Lori Ballen is a member of the Amazon Associates Program and earns money from qualifying purchases. Posts contain affiliate links that benefit Lori as well.
So you’re a real estate agent, and you’re wondering what platform you should use for marketing. As a real estate agent and marketer, I have some firm opinions on this. Let’s discuss.
Table of contents
Real Estate Marketing Experience
My name is Lori Ballen, and I’m a real estate agent too. I started my real estate career in Las Vegas in 2007.
I live and work in a place called Summerlin, which is in Las Vegas. I have team members in Boulder City, Henderson, and North Las Vegas.
Before real estate, I owned my own company and did all of the marketing. So I’m an SEO girl.
I’ve built and sold multiple companies that benefited from search engine optimization, blogging, social media, and Youtube.
I specialize in search engine optimization, which is ranking on Google.
I spend most of my time creating content optimized for search.
Long-Tail Keywords and Niches
For example, when somebody types into the Google search bar, ‘closing costs when selling my house in Las Vegas,’ I am likely to show up at the top of page one on Google.
Ranking on the search engines has become much more challenging and competitive, competing with larger platforms like Zillow.
I specialize in the niches and long-tail searches.
Those are searches that somebody types in and contain many words that make the search very specific.
For example, someone could search something like ‘homes for sale in Summerlin under $400,000 with a pool’.
That’s a long-tail keyword.
This article is not about teaching you search engine optimization, specifically.
I just wanted to give you an example of one of the channels that I spend a lot of time on.
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Real Estate Marketing Channels
When I ask what channel should you be doing your real estate marketing on, I’m talking about all of these things: Google, Bing, Yahoo, the search engine group.
For social media, it’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Each of those items is a channel with its language and its behavior patterns and algorithms.
Social Media is not a blanket where one size fits all.
Then we have another bucket, which is advertising. This channel would be banner ads, pay per click ads, display ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, LinkedIn ads, Pinterest ads, etc.
Then we also have YouTube. Youtube is both search and social.
It could fit into any of those buckets, and it can also fit into pay-per-click if you’re paying to advertise on YouTube as well.
Deciphering these is important, so you’ll know where the best place for you to spend your time, energy, and money.
With real estate marketing, you have a tremendous amount of opportunity, and if you try to be all of these places, the art, or you’re not going to do any of them at a super high level.
My suggestion always is to pick one, two, or three. Don’t go crazy and try to be mastering Instagram and LinkedIn and Pinterest and YouTube and search.
It’s just impossible. Believe me.
Honestly, I feel the pull to dive into another channel all of the time. But I also know that I only have so many hours in the day, and I want to specialize.
I want to do it well so that it works.
I may use tools that help feed my posts and things out to other channels. I know that that is not an optimal way to be on cross platforms, but sometimes that is the only way to be on cross platforms because I’m not going to be on all of them.
Every time we turn around, there’s something new.
So how can you possibly be in all these places? You can’t.
So let’s narrow this all down a little bit for you so that you can start the process of elimination.
When I have a significant choice to make or try to figure something out, and there’s many pieces of the puzzle, I will start with elimination.
I take them one at a time and eliminate the items I least like, or least fit, or absolutely won’t work until I get down to a smaller number to start looking at the remaining pros and cons.
SEO (Ranking on Google)
So let’s start with the first one, which is my real specialty, which is search.
Search is going to be focused on Google primarily.
Do I have what it takes to compete in a super competitive, supersaturated space?
Do I have the resources? (Time, Leverage, Money).
SEO can be an incredible opportunity for those willing to dive in and focus and do the work.
I earn six figures in affiliate income outside of my real estate business that comes partly from search. I have a portfolio of websites (8 today) that I’m actively working on, and they all earn money through affiliate marketing, publishing, product sales, and services.
We’re talking about building content that people will find when they type keywords into Google’s search bar.
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These will be answers to questions that your clients ask you all the time.
Content is also your IDX on your website.
IDX stands for the internet data exchange, and it is the MLS feed that puts listings on your website.
When somebody goes to Google and types in ‘three-bedroom, home in Summerlin with a pool and a mother-in-law quarters under 500,000’ for example, and they find a grid of homes, those listings are through IDX.
I use a company called IDX broker.
IDX Broker powers these real estate agent websites.
