Why My Mom Unfriended Me on Facebook (Almost)
Social media is a powerful tool. It's a great way to keep in contact with friends and family and to share interesting or funny things. Social media can also be a great way to drive business to your website or blog. Of course, like anything else, there are those who do it well and there's, well . . . me.
I'd like to extend a deep thanks to Chris Dessi, CEO of Silverback Social, for his sage advice on social media, contributions to this post, and his remarkable generosity when it comes to helping others.
The Early Mistakes
When I first got my real estate license, I had been in Philadelphia for only a short time. I needed business fast and, with few contacts in the area, I did open houses as often as I could. It can be a great way to generate new business. In addition to open houses, I knew that a lot of successful agents got business from their sphere of influence, their friends and family. This was going to be a bit of a problem since I hadn't been living in the area for too long, but I certainly knew some people.
But, I knew there was more that could be done. There had to be a way to spread the word on the internet. Everyone that I talked to at open houses had already been online looking for homes, so there had to be some way to connect online. My entire sphere of influence was on Facebook. So, I had my "A-Ha" moment . . . talk about real estate on Facebook and the business would come rolling in!
A Flawed Strategy
My strategy went something like this . . .
Post that I'm I got my real estate license.
Everyone I knew would see that I was an agent and, since we were friends or family they would come to me for all of their real estate needs.
Watch my business grow.
As it turns out, that strategy was a bit flawed. Sure, everyone was happy for me and said "Congratulations!" (except for my Mom, but I'll get to that later). The fireworks fizzled pretty quickly (and the phone didn't ring).
My Second Flawed Strategy
But, there had to be SOME way to get build business on social media. Then, it came to me. I'd announce my next open house on Facebook. Sunday came around. I took a picture of the house and I wrote the following status update "Come check out my open house at 123 Main Street! I'll be there from 1-3." To quote Ralphie in A Christmas Story "Oh, rarely had the words poured from my penny pencil with such feverish fluidity."
The open house was slow. Two or three people had come through so I had plenty of time to check my phone to see how many Likes my post had received. By the end of the open house, there were probably three. One was my mentor and friend from my office. The other was the agent who had the listing. The third was my wife. Mom's thumbs up was conspicuously missing. My attempt at developing my business through social media by posting that I was doing an open house fell flat.
My Mother Knows More About Social Media Than I Do
A few days later, I talked to Mom on the phone. She said, "I saw your post about the open house. I'm sorry I didn't Like it. But, I thought it would look unprofessional if your mother was the only one. You know I'm proud of you, though." I had just learned a valuable lesson in social media from someone who was only on Facebook because her grand-daughter had set up an account for her. But, I pressed forward with my plan.
"Check out my new listing!" was one of my next posts. Soon after that came "Do you know anyone looking to buy or sell a house? Call me." Then, came "Sold! Just went to settlement today on this house." That's when my Mom almost defriended me. And, if she had, I wouldn't have blamed her.
So, she didn't actually come too close, but it may have crossed her mind. When we talked that week she said "Your real estate posts are sort of . . . um . . . I don't think they're taken in the way that you . . . um . . . how many likes do they get?" And again, I learned a valuable lesson in social media from my Mom. My posts were not only not being heard and bringing me referrals, they were turning people off.
A Dose of Reality
I realized that I knew nothing about how to use social media for business. And, I was annoying my friends and family on Facebook. It was long past time to seek some advice so I called my childhood friend Chris Dessi. Chris is the CEO of the social media company Silverback Social and a highly respected voice on social media with credits that include being the social media expert on Fox News in New York and a sought after speaker on the subject. On top of that, he's extremely generous and all-around great person.
Our initial conversation went something like this (the words are changed since it's been a while since our conversation) . . .
Me: So, I'm trying to figure out how to use social media to tell people I'm in real estate and build business. I'm posting my open houses every week and I'm getting no response. What am I doing wrong?
Chris: (pause) Um, so you're wondering why advertising isn't working when you put it in your status updates?
Me: Yes. (I think my brain started working by the way he stated his question).
Chris: One of the first things to understand, and that most people in business get wrong, is that social media isn't advertising. It's social media.
Me: (Speechless as I begin to think about what the words "social media" mean).
Chris: Social media is social. It's about connecting with people. It's about relationships.
It was at this point that my social media life began to flash before my eyes. I wasn't being social. I was advertising. Would I ever walk into a conversation and start talking about my open house. This is what I was doing . . .
Friend: Hey, I'm going to the Phillies game tonight. Do you want to go?
Me: Open House on Sunday 1-3!
Friend: Um. Ok. I'm not looking for a house. Are you planning to go on any trips soon?
Me: 123 Main Street is for Sale! Come check it out.
Would I ever do that in real life? Absolutely not. Was I connecting with people? Not at all. Was I helping anyone? Not in the least. Was I being social? Um . . . no. Chris gave me a much needed dose of reality. My approach was about me, not about my friends and family.
A Fresh Approach to Social Media
Chances are good that if you're a real estate agent you have a similar story. Maybe you've had luck with posts like I've done and it's an integral part of your business strategy. More than likely, if you've used this approach, your results were similar to mine (though, maybe your mother likes your posts).
How to Use Social Media for Real Estate Agents
Keep it Social. Seems easy enough, but it's something that can be easily forgotten. People usually go on social media outlets for entertainment and information. Provide those things.
Social Media and Advertising are Different. "Come to my open house" posts are advertising. Your friends and family aren't connected with you on social media so you can advertise to them (but they do want to hear from you).
Understand Your Audience and Outlets. Facebook. Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc. are all used by different people looking for different things.
Facebook - Share your life and comment on others lives. What's going on? What did you cook? What are you doing on vacation? Did you just try a great new restaurant? You can post real estate information, but it should be helpful to everyone and occasional. I may post this article as an apology for my previous posts about open houses. Occasionally, I may post an article I've written about general home buying or selling, as long as it's relevant and helpful. More than likely, I'll post a photo of food or my dog, comment on someone's post, or share something on a friend's wall.
Twitter - Mostly used for sharing other people's content and breaking news. If there's big news, especially local news, Twitter will be the first place that many will check.
LinkedIn - This is where professionals in the same industry connect. I have a lot of connections to other real estate agents, mortgage professionals, and people in various internet marketing fields like SEO's, social media experts, and content marketers. I'll definitely post this content on LinkedIn because it's right for that audience.
Google+ - This is a great place to post just about anything because Google loves to see links back to your articles. But, create Circles and post it to the appropriate circles instead of pushing everything out to everyone.
Pinterest - Some agents are starting to use this effectively to share photos. I don't have an account so I don't really know (you're probably best served to just use a few).
Join Groups - There are plenty of online groups and communities where you can connect with like minded people. These can be a great way to share your content, get ideas, contribute, and connect. Groups are a great way to share information with the people who will find it interesting and engaging. Just remember not to spam the group.
Be Helpful, Connect, and Have Fun! If you look at social media as a chore to do, it may be better to focus on other strategies. If you're helping others, connecting, and having fun, you probably have the best social media strategy around.
Thank you for reading! I'd love to hear how you use social media in your business in the comments below. What works for you?
About Jon Miller
Jon is a Realtor with Keller Williams Center City in Philadelphia, PA. He writes about internet marketing for real estate here on ActiveRain and continually works on his website to increase his presence in local search results through Content Marketing and Hyperlocal SEO. Keep up with Jon's internet marketing blogging by following him on ActiveRain and connecting on LinkedIn and Google+.