5 Steps to Social Media Success

Social media can do a great deal for your business. Just be sure not to waste your time or efforts.

August 1, 2010

Consumers are piling on to online social networks in droves. According to Arbitron/Edison Research, 48 percent of Americans have a profile on a social networking site today, a figure that has doubled since 2008. Social networking has developed a strong presence in many people’s everyday lives and will not be going away in the near future.

The number of real estate pros active on social media sites corresponds with that of the general population. According to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® 2010 Member Profile, 51 percent of all REALTORS® actively use social or professional Web sites. When the responses are limited to members 29 years of age and younger, that figure jumps to 79 percent.

However, when REALTORS® who aren’t using these tools now were asked if they would use them in the future, only 12 percent indicated they would. Given the rate that potential customers and clients are signing up and logging on, that number seems low.

If you’re just getting started in social networking, are still considering whether or not to jump in, or are skeptical of its value, here are five tips to keep in mind that can help you get business from these technologies without sacrificing a great deal of time and energy.

1. Have a Game Plan

Determine how many times you will post items on your status and what meaningful information you will post. Determine if you plan to host a blog and how often you'll add new posts to your blog, or if you’ll add videos and other important information.

Initiating a game plan on how you approach social media will help keep you on the tasks involved while keeping in mind why you are ultimately using it — to constantly remind your sphere of influence that you’re an experienced real estate professional.

2. Remember: A Touch Is a Touch

One of the best prospecting techniques you have is working your sphere. When it comes to social media, you should search for people in your sphere and invite them to become part of your network. It’s also worthwhile to create a group or list labeled “Sphere” or something similar for people in this group.

Once you have finished this, send a private message with a note of friendship to the people on this list. Occasionally, you may want to send them an important real estate news item, but you may want to limit these kinds of correspondences depending on the social network you’re using. This entire process should only take five minutes or less, and it will pay big dividends over the long run.

3. Be Creative and Showcase Your Knowledge

A lot of real estate professionals believe that social media is strictly about promoting your listings and yourself, when in reality it should be about what you know and where you work. One good way to position yourself as an expert in your market is to write blogs or produce videos on interesting information about your hometown or area. Share your knowledge with people in your network, especially in your marketplace.

Also, don’t be afraid to share your passions outside of real estate. If you’re good at making quilts, let people know. Do you like to ballroom dance? Write a blog or produce a video to help others in this specialty area. People like to do business with those they share an interest with, and when you can interweave your passion with your knowledge of the real estate market, you will find new clients in your market area that you can bond with for many years to come.

4. Pre-Post All Your Updates Once a Week

There are several software applications that will allow you to post your “tweets” or status updates to be broadcast at a later date and time. By using this type of service, you can go online just once or twice a week and add all your updates about real estate trends, statistics, and more in a short five- or 10-minute time span. This will show your network of friends that you have an interest in providing good quality information, but it won’t take away important time during the day.

Instead, use your day tending to your clients and customers and not sitting in front of your monitor lost in a mass of information. I regularly plug in my social media updates for the week at www.Twaitter.com, so I don’t have to worry about that while I’m busy working on other areas of my business.

5. Access Your Entire Social Network in One Click

Rather than logging into each social network and posting several versions of the same update, you can go to one site and make one post, and multiple social networks will be updated at once. Two of these services are www.Ping.FM and www.HellotTxT.com. Both of these Web sites allow you to set up all your social media accounts, post videos or status updates at one location, and push your information out to the other social networks you’re on. You can also upload a single video to numerous portals you subscribe to at www.TubeMogul.com.

Remember: Social media can do a lot for you, but you should avoid spending countless hours using it in ways that will not profit your business. Have a plan, touch your sphere, show your expertise, and organize and pre-post your ideas. If you can do this, you’ll find social media is a cost-effective, efficient, and even fun way to connect with consumers.

John D. Mayfield, ABR, CRB, e-PRO, GRI, is a sales coach, author, and broker/owner of Mayfield Real Estate in Farmington, Mo. You can contact Mayfield through his Web site, www.BusinessTechGuy.com.