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WordPress For Real Estate
Then, you’ll set up your IDX Broker Feed.
My affiliate link saves you $99, and then my team becomes your on-call support (Jeff & Paul).
But if you want to get into high-level search engine rankings, and you want to get into potential advertising on your website and things, you want to have a more robust SEO, friendly growth-oriented type of website, which for me is WordPress.
I have tried so many other platforms. I’ve tried standard real estate monthly lease type platforms.
I’ve also used broker provided platforms. I want to own the website. If I were ever to switch brokerages, I wouldn’t want to lose all of my work.
Now, I’m okay with running a Facebook ad and sending it to my KW command website, which we’ve got optimized.
But it’s not my asset.
SEO is an investment.
It’s an investment of my time, money, and energy. I need to know that it is mine. If I go anywhere else, my website and database should go with me.
So while I’m going to use the KW command website for Facebook ads and database management, I’m building my WordPress website to keep long term.
They run the Facebook ads, help with important and exports of your database, build landing pages, etc.
So definitely talk to them.
My brother Jeff also happens to be a Keller Williams agent.
“What about Boomtown?’ you ask? ‘How about CINC, Kunversion, KVcore?
All of those websites have many beautiful features. The challenge is that you generally don’t have access to back up the WordPress database on most of them, which would mean you don’t own it.
The WordPress Database is all of your content and media files.
You might own the domain. The domain could go with you (the.com), but chances are, if you don’t have access to back up that WordPress database or they have not permitted you, then it’s a leased website, which means the moment you stop paying for it, it goes away.
With a self-hosted WordPress website, you can move the entire WordPress database over to another host.
If I don’t think my website’s fast enough or don’t like the speed or don’t like the service, I can change web hosts.
But that database goes with me everywhere I go.
If you are unsure if you own your database, ask your web host.
Ballen Real Estate Websites
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Home Valuation Offers
You’re also going to want to put home valuation offers on your websites.
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You’re going to need to have a landing page that they land on, that they can put in their address. It then gives them a home valuation.
I use Listings2Leads for mine.
If you use my L2l link, you get an extended free trial, which means you can try it free for 30 days.
Now, the next thing that I want to talk about is social media.
If you’re wondering which channel is best for your real estate business, ask yourself this, “where are my clients”?
“Where are the customers that I want?’
Each of these platforms has completely different demographics.
My audience is very much a reflection of me.
That’s very common, by the way.
We tend to attract who we are.
So as we age, sometimes our client base ages. As we move up the ladder professionally, or into higher income, the people we attract tend to follow.
My general audience is on Facebook.
LinkedIn is going to be much better for networking with business professionals.
So if your goal is to connect and network with people in a more tech-driven industry or maybe C level executives, and you know that you can go in and create LinkedIn groups and connect with people on that level, then LinkedIn might be right for you.
Instagram is evolving. It’s also very competitive.
We see a lot more of a span of age groups now on Instagram. We also see a much larger number of people from out of the country.
It has turned into much more of an influencer style platform.
So you have to keep that in mind that if I’m going to use Instagram, I really need to be an influencer and appropriately use stories and live video.
I have a couple in real estate, such as a hyperlocal niche (One website is all about living in the master-planned community called Summerlin).
Pinterest is incredibly visual.
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The algorithm keeps changing to eliminate exposure to pins, boards, and accounts that don’t give much attention to the pin’s visual elements.
The challenge I have is that I just don’t have the time to spend on it. I’m building many things.
If I were going to kick up that food blog website, if that’s where I wanted to give some love, I would be on Pinterest.
Pinterest also favors anything to do with fixing up houses, organizing, doing it yourself projects, arts, crafts, holiday decor, costumes, and decorations.
Those are all big on Pinterest.
So while a blogger who is blogging about real estate can make a pin for a new listing, the odds that you would get much traction from that pin are pretty slim.
I believe TikTok could convert into real estate business. It started as primarily an under-30 network.
It has exploded into the over 30 age range. It’s amazing how many people in my age group are on there now.
The algorithm is fantastic at showing you what it believes you are most going to be interested in.
So as soon as you set up your profile, they start to figure you out. You have a digital footprint.
When you start scrolling through videos, and play a video, or pass on a video, the algorithm learns so it can better show you videos that interest you.
