(For related story, see “@NYCRealEstate: Social media status update“)
Not all social media efforts are created equally. This month, TRD evaluated the city’s five largest residential brokerage firms, looking at the size of their social media communities and how effectively firms engaged with them. Here’s a look at our scorecard.
The Corcoran Group: A+
Corcoran is widely acknowledged as an industry leader in social media. The firm has built a strong presence across major platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and successfully experimented with newer platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
Corcoran’s Klout score is 77, the highest among the city’s residential brokerages, and among the top 10 percent of all users tracked by Klout, including companies and individuals.
On Facebook, Corcoran has over 113,000 likes and posts at least three times a day, sharing listing photos, swiftly replying to comments with pricing information, and sharing tips on the housing market and New York City living. Occasionally, CEO Pamela Liebman will post a video responding to questions posed by Facebook and Twitter followers.
On Twitter, rather than simply pushing out its own listings, Corcoran actively engages its more than 16,000 followers in conversation on everything from neighborhood attractions to interior design and homeownership, amplifying their voices through retweets. And on location-based social network Foursquare, where the firm has over 21,000 followers, Corcoran has left over 3,000 “insider tips.” These run the gamut from what to order at an Upper East Side French restaurant to the faster route from Westchester to Long Island.
Corcoran uses online service IFTTT, which responds to “triggers” such as the weather on a certain day, to help it share appropriate content. If it rains in Manhattan, for example, Corcoran’s followers will automatically see lists of the best things to do indoors. “When it snows, you’ll find agents recommending wonderful hot chocolate venues,” Matthew Shadbolt, Corcoran’s former director of interactive marketing, told TRD in November. The context-specific approach, Shadbolt said, had proven to be “very powerful in interacting with customers.”
While Shadbolt was responsible for a large part of Corcoran’s social media success during his eight-year stint, the firm has “a history of innovation that predates Matthew,” Warburg’s Peters said. Corcoran declined to comment for this story, and a LinkedIn job posting seeking a replacement for Shadbolt was recently removed.
Halstead Property: A
Like Corcoran, Halstead engages with its followers in a way that drives traffic to its website and strengthens its brand.
It has over 32,000 Twitter followers and 20,000 Facebook page likes, but what stands out is how widely its content is shared. On Facebook, Halstead’s total reach — the total number of impressions for its page — for the second week of February was over 212,000 users, and over the last three months, each post received an average of 213 likes. Halstead’s Klout score is 70, second to Corcoran.
“I don’t care about how many followers I have,” said Leone, who oversees Halstead’s social media efforts. “I want my followers to be willing to engage in my product. To like it, share it, care about it. That is telling me how well I’m doing my job.”
All of Halstead’s social media initiatives are executed in-house, split among a 26-member marketing and technology team, Leone said.
“We have 1,100 foot soldiers in the form of agents,” he added, saying that training brokers to use social media well has amplified Halstead’s reach.
Halstead may also experiment with video-sharing tools such as Twitter’s Vine and Instagram’s video feature, which allow users to post very short videos (6.5 seconds and 15 seconds, respectively) and share them with their followers. Leone said, however, using the apps would require a break from the firm’s strategy of only putting out professionally produced videos with high production value.
Citi Habitats: B
Citi Habitats has a relatively small presence on the major social media platforms — it has less than 14,000 Facebook page likes and under 2,000 Twitter followers. But it’s taken an interesting approach, focusing more on being a New York City guide than on publicizing its listings. Its pages often discuss tips on where to dine, share city-related trivia and aggregate real estate and neighborhood-related news. Its Klout score is 45, and it has just started establishing a presence on Pinterest.
In December, Citi Habitats partnered with apartment-search marketplace RentHop. The move allowed renters to see the real-time locations of Citi brokers and property managers who are available to show apartments.
A spokesperson for Citi Habitats declined to comment.
Douglas Elliman: B-
Compared to industry leaders Corcoran and Halstead, Elliman is a laggard when it comes to social media. The firm has developed a large following on Facebook, with over 33,000 likes, but posts less frequently than Halstead and Corcoran, and gets considerably less interaction in the form of likes, comments and shares. On LinkedIn, it has close to 12,000 followers, but doesn’t post daily. Meanwhile, on Twitter, it has less than 4,000 followers, and its tweets consist mostly of publicizing its own listings, news about the firm and media mentions. Elliman’s Klout score is 54.
Over the last two years, Elliman had prioritized expanding the business into new national markets and growing its new development arm under Susan de França, Elliman spokesperson Ashley Murphy said.
“We do feel that a strong social media presence is integral to our overall marketing strategy, but we want to ensure that our overall marketing and branding efforts for the entire company drive our social media, and not vice-versa,” Murphy said. “Now that we’ve got some other things in place, we’re really hunkering down and putting down some serious resources on social media.”
In April, Elliman hired former Citi Habitats marketing executive Joshua Ferris to be its first dedicated director of social media, but he left for real estate technology company Nestio just four months later. Murphy declined to comment on Ferris’s departure but said the firm is close to hiring his replacement.
Coldwell Banker Bellmarc Group: C
Out of the five biggest firms, Coldwell Banker Bellmarc currently has the smallest presence on social media, with just over 1,650 followers on Twitter and less than 800 Facebook fans.
Its Klout score is 33, and its content consists mainly of its own listings. To be sure, it’s only been a few months since the Bellmarc Group became a part of the national Coldwell Banker franchise and acquired rental firm AC Lawrence, a merger that made it one of the city’s five biggest firms. Anthony DeGrotta, co-CEO of the newly merged firm, said that its new website, which will launch this month, “would be totally engaged with social media platforms.”
Agents will have video biographies on the site, which can be sent to potential clients, DeGrotta said. The site will also feature a “meet the neighbors” section, where neighborhood residents will be able to share their own videos.