A lot is being said nowadays about the use of Facebook to grow and promote your business. Many people enter the social media fray with little or no experience/understanding on what constitutes acceptable or effective behavior/practices as it relates to social networking platforms like Facebook.
For most of us real estate professionals, it's been ingrained into our marketing minds very early on to blatantly self-promote ourselves at every opportunity, shamelessly plastering our glamor shots and website addresses on bus benches, shopping carts, refrigerator magnets, and every conceivable vertical surface known to man, ad-nauseam.
Thus, when we first attempt to ride the popular wave of social media marketing, our initial feeble efforts tend to be rather 'spammy' (see definition of SPAM) and somewhat annoying to those who encounter our 'interruption marketing' (See Seth Godin's books 'Unleashing the Idea Virus' and 'Permission Marketing').
Here's just a few practical tips I've learned along the way that may help you better navigate the social media waters and avoid making any painful or unsightly belly flops:
Jump In - The Waters' Fine!
1. Jump In, the Water's Fine!
It continues to amaze me how many people I encounter who are reluctant to use sites like Facebook for business purposes or refuse to engage in any social media platforms in general. One of the most basic fundamental elements of a successful real estate practice is to develop and expand an active SOI (Sphere of Influence), and make meaningful 'touches' with the people within your sphere. Social media simply offers you one more way to make those 'touches,' through digital means, faster and more efficiently than traditional methods. Social media should never supplant your tried and true traditional marketing methods, but serve to augment/compliment what you've used successfully in the past.
Separation of Church and State
2. The Separation of Church and State
There are some purists out there who believe you should keep all of your business dealings completely separate from your personal life when it comes to your social network involvements like Facebook. While using a personal profile to promote a business is against the Facebook Terms of Service (The powers that be on Facebook have been known to boot members who do so), I find it difficult and unrealistic to completely remove my Realtor® hat just because I happen to be engaging people socially in a virtual setting. Now that doesn't mean that I post my website URL into every comment that I make or that I publish endless listings to my wall. On the contrary, any real estate related content is the exception, rather than the norm on my personal page. But the point being is that real estate is a huge part of my life and a natural extension of who I am. There is always going to be a certain amount of business bleed-over onto my Facebook personal profile page.
A Page By Any Other Name...
3. Create a Facebook Business Page
For the purists and non-purists alike, the Facebook Page allows you to publish and promote your business to your heart's content without fear of any TOS repercussions. The real key to achieving solid readership/traffic (Likes) is consistently posting good consumer-valued content to your page. Most of the time, people create a Facebook Page that is agent/broker specific, like 'Bill Smith - Harper County Real Estate.' Consider instead of making a Facebook Page that highlights your specific market area. A perfect example of this would be Dale Chumbley's '365 Things to Do in Vancouver WA.' One of the tools you can use to help efficiently syndicate content to your Facebook Page is Roost.
Go To Where the Conversations Are!
4. Connections and Communication
At the turn of the century, everyone congregated down at the General Store, sitting around the pot belly stove, sharing their lives. Later, it became the office and gossip around the water cooler. These days, people connect and communicate through the use of social media and mobile technology. Some clients like to text, others tweet or poke.
In one of my former employments, I was responsible for export sales to customers in Japan and made several trips there. I made the point of learning some basics of the Japanese language which made a huge difference in the degree of my success in forging relationships with my foreign clients. The importance of communication never changes, but the way in which we communicate does. We must learn the language that newer generations are speaking.
The power of social media is something we cannot afford to ignore, but need to effectively leverage in order to grow our sphere and expand our digital footprint.
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Rich Jacobson is a licensed real estate professional with Windermere Real Estate, providing knowledgeable empowerment and relentless representation for his clients of residential properties and vacant land throughout all of Kitsap County WA and portions of Pierce, Mason, and Jefferson Counties. You can also find him at KitsapLife, SoundBiteBlog, and Crabbing in the Hood, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org