Beyond Buying and Selling: How One Realtor’s Online Presence Engages Clients

TammySabourin    October 11, 2016

Even if you’re not in the market to buy or sell a home, you’ve likely had your eye caught by a realtor’s face on a bench sign, bus stop ad or other billboard-type promotion.  It has been a successful exposure-gaining method used for decades by people in the real estate industry, one that has often been a strong step to gaining contacts for potential deals.  But did you know that according to Realtor Social Marketing, 90% of home buyers begin their search online?

Nicole Bafaro, Sales Representative with Sutton Group Heritage Realty in Ontario’s Durham Region, has successfully built her real estate career by venturing beyond the goal of simply making contacts; she is building and strengthening relationships through online client engagement within her community through her use of social media.

Nicole is utilizing many of today’s popular social media methods – Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+Facebook and e-newsletters – to engage with past, present and potential clients.  However, she is quick to add that her goal is to interact with people, not promote “at” them.

“You have to engage with your connections. People need to know you to trust you. It’s social media, not ‘look-at-me’ media.”

She attributes much of her success – which includes a high 90% retention rate for past clients and receiving Sutton’s President’s Award for sales in both 2014 & 2015 – to a genuine desire to want to help people benefit from positive community living.  She says, “I will often post online about neighborhood and local events or connect someone with another contact in the community for a service needed.”

Through social media, Nicole has become a trusted community “go-to” person, especially within the trades industry including plumbers, lawyers, roofers, and even mortgage professionals personally used and vetted by her real estate team.  “I will typically do the introduction behind the scenes on email so that it is not a completely cold meeting for them.  People – even those I do not know – will often reach out to me online via private messages with, ‘I know Nic’s got a contact.’  In that goodwill, there is already a level of trust that has been established,” she says.  It is this type of engagement that allows Nicole to go beyond the screen and into what’s most important for those she is interacting with.  “If I know someone likes something specific, I will post it and/or send them a link to it which shows them that I’m actually paying attention to them.”  She refers to this as customized client engagement which is a more personal approach versus a campaigning-type of action.

“Social media isn’t like the classified ads.  The engagement with specifics of the ‘just listed/just sold’ business is nothing compared to the engagement with community specifics.”

Nicole also stays true to her professional, yet fun personality when using social media.  “I am just me online,” she states.  Proof of her ability to do this can be found in the numerous testimonials shared on her website.  When asked about the number of clients she’s accumulated due to their interaction with her on social media, she reveals, “Probably 60% of business is because of social media and the remaining 40% is a combination of my sphere of friends and neighborhood reputation.”

A large portion of Nicole’s online interaction occurs on the Facebook Group South Ajax Neighbours – Ajax By the Lake.  An exclusive group Nicole created in October 2015, it’s purpose is stated as: “a great place to share and connect…we welcome your South Ajax pics and stories…we really are such a wonderful little neighborhood.”  Here she not only contributes posts relative to the area and those living therein, but will also “like” and comment on other people’s posts.  Nicole also references this page within her e-newsletter, further connecting people to one another and encouraging them to interact and cultivate a positive community.

Lessons for Others

With the real estate market being second overall in terms of inbound consumer engagement relative to audience size from customers on social media, according to Sprout Social Consumer Engagement Index, an online presence as a realtor is vital to today’s business.  However, building a reputation of trust by conveying the real person behind the online personality takes both skill and talent.  As a real estate representative, Nicole Bafaro not only grasps social media’s importance to her business, but excels in her genuine ability to engage with her clients there.  She then takes it one step further by connecting this skill and talent into the context of everyday good-neighboring within her Durham Region communities.  It is this second step in social media that often sets up success for today’s service providers.

Organization: Nicole Bafaro, Sales Representative
Industry: Real Estate
Name of Organization Contact: Nicole Bafaro, Sales Representative

Authored by: Tammy Sabourin, student of University of Waterloo Social Media for Business Performance

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Bafaro, Nicole. (2016). Sell Durham. Retrieved from http//

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Patterson, Michael. (2014). An In-Depth Look At Real Estate Marketing Ideas for Social Media. Retrieved from