The Social Media Experts I’m a fan of will tell you that if you want to succeed in applying social media as a business strategy that it requires planning, consistency, balance, originality, relevancy, and listening…among other things. And they would be right. But when it comes to real estate marketing, many agents struggle with working ON their business because they’re tapped by working IN their business. And for the most part, I’ve always considered that an excuse (myself included).
There is some validity however, to the shear amount of effort required in implementing social media marketing strategies….or ANY effective marketing strategies for that matter. And that’s why I’m not surprised when agents ask me if I can do “the social media” for them. But if you know me, then you know I’m not an automator…I’m an educator. Which means I prefer you learn about the new strategies available to you, best practices for using them, and how to measure their effectiveness.
So whether you or your marketing assistant is syndicating your listings, sending an email drip campaign, blogging or engaging in social media channels…KNOW the plan, the process, AND your role in it! By being a participant who’s just as knowledgeable about your own business as you are about your market area it’s much easier to become a trusted advisor. But obviously it’s not just about being a trusted advisor…it’s about closing deals too. So no matter the strategy or the channel…you need to create an opportunity to convert.
Now the reason I’m so passionate about social media as a real estate marketing strategy is because it gives agents who are willing to be a participant….a huge conversion opportunity. When you take an active role with blogging or Facebook comments and posts, you can directly connect with current and past clients, as well as potential leads.
For example, let’s say you’re passionate about the schools in your local market area. So you decide to get involved with a local “Back to School” cause. You post information about the cause on your Facebook Page telling locals about the supplies needed, where to donate, associated fundraising events, interviews and pictures of local teachers setting up for the school year, etc. If you’re a part of the plan and the process…as well as actively engage on the Page, then you’re creating an opportunity to convert. Especially, when you run into thankful teachers, parents and locals who you’ve been engaging with online. Taking an active roll in your online engagement means it’s easier to take an active roll in your offline engagement.
When you haven’t got a clue what social media strategies are being deployed on your behalf, you’re missing out! Sure you might be getting more online exposure for your brand and listings….but the opportunity to convert is greatly lessened. That’s because when potential client Susie Q sees you at Starbucks and thanks you for helping her neighborhood school you won’t have any idea what she’s talking about. But had you taken an active engagement role online you would be easily able to strike up a relevant and thoughtful conversation…a conversation that could possibly lead to new business tomorrow or someday in the future. And that’s your ROI when it comes to social media.
But if you’re still of the “have it done” mindset, there are plenty of “blog for you, tweet for you, post for you” services popping up. These companies are happy to take your money and create your Web presence for you, as well as automate, duplicate, replicate, and syndicate “relevant” content on your behalf. So if you’re looking for the shortcut to success with social media, there you go! And to be honest, you may very well get the exposure you want….but I highly doubt you’ll get the conversion opportunities you need to take your business to the next level. But who knows, I could be wrong.
I WILL say that there is a happy medium. The relevant content that you drip out through the various channels you participate in can be created by others (but should be supplemented by your own) and can also be scheduled. Tools like HootSuite and Tweetdeck let you schedule and post to a variety of networks. In fact, I created a Tweet Plan for using Hootsuite for both general business and for real estate. And innovators, like the folks at Roost, understand the content dilemma and deployment that real estate professionals are faced with and have created a new tool that will soon ROCK your Facebook world!
Probably the biggest social media roadblock for agents is identifying content that can be shared, retweeted, commented on, blogged about, curated, etc. So I am all for making the organization of content much easier with a homepage or dashboard of content. Alltop, Regator, My6Sense, and Google all offer great options in the organization department. A few savvy real estate companies have even created their own custom content dashboards, and are regularly creating content their agents can share and re-purpose!
So clearly there IS a benefit to “systematizing” your content flow to maximize online exposure…BUT remember that if you go the route of scheduling resourceful tweets and/or posts, that you still need to be listening, responding…and initiating social interactions! More importantly, you still need to be you and bring your passion to whatever marketing strategy you plan for!
MyTechOpinion: You CAN shortcut your way to “success” with social media…but that depends on what success really means to you.