Passion for estate sales is spreading more and more. Every day it seems like a new estate sale company is popping up. New names appear online and new signs are posted on your street corners. It is easy to get lost in the myriad sites that list estate sale businesses and their ranking. The vast number of companies operating these days can be daunting. With most companies listing their services and sales on the main listing sites, how can we as estate liquidators really stand out online? One of the main opportunities can be found through utilizing social media.
What Social Media is and Why it Matters to Estate Sale Professionals
The term social media is used to describe websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of adults in America own a smartphone. The average American smartphone user spends 4.7 hours per day on their phone and most of that time is spent specifically on social media sites. Because of the high traffic these sites get, the potential audience that can be reached, and in order to have a complete web presence, representing your business through social media sites is essential in the current business-marketing climate. People now frequently ask: “Are you on [insert-social-media-site-here]?” so they can look you up and learn more about your business and what you do.
Not only are social media sites a great way to share information, they are also a relatively inexpensive and immediate way to advertise and promote your estate sales. The benefits of using social media as opposed to television, magazine and radio are not only financial, but also because they offer a more immediate way to reach customers using the device they most frequently use: their smartphones. Obviously, people do not carry televisions, radios and multiple magazines around with them all day, but they do carry their phones. Additionally, many television watchers have digital cable and fast-forward through the commercials to save time and get to the content they are really interested in, rendering an investment in television commercials nearly obsolete, especially for small businesses which need to make the most of every marketing dollar they spend.
Another benefit in using social media for your business is that it offers a way for you to interact with your customers in real time. Suppose you post a picture or article on your feed. Doing so allows your customers to comment, ask questions and leave feedback that you are alerted to as soon as it is posted. Many business owners appreciate the way social media allows for more possibility of interaction than television, radio or print because it connects them more immediately with their customers. Promoting your business using social media demonstrates that you and your business are modern, in touch with current trends and excited to get the word out to existing and potential customers.
How to Use Social Media for Your Business
So you’ve created social media accounts for your business, now what? How do you utilize the resource to its greatest capacity? This is where posting content comes into play and offers the opportunity for creativity in what you share with your customers. Ideas for posts can include but are certainly not limited to:
- Information pertinent to your upcoming or current sale
- Photos of individual items you have for sale
- Photos of your on-location sales
- Videos about or relevant to your business
- Links to articles about estate sales, antiques & collectibles
- Articles about the story of your business or highlighting one of your employees
The possibilities are nearly endless, and everything you post will ensure you are getting the word out to your customers and keeping your business in the forefront of their minds.
While the sheer number of options for social media on the Internet may seem overwhelming, there are a few sites that offer the best opportunities to reach new and existing clients and customers. Presently, there are over 1 billion active users on Facebook and YouTube. There are over 400 million active users on Instagram and 300 million on Twitter. What do those numbers mean for estate sale company owners? Essentially, that there is a very large pool of potential customers and clients out there for you to reach about your company.
The largest and most well-known social media site is Facebook. There are over 1 billion active users, many who are on the site multiple times daily to check their news feeds. (A person’s news feed shows posts, photos and videos from people whit whom they are friends, and from things they have chosen to “like”, such as your business.). The more frequently your business posts content, the more likely you are to be seen by your followers, and subsequently, the more often your business is seen and thought about.
A unique feature that can be utilized through Facebook is creating an event and inviting friends and followers to the event. You are able to post the important information about the event (who, what, when, where, why), post updates, and post photos to increase interest and excitement about the event. Attendees – both potential and confirmed – are able to post questions, pictures, and comments that can build enthusiasm around your event. Facebook events are a great way to let people know about estate sales and events you are holding to promote your business, and best of all, the feature is free!
When I first started my Facebook page, the traffic seemed very slow. But every single week, every single sale, I posted all of the pictures of my sales. I did paid promotions to shoppers and clients and told people at my sales to “Like” our page. As a direct result of that effort, our Facebook presence is growing stronger and stronger. At this point we have over 4,000 people following our page and can reach tens of thousands in our area with the paid post.
What are paid posts on Facebook and how do they work?
Paid posts are posts you pay for based on the number of people you want to reach (the more you invest, the larger your audience).Currently, one of the best ways to utilize the paid post to reach your customers is to choose “boost post.” With this option you can select which people you want to reach based on their location, age, gender and up to 10 interests. This makes it very easy to reach exactly whom you want to and to control how much you spend on the ad. For example, when I “boost” a post, I choose the city the sale is in and then choose “5 Mile (or any number)” radius. I can target women, men or both ages 20-65+ and then type in subjects pertinent to the sale like “tools” or “sewing” or “Mid Century”. This will target specific people in your area that are looking for the exact things you are selling. When you’ve set your audience and budget, you can click “More Options” and choose whether you want to spread the budget out over a few days (with a maximum of 7 days) and/or change the account that’s being charged. One of the best features is that you can see your boosted and promoted ad results in the Ads Manager so you can watch how your ad performs.
