Way back in 2007, market research firm Yankelovich found that an average person sees up to 5,000 adverts daily. Today, that’s around 10,000 ads per day, so Instagram feeds look like a classified paper full of open houses and new listings get ignored.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that the key to cracking the algorithm is dancing on TikTok — and nope, it’s not about perfectly curated Instagram feeds either.
A tale of 2 posts
I want you to imagine for a second that you’re scrolling through your platform of choice and come across two posts by doctors.
It must be a different industry than real estate, so you see this through the eyes of a consumer. Once you experience it, it will change how you look at content forever.
Doctor No. 1:
The first doctor posts a stock image with someone clutching their chest. The caption reads something like, “If you’re suffering from heart disease and your LDL level is too high, please call me at 954-555-5555.”
Doctor No. 2:
The second doctor posts something like “5 superfoods that can extend your life by 10 years,” and it shows unconventional foods that help you extend your life. The call to action is to share it with a friend.
The big takeaway
Of the two posts, you are more likely to engage with Doctor No. 2, right?
Congratulations. You have officially figured out the algorithm.
Both doctors are talking about the same thing; Doctor No. 1 uses jargon that only someone who is educated in heart disease would understand with the goal of driving them to book a consultation. If that’s irrelevant to you, you will have scrolled past it and forgotten about it in less than a few seconds.
This is called the bottom of the funnel.
The second doctor is edutaining — sharing interesting information that is still relevant to their audience but with a tone and delivery that are relevant to the general public. Regardless of your current state of health, you’re more likely to save that post and send it to a friend or family member.
This is called the top of the funnel.
This secret to the algorithm is so annoyingly simple that most of us miss it completely.
The secret to social media algorithms in 2024
Algorithms reward creators who keep their audience on the platform
Think about it: Every platform generates its income with ads. They can’t show ads to people who aren’t on the platform. If your content keeps your audience on the platform, the platform will show it more so they can increase their income.
Forget about all of the other fancy stuff. It’s that simple.
When you post to social media, the algorithm tests your content on a small portion of your audience. If it performs well (people are sharing, saving, watching and reading the caption), the platform will show it to more of your followers.
If it still performs well, the platform then recommends it to non-followers and encourages them to follow you (so that they stay on the platform). In return, you grow your audience, increasing the probability of getting in front of people who need your help.
That means if you only create content for “ready” leads, your content won’t perform well, and the algorithm isn’t going to show it, so not only are you not maintaining mindshare with your existing followers, but new people who do actually need you don’t even know that you exist.
Content that ‘works’
So now that you get why you can’t create content that’s just about conversion, let’s break down what this actually looks like:
Create top-of-funnel awareness
At any given moment, only a small percentage of your audience is ready to transact right now.
At the top of the funnel, your audience dreams about their big move but needs more actual intent, timeline or commitment. They like the idea of the move and are curious about it but have yet to be ready to talk to a salesperson.
This is where vision boards, HGTV binges and infinite scrolling on Zillow thrive, so your content should speak to their desires and be entertaining.
That doesn’t have to mean dancing on TikTok or doing stand-up comedy, but skits, trending audio and super short-form content work well here.
Whatever you do, stay far away from industry jargon and boring content, and take the opportunity to niche down so that you can speak to a specific audience more effectively.
For example, @thatmortgageguy is incredibly clear about serving first-time buyers and consistently creates content designed to take a stand against the perceived enemies of first-time buyers.
Build middle-of-funnel engagement
As their plans solidify, followers enter the middle of the funnel.
Here, they know what they want and have a timeline in mind but are working through obstacles to accomplish the goal, and your job is to help them through that.
For buyers, conditions are things like interest rates, down payment, credit scores and DTI. Sellers have conditions like waiting for a kid to graduate high school or wanting to replace the roof before selling.
They’re in full research mode in the middle of the funnel and are doing everything possible to learn more.
Because they’re willing to spend more time investing in their goal, longer-form content works well here — longer captions and videos should drive readers to your blogs, email newsletters, lead magnets, workshops and YouTube videos that focus on educating your leads on the process.
Take Pace Morby, for example, who consistently shares tidbits and teasers and then drives those who want to learn more to his longer form content (his choice is YouTube) in a caption like this one:
Drive bottom-of-funnel conversion
Once they’ve reached the end of their binge and have consumed enough information to feel like they’re prepared and have a concrete goal in mind, they are ready to talk to a salesperson.
They’ve done their research and will now hire someone to take them the rest of the way.
If you weren’t part of their journey until now, they’ve already tuned you out and are focused on the creators who helped them without being pushy.
Here, the goal is to drive the lead to a consultation.
Interestingly, you’ll notice that most of the biggest creators don’t create content at the bottom of the funnel on “short form” platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Instead, they focus on driving traffic to their longer-form platforms like YouTube.
In their longer-form content, they’ll often drive traffic to either a funnel or to book a call on their calendar. Use Soomin as an example:
A rising trend that I have started to notice is, instead of creators simply offering a phone number, creators direct traffic to a conversion-focused real estate funnel that schedules a consultation, collects an intake form and preps the lead for the consultation (like I talk about in this video).
Your content should align with your goal
It seems that most agents who struggle with monetizing their social media fall into two camps of content creators — they either post a neverending collection of listings, open houses and sold sign photos like the classifieds ad in the newspaper, or they create content that is so generic that even Mother Theresa would be bored to death.
Your first goal needs to be to grow your account, so create entertaining short-form content that caters to the top of the funnel and encourages shares, saves and follows.
As your account grows, layer in longer-form videos, captions and carousels that help people understand the process and work through their conditions.
When you start getting messages with people asking you questions and replying with things like “When I’m ready, you’re my agent,” layer in bottom-of-funnel calls to action (CTAs) encouraging people to book a consultation with you. This is how you know that your funnels are working.