About This Episode
How would you like an extra $58,000 in GCI from your website? How about more than doubling your website leads? That’s what happened to host Matt McGee’s wife, Cari, when they installed a texting tool on her website early this year. Not live chat. Not chatbots. A business texting platform called Leadferno. This week on The Walkthrough, Leadferno founder Aaron Weiche talks about why texting makes you easier to work with and how it can turn website lurkers into valuable leads.
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Links and Show Notes
- Leadferno business texting platform
- Chatting and sending messages is #1 smartphone activity – study mentioned in this episode
- Survey: Texting is the Preferred Way to Communicate – survey mentioned in this episode
- NAR 2021 Profile of Buyers and Sellers – data mentioned in this episode
- 89% of consumers want to have two-way conversations with businesses via messaging – data mentioned in this episode
- CariMcGee.com – website mentioned in this episode, see Leadferno widget at bottom right corner
- Survey: Response Times for Text Messages vs. Live Chat – survey mentioned in this episode
- Podium – mentioned in this episode
- TextMagic – mentioned in this episode
- HeyMarket – mentioned in this episode
- Join our Facebook mastermind for The Walkthrough listeners
- HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center
- Follow and listen to The Walkthrough: Apple Podcasts/iTunes | Spotify | YouTube
(SPEAKER: Matt McGee, Host)
Matt: All right, we are gonna start today’s show with a little quiz. Are you ready?
[sound effect: gameshow themed music]
It’s just one question, so here we go. What is the number one thing people do on their smartphones? Let me ask again. What is the number one thing people do on their smartphones? Is it playing games?
[sound effect: game show buzzer]
Is it social media?
[sound effect: game show buzzer]
What about texting and messaging?
[sound effect: handbell]
Bingo. In a study that came out earlier this year, chatting and messaging was the most common thing we do on our phones.
More than making calls, more than sending emails, more than everything, everybody texts. So, what if there was a tool to make it easy for buyers and sellers to text you straight from your website? There is. And earlier this year, I added this tool to my wife’s website. The results so far? Well, her website leads are up 240% year over year, and she’s added $58,000 in GCI directly from this tool.
Now, we’re not talking about chatbots, we’re not talking about live chat. This is real person-to-person text messages right from your website. Today, the guy who created this tool explains why texting and messaging makes you easier to work with, and how it turns your website lurkers into leads. This is The Walkthrough.
Hey, there. How are you? My name’s Matt McGee. Welcome to The Walkthrough. This is a weekly podcast. New episodes come out every Monday. This is the show where you’re gonna learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
All right, I’ve been kind of beating myself up the past few months on if we should do this episode and how to do it the right way. Couple of reasons. Number one, I don’t want it to sound like a 30-minute commercial for Leadferno. Number two, the guest today is a dear friend of mine, and I don’t want you to think that’s why he’s on the show. So, what I decided, in the end, is that The Walkthrough exists, as you’ve heard me say a million times, to help you grow your business.
And I realized if there’s a tool out there that could help you double your website leads and maybe add tens of thousands of dollars to your GCI, it would be wrong for me not to tell you about it. So, today, you’re gonna meet Aaron Weiche. Aaron is the CEO and co-founder of Leadferno. It’s a business texting platform. You add a small piece of code to your website, and then anyone who’s on your site can send you a text message with just a couple clicks.
Sounds like live chat, might sound like a chatbot, but it’s way better than both of those. Now, Aaron and I have a lot in common. Much like my wife is an agent, his wife, Marcy, spent more than 15 years as a real estate agent in Minnesota.
Aaron and I both come from a web-building and SEO background. We are both big believers in content marketing. You’ve heard me talk about that a million times on this show. Well, more than a decade ago, Aaron and I were also partners in a business that put on local SEO workshops around the country. So, we have quite a history together, and I think you’re gonna get a sense of that today as you listen.
On today’s show, Aaron and I are gonna talk about some demographics and stats around messaging. Listen, pretty much everyone in every age group prefers texting over all other types of communication. We’re gonna talk about why you have to be easy to work with and how texting makes that happen. And yes, you’re gonna learn a bit about how Leadferno works and how it’s different from the live chat and chatbot systems that you’re already familiar with.
