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Social Media Increases In-Person Contact and Referral Filtering of Information

November 24 2010

standing on the targetAs we keep our ear to the ground with social media, two new trends seem to be emerging from social media that have direct impact to real estate professionals.  Social media spurs in-person interaction and filtering of Internet information is moving towards friend referrals rapidly. All this begs the question: what does that mean for real estate?

The face of the industry is changing, and the best way to change along with it is to stay informed.

A common fear for real estate professionals, when looking to use social media to grow their business is that they lose the personal touch that sets them apart from their competition.  Certainly as sales people, personality and face-to-face interaction is vital to building relationships and eventually closing business.  Many feel it is better to work in-person connections more than trying to build virtual connections.

Certainly these feelings would be merited if in fact studies showed that social meetings online were replacing face-to-face meetings.  A recent study featured in Social MythbustingSocial Mythbusting, shows that social media help drive referral-based business and makes more online introductions, all of which seem to encourage customers to contact the vendor/sales person to set up in-person meetings.

The research found that while only 17% of consumers are more likely to purchase after becoming a fan of brand on Facebook, the greater value comes from consumers serving as brand advocates.

Social media is not a zero sum game where an increase or decrease of activity in one channel only happens when there’s a corresponding increase or decrease in activity in another channel,” said Jeff Rohrs, principal, ExactTarget’s Marketing Research and Education Group. “Far from making people less social in the physical world, social media seems to encourage more in-person contacts.”

A recent Reuters articleReuters article stated that the social networking phenomenon has nowhere to go but up as computer use becomes more mobile.

"Two to five years from now, the whole question of what other social networks you use will be moot, because it will all be social," Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, said in Boston on Thursday.

A great example of this is Facebook Connect. With this new application, users going to The New York Times' website can now see which articles their friends are reading and recommending.

"There is no better filter than people that you know and trust," Hughes said.

As the world becomes more mobile and integrated with social networking, customer referrals will become the undisputed filter of each individual’s information.

Based on the above information, the following points are vital to real estate professionals:

1.)    In-person meetings are being initiated via social media channels.  Utilizing these channels will only increase your opportunities to meet face-to-face with new clients and win their business with your personality and charisma.

2.)    Building connections and referrals via social media will be key for real estate agents and brokers as this shift has already begun to take place.