So, as most of you know by now, I have expanded my freelancing into the world of social media. I am currently blogging for an awesome company called Just List ‘Em that helps homeowners sell their own home in a non-traditional “For Sale By Owner” way. They are really great and working with them has been a pleasure. Here is an entry I did for them recently on the importance of social media in a business and real estate world. (Oh, and you should follow them on TWITTER. @justlistem.)
After reading a great article by real estate guru, Mike Andrews on Real Estate Marketing in an Online World, I felt compelled to write and share some of my thoughts on a related topic. Whether or not a real estate company, or any company for that matter, is working on marketing, buying, selling, or just listing (pretty close to JUSTLISTEM, am I right?), social media has become a viable venue for building and expanding a business. However, when a business is just starting, or if a business is new to the interactive world, it can be overwhelming to decide how to successfully hit and tackle the right social media outlets–there are SO many.
So, here are a few questions and concerns I want to briefly consider and address:
1. What exactly is social media and why is it so important for business, more specifically real estate?
- Social media, in essence, is the new, hip, and ONLINE version of what face-to-face mixers and organized networking events used to be. (Not to say that those things aren’t valid anymore, because frankly, nothing beats meeting, connecting, and relating to someone face-to-face).
- For real estate etc., social media creates an interactive, responsive, and engaged audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Can you honestly say you get that with a print, radio, or television ad presence?
- Real estate can be a tough venue, for anyone, particularly in this economy. When someone is buying or selling a house, stress levels are UP, way up. Social media creates transparency, which ultimately, fosters a more inviting and relatable atmosphere giving potential clients the feeling of working and doing business with a trustworthy resource.
2. Which venues should I tackle first in my social media quest? (Yes, there are a lot of places to start. I say start with the big THREE and work your way from there).
- TWITTER: The micro-blogging, status updating, networking tool-of-champions. Twitter helps connect you to people all over the world. Any business can benefit from the networking power of Twitter.
- FACEBOOK: Quite possibly the largest social networking tool out there. With almost 200 million users, creating a prominent Facebook presence through a group, profile, or fan page sets your real estate business up for far-reaching success.
- BLOGGING. It doesn’t matter where [we like wordpress :)], but blogging allows your audience to “hear” your opinion and learn what you know. You are the expert in some area and there are people who want to learn more about that particular topic… therefore, share your expertise, and you are ultimately bound to create a sense of legitimacy among your audience.
- **BiggerPockets.com: This is a great social networking tool for real estate companies. Use it. Share tips. Be awesome.
3. What should I or my business keep in mind when creating an online/social media presence?
- Be honest. Now that your real estate business has an online presence, which is somewhat detached from the general public, the general public is and will be savvy to everything you say.
- Be present. Don’t set these outlets up, post once or twice, and then ditch out on them. You will only be successful if your community is always active.
- Be engaged. Don’t talk AT people all the time. These are called communities for a reason, pose questions, answer questions, share links, respond to hot topics, etc. By becoming active among the communities you participate in, you allow your audience to grow and continue to be responsive. Be a participant, not a lecturer.
So what is the overall lesson here? Don’t just use these tools to use them. Becoming a part of the social media spectrum takes time and commitment. Commit to these things like you would any other part of your business. You wouldn’t set up a time to meet with a potential client and not show up… you would follow through. Treat all of these avenues as a client meeting and FOLLOW THROUGH with each one. You wouldn’t buy a bunch of tools and not build the house. (I like metaphors). We are in the process of practicing exactly what we preach. We recently joined the social media spectrum and we are finding it to be extremely beneficial. In a tough economy, fostering a positive community is key to running a successful business.
Share your thoughts with us!