Stay tuned to the very, very end of the show. Goodness, it’s been a while since we’ve done a One More Minute segment. Today, One More Minute is back, and I’m gonna talk about social media and the Pratfall Effect. But for now, let’s get started with Aaron Weiche. As the conversation begins, I’ve just told him about my wife’s results so far this year, $58,000 in GCI and a 240% increase in web leads direct from Leadferno.
Aaron: Texting is the easiest way to start a business conversation if you wanna be really specific. And yeah, those are fantastic results to hear. I love when we have customers that track that well and share their dollar volume and attribution and things like that, but congrats to her. We’re just a great compliment onto a number of other things happening, but it’s a really strong play to help get more conversations. As we put it on your website, “From lurkers to leads,” and that’s what it’s all about.
Matt: What are the demographics these days in terms of texting? I mean, look, I’m a 54-year-old guy. I know the cliché is that texting is, you know, a young person thing, but I suspect that’s not really true, even based on my own habits.
Aaron: Yeah, that’s false. You know, the most active group we see in the surveys that we’ve conducted of thousands of consumers is the most active group that prefers text is 35 to 55-year-olds. That’s the age group. And when you think about it, right, I’m in that age group, you are pretty darn busy with so many things in life. It might be kids, career, hobbies, everything else. And we’ve evolved. We don’t have time to leave voicemails and listen to voicemails and have to plan out our life to be in the right spot to make a call or take a call. Even though I’m always in line somewhere next to somebody willing to take a call at a volume of 12.
The majority of us prefer to text. And interesting enough, that same survey, you know, it was basically asking, “What are your preferred communication channels?” Texting across the board for every age group, except for 65-plus, phone calls still edged out texting a little bit. Email was third in all of these groups. I joked when I wrote our summary like, “Is email dead?” just because it’s kind of not our favorite place to communicate.
And then, you know, the younger, you know, especially like 18 to 24 age group, texting was still number one. But we saw messaging from other platforms. So, direct messaging or instant messaging within Facebook, Instagram, all the other platforms that are out there, we saw that leapfrog some of the other communications. So, messaging– massively important to them, texting in the lead. But specific apps and channels– messaging carried more weight there than phone calls and email.
Matt: Let me jump in real quick. Aaron just said the age group that most prefers texting is 35 to 55-year-olds. Did you think the same thing that I did? Well, that’s also the sweet spot for real estate clients. According to the NAR, the median age of first-time homebuyers last year was 33. The median age of all home buyers was 45, and the median age of home sellers was 56. So, the people that are buying and selling houses are people who prefer texting over calls, emails, etc. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.
Matt: You know, I mentioned, Aaron, based on my own habits just a minute ago, I was thinking when we were getting ready to have this conversation about local businesses that I like doing business with and that are a little more frustrating to do business with. So, like the vet that we use, I can text them questions about our dog. The kennel where we send our dog to board, I can text them and set up, you know, pick up times, drop off times, and all that sort of stuff.
The car dealer, where my car is being serviced over the last couple months, I have to call them every time for an update. It is the most frustrating thing. I just wanna send them a text and say, “Hey, how’s everything looking with my car?” But it’s so frustrating that I can’t do that.
Aaron: To look at it simplistically, minus anything tech related, I always boil it down to one of my biggest golden rules is, are you easy to work with? And texting just plays right into that because it makes you easy to communicate with. We already talked about it’s like our number one channel that we wanna communicate in, so we’re very familiar with it. We’re very trusting.
It fits into our busy lifestyles and the things we’re doing and our phone addictions because we look at our phone a million times, so we’re not gonna miss that notification when they text us or answer the question or any of those other elements to it. So yeah, being easy to work with is definitely a big piece. And one survey found that over 89% of consumers wanna be able to two-way message with a brand or a business.
And again, messaging, right, that’s not only just specific to text messaging. But it just shows this evolution of communication that like messaging is so much easier to work with. It’s on our time, we manage it, all those other things. But interesting enough, there’s still so many businesses that haven’t adapted and adopted this as a two-way communication channel the same way they do with phone and email.
