As the Great Recession took hold in 2008, Debe Maxwell, CRS, broker and leader of the Maxwell House Group at RE/MAX Executive in Charlotte, N.C., made it a point to vary her skillset. She wanted to make sure she stayed on top of marketing trends and was using all possible means of exposure. At the time, her use of social media was borne out of necessity rather than general interest. What she found, though, was that her willingness to learn paid off.
She started blogging on real estate platform Active Rain where Maxwell and a group of colleagues committed themselves to becoming experts in social media. From Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn, she and her group took turns teaching one another how to use each platform. So, when the dust of the Great Recession settled, Maxwell was well-positioned to maximize the use of social media to gain clients and enhance her customer service experience. But out of all the platforms, it was Pinterest that called to her the most.
Today, Maxwell’s Pinterest account has more than 2,000 followers and boasts approximately 25,000 monthly views. Learn how she tailored her page to be her master marketing and customer service tool, and glean tips on how you can do the same.
Though most social media platforms are equipped to share photos and videos, Pinterest was one of the first to capitalize on visuals alone when it debuted in 2010. Ripe with colorful, enticing photos, the “pinboard”-style platform acts as a gateway to drive traffic to a desired location. Users are able to create different pinboards to categorize posts, and each pin directs other users directly to a desired site, such as a blog, landing page, or, in Maxwell’s case, a listing.
For Maxwell, categorizing boards is key to reaching a wider audience. Her categories include craftsman style homes, events and activities in Charlotte, popular neighborhoods, and market reports. “Not everyone is looking for a luxury home, so I categorize my boards to reflect different types of homes,” she says.
Catering to Human Nature’s Visual Needs
The homebuying process is all about the visuals, and Maxwell uses her Pinterest page to show off the very best of what a home has to offer. “The eye buys,” Maxwell says. “People love photos and videos.” Visuals, she says, are what draws a client in when it comes to buying a home, so Pinterest is a natural fit for real estate. Using professional photographers and videographers—and sometimes even a drone operator—Maxwell commissions top-notch images of her listings, and then she posts them straight to Pinterest.
Maxwell also uses the site to share videos of homes for sale, interior design trends, and landscaping ideas, as well as market reports so buyers and sellers can gather more information. “The platform is easy for me to use,” she says, “and it’s easy for my clients to navigate. They have access to everything in one place.”
Opportunities for Customer Service
Maxwell uses a number of her pins to drive traffic to her listings, but because she uses the platform for customer service as well, many of her boards are designed with a buyer in mind. If Maxwell is working with a relocation client, she directs them to her “Things to Do in Charlotte” pinboard, which is clearly labeled and includes several pins that lead users to popular restaurants, attractions, and city events.
Another lesser-known feature of Pinterest is the ability to create secret boards, which are visible only to the creator and users the creator invites. In real estate, creating a secret board for a client has the power to add a unique, personal touch to the buying or selling experience.
Maxwell works with many people who are building custom homes. For these clients, she creates special, secret boards chock-full of ideas for design, fixtures, surface materials, and other items. These secret boards are customized to fit her client’s style and needs. “It takes half a second to create a secret board and post some nice plumbing fixtures or door knobs that I think the client might like,” she says. This tiny effort on the agent’s part makes a big impression.
The Best Ways to Build a Following
Maxwell has put in the time to build a Pinterest following, but the platform is underutilized by real estate professionals, she says. There’s still plenty of room to capitalize on its potential.
“It is important to make it easy for clients to navigate your page,” Maxwell advises. “Make sure to use multiple boards and categorize them clearly.” She also says that posting consistently is important. The platform is set up so that users see recent posts first.
Try bringing attention to a Pinterest profile by posting about it on other social media sites. “I like to add a little update on Facebook when I’ve added something to my Pinterest page,” Maxwell explains. Another way to ensure your page finds its way to the forefront of your client’s mind, says Maxwell, is to use it in a listing presentation. “The visuals work well during a presentation,” she says. “Tell your client exactly how to find your Pinterest boards and why they’ll be useful during the process.”
Most importantly, Maxwell says, users should have fun with the platform. “It’s a really easy platform to use, and it’s designed to be fun,” she says. “The more fun you have with it, the more you want to share what you’ve created—and the more people will respond.”