My kids are always using social media for something. They use it to interact with friends, to plan their weekends, and to get updates on their favorite musicians, actors, and comedians. They even use it, with their teachers’ blessings, to research school assignments from time-to-time. So, it was really no surprise when my oldest asked me a while back if social media works for real estate investors too. I told her that I honestly didn’t know. But, since I was a less experienced investor then, and always looking for better ways to find great investment properties, I figured it was important to find out.
Using Social Media for Real Estate Investor Leads
The first place I looked for the answer to my kid’s question was with my friend, James. We’d started investing about the same time, but he was already making his mark, and pretty decent profits, buying and renovating property. I knew he must be doing something different and thought maybe that “something” was social media. It turns out he had tried using social media to find fixer-upper homes for sale and was able to give great feedback about it. Luckily, he also had some input on another way to find good leads. Here’s what he told me.
There are over three billion active social media users around the world, according to recent data. That number equates to about 40% of the earth’s population. And, it’s not just children and teenagers who are online. In fact, Pew Research Center research indicates that, in the United States alone, 69% of adults use at least one social media website and that they check their sites a minimum of once a day. But, they’re not just logging in to watch what’s trending with their friends, in politics, or on the news. They’re also updating their statuses for public consumption–a lot.
Those updates aren’t always about the kids going off to college or the new family pet, either. People reveal the status of their marriages, their jobs, their health, and whether these things are causing financial duress for them and their loved ones. They even outright ask for help if things are really ugly, whether it’s in finding a good divorce attorney or a way to avoid a foreclosure. Thanks to the hashtag function that many social media sites use, people are also able to create, or join, trending issues by labeling their own messages with specific identifiers. For example, a homeowner in distress might post a picture of their home and include #help #mortgage #late.
Using this information to expose potential real estate investment opportunities isn’t terribly hard. Some social media platforms, like Twitter, have advanced search functions that allow you to drill down searches by region, language, and categorical key words. So, if you’re specifically looking for distressed homeowners who’ve been impacted by the Chicago property tax hikes, it’s possible to find them and contact them directly through your own Tweets or the chat function. Sites like Facebook and Instagram permit you to search for hashtag trends to follow and even reach out to the people who post them. Additionally, you can create ads on most social media platforms that target the news feeds of certain demographics with your interest in buying their homes.
However, using social media as a real estate investor lead generation system does present a few problems. First, in order to take full advantage of the potential number of users who update their home-ownership issues online, you’ll need to set up, master, and monitor multiple accounts. Second, not everyone who’s facing some sort of financial hardship has an account on any given platform. And, of those who do have accounts, they don’t all share the ugly details of their distressing situations. Finally, per my conversation with James, there are just better ways to source great leads than by sorting through millions of users on social media. And, the easiest way, he said, was to get access to the tools that find motivated sellers and bring them to you.
A Better Platform for Finding More Leads
After talking with James, I opted out of relying on social media as a real estate investor lead generation strategy. It hadn’t really worked for him, and it didn’t sound like it would work for me. However, I did like the sound of using marketing tools for investors that are specifically designed to streamline the process of finding leads on “ugly” houses. So, rather than following anyone on social media, I decided to follow James’s example by becoming an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee—just like him. And, since becoming a member of the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” team years ago, homeowners in distress have been coming to me when they need to sell their properties quickly. So, I’ve spent a lot less time chasing leads over the years, online or off, and a lot more time socializing with my family.
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