Paid vs. Non-Paid Posts
While it may seem as though your business will only benefit from using Facebook through paid posts, it is also valuable to use non-paid posts. While they are not specifically targeted to reach people outside of your follower base, asking your followers to “Like” and share your posts is a great way to broaden your reach for free. This “word-of-mouth” form of advertising can be especially powerful, given that most people only share companies and information they feel are exceptional and therefore worth mentioning.
In addition to targeting my current customers and clients, I also market to new clients using paid promotions on Facebook. I have gotten many sales from having an active, quality Facebook page and presences on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
With its focus solely on video content, YouTube is another social media site with over one billion active users. It offers the platform of posting videos on your own “channel” and allowing people to comment on them. The videos can be shared easily via other social media sites, and can range in content from advertising your business itself, to posting “live” videos of your sales, to videos that have content relevant to your business (antiques, collectibles, trends, etc.), or even the story of your business. The videos should be personal and authentic, allowing people to get to know you and your business through them. Having a collection of videos, particularly those that are well produced, will give your brand a certain level of professionalism and will increase potential traffic to your other sites. Additionally, because YouTube is owned by Google, when you post YouTube videos on your website, Google boosts your rank in a search exponentially, increasing potential traffic to your business website. Currently, having a YouTube channel is free and is an excellent way to “get your business out there” and increase your business’s internet presence.
While having a free YouTube channel is certainly beneficial, YouTube also offers a paid advertising option. This feature is unique in that you can set your daily budget, and you are only charged when someone engages with your ad. Because of the vast amount of people watching videos on YouTube the world over, this method of video advertising can be extremely far-reaching. Imagine someone in India asking you about an item you have for sale!
Where YouTube focuses on videos, Instagram centers on photographs and hash tags. When someone follows you on Instagram, the photos you post show up in their profile, allowing them to see, like and comment on your photos – all of this at no cost to you. Where Instagram offers a little bit more to its users is through the use of hashtags. A hashtag is when you use the “#” character before a word or phrase in order to connect your photo with an idea, category, geographic place or concept and make it searchable to the entire Instagram-using community. For instance, I can take pictures of individual items from my sales and put hashtags like #midcenturymodern, #vintage or #paulmccobb, and someone anywhere in the world can search for one of those things and my photo will show up in their search. Photos on Instagram appear in chronological order, so the more often you post, the more likely you are to appear in any given hash tag search you tag your photo to, and the more likely you are to be on your follower’s minds.
Like so many social media sites, Instagram also has a paid advertising option. Because Facebook owns them, you need to have a Facebook account in order to advertise on Instagram. The benefit to that, however, is that Instagram shares the same process of creating your ad as Facebook, and you can manage both your Instagram and Facebook marketing strategies from one place using the same methods for both sites.
With more than 300 million active users monthly, Twitter makes it easy to stay on your customers’ minds and their radar. Using 140 characters or less, Twitter allows for a “news ticker”-type platform where users write “tweets” (micro-blogs) that can include mini-links to pictures, videos, or articles on any other social media website (or any website, for that matter). When people follow you on Twitter, your tweets show up in their feed. The more you tweet, the more opportunity you have to be seen and the more potential traffic you can direct to your business’ website.
Twitter also has a customizable paid ad option you can utilize to build your business’ web presence. You target the right audience based on interests, geography, gender, device, or users similar to your followers. In addition, you can maximize the relevancy of your message by targeting by keywords in people’s Tweets. After targeting exactly whom you want to, you amplify your message and get discovered. You set a budget (however much or little you want) and only pay when users follow your account or retweet, like, reply, or click on your Promoted Tweet. You’re in complete control. There’s no minimum spend, and you can start and stop at any time. Many businesses appreciate the flexibility and ease Twitter offers to help you share what you are passionate about with a broader audience.
As human beings, it is natural for us to want to share what we are passionate about with others. Social Media is the biggest and most cost-effective marketing opportunity that has ever existed, and it allows us to share our passions with one another. The key to success, however, is to stay committed to it. Choose the platforms you want your company to be on and stick with it. Work it into your schedule and make it a priority to spend a few hours every week keeping up with postings, creating content, posting pictures and above all staying social by getting updates relevant to your business up on your chosen social media sites. People want to connect with authenticity. They want to know that you are real people who really care about what you do. Show your passion and invite other people to share it. The excitement we find within estate sales and finding treasures can only spread even more!