Matt: Yeah. The vet and the kennel, they are easy to work with because I can text them, and I just…so they’re gonna keep getting my business because of that. It’s just so important. Let’s talk about… I’m sure we have a lot of listeners that aren’t familiar with how this works. I’m not even sure, Aaron–we’ve been using it for almost a year now. I’m not even sure that I am completely familiar with how it works. I know it’s bringing in a ton of leads, and I mentioned, you know, the $58,000 in GCI.
But, somebody lands on carimcgee.com, that’s my wife’s website. They see the little widget in the bottom corner. It says, “We’re a text away,” or something like that, right? They click that. They type in their name, their cell phone number, right, and they start a conversation. It goes into the Leadferno app for us, but it stays in their phone, in their regular phone messaging app for the consumer. Is that right?
Aaron: Yup. After they start that conversation, everything else for that prospect consumer customer is in their texting app as I already cited, their most familiar, likely most used app that they’re on. So, it makes it incredibly convenient for them to engage. And yeah, to back off and, I guess, answer your question and then we can drill down into other pieces.
But what Leadferno is really about is conversion. I already mentioned it. We wanna take lurkers, people just browsing on your website, investigating you, wondering if you’re a good fit, looking at listings, whatever that might be, and you wanna turn them into a known lead. And that’s our first goal, first and foremost. What we’ve found, what we found out when we were building this is texting is one of the best conversion tools that’s out there. But not only can you start a text conversation with our buttons that we place on there, you can enable it to “Click to Call.”
You can send them to a lead form. You can send them to read your reviews. You can send them to sign up for a newsletter or updates. We want to, one way or another, turn them to one of your conversion points where they go from just being an anonymous user on your site to being a known lead that you can put somewhere in your sales funnel, your follow-up funnel, your communication, your marketing, whatever that might be.
So, that’s one of the distinct things that we do, is let’s give them options. Let’s put the consumer in control of how they want to communicate or reach out, and let’s give them what we feel and what we continue to see as one of the most easiest ways to do that. And that’s two-way text messaging.
Matt: And just so listeners understand, Aaron, we’re not talking about a chatbot or even one of those live chat tools.
Aaron: One of the big things that we get compared to, or we’re converting people from in our world of customers is live chat. So, live chat has been around five, 10 years. You see an icon on the screen for live chat. And here’s a number of things that happen, many times aren’t great ones. I have all kinds of saved screenshots of horrible… I just have a folder called, “Horrible Chat Experiences,” right?
So, the first one is you see the live chat button, you go to click it, and it tells you, “Sorry, agent not available.” So, it’s not a live chat, it’s just a form. I now have to give you my email. Well, I was doing live chat because I didn’t want to email you, but it regresses back to email. So a complete, like, air out of the tires there on that one.
The next one, you click into a live chat, and then they let you know, “Hey, you’re next in line,” or, “Here’s your queue, and we’re gonna get you to someone,” and you wait and you wait. And then the next that can happen after that is you wait and you wait, and then you start doing something else. You jump to another tab in your browser or go do something else. Meanwhile, the agent has finally become available. They came on, sent a message. You didn’t see it, they left. You remember to come back, they’re gone. So, then you get to… I call that, that’s the “Chutes and Ladders” version, right, where, like, just when you think you’re getting somewhere, you slide down the ladder all the way back to the beginning if you had kids and played that game, if you remember climbing up the ladders, falling down the slides.
I’ve also been on ones where we–and we’ve all had these chatbots–which everyone feels like is gonna be an amazing experience, but I just really call…it’s glorified website navigation because most of these bots are just trained to point you in the direction of something on the website. So, it’s nowhere near the same as getting an expert, getting someone to help you, getting questions answered for your specific situation.
Does it help people sometimes? Yes. Does it really connect people with what they sought to do with this, and that’s get expert help? And as you know, you’re the best expert or someone else on your team is the best expert. No, it’s not helping you do that. So chatbot frustration is another dead end in a live chat. And then, maybe the worst one of all is the prisoner. So, you start the live chat, and now you have to stay in that live chat window. You can’t go anywhere.
If you’re on your computer, stay there. You can’t go to a meeting, you can’t go to a showing, you can’t go grab lunch, you can’t go get your kids from somewhere because you have to wait for this live chat to start. So, the beauty when you get into text is all of these things are wiped off. You’re gonna get a text back, again, in your most familiar, trusted app. You’re gonna get a notification when that business answers you.
