel Gombosch: Awesome. Well, I want to respect your time. I thank you so much for being here. I wanna open the floor to you. If there are any final points, you wanna drive home with social media or how it brings leads, whatever the case may be.
[00:44:24] Anything else you wanna share with everyone before we sign off?
[00:44:26] Maris Callahan: Yeah, I think, at the end of the day, you know, thinking of social media as a relationship-building tool versus a lead-generating tool really is the key to using it in the most meaningful way. Showing up in an authentic way, letting your personality shine through, balancing that business life and personal life.
[00:44:45] Letting people get to know, like, and trust you is really how social media will have the most impact on your bottom line and the way, you know, the way it, the, how to do it, that's gonna look a little bit different for everybody.
[00:44:58] Rachel Gombosch: Just get started. Right?
[00:45:01] Get that video going, girl. If you've got your cup of coffee and no makeup on, who cares?
[00:45:05] Maris Callahan: It's so true. You know, people always think I, like I've had so many agents saying to me, "I need to lose 30 pounds before I take video or photo of myself." It's like, "You look great. First of all, you look great to everyone else.
[00:45:17] No one else is gonna be as critical to yourself as you will be to yourself. But, at the end of the day, if this is what you look like now, people are seeing you, regardless of whether you're on video or in person. And..."
[00:45:29] "...if, you know, if we all wait, we look perfect, we'll, we'll never, perfect doesn't exist."
[00:45:33] So, it's really just about kind of thinking, taking, you know, the opportunity to try something new, push yourself outside your comfort zone and, you know, it will always be well received by the, the people who are your circle.
[00:45:48] Rachel Gombosch: Yep. Be authentic to who you are now. That's who they're gonna end up meeting in person.
[00:45:52] There's no time to wait. Just, just get started. Just be you. Great, so awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk social media with me today. I do have, for any listeners out there, I've got a promo code that you can use if you're trying to schedule a photo shoot with Virtuance, if you use social0622, you can plug that in when you are going online at virtuance.com to order, and that will give you 15% off your first order with Virtuance.
[00:46:25] So, we're excited to offer that for you guys.
[00:46:27] Maris Callahan: To get you started on social media with all those gorgeous photos that you'll be taking, you can take a look at thesocialbroker.com to learn more about our membership.
[00:46:37] And if you are interested in having all of the content and strategies you need to DIY your social media, you can use code social15 for our $15 off your first month.
[00:46:47] Rachel Gombosch: Fantastic, so many great deals for you guys. We are setting you up to rock out on all of your social media platform. Thank you again, Maris, and everyone else. Have a fantastic day, week, whatever time it is.