Edina Realty has positioned itself as a leader in real estate for over 60 years. With a network of over 2,400 agents and 75 offices throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, Edina Realty puts a strong focus on providing a supportive and flexible work environment that values innovation, creativity and new ideas.
In the same theme, internal leaders prioritize making themselves accessible and encourage input from employees—a main driver behind what led them to Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social.
Our agents are not employees—they’re entrepreneurs who are in a partnership with us. Anything we can do to demonstrate dedication to that, ultimately reinforcing the relationship as a whole, is a fundamental goal of Edina’s. We want to create an environment where our agents feel an enhanced level of credibility & support.Nick Kozel
VP of Marketing at Edina Realty
The Edina Realty team knew their agents needed a strong social presence given that platforms like Facebook are where their audience lives, and thus, where they begin their search. Between industry news, access to a massive potential customer base and staying in touch with other Realtors, they frequently found themselves in conversations around the importance of social media, but kept getting stuck on the “how”—how do they enable their agents to leverage this vehicle effectively?
Introducing Employee Advocacy for finding and sharing content
According to Kelli Schmitz, Edina Realty’s Digital Communication Strategist, one of the biggest challenges for agents with social media marketing was identifying content to post and finding the time to post it. In addition, many agents struggled to craft the right messaging once they did find something worth sharing.
“We have a variety of different content types, and our agents run the gamut as far as what they like to share—some concentrate on market trends or interest rates, while others prefer lighter, lifestyle-related content like interior decorating or homeowner tips. We also have content curated in-house, so there’s a lot to choose from, we simply lacked strategic direction.
When agents asked the marketing department for help, they were pointed to Edina Realty’s Facebook Page to share posts, but agents quickly recognized that this wasn’t ideal for building their brand as agents. That’s when the quest for an employee advocacy tool began, and shortly thereafter, Edina found a solution in Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social.
“Instead of positioning Employee Advocacy as a tool for Edina, we position it as a tool for our agents. It’s a solution to help market their business and share their expertise and insights with followers. We make it more about amplifying their voices as opposed to amplifying our own.”
Employee Advocacy quickly became the primary resource for agents to find industry-relevant content and share that content out to their social networks using pre-populated messaging from Marketing.
We send out a daily digest email to our agents—from there, it’s an easy tap and they’ve done their marketing for the day. Some even schedule for the week so they don’t have to think about sharing while on the go, posts are automatically set to go out for them.Kelli Schmitz
Digital Communication Strategist at Edina Realty
Edina’s agents have found enormous value in the tool and enjoy being able to leverage thought leadership in a way that was previously very difficult to achieve. From an internal perspective, this level of satisfaction is justification for the platform in and of itself. The fact that it also increases share of voice, potentially leading to more sales, is a bonus.
The rollout strategy
The concept of an employee advocacy platform was still generally new to Edina Realty, making it difficult to forecast adoption rates and predict success. In order to get a better gauge on these metrics before going company-wide, the team started by onboarding their most tech-savvy agents—a group identified as ‘social media super-users.’
Edina’s rollout team, primarily led by Schmitz, closely monitored activity throughout the initial months of launch—they conducted surveys, watched usage and had tech support trained and prepared to resolve any problems as they surfaced. To their surprise, there were no problems to fix, so it didn’t take long before recognizing the impact Employee Advocacy could have if rolled out on a larger scale—leading to Schmitz’s next steps:
“Once we realized the success of Employee Advocacy among our sample group, we introduced it at our annual Expo, an event where all of our agents gather to discuss trends in the industry and updates within the company. We offered access to Employee Advocacy for those who wanted it, and immediately we saw massive demand among our agents.”
When asked to rate ease of use, Edina’s team scored Employee Advocacy 91 out of 100. When asked if they’d be able to demo or train other agents on the platform, 82% said they’d feel comfortable doing so—which was remarkable given the broad range of comfort levels with new technology among the users. Schmitz details,
“Most people were able to take a brand new product and learn it without much trouble at all—in fact, the majority were really comfortable and excited to use it. Seeing percentages hover around 81% of active users is extremely high for us and surpasses our expectations.”
Agents now spend less time and accomplish much more, allowing them to reallocate those time savings to focus on driving more value to the organization.
Helping agents build their pipeline
Edina Realty’s agents are constantly looking to generate top-of-the-funnel awareness—an active pipeline is critical to success. Maintaining credibility and expertise on social media is the only way to stay top-of-mind in front of passive audiences, ensuring that once they do become ready to buy or sell, they know exactly who to reach out to.
Kozel further solidifies this in his statement below:
“We encourage them to be the source of insights. If you’re consistently providing helpful information, whether it’s over six months or two years, the minute that person on the receiving end is ready to make a transaction, the first person they’ll contact is the one providing value—not the one who’s been pushing the sale.”
Prior to partnering with Employee Advocacy, the effectiveness of Edina’s social media strategy was low, and whatever success agents were having was extremely difficult to measure. As a result, the initial goals of the program were simple: Is there anything we can do to help our agents?
With Employee Advocacy, all of that has changed. Since its roll-out, Kozel explains that Edina’s goals have grown to: What new strategies can we implement and where can we expand using the functionality of this tool?
“We didn’t put a lot of manpower behind social media efforts because there wasn’t nearly enough ROI to justify it—but now, there’s quite a bit. We do a variety of monthly reporting that we share with the CEO and President, including key social media metrics and reporting on anything noteworthy we see happening—positive or negative.
Edina has recognized benefits in terms of website usage and in terms of their share of industry voice. Their alignment with Employee Advocacy, alongside everything else they’re doing to push ahead and differentiate themselves as industry leaders, has added to tremendous value to their competitive advantage. Kozel reinforces this point, summing up the conversation that:
With respect to our organization’s fundamental strategy—that’s the imprint of our leadership. Social media is now at the the core of that strategy, and Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social fits beautifully within it.Nick Kozel
VP of Marketing at Edina Realty