I’ll see somebody giving excellent weight loss tips or anti-aging, and I’ll click follow. Now, I’m going to get notifications when that person publishes videos.
Well, you could do the same thing by taking these quick little snippets of advice about buying a home or selling a home, or featuring local info.
I could go out into Vegas and take the double Decker bus tour down the strip and make a quick little video for TikTok.
And at the same time, I’m going to make a long video for YouTube.
So Tiktok could be a great opportunity if you’re clever about how you give advice or how you add value to the user.
Now next door, by the way, is another social channel. Next door is an excellent platform for neighborhood connections.
If you’re going to do next door, you have to commit to being a geographic farmer.
The only place for your business to connect with your most valuable customers: people in the neighborhood.
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Neighborhood Geographic farming was when we would go out, and we would pick a neighborhood with maybe 200-300 homes. =
We would send direct mail to them once or twice a month. We would send just listed and just sold postcards and printed real estate market reports.
In the fall, we would pop by with little pumpkins. Maybe once a year, we would do pop bys to help change their air filters or leave batteries for their smoke detectors.
We would sponsor the local little league team. We would hold block parties.
NextDoor is a digital form of connecting with the neighbors. You have to get on there, and you have to provide value.
You can’t be saying, here’s my listing. Here’s my listing. Here’s my listing.
You can advertise on NextDoor if you want to pay to play.
So if you’re going to farm the neighborhood you live in geographically, NextDoor could be fantastic.
Facebook groups have been beneficial for me in multiple verticals, inside and outside real estate.
Facebook groups are communities such as professionals, skills, hobbies, common interests.
There’s a prominent topic in each.
You want to start a group based on a particular niche and then work to create value.
It takes a while to gain traction, and to figure out your systems.
You’ll need to position yourself as the authority in the group.
You’ll need to build a following, build a community, and build this group of loyal fans.
That takes a while.
So just like search, you’ve got to say, you know what, I’m going at this, I’m giving it a year of everything I got before I expect a sale.
I have to prove myself. I have to build it. I have to get it large enough.
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Pay Per Click ads (PPC)
Pay-per-click is when you pay every time somebody clicks on an ad you place somewhere.
You could run ads on display through the display networks. Your ad would appear on youtube videos, music channels, shopping websites, and other related channels.
They don’t know how they will feed their team leads soon as it’s just getting too competitive and too expensive.
So be prepared that if you’re going to go all-in on ads, you’ll need to learn the strategy. And even with the best approach, he with the most money to spend wins!
Pay Per Click Services
Pay per click is a way to connect with your ideal audience at the moment they are searching for your specific products and services.
The other big one is YouTube. I have been successful with real estate YouTube channels and other niche channels.
In 2007, when I got into real estate, the market was crashing. Over the next few years, Vegas was mostly distressed properties.
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Everything became short sales and foreclosures.
If you were a real estate agent and were not doing short sales or foreclosures, you were probably getting out of the business at that point or taking a hiatus anyway.
short sales were confusing for people.
Buyers didn’t understand them. Sellers didn’t understand them. Real estate agents didn’t understand them.
The lenders barely even understood them.
Whenever there is any kind of topic that people need to know about, and there’s not enough information, there’s a huge opportunity.
I decided to get on YouTube and start talking about short sales all the time. And I did an orbit. An orbit is 365 days of videos.
For an entire year, I made a video every day.
I could make three videos in one day and then just schedule them. I didn’t have to be in front of the camera every day.
I interviewed people, buyers, sellers, lenders, and people on my team. I’d bring in title companies, home inspectors, real estate attorneys.
I answered every question anybody could have about short sales, and it worked. We closed hundreds of short sales.
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Her channel helps solve the problems buyers and sellers have.
She answers questions that every buyer or seller would have, and she provides information about what’s happening in the Georgia market.
YouTube is one of the absolute best channels to establish a brand.
When you’re on camera, people see your personality. They’re watching how you move, and they’re listening to your voice inflection.
They’re able to create an opinion about you.
“She looks honest or, wow, He’s brilliant.” They decide pretty early on if they like you or not. And if they do, you’ve got an avid fan, a follower, somebody that’s likely to do business with you.
People do business with people they know, or Think they know!
And with that, I’m going to leave it here today. I’m Lori, Ballen in Las Vegas. I’d very much appreciate your referrals. Thank you so much for joining me today.