You can go wherever you want, and they’re going to get back to you. You’re not re-learning any software, downloading anything. None of those things are happening. So, that’s where I look at where live chat has been around. And usually, when I talk to businesses, and they’re like, “Yeah, we’re on live chat, but man we hate it.” It’s just not even something that they enjoy with it.
And lastly, what we see is, because of that unfamiliarity, and on the live chat software size, if there’s multiple team members, they’ll only train one or two people to use that live chat software. But with texting with an app like ours, everybody knows how to text our app. The experience is very much just like texting. We’re not teaching you anything new, how to re-ride a bike, anything like that.
So now they have all their staff with our app and trained up, and they can have more conversations, move people around, transfer to who can help them best. And it’s just more availability, more leads answered, communicating, and making it easier. And that’s where you see more leads and more conversions.
Matt: With Leadferno, the ongoing conversation is so much easier because, you know, real estate doesn’t just happen. You know, it’s not a transactional kind of thing. It’s not, you know, I’m gonna do business with you one day, and then I don’t need you again, right?
You know, because your wife’s was an agent for so long, real estate happens over the course of weeks and months, right? And so it’s so easy for Carrie to continue having these conversations that she wouldn’t be able to do if it was live chat because once the live chat ends, that’s it. You’re done. You have to start all over from the beginning next time.
Aaron: Absolutely. I wrote kind of a soapbox post on that exact view on this, and the summary of it was, texting is a connection, live chat is just a session. And that’s exactly what you described, Matt, because you can’t use live chat to reach back out, to ask another question, to keep somebody updated, send them a reminder of showing an open house, like, any of those pieces that are there with it. So, it really is a long-term customer relationship connecting tool.
(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)
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Matt: So, somebody onboards with Leadferno, give me some best practices. What do you suggest to your clients when they get started? I would assume, like one of the things that’s been helpful for us is just the simple idea of using the auto-reply function to let somebody know, “Hey, we got your message. It didn’t just go into a void, and we’re not ignoring you.”
Aaron: Yeah, that’s another…when your website only has a contact page, and we’ve all probably experienced this as consumers ourselves, you hit “send” on a small business contact page, and you have no idea where into space, what black hole this went into, right? And, you know, in my years of when I used to build a ton of small business websites, we’d talk to people like, “Hey, you know, what does this form do, whatever else?”
And they’d be like, “Yeah, we don’t even know where it goes,” right? Like, that’s how concerned they were with it. And it was like, “All right, well, we might wanna fix knowing where this goes.” So yeah, within that, when you send that text message, we automatically reply with an auto-reply that you’ve pre-saved into the system.
And we have two different types. You set your hours of availability, and so one is like your during-hours reply and one is your after-hours reply. So the during-hours reply, you know, greet them, establish your brand, and then give them an expectation on when you’re gonna follow up, right? We generally follow up in 30 minutes, one hour, same business day. It really doesn’t matter as long as you give a proper expectation.
Now, the after-hours one is really powerful, and we have a lot of customers really rave about this because, instead of–if you sent that contact form at 10 p.m., midnight, 2 a.m., and you send it out there, and you really think to yourself, “Well, I have no idea if they got this because I am kind of figuring they’re not online right now, they’re not doing anything,” and that’s kind of the end of it. You’re stuck waiting the next day. Do they end up replying?
The last time I saw a stat on digital leads, the average reply time to a digital lead was 17 hours across like the board all industries. And man, that’s just a really long time. That’s a long time for people to start looking for other people to help them. So, our goal with auto-reply is like let’s make an instant connection. Let them know this conversation was received and has started. Let’s give them a proper expectation.
Matt: As long as we’re talking about auto-replies, let me tell you what we do when a lead comes in via Leadferno. If it’s after-hours, the message is basically, “Thanks for contacting the Cari McGee team. We’re closed right now, but we’ll get back to you during business hours, starting at 8 a.m.” Really simple. Now, if the lead comes in during business hours, the auto-reply goes like this, “Thanks for contacting the Cari McGee Real Estate Team. We might be with a client right now touring homes or prepping a home to hit the market. We’ve received your text, and we’ll reply first chance we get.”
