Real Insights Article Series
This is an ongoing series of articles that cover the topics and insights shared during the three-day Real Conf. 2021 hosted by Adfenix. The following article summarizes the keynote discussion with Anton Andersson on Day 3 Session 1 of the conference.
Anton Andersson currently serves as Business Director of Social Industries, and has worked with a number of notable companies over the last six years in advancing their social marketing.
At Adfenix’s Real Conference 2021, Anton discussed the value of social media marketing in the real estate industry, breaking it down into three hard truths:
- “In social media, nobody cares about you” - In the last couple of years, we have seen a massive shift in how people are exposed (and expose themselves) to brands. In 2015, users were first able to talk to brands on Facebook for the first time, and enthusiasm was high as everyday consumers were able to connect one-on-one with so many brand pages. However, things have changed since. Now, when users convey a message about a brand, it’s usually in a negative light, and critical of the brand for having done or not done something in particular.
In 2014, 30% of brand content published online was organic reach, i.e. they posted content that was either witty, entertaining or simply informational. However, Facebook Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg is said to have not been a fan of this model of freeform advertising, and reportedly had FB engineers make adjustments to the algorithm triggered by interactions (ultimately affecting the reach potential of brands and their content). By 2020, brand content published online by organic reach dropped down to just 2%. What’s more, 200 major brands (Kylie Cosmetics, Netflix, Adidas etc) dominate two-thirds of that 2%.
However, the Facebook algorithm adjustment isn’t the standalone factor. Shifting user interaction and behavior also plays a part, and out of all social media users (that’s more than 4 billion users), only 6% (between ages 25-64) actually browse for business on a weekly basis. The remaining 94% are exposed to brands by targeted content only, i.e. paid for ads.
- “You’ll get nothing for free” - With over 7 million active social media advertisers worldwide, it has become clear in the last five to six years that you have to pay to have a business presence on social media to matter, but paying for ads to get noticed is not a foreign concept. What is new however is for the first time in advertising history, we don’t have to waste money. Prior to this era, to get one new customer, there were considerable resources and effort exerted to put one’s brand in front of thousands of people, whether it be on billboards, tv slots or newspapers, but the vast majority of that audience would never be an ideal customer in any case.
Social media came along and gave an alternative where brands were finally able to target only those who fit their ideal customer profile (ICP). This system worked because these social platforms knew everything about their users and, according to Anton, are so good at what they do that it is almost illegal, but that doesn’t stop agents and professionals in the industry still having to know what to do while advertising on these platforms. While it's possible now to identify and target ICP users, it’s still easy to get lost in the pipelines of such advanced systems. The advertiser within a specific vertical that offers the highest bid ends up reaching their intended audience. So understandably, the greater the number of competing advertisers, the higher the bid needs to be.
However, actual money power is not the only factor that matters. Equally important as money is content.
The catch is that if you’re trying to win over space that Facebook or Google has already discreetly ranked as uninteresting, irrelevant or offensive to audiences (according to the vast amounts of data they hold), you’ll have to pay a lot of extra money just to get through. Put simply, brands with the best content get the best deal and platforms can ensure that users are getting the most relevant, engaging content that encourages them to stay logged on for longer.
Every year, the real estate industry pours 8 billion dollars into social media advertising, but professionals still end up paying a lot of money just to tap into their target audiences compared to their counterparts in other industries. While some placate themselves with the notion that property is a once-in-a-lifetime event in many customers’ lives, and real estate is a long-tail game, other sectors that could also be considered long-tail and financially significant are doing a lot better in their social media advertising. To compare, real estate pays 22% more annually to reach the same amount of people as in the automobile sector, and 30% more than in the banking and fintech industry, consolidating the formula that money + great content = good deal. Since real estate clearly has the money to throw at the issue, it’s evident that the problem is content, and real estate needs to reassess how it spends that $8 billion, and perhaps redirect anywhere from 10-20% of ad spend to make better campaigns or brand messaging instead.
- “Be where your clients are” - For the first time in history, in 2019, all demographics in the UK between 16-65 spent more time viewing commercial content through social and digital each day compared to linear television. In 2020, social and digital ad spaces grew rampant, and it’s estimated that next year 70% of all commercial content will be through social channels such as FB, Instagram, Tiktok and Snapchat. Given that upcoming working generations are more digital than ever before, this massive exponential growth is expected to continue with projections revealing that over the next decade, over 98% of content will be channeled through social and digital.
In 2020, major advertising players like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestle and Deloitte started buying entire advertising agencies to handle their bidding for them, rather than renewing commercial deals with television routes like before. It’s clear these brands have realized that the sooner they take over this new ad space, the less competition they will have, and the higher ROI will be. Of course, huge brands like Amazon, AirB&B and Visa had made this shift years ago, clearly spending their advertising dollars in the digital space and knowing that this will soon be the most frequently used advertising space used by everyone everywhere. Most importantly, they know that money no longer needs to be thrown away fruitlessly, because they are now able to identify target audiences that really matter to their brand, which is the ultimate advantage that social platforms provide that other ad platforms don't.
To sum up what we’ve learnt about the value of social media marketing in the real estate industry, here are our three takeaways:
- “In social media, nobody cares about you” - Remember, 94% of all social media users are exposed to brands by targeted content only.
- “You’ll get nothing for free” - Paying for ads to get noticed is not a foreign concept, but fortunately, brands no longer have to waste money on irrelevant audiences
- “Be where your clients are” - In the next 10 years, over 98% of content will be channeled through social and digital.