The 101 Guide to Using Snapchat to Sell More Homes

Snapchat has, without a doubt, hit the mainstream and is growing at incredible rates — 25% so far this year and passing Twitter in daily usage. If you’re not on it, you could be missing out on a great way to communicate with potential buyers and sell more homes. But let’s start at the beginning:

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a mobile-only (meaning it has no web interface or counterpart) social media network. You can use it to send photos and videos to people one on one, or broadcast those photos and videos one-to-many.

Screen Shot 2016-09-22 at 10.20.18 AM

(image via Snapchat support)

The user interface is very minimalist. Upon opening the app, you’re presented with a camera screen. By pressing the button at the bottom of the screen, you can take a photo, or if you press and hold, you’ll record video (up to 15 seconds long). Once you’re done, you can add effects (emoji, stickers, hand-drawn doodles or text, typed text, or filters) to the photo. After that, you can choose to send it to individual people or post it to your story.

By swiping right to left, you can add filters to your image. We’ll come back to filters in a minute — what you need to know is that they can be linked to your geographical data, so aside from things like weather and speed, there will often be geo-filters that are linked to local events or businesses.  

From the main screen, you can swipe right to see your story feed — Snapchat stories from brands and the people you follow on Snapchat. Posting something to a story makes it available for 24 hours, after which it disappears. When you swipe to the left, you’re presented with the people you mutually follow (meaning, you follow them and they follow you) which will show snaps that they’ve sent to you.

There are a few more details and nuances, but that’s the gist of Snapchat.

But the only people using it are teens, right?

When Snapchat originally started, it definitely skewed towards the college-age and younger crowd. But now, over 50% of new Snapchat users are over 25 — and remember the earlier statistics about how fast it’s growing. And millennials are the largest share of recent buyers and use agents the most out of all market segments. So not only is Snapchat growing quickly, but most of those people are potential homebuyers, and by using Snapchat you’re reaching them via something they always have on them: their phone.

Aside from that, Snapchat has strengths that other social media networks are missing. Because it’s mobile-only and so in-the-moment, it feels very intimate. The form factor makes it feel like you’re right there next to someone when you’re watching their snaps (or looking at them). This is highlighted by the fact that snaps are meant to be quick and unpolished, not artfully shot and filtered like other photo-based platforms (i.e., Instagram). And the fact that it’s visual/audiovisual is great for marketing visual products…like houses.

Getting people to add you on Snapchat

First off, you’ll need to sign up for a Snapchat account — which is pretty self explanatory. Step one: download the app. Step two: open it and sign up.

Once you sign up and get things up and running, you can tap the ghost at the top of the home screen to see your snapcode. Your snapcode is essentially a branded QR code that people can use to add you on the platform. By tapping on the ghost in the middle of the snapcode (which is filled in with white by default) you can take a series of selfies, which turns your snapcode into a fun animation. After you’ve created the snapcode, you can save and share it by tapping the share icon in the upper right-hand corner.

Once you’ve done that, the best way to get going on Snapchat is to share that code and/or your username so people can follow you. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Share it on Facebook and/or Twitter
  • You can also set your avatar to your Snapcode on those channels (so that you don’t have to keep reposting it as you get new followers on other channels)
  • Include it in your email newsletters
  • Add it to your flyers and yard signs for existing properties
  • Include your username in your email signature with your other social media and contact information

On top of that, you can also let your current clients know that you’re on Snapchat and ask if they use it, so you can add them.

Keep in mind that Snapchat isn’t the place for stiff professionalism — it’s pretty much the opposite of LinkedIn. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be explicitly unprofessional, but the tone of the platform is quirky, fun, and engaging, and your snaps should match that if you want to get results from it.

Where the rubber meets the road: Using Snapchat to sell homes

Okay, you’re sold on Snapchat as a marketing tool. But what can you actually do with it to sell more homes?

You can communicate directly with existing and potential clients using the 1:1 features to send them photos or videos of houses you think they’d like. It’s a lot easier and quicker for them to get a feel for the property, which means you can narrow down the amount of homes you show them in person — saving both of your time and energy. And people are definitely better at checking their Snapchat account than checking their emails.

Even after your client has committed to buying a property and the sales process is over, you can use Snapchat to keep in touch with them and make them feel like they’re being well-taken care of, by sending them updates on the sales process and negotiations in a way that feels much more personal than an email. For client communication, think of Snapchat as texting on steroids: it has all of the benefits of texting and then some additional ones.

You can also use the Story feature for a variety of things:

  • Recording snippets from an open house and broadcasting them to your followers
  • Interviewing sellers about their favorite features in the home and posting it to your story
  • Taking photos and videos of properties listed and add them to stories

When you’re featuring a home that’s for sale, make sure to include the address and/or your contact information as text, letting people screencap it and get in touch if they’re interested. Keep in mind that you only have 80 characters to use in a caption — but that should be enough for an address and phone number in most cases.

One thing to remember when sharing contact information like that (or any other information that viewers will want to save) is that the videos and photos aren’t up for very long on the user’s screen. Because of this, many people using the Story feature to share information like this will include a quick snap before the information snap, saying something like “Get ready to screencap this next snap” so that the viewer is ready to save the information.

Aside from explicitly property-focused posts, you can also include little behind-the-scenes snippets throughout your day to engage viewers and make them like and trust you as a person (which, as we all know, is a huge part of being able to sell to people). Alex Wang, a Silicon Valley agent who sold $50 million in homes last year, includes snaps of his workout and behind-the-scenes of his business. He also uses it to give sellers and buyers tips, and call out bad agent behavior — including snaps like this in your rotation can make your content interesting enough to get followers before or while they’re looking for an agent, and attract them to you.

And remember filters? You can also add a geofilter, linked to certain locations. When users swipe through the filters and they’re near a property of your’s, if you have a filter available, it will show up on the swipe through. This is a bit more of a soft-sell technique, as you aren’t allowed to put a specific address on a geofilter, so they’d still have to look around the neighborhood to find the specific home for sale (or maybe use the augmented reality feature of HomeSpotter). But it still might be worth experimenting with if you’re selling a home in an area where there’s a lot of foot traffic. For more on the geofilter creation process, check out this article at Social Media Examiner.

Your homework:

That’s everything you need to get started on Snapchat — now all that’s left to do is take action. Here’s your homework for the day:

  • Set up a Snapchat account
  • Save your snapcode as an image and use that code on your marketing materials to gain followers
  • Create a strategy for showcasing your rental properties on your Snapchat stories
  • Get snapping!

About William Harris

William Harris is leading growth at HomeSpotter and is also the Founder & Growth Marketer of Elumynt, LLC., VP of Marketing and Growth for a top 700 online retailer and former head of Marketing for When I Work, a VC backed SaaS company. William is also a contributor to leading publications like The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Sellbrite and a speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, search engine optimization, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding. Follow William on Twitter (@WmHarris101), LinkedIn, and Google+.

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