And as I said earlier, those have been really helpful in letting the buyer or seller know that their message has been received and that someone will be in touch. All right, let’s get back to the conversation.
Matt: Now, you kind of touched on this a little bit, Aaron, as far as best practices, the idea of speed to reply. What do you advise clients in terms of how fast they should respond to a text?
Aaron: The faster is usually gonna be the better, but I also tell you like don’t pressure yourself to light speed. Like the studies have shown across the board, when you do reply within minutes, whatever that might be for your industry, it drastically increases the opportunity that you’re gonna have to land that lead and convert them into closed business. But interestingly enough, like we wanted to know this past our own opinions and the other things that are out there. And this is another area where we ran a formal study comparing text message replies to live chat replies.
And as you can imagine, we found that within live chat, the consumer’s expectation of an adequate reply was within minutes. We saw almost the opposite of that happen and a much more forgiving and a much more massive opportunity to please the client with texting. So, customers answering that for texting–the biggest category, 52% said a same-day reply to a text is adequate. So, now you went from minutes to be adequate and to surprise them or make them happy if there’s even room in that for live chat.
Like, I would argue the only way to delight someone with live chat in your response time is to instantly be there. But with texting, if you respond in minutes or hours with this showing that like over 50% were like, “Hey, same day is totally cool and adequate for me”, you have a lot more room to already get this relationship off to a great start. Make them feel like, wow, they’re on the ball, they’re a great communicator, they’re trustworthy, all of the things that you want a prospect to feel in their first impressions with you.
Matt: Would you agree that in, you know, texting, messaging, using Leadferno, over-communication is okay? Is it maybe even good to over-communicate?
Aaron: I would probably coin the term a little bit differently. I would call it like proactive communication. And the way I refer to this is anytime you can mention next steps, how you’re reaching out next, what you’re reaching out about, kind of pre-reminders, that’s just really great communication with them. But within that is just always thinking, making them aware.
How can I put the next step in front of them so that it’s not a surprise when I reach out with that step? So, even if you know, say, you’re so far along in the process where you’ve set a home inspection. And when you let them know, “Hey, we set it for 10 a.m. on Tuesday. By the way, I’m going to send you a reminder an hour ahead of 10 a.m. on Tuesday just to make sure you’re ready for it.”
Now, you could have just set that reminder at 9 a.m. on Tuesday so they got it an hour before time, but now you’ve already looked out for them, you’ve given them an expectation. They’re pleased when they see the reply, and it already showed in your communication how much you have your act together and that you’re looking out for them.
Matt: Aaron, let me ask you this, you and I both come from a background of building websites. You and I both share the same belief in great content, content marketing, videos, blog posts, the whole nine yards. Cari’s website has a lot of that stuff on it already. So somebody visits carimcgee.com, there’s a video right there that they can click, they can hear her talk. They can get to know, like, and trust her right there. Do you think that that makes something like Leadferno more successful because they’re already starting to get to know her from the rest of her website, the content on there?
Aaron: Absolutely. Number one, you need traffic for us to convert it, right? If you’re only getting one or two people a day to your website, that’s putting a lot of pressure on us that it’s gonna be somebody worthy of reaching out, interested enough, and going to convert. So, definitely, on the lead side of things, you want traffic coming to your website. You want great content. But you benefit so much more when the customer’s not wondering, “How do I take a next step?
What are the options I have to take a next step?” You’re putting buttons in front of them on every page. If you have MLS listings, on every listing is this call to action, to ask a question, text us, however you you wanna phrase it. So, you’re making the next step really easy for them and always in front of them on their screen, desktop, or mobile. So it is the combination of those things that really help drive those conversions.
(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)
Matt: That’s an important point Aaron made right there at the end. You heard him say, “You’re putting buttons in front of them on every page.” That’s been a great thing for us with Leadferno. Every page on my wife’s website becomes a “Contact Us” page, and that’s what helps turn lurkers into leads. It just makes it way easier for the buyer or seller to make that first contact. Aaron Weiche, thanks so much for being on the show. Great stuff today.
