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Building Brand with Social Media at the Brokerage Level

Real Estate Social “Notworking?”

Social Builds Brand

It was getting close to Inman Connect NY, and I could feel the urgency in a text message from Matt Beall, “did you get my email regarding the social media case study for Inman?”

I’m sure somewhere—in the ether that is my inbox—sat an email from Mr. Beall. Knee deep in a Hawaii Life interface redesign, however, my Gmail account was left unmanaged and overflowing its 200G limit.

Since integrating social media into our real estate search in September 2011, I hadn’t really thought about the project. Social (from a business standpoint) was not driving sales, and my mind was on other things that were—specifically a recent surge in mobile traffic led by the iPad.

With Inman looming on the horizon, however, it was time to do a little digging into our social integration project. A text message to Yax, Hawaii Life’s lead programmer, and a few minutes later the Facebook insights installation was complete.

Hawaii Life Facebook Insights

A quick test drive of the Insights interface (Facebook could learn a thing or 2 from Google Analytics) and I was off. 332,828 Facebook impressions in the month of December. Wait…what? 332K impress…ions? Could that be right? It was.

Still, with over 1.2 million impressions in the 4 months since launching the Facebook comment box and other social media buttons, it had resulted in zero trackable sales. But that doesn’t mean that the integration into search wasn’t working, just not how we expected.

Instead of generating leads that turned directly into sales, social media created a platform that allowed other people to share our brand.

Using Social Media to Build Brand

You can learn how Hawaii Life is using social media to build its brand in 2 ways:

1) Short & Sweet – The slides for the Inman presentation in PDF format, sexified by Winny (Creative D / Co-founder):

Case Study – How to (Effectively) Integrate Social Media into Property Search

2) Detailed – The entire report which was used to create the presentation:

Integrating Social Media into Real Estate Search

If you have questions, comment below. I’m sure there will be several. There were at Inman after Matt gave his talk, which I believe (without being bias) was one of the better presentations at the conference.

About Justin Britt

Justin Britt ( is Head of Innovation and Co-Founder of a little Hawaii Real Estate company. Britt oversees user interface design, SEO, programming, public relations and social media for Hawaii's 6th largest and fastest growing real estate brokerage.

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  • Impressive stuff Justin. You do a great job with Hawaii Life and it makes complete sense for brokerages to leverage this type of social media. I do feel a bit differently in regards to individual agents using SM. Any thoughts or experiences on an agent level that have had success? 

    • Aloha Ben. On an agent level, social media (SM) seems to be more successful in the short term (Katie Minkus provides some details).

      I was not a believer, but we’re starting to close deals from agent SM efforts. As a brokerage, we’re trying to figure out a solution to engage all our agents in SM. Right now we have about 35% – 40% participation of around 130 agents.

  • Mahalo, @Justin – this is good stuff!! I also LOVE that one of the slides is Beverly Molfino’s, R(S) $18M listing at the Four Seasons Hualalai Resort, being chatted about on the detail page of the listing, through Facebook – thanks for the Big Island props! 

    @386f85614f77541b350693e98a1a6ed9:disqus – I encourage all the agents I manage on the Big Island (30+) to engage in SM, and we’ve had some solid results. We’ve had a handful of closed sales directly because of FB, and Jene Green, R(S) has a buyer client who found her on Foursquare. Just today I had a FB message from a Broker on another island, not with our company, sending me a referral. These results pale in comparison, however, with the number of web leads and blog leads we have closed as a direct result of our company website. 

    SM is social (no spamming!) and yet I’m quite certain my SOI is happier being occasionally reminded by me that I sell real estate in Hawaii through a FB or Twitter post, then getting a phone call from me reminding them I love referrals!! Real estate is a relationship business, and Realtors by nature are mostly social. It’s a natural fit from my perspective. But like everything else in this business, it needs to be done smart. 

  • Quality of work is very important in any business either it is real estate or any other. The information provide by you is very useful as you told that detailed information should be there to retain/satisfy your customers.

  • I still question the effectiveness of social media such as Facebook for real estate in the time invested to the returns received.  I know that it can work, but I’m not sure if the time invested can’t be utilized better elsewhere.

    • Aloha Gabe. Exactly! It all depends how you “use” it. I live 3,000+ miles over the ocean from the vast majority of my SOI. It’s not possible for me to do more “traditional” referral prospecting like meeting for coffee and with the time change, even phone calls can be challenging. FB allows me to be in touch with my SOI and remind them I sell Real Estate without bugging them or interrupting their day. It works great for referral business but if you’re looking to FB to generate inbound web leads, it’s simply not a good fit.  

    • Aloha Gabe,

      You are reading between the lines correctly. If you’re going to spend your money on 1 thing, spend it on SEO.

      Before doing that, it is important to understand what SEO means today. If we all have the same data (MLS listings) SEO means having the best tool to search that data.

  • Joe

    Wow, almost no substance at all in this post. But of course the obligatory self-promotional links. Seems all the Hawaii agents just want links without contributing REAL content. So the title is ‘Building Brand with Social Media at the Brokerage Level’ yet you give NO insight whatsoever is how to accomplish that. Thanks or as you say mahalo.

    • Aloha Joe, Sorry there isn’t enough substance for you. At the same time, I’m assuming I’m speaking to educated business owners, not people who expect everything handed to them.

      The fact that I would share HawaiiLife’s data from Facebook insights (the image says it all) is providing something as “REAL” as anybody else is doing for real estate on the web, let alone this blog.
      Also, I’m provided links to both the full report and the Inman presentation. If you have any self motivation you can read the full report than visit our website to see how we’ve integrated social media, and duplicate everything we’re doing.If that’s not enough, why don’t you just email me your ftp info and I can do it all for you?

      P.S. if you knew anything about Google’s current algorithm, than you’d understand that the links I put in the post don’t help’s SEO (Google count’s links from unique URLs, not quantity of links).

      P.S.S of the 7 links (not including the links to the presentation and study) I provided in the post, 1 of them went to

    • Aloha Joe,

      Did you download the presentation or read the full report? I’ve also shared links on how to implement Facebook insights and their comment box.

      If that’s not enough, why don’t you email me your ftp access so I can do it all for you?

  • Aloha Joe, I am one of just many very successful Realtors working under this business platform and see that such comments are just a way to your opinion.  If you would take time to review proof that the system works.  This is no way in any way just links!  My sales in a down market proves that this process works.  Hope you really take the time to look this over and when you use this style maybe you can post again how these ideas work and prove to increase your production in and possibly other business platforms. Real Content!!  I am reaching Top sales conditions in my Real Estate career.

    From Hawaii your expression of mahalo means very little with out Capital Letter to express emotion!

    For now ALOHA- meaning until we meet again and make note this word in any case relates to many other expressions in the Hawaiian Language. Here in Hawaii we all live together as one and believe “Mainland Attitude” should stay there.

  • That shows how powerful the social media is for this kind of purpose. I am glad to read this entire content which has pretty decent knowledge at my circumstance.

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