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The Top 5 Things Realtors Misunderstand about Social Media

January 13 2012

Whether you want to admit it or not, social media is here to stay.  Everyone (And I truly mean EVERYONE), needs to accept this fact and figure out how they want to incorporate social media into their marketing and advertising efforts.

When I’m in brokerages, meeting with agents about their marketing plans, I learn as much as I can about what they are up to.  Almost every agent is somehow involved in one form of online advertising or another (Google Adwords, Zillow Ad Banners, etc.), has a website, does some form of print marketing (Geographic Farming, or Sphere marketing), and does a bit of newspaper advertising (Mostly in local newspapers these days. Sorry big newspapers).

Nine out of ten agents I meet with though have little or no social media marketing plans at all.  To be more specific, they know what social media is, they have a facebook account, twitter account, or blog, but they totally misunderstand the medium and might as well not be doing anything at all.

Here are the five most common misconceptions and mistakes I run across and my advice on how to avoid them:

1) I have social media sites, BUT I don’t see any ROI from them, so I waste as little time as possible on them
This is a funny one that always seem to come up instantly, before I can even finish the sentence, “How are you handling your social media?”

The thing of it is though that not all things are supposed to be trackable and directly lead to revenue.  For instance, take your telephone.  Certainly, you aren’t going to cancel your cell phone service because you can’t directly draw a line from it, to revenue. The cell phone is a tool that you use in your business.

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and your blogs are exactly the same thing. These mediums give you exposure to the world.  They also give you access to people that hours of door knocking and cold calling can never do.  Social media is the perfect platform to demonstrate your knowledge of the Real Estate Market, and become a trusted source of information for buying and selling homes.

2) I know these younger agents are utilizing social media.  I don’t get it, am too old and just am going to “skip it”.

Replace “social media” with “websites”,  and “computers” and you have an objection that was around 10 years ago and even 10 years before that.  I cannot tell you how many agents told me, when the .com craze was at it’s peak that they didn’t understand the web, didn’t see how they would get any ROI on a website and frankly were in the business too long and too old to have one. Guess what? Unless they got out of the business all together, every one of those agents has a website.

Admittedly, I’ve had my company for about 15 years, so I never had this conversation with agents about computers, but if I were a gambling man (and I am), I would place huge sums of money on the fact that some sort of argument, just as this, happened about computers as well.

Social media is not going anywhere.  The best part about it is that it’s not difficult to learn.  Take some time to get familiar and comfortable with it.  Devote a chunk of time out of every day to work on it.  Take it one step at a time.  You don’t have to launch a blog, facebook fan page and build a twitter following, all at once.  Pick one thing, build it up and then move to the next one.  Or, if you still think you better not get involved, look into hiring a company to help you.  A quick google search will show you hundreds of companies, such as mine, that manage social media for people.

3) Social Media doesn’t apply to Real Estate

This one honestly always has me scratching my head.  I think almost every agent on the planet will agree with me when I assert that online Real Estate firms will never make it (e.g. eHome.com).  That is because Real Estate is a Social business.  It’s relationship based.  People want to interact with an agent and have human interaction, during one of the most important, and personal transactions of their lifetime.

If we can all agree on that, how could anyone find a better engine to give people an idea of who you are, and what you’re all about, than with social media?

4) I don’t ever log into my social media sites.  I have automated feeds that take care of everything for me

Remember:  This medium is called media.  People are very smart.  After a couple of posts, they are going to realize you are just feeding your blog, fan page or twitter account with automated stuff. This is going to turn them off and they will stop visiting your sites and stop paying attention to you.

You need to be social with people and you need to interact with people.  When interacting with your fans or followers, you’ll get to know more about them and that will enable  you to share information that is pertinent and specific to the exact things they are interested in and needs that they have. There is no automated feed on the planet that can accomplish this for you.

5) I don’t do social media anymore because I spent all my time making the perfect blog posting and then nobody commented on it, shared it or tweeted it out to anyone else.

This is an understandable objection. After all, if you spend hours making the “perfect blog posting” and nobody shares it or comments on it, what person wouldn’t be upset?  The thing is though that it’s the agent’s fault this happened.

All is not lost though, because there is a very easy formula that will turn this right around: 

Anyone that works on social media should spend 20% of their time creating content, and 80% of their time promoting it.

That’s all it takes.  Once you create a blog post, video, or other piece of content in your social media marketing campaign, SHARE IT.  Share you content with other bloggers that have similar interest.  Offer your content to trade organizations and ask them to share or comment on it.  Find people on twitter that have similar interests to what you have produced and share it with them.  If someone else has a similar interest, they are very likely to comment on it, or share it with their followers.

This may sound difficult, but there are many great tools out there that are very inexpensive, or even free that you can use.  Things like HootSuiteHootSuite, TweetDeckTweetDeck, or even our Social.Status5Social.Status5 tools will help you monitor your brand, mentions you get online, and even track down people that have interests similar to the things that you are publishing on your social media sites.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  No matter what your views are on social media, just remember that

1) It’s not going anywhere, so you might as well dip your toe in the pool and get familiar with it.

2) Social media is a journey, not a race.  You don’t have to have everything built out, and tons of followers all at once.  Just like your traditional marketing efforts, one of the keys to success is relentless consistency.  Start out with one thing, do it very consistently, and then build from there.

View the original article on the Leading Agent blogLeading Agent blog.