If you wanna learn more about Leadferno, the website is leadferno.com, F-E-R-N-O, after the word lead. You can even try it out right there on their website. Aaron himself might even be the one to reply. Now, I said I didn’t want this to be a 30-minute commercial, even though we are a bit biased toward Leadferno. So let me mention, there are some other business texting platforms out there as well.
If you wanna check out some other options, Leadferno’s competitors include companies like Podium, TextMagic, and there’s one called Haymarket as well. We will link to Leadferno and the others in today’s show notes. All right, “One More Minute” is coming up at the very, very end of the show today. Right now, let’s do our takeaways segment. This is what stood out to me from Episode 105, “Lurkers to Leads, with Aaron Weiche.”
Takeaway number one: Everybody loves to text. There are countless studies to prove it. One study earlier this year showed that messaging is the number one activity we do on our smartphones. Aaron mentioned Leadferno’s own research that showed all age groups, with the exception of 65 and older, prefer to text over any other form of communication. And the 35 to 55 age group prefers it the most.
Takeaway number two: Aaron talked about his golden rule of business: make yourself easy to work with. I was explaining how I love our vet, and I love the kennel that we use for dog boarding because it’s easy. I can text with him. When you’re easy to work with, you’ll attract more business and more loyal customers.
Takeaway number three: Text platforms like Leadferno are different from chatbots and live chat. Let’s face it, live chat is just awful. You heard Aaron share maybe four or five headache scenarios with live chat, right? Agent not available. Or maybe the agent is available, but they take forever to respond, and you have to sit there. Well, I loved how Aaron explained the difference. He said, “Live chat is a session, texting is a connection.”
Takeaway number four: Aaron talked about three best practices that he shares with Leadferno customers. Number one, use the auto-reply function to let the person know you got their message. Number two, reply as quickly as you can. But he said with texts and messaging, you don’t have to drop everything you’re doing right away. And I would say that’s especially true if you have a good auto-reply setup. And then number three, be proactive in communicating next steps with every lead.
And finally, takeaway number five: Leadferno or any other texting platform isn’t suddenly gonna bring more people to your website. But if you have a good website that gets traffic, a texting platform can help you convert that traffic from lurkers to leads. And those are your takeaways this week.
All right, if you have any questions or feedback about something you heard today, couple different ways you can get in touch. Leave a voicemail or send me a text. The number to use is 415-322-3328. You can send an email, the address is walkthrough[at]homelight.com, or just find me in our Facebook mastermind group. Go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough, and the group should come right up. All right, that’s all for this week.
Thanks again to Aaron Weiche for joining me, and thank you for listening. If you got a moment, quick favor, could you please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you happen to listen? While you’re there, be sure to hit that follow button so you get all of our future shows automatically. My name’s Matt McGee and you’ve been listening to The Walkthrough. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable. Go out and sell some homes. I’ll talk to you again next week. Bye-bye.
(SHORT MUIC TRANSITION)
Welcome back, and welcome to another edition of One More Minute. Did you listen to last week’s Walkthrough? Lisa Johnson Smith had Chelsea Peitz on for a great conversation about what to post on social media. One of Chelsea’s tips was to show up on social media the same way you do in real life, to be authentic. I wanna add just a little bit to that if I can. You know, we usually fill our social media feeds with posts about our wins, under contract, just listed, it’s move-in day, things like that.
But why don’t we post about our failures or our struggles? Maybe we’re afraid people won’t like us or they’ll think we’re incompetent. Well, have you ever heard of the Pratfall Effect? In social psychology, the Pratfall Effect tells us that we become more likable when we make a mistake. This has actually been studied. People who are imperfect are easier to like because we all know that we are also imperfect. So, we connect more strongly with others who make a mistake.
Now, I’m not suggesting you start posting every day about how you screwed up a recent negotiation or how you misread the market and priced a listing wrong. No, no. People need to see your expertise in those areas, right? But, it’s okay to be authentic about some of the challenges you face in real estate. Chances are you’ll be more likable. I can tell you, some of my wife’s most memorable and engaging social media posts are when she opens up about a difficult transaction, or how something went wrong, or maybe how she just had a really rough day. It’s the Pratfall Effect at work.
That’s One More Minute. I’m Matt McGee. Thanks for listening. See you next week with another Walkthrough.
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