Cultivating your community

18 May 2021

Time is such a valuable commodity. Most people have little time to answer their phones to friends and family, much less take a call from a local real estate professional. And with caller ID, it only takes a fleeting glance at a phone screen for your call to be ignored. So, how do you build rapport and a well-rounded reputation in your local community in other ways, such as social media?

The best way to fast track your online presence is through curated social media content that’s consistent, builds credibility and has that all-important ‘know, like and trust’ factor, long before prospects are ready to pick up the phone to talk with you.

What makes you unique?

Look beyond property and consider what makes you a more rounded individual. What makes you a stand-up member of your community and someone of interest who can talk about more than just your latest sales or leasing success?

Then consider how you can bring forth your personality and non-real estate pursuits, and share some background into your own longevity living in the local area. The content you create can then weave in your personal stories, helping to build connections with your community in new and unique ways.

“Facebook groups offer a fantastic avenue, not only to be seen by large numbers of local residents with one post or well-considered comment, but also to find out what your community is thinking or has questions or opinions about.”

Get to grips with groups

Members of your local community will no doubt be active on Facebook in groups. Have you searched to find the largest Facebook groups in your neighbourhood? If not, do some research and work out where everyone is ‘hanging out’. The advent of the pandemic throughout 2020 only intensified the online chatter in active Facebook groups, and the quality and kindness of conversations.

Facebook groups offer a fantastic avenue, not only to be seen by large numbers of local residents with one post or well-considered comment, but also to find out what your community is thinking or has questions or opinions about. So, before you wade in and engage in any form of conversation, it’s essential to do some ‘social listening’ and become familiar with your neighbourhood’s culture and the commentary that’s shared in Facebook groups. Put your ear to the group (so to speak) and listen!

Band together

Community groups are an excellent way to have ‘soft’ interactions with local homeowners. You can share interesting insights about your area, and support fellow business owners and remind residents to ‘think and buy local’. And, if nothing else, the pandemic has taught us that community and buying local are essential to our wellbeing.

According to the latest research results from Xero’s Forrester study: “Almost a third of small businesses feel their personal connections with locals give them an edge over bigger competitors. Being part of a community has a genuine commercial benefit that can’t even be broken by a pandemic. Xero concludes that working hard on the personal side of relationships will be a business trend of the coming year.”

And with 93% of consumers reporting they’d buy more from and recommend a business that showed empathy toward the community, you can understand how important it is for you to build strong relationships with other local businesses.

“What you share needs to have substance – but, most importantly, it needs to have emotion, as it’s the emotion that drives connection.”

Think more broadly

Everyone needs a home, so it’s super easy to find conversation topics that spike engagement. A good starting point is to listen to what people chat about around their Aussie barbeques.

To keep your name and face in local homeowners’ peripheral vision, while remaining synonymous with homes, think outside the box. Since the pandemic, the best performing topics are home- or lifestyle-related, and inspire people to rediscover their neighbourhood and see it in a fresh light.

Remember, your knowledge and ability to sell the area’s virtues is part of your appeal when it comes time to sell or lease a home. And with people often unsubscribing from property alerts once they’ve bought or sold, social media becomes a better way to remain front-of-mind, subliminally.

Emotion drives connection

Before you wade in with insights on social media, keep the following in mind. Whatever the topic, it’s vital to dig deep and find a fascinating story or angle behind every thought, piece of information or insight you share about and with your community. What you share needs to have substance – but, most importantly, it needs to have emotion, as it’s the emotion that drives connection.

MELANIE HOOLE from is a digital specialist. Read more #digithoole insights at

How agents are tapping into groups

Finding the pulse of the Balmain Peninsula

Co-principals Monique Dower and Lynsey Kemp of Belle Property Balmain have a different flavour of community banter to follow in groups such as Lost Balmain (with 5,000 members) and Balmain Living (with 8,600 members), where locals have conversations about what delights them about living on the peninsula.

As an older suburb with a rich industrial past, Balmain attracts people who want to connect with their suburbs history in new and modern ways. Monique and Lynsey make ‘soft’ connections with local residents and pay homage to fellow businesses simultaneously. They discuss home-related topics such as heritage home renovations and interior design ideas, such as maximalism. They highlight great bookstores to visit and stock up on your holiday reading list, local rowing clubs to join or talented pet photographers (as there are almost as many furry residents as human residents on the peninsula). Tagging these businesses with the social media @mentions tag encourages mutual admiration and content sharing to more followers.

Living life to the ‘luxe’ on the Central Coast

If you live in the area where you work, so much the better. A great example is principal Cathy Baker of Belle Property Central Coast. A powerhouse of ideas and energy, Cathy not only sells homes and rents holiday houses, but also runs community events, publishes a lifestyle magazine and has an Instagram page with 60,000 followers. Starting her career as a professionally trained interior designer, Cathy also has a wealth of home styling expertise.

Cathy knows everyone who’s anyone on the Central Coast – and it isn’t just through selling and managing properties. Her Central Coast Life & Style magazine has given her a new way to connect with both residents and local business owners who live on the coast and help attract Sydneysiders to either visit this coastal region regularly or migrate to the coast.

Through her social listening, Cathy is tapping into a growing trend (accelerated by the pandemic) to stay local, making the Central Coast the perfect destination for Sydneysiders who desire a weekend escape or a permanent move from the city. This trend has filtered up, rather than down, and wealthier individuals are investing in the Central Coast, helping Cathy reposition the Central Coast as a luxury destination equal to the enticements of, say, Byron Bay.

As Cathy appreciates, you must know your local business owners well too; from the local cafés to clothing or furniture boutiques, retailers, artists, and even celebrities who’ve chosen to make the Central Coast their home. You need to be physically visible, as well as visible online.

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