Case Study:

Buttering-up audiences with newsjacking social media marketing for Michael Bailey Estate Agent

Michael Bailey runs an estate agency that covers Preston, South Ribble and parts of the Fylde coast. But his business doesn’t follow the traditional model, and that includes not having a high street presence. Instead, Michael has to rely heavily on digital marketing and word-of-mouth. Discover how we helped boost his Facebook visibility with some viral organic social media posts that even scored some press coverage.

The project

When your estate agency business lacks a bricks-and-mortar presence on the high street, how do you get known about?

If people looking to sell their house, or buy a new one, don’t know about you, you’re obviously not going to complete many transactions.

Michael Bailey Estate Agent launched at the height of the Covid pandemic - which was a brave move on its own, without the added challenge of not having the traditional physical branch model.

Michael has enjoyed rapid success, with his hard work paying off when it comes to making himself visible through sponsorship opportunities and local engagement.

He does an exceptional job, and so buyers and sellers alike highly recommend him, and he produces amazing marketing materials that truly show off the homes he sells in remarkable style.

But despite regular posting, and a page audience of around 3,000, his organic Facebook reach was lacking. He’s not alone - our experience of managing multiple client accounts suggests that only around 10% of page fans and followers ever see the stuff posted on them (when your audience swells to more than 10,000, that reach drops to between 1 and 2%).

That’s where we came in.

We do PR for Michael, and paid social media (running ads on Facebook and Instagram) but we also dabble in his organic social media.

We’ve used our expertise and creativity to take advantage of the news cycle by producing amusing social media posts that riff on popular, bubbling news topics, gaining significant reach and engagement.

What we did

We took advantage of a series of high profile news stories that were enjoying a significant amount of press attention.

The first centred on the rising cost of Lurpak butter, which came to be emblematic of the cost-of-living crisis faced by homeowners across the country.

Noting that the story kept being repeated, we decided it was time to see if we could ride the wave of media and social media interest in the issue.

So, we created a simple branded social media graphic featuring the familiar Lurpak butter tub, the Michael Bailey Estate Agent logo, and the two sentences: ‘Now offering valuations in tubs of Lurpak. Find out what your home is worth today’.

The image was accompanied by a detailed post that continued the theme in a way that made it sound just plausible enough, but whilst obviously being tongue-in-cheek, and which featured local average house prices converted into Tubs Of Lurpak Equivalent. These were real values taken from Rightmove, making it look even more believable.

We posted it and settled in to watch what would happen, certain it would capture people’s imaginations.

And it did.

135 reactions and 20 shares later, it had reached around 10,000 people in a few days, a vast increase on the usual 300-400, and in its own way can legitimately be described as ‘viral’. It’s still the best performing organic post on the page. Better still, local journalists picked it up and before you know it the story of Michael’s Lurpak post was in the local papers, extending awareness even further.

A news clipping from the Lancashire Telegraph in which Michael Bailey Estate Agent features thanks to a viral social media post Lurpak, conjured-up by social media marketing pros at Fifty2M

On the back of this success, we’ve done it with other similar opportunities, most notably when Liz Truss was Prime Minister and there was talk of her resigning. A week before she did, we put a post on Michael’s Facebook picturing a removals van outside No.10, posing the question: “Everyone’s asking: will I move house before Liz?”. This time the post itself explained the timeline that’s typically involved from offer to completion on a property transaction. It took off just like the Lurpak post and was again spotted by eagle-eyed local journalists, only this time, local news reports were syndicated to Yahoo! News, bringing it to national attention.

Together, these and similar posts have helped to significantly boost Michael’s online visibility, make his brand more memorable, and portray him as fun and accessible - which are important to creating likeability and trust.

What the client says

Michael Bailey Estate Agent sprays champagne from a bottle in a photo used with a press release by Fifty2M that announced an award win

"I really enjoy working with Fifty2M.

"The brief I took to them initially was to make us more visible, which they have done in spades.

"The creative ideas they bring to the table are great. I was a little sceptical at first as some of them were slightly different to the more conservative ideas we had used in the past, but I trusted them and they delivered what they said.

"Based on that we have had multiple appearances in local and national press based on the press releases we have issued as well as some viral social media content.

"The main reason we have been so successful together is that before they allowed me to part with a single penny, they went to great lengths to understand me, my aims, and my business. This has meant the solutions they continue to offer are truly tailored to me and the aims of the business, and that we continue to be a good fit."

The brief I took to them initially was to make us more visible, which they have done in spades. The creative ideas they bring to the table are great

— Michael Bailey

What this case study demonstrates

This is a great example of how paying attention to the news cycle can create 'reactive marketing' opportunities, even for small businesses. By 'newsjacking' bubbling stories and turning them into humorous social media posts, it's possible to drive engagement and, as a result, reach new audiences. If you play it just right, you can even attract the attention of local and national journalists.

Lee Petts, founder

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