The wealth of social media platforms that real estate investors have available to find deals, attract funding and meet other like-minded people is unprecedented, yet many investors aren’t taking advantage of them, says an owner of a social media management company that helps real estate investors manage their social media presence.
Susan Lassiter-Lyons has written a seven-part series called “The Real Estate Investor’s Social Media Plan,” where she details how to use Facebook, Twitter and other services to help real estate investors use those platforms to achieve their investment goals. Lassiter-Lyons also owns The Investor Insights, a training and coaching company for real estate investors.
She believes that most investors are using social media poorly and need to up their game if they want to compete in a marketplace that increasingly values an online presence as a sign of credibility.
Why Social Media Is a Must
The correct use of social media isn’t just a nice-to-have in 2017 – it’s a must-have, according to Lassiter-Lyons. Using Facebook or Instagram is not just for young or beginning investors, as Lassiter-Lyons says that all investors will experience improved relationships, transparency and credibility by wisely using the tools.
“One of the things that I really talk to my real estate investing students about with regard to social media is making sure you’re showcasing yourself and your projects so that you have the opportunity to attract the kind of relationships and investment partners to your business that you want,” she says.
For example, Instagram is a natural for rehabbers, according to Lassiter-Lyons, as before and after pictures immediately establish credibility with potential investment partners. “If somebody is going to check you out online, which they absolutely will, for them to go to your social media pages and just be able to see for themselves the exact projects and the kind of work that you do and the kind of feedback that you get is valuable,” she says.
‘A Solid D’
Lassiter-Lyons isn’t impressed by real estate investors’ use of social media. When asked to give the group an overall grade, she unhesitatingly says, “a solid D.”
“The first problem that I see really is that they don’t believe in the power of social media and they don’t understand social media,” says Lassiter-Lyons. She says that a typical conversation she has with a real estate investor about the need to be on social media starts with the investor saying, “‘Nobody’s going to be interested in what I had for lunch.’ I tell them, ‘You’re absolutely right,’” she says.
Once the kidding stops, Lassiter-Lyons asks the investor if he or she is trying to generate leads and relationships that can help further the investor’s business. “If the answer to that is yes, then there’s no better way than social media to showcase your business and your authenticity to really have an opportunity to engage people, whether they’re sellers, buyers or potential private lenders,” she says.
Overcoming Social Media Resistance
Lassiter-Lyons’ online subscribers and customers skew about 70 percent male to 30 percent female, and the age range is 45 to 64. Males in that age range generally do not see the value of social media, she says.
“I tell you, that demographic is the most resistant bucket to social media,” she says. “The younger guys who come in ‘get it.’ They absolutely understand it right away.”
Once she tells the younger guys that they need to showcase their projects, they immediately start posting photos and updates on Facebook. “That’s really a documentation not only of their projects or their potential projects, but it’s a document of their day-to-day activities,” she says.
Lassiter-Lyons believes the older demographics’ biggest hurdle (“Which they’ll never admit!”) is feeling that they don’t know how to “work” it. The mechanics of uploading and posting are foreign and therefore intimidating as they’re not on social media all day like their younger counterparts.
“I think it’s that kind of fear of they don’t know what they’re doing and so they just decide to reject it out of hand because they don’t want to seem like they don’t know what they’re doing,” she says. Once they do try it, however, the lightbulb goes on, and they understand social media’s power and importance.
For those who tried and didn’t like social media or those just getting into real estate investing, Lassiter-Lyons recommends going with Facebook “all day long.” Facebook is the largest social media network and therefore has the most reach. Her other favorites, in order of preference, are LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
“I think that Instagram is really good for that visual showcasing of projects and finishes and all the cool things that real estate investors want to document. You just can’t beat the engagement and volume of people who are on Facebook,” she says.
Consistency is king when it comes to leveraging the power of social media, according to Lassiter-Lyons.
“I think with regard to social media and real estate investors the one single word that I would really highlight and impress upon them is consistency. You can’t be what I refer to as a hit-and-run poster. You need to maintain that consistency, and you need to plan for it,” she says.
She suggests making a posting schedule for the month and sticking to it. Document your activities with photos and video so that you can maintain consistency across your social media profiles, Lassiter-Lyons says. “The last thing you want is to put something up that’s really spectacular and then you don’t do anything for four years,” she says. Your goal is to be in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
As the number of real estate investors who are active on social media starts to dwarf those who aren’t, social media-using investors may start to favor people who are as socially active as they are, leaving the less socially active on the sidelines.
“If somebody else has an active social media presence where I’m seeing their day-to-day activity and the kind of houses that they’re looking at and the kind of deals they’re putting together, I get kind of a sense of who they are,” says Lassiter-Lyons. “I’m 100 percent more likely to go with the fully documented younger guy than the old guy who believes I have no interest in what he had for lunch. If you’re not online, you don’t exist.”