Yesterday, I posted an article to my ActiveRain blog entitled "Stop Annoying Your Facebook Connections - Use SeeMyListings.com to Place Your Listings on Your Profile Page." It was a pretty simple post. It described how you could use the www.SeeMyListings.com widget from the National Association of Realtors and Realtor.com to place your listings on your Facebook profile page and eliminate or at least reduce those "just listed" type status updates that can be annoying to friends, family and colleagues on social networking sites.
The response from AR members and subscribers to my AR and outside AR blogs was positive with most comments being something along the lines of "Thanks... I didn't know that about the listing widget." Given these comments, I posted the article as a link in a status update on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Again, I received positive comments so I also posted to several LinkedIn groups. Again, 99% of the responses were extremely positive. In the NAR LinkedIn group, it seemed to provoke a storm of protests from the self-proclaimed "social media police" and "social media gurus." It seemed odd for two separate reasons: first, the listing widget was created by Realtor.com for use by Realtors, and, second, it was intended to allow Realtors to show their listings without bombarding or annoying their "friends" on Facebook with listing information. Realtor.com has held tech seminars around the country this year and the listing widget has been offered in these seminars as a preferred method of presenting listings over repetitive status updates. Nevertheless, the discussion posted to the NAR LinkedIn group seemed to be controversial.
Here are a few of the comments that I wanted to share from the LinkedIn discussion:
- It always bothers me when people continue to use social media to do sales. The reason social media has evolved is because people are tired of traditional sales and advertising practices. Consumers look to their inner circle for trusted influencers. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are all places to network, be social and expand one's influence by providing value, not flashing your business card and homes for sale in everyone's face... Spamming these sites doesn't help the agent who has the listing. It harms them. I unfollow, block and basically turn a blind eye to their listing spam and them. It's an indication of a lack of understanding the simple basics of social networking.
- OK go ahead and post your widget. Turn FB into a marketing site. My point is the origin of social networking is exactly NOT about what you are doing. It is repeating the same repulsive behavior that has been annoying us on TV, the radio and in print media. The consumer is sick of being SOLD. They want to connect with a trusted advisor they find personally or comes recommended to them. I can see your point about having the widget on the profile. Of course since FB is a walled garden, only your friends can see your widget. Tell me this, what is the point? If it doesn't get traffic why bother? I prefer not to risk being put in the same class as spammers and that is what it is to me when you put ads on a social networking site.
- I agree with Xxxxxx, FB is not for listings. You can go ahead and post them there, but I will remove anyone from my "favorite" friends list and move them to the "other" list that I rarely if ever review. If you would like to post an interesting article, with a link to your listing, then that would be much better. For example, I posted regarding investment property. I posted it to FB and got quite a few visits back to my site. An alternative is to set up a business FB page, then let people that want those ads to become a fan. When Realtors complain about your postings, that is a good sign to back off on sending those. Use an email broadcast, much better.
- I am glad that I will never see your advertising because I will never visit your profile.
Facebook is for social-media and not for your listings, but I believe that has been mentioned to you on the above posts.
Now, I actually respect the commentator who made the first two comments. However, I fundamentally disagree with her position. Here are a few points to consider:
- Opt-In Procedures: Unlike e-mail marketing suggested by one of the commentators above, most social networking sites (including Facebook and LinkedIn) are opt-in, permission based sites. That is, your connections or friends on these sites have to accept you before they receive any communications(status updates or other items) from you. If you overstep the bound or unwritten rules of the sites, people will simply opt-out.
- Passive Nature of Profiles: Unlike status updates, posting listings using the listing widget on your Facebook profile or using Slideshare.net or Box.net on your LinkedIn profile doesn't post or send any announcement to your connections or friends. It is passive in nature and is accessed only by someone who is looking at or reading your profile.
- Distinctions between Permission Based Advertising and Spam: Use of the listing widget isn't "spamming." By definition, "spam" is an unsolicited, commercial communication. In the case of the listing widget, it isn't unsolicited because the friend or connection has opt-ed into your network. In addition, it isn't even a communication. There is no e-mail, notification, etc. sent or posted. That said, the person must actually go to your profile to take a look at your listings.
- Uses of Listing Widget: The listing widget is an important tool. The ability to show potential clients your current listings can bolster your expertise and credibility. If you sell a particular neighborhood or have a narrow field of expertise, the listing widget allows friends and connections who are potential clients to see the number of listings, price ranges, types of housing, etc. which can be effectively used to enhance your status as a neighborhood expert or specialist.
Some members of social networks want to preserve social networks as a pristine, commercial-free playground of thought and discussion. In reality, LinkedIn and Facebook are or at least can be powerful marketing tools when used right. The fact that businesses are actively promoting their presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is a pretty good sign of the marketing potential held by these sites.
Oddly, I don't disagree with the underlying premise of the comments above - that is, ad and marketing machines on social networking sites aren't effective. However, I don't view a listing widget on your Facebook page as contaminating or fundamentally changing the social nature of sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. When I look at most profiles on Facebook, I often see a link to one's website. The website is typically their company website or personal business website. My question is: Is using a listing widget on one's Facebook profile really any different than having a Facebook profile with a link to a person's business website?