Realtors : Finding a Social Media Strategy

Realtors : Finding a Social Media Strategy

Social Media – A No Pitch Zone?

I know quite a few people in the real estate social media space. Many of them are some of the most intelligent people I know. These are the same people that recognized Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites as more than just a place to chat with friends well before the masses jumped on board.   Many of these people have in the past few months really started to consider if there is a place for a strategy in social media.

In the begining of social media use, the concept was simple, it was sheerly a way to broaden your number of connections, selling was unheard of and spammers were called out publicly.  The concept of a “strategy” for social media was a taboo subject.  The most important concept was to be a resource and help others, bring to the table what you knew and people would come to you.

Are You Making Money From Your Social Media Efforts?

There are those in the real estate field that I can assure you are making money from their social media endeavors.  The Phoenix Real Estate Guy - Jay Thompson is one of them.  Jay gets thousands of visitors to his website by blogging and engaging with those that comment.  Dale Chumbley’s 365 Things to do in Vancouver, WA is another, he’s stated to me personally that he’s actually gotten multiple deals from the site in it’s short 160 day existence.

Is The Average Realtor Making Money From Social Media?

I think the vast majority would answer no.  But I don’t think it’s because they can’t.  I believe it’s something different.  For various reasons I think many of those that have flocked to social media are looking for a magic bullet to increase their business.  I believe that these Realtors are expecting social media to be leads just falling over themselves calling the agent to get information.  But where I see a huge disconnect is one of the primary rules of sales, Ask for the sale!

Asking For The Sale

If a salaried salesperson in a different industry were to go through a sales pitch with someone and not ask for the order, they’d be fired.  I believe that many Realtors are just never trained to ask for the sale whether that’s in person or online.  Now in no possible way am I suggesting that Realtors go online and start selling their services and stalk people to make sure they use them for the transaction of real estate.  Instead, what I’m just pushing is that after an agent has built social capital with their groups of followers and friends in social media, that at least in some capacity they remember to ask for the sale whether that be a gentle request if the person knows anyone interested in the market right now to have them give a call or something more simple.  I believe that the single biggest thing a Realtor can do is to build a database list, so why not at least ask those that you are interacting and engaging with to sign up for a newsletter / market update email from you?  (assuming the person is living in your area)

Why not ask people that follow you on occasion to subscribe if they find value in not just your friendship but also in your work?

Do you have systems in place to encourage your followers to subscribe to your information?  Do you feel comfortable enough to soft sell people to remember you are in real estate?

Twitter Is A Connector

As proof of how powerful this can be, the other day I made a comment on Twitter:

“Does anyone know how to request more information from a Realtor on Realtor.com I simply can’t find the info request button anymore”

I was expecting to get responses from Realtors across the country complaining about the changes to Realtor.com and agreeing that it’s odd that it’s impossible to contact the listing agent from a property on the site. Instead the first tweet I got back :

“@EricStegemann you should just find a house and go with @KarenSTL she’s the best realtor you’ll find.”

This message was not from another Realtor. This was from a college student who is unrelated to Karen Goodman a Realtor in St Louis.

Walking The Line – Hard and Soft Selling

But here’s what separates those using social media to drive business and those that don’t. Karen Goodman knows how to be fun on Twitter, but she knows how to softly remind people that she’s in real estate. There are tweets going through her stream reminding people that she’s holding an open house, that she’s going to listing appointments that evening. It’s not waving a flag saying “I’m a Realtor, you should use me.” But it’s still effective. In her stream she offers people market updates that always include a subscribe link, and a way to sign up to receive notifications when homes sell in a specific area. Her social media strategy may not be written but it was effective enough that a 20something made sure to reach out, thinking I was looking to buy a home, and made sure that I would use Karen if I was.

This is the foundation for a winning online social media strategy.

Jul 25, 2010
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8 comments so far
  • Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 7.15 am

    Eric, most of the people who come talk at our local associations about SM are newbies to SM and are there to sell a monthly program or materials. The stuff they pitch is garbage. When we get the fliers around here, I google talkers and it is quite clear from their Facebook accounts, Linkedin, Twitter and websites that it is all a waste of time.It's not easy to find the people who are really doing this and incorporating it in their real estate business plan.

  • Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 7.18 am

    I hear you Ted. There are the “snake oil” salesmen out there. But there are some really great people that do get it. And ironically for the most part many of those who are successful don't have time to go teach others since they are so busy! So we look to those individuals who have the good content but have chosen a pat of sharing information rather than selling.

  • Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 7.45 am

    Great post, Eric! I agree that users of social media should keep in mind why they using it, even if just to keep in touch with friends or develop relationships. However, I take a different stance on “selling.” In my opinion, if you are offering a service and/or product that others find valuable, the referral will come naturally. To overtly ask someone for a referral just seems contrived and unnatural to me. I find myself thinking back to The Cluetrain Manifesto (awesome book), which expounds upon the idea that consumers really just want natural “conversation” with companies and individuals selling prodcuts/services – not a manufactured sales pitch, but rather an honest, open exchange of dialogue. I think it is safe to say this is why Jay and Dale have had such success (besides the fact they are two very smart men).On the flip side, I do think it is important the people are aware of your business. A Realtor who uses social media and never alludes to the work he/she does is making a mistake. To Ted's point, simply creating and sending an e-newsletter is just not enough. If you are sending something like this out, I believe it is important that the information is tailored to the interests, needs and desires of the reader. A common mistake I have witnessed is writers tailoring pieces to be representative of their objectives vs. those of their audience. Big mistake… I think the bottom line is some people understand “the principles” right out of the gate, other need a bit of coaching and then there are those who may never get it….

  • Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 2.39 pm

    Eric – Wow! It means a lot to me that my social media efforts have impressed you…the RE tech whiz. I actually try not to overtly ask for business on twitter or Facebook. Instead, I try to be an information resource and have real conversations with people about my life and there lives. I do make sure people are aware that I'm an agent by pointing out my listings, but not in a “3 bedroom/2 bath ranch for sale” comment. Instead, I talk to my friends with something like “Hey, check out my new listing…cool old house near Tower Grove Park” or “I wish I had a bedroom with exposed brick like my new listing does.” These posts give my friends who are not in the real estate market a reason to click through to my blog. The chances that my followers are going to buy one of my listings is slim, but I've had very good success with them contacting me when they are ready to buy or sell, or they hear someone else looking to move. The best tip I can offer anyone though is to get out an meet your social media contacts in person. There is nothing like a real connection. After they meet you, they start paying more attention to you tweets/comments/blog posts, and it makes them even more unlikely to refer people to you if they can. I've learned a lot from watching how Eric went from being a broker in my town, St. Louis, to moving to the national RE scene by getting out to conferences and meeting the movers & shakers that are highly connected. I hope to follow your lead as I start to do more teaching on using social media to agents.

  • Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 3.59 pm

    Good Morning E, Loved this post! You continue to improve as a Blogger, and someday may be as good at it, as you are designing Kick-Ass tools for Realtors (c)…You know me well enough to know I am right there with you on this issue. As part of our Agent Training we incorporate a simple method of “recognizing and responding”, meaning we teach them to recognize a Lead generation opportunity, and how to appropriately respond to it. I know it sounds “Basic”, but heck that's where we are right now, at the “Basic” level. Example, in Facebook a potential lead would be a “like”, a “comment”, or a “join” and if you are really doing correctly and engaging your community, it would be a Guest “post” or “Update”. In Twitter it's different, as it is in the other SM sites. After doing this for 7 yrs on my own, and now here at CB Coastal Alliance in Long Beach, my advise to everyone (including SM Gurus) is simple…go “Back To Basics!” When you do, you will see great “engagement” by those you are teaching and ultimately that is where true satisfaction can be measured.Stay Blogging My Friends! @CBRELongBeach

  • Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 4.07 pm

    Ted, great response. I know you speak for the majority of Agents in your comment regarding “Garbage”. I'm not sure it's actual garbage, but I do think (and have been a “loud” proponent of) “Back to Basics” for training. I know alot of “Well intentioned” SM Trainers that just won't stop teaching what they know. problem is what they know is too much for the students, as a whole, to handle. I use this analogy alot, because I believe in it so passionately, I have coached youth sports for over 25 yrs. Ranging from T-Ball to High School Varsity. I would never think of assuming (because we all know what happens then) my athletes could just skip over the “Basics” and go right to what I know! Let's start with getting down on a ground ball, where to stand on a Free Throw, the correct technique for a proper “Egg Beater” (Water Polo stroke) … Then, and only then, should we move into more advanced methodology. When you see those ads for SM Training, ask yourself… “Will I be able to understand it?” Stay Blogging My Friends! @CBRELongBeach

  • Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11.48 pm

    I think the big thing is as CB states, more 101 stuff and it is even more off track than what the RE.net Community understands. Read or download (on Audible.com) The Long TailExample – Agents understand 1.0 webistes I call this being stuck with a “Yellow Pages” mentality. When we come in with all our Wiz-Bang stuff, we really over-look the fact that most of our industry really does not understand that a “Brochure style” or “Display ad style” website does not fit with consumer habits today and why it does not fit. The fact that our average agent population grew up with the encyclopedia Brittanica, Happy Days, All In the Family, ABC, NBC & CBS being their whole world of information, they are handicapped by not understanding that they need to watch what the consumer is doing and understand it does not fit in with anything that we are getting from NAR or CAR (for me). NAR is great for getting us statistics but that is about it, their programs are handicapped by a generation that is slow to understand.40% of agent calls to my phone have caller ID blocking which is a total lack of understanding of mobile communications in a sales environment.I am working on a purchase right now and my communication with my buyer is happening 90% over FB direct Chat.The list could go on and on.Even though I sell real estate, a big part of me is being a Social Anthropologist. Where ever I am, Stores, Starbucks, Movie Theaters, Parks, events, I watch as a Anthropologist would, how people interact, what they do, what they use. I need to sell and reach people – then I need to know their habits.

  • icanewfriend
    Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 8.57 pm

    Eric:Great Post! There is definitely business to come from engaging in Social Media Marketing and plenty of it – BUT IT TAKES TIME. Recently, I wrote my own blog post, which I would like to share alink to. I think it says what needs to be said and strengthens Eric's argument.http://www.icanewfriend.com/blog/?p=219Eric – I look forward to reading your future posts that, I am sure, will also be on point.Regards,Marc LeVineDirector of Social MediaRiaEnjolie, Inc.http://www.RiaEnjolie.com

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