According to recent statistics, 84 percent of realtors are using some form of social media. More than 80 percent say they are comfortable or somewhat comfortable with it. Over the next few weeks, we plan to provide you with a series of articles on social media and how it can enhance your business and increase your sales. We’ll start with a brief overview:
• Why social media?
• Which social media?
• Taking baby steps
Why social media?
Are you already one of the 84 percent? If so, why? Did you jump on the bandwagon because everyone else was doing it? Did you get excited and then get overwhelmed? Relax; you are not alone.
Your clients want to see two things: information and you. First, they want to know what the market is doing. What neighborhoods are selling? What’s the foreclosure and short sale situation? Are prices trending up or down? If the market is languishing, sellers need some hand holding and encouragement. If it looks like things are picking up, buyers may need a gentle push.
The biggest mistake you could make would be to start something and not keep it up…
Second, clients and potential clients want to get to know you. Who are you and why should they choose you to represent them? Social media is the ideal place to let your personality and unique business style shine through — that’s why they call it “social.” It’s a great way to let people get to know you in a professionally casual way. Give them a sense of who you are when you’re not doing real estate. Tell them how to connect with you in different ways. This builds trust and trust builds business.
But here’s the caveat: using social media marketing doesn’t mean getting a Facebook page or a YouTube channel, using them as a billboard for your listings, and then waiting for the clients to make your phone ring. It doesn’t work that way. First, you need a plan. Then you need consistency and follow-through.
Which social media?
Social media is basically divided into two parts: communication and networking. Part one is made up of things like personal web sites, mass emails, blogs, podcasts, and videocasts. Many real estate firms already use these tools, some more effectively than others. The second part, social networking, includes the use of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google Circles, and LinkedIn.
Should you use one medium or many? That depends on your market. If you are selling in a community dominated by baby boomers and retirees, you’ll need a different approach from what you would use to reach a market made up largely of young families.
Here’s another interesting statistic: 73 percent of sellers say they are more likely to list their homes with a realtor who will provide video capability, but only 12 percent of firms currently have a YouTube account. Is this a missed opportunity? It’s something to think about as you develop your social media plan.
Facebook is the most widely used social networking tool among realtors today — close to 80 percent of realtors use it. Twitter is next at 48 percent. Twenty percent use blog tools such as Blogger and WordPress. So many choices, so little time. How do you begin? Or how do you upgrade what you’re already doing?
Taking baby steps
If you let it, social media can take over your life – ask any teenager. So curb your enthusiasm and get a plan. The biggest mistake you could make would be to start something and not keep it up; or to jump in to a whole bunch of different things at once and get overwhelmed. That’s worse than doing nothing at all. Here’s how to make your successful first move:
• Determine your firm’s policies. Does the firm already use social media? Is there a policy, format, or recommended medium in place? Do you have choices about what you do? Can you link to your personal medium through the firm’s web site? You need to know how much freedom you have to do your thing and how much support you may (or may not) get in house.
• Choose one thing and do it right. Pick one medium that fits with your market and your firm. Setting up a Facebook page or starting a blog is relatively simple. We’ll cover the how-to’s in another article. Just remember to keep it simple.
• Put it in writing. This should begin with a calendar. Decide how often you’ll post and do it consistently. Every Monday morning, every Friday at noon; whatever fits into your schedule. Then develop your written copy, your profile, and have a few comments or blog posts pre-written and ready to go. Have everything proofread by at least two other people — posting material with grammar and spelling errors is not good for your image.
That’s the starting point. Social media is a powerful tool and everyone has a different idea or opinion on how best to do it. Remember: it’s not about you; it’s about the client. Give the clients what they want and social media will play an important role in your success. I’m going to talk a lot more about this – sign up for more in the box below.