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Realtor on Realtor Action – Is the RE.net a waste of time?

Have real estate agents missed the boat when it comes to using social media? At what point does it stop being work and just become a hobby?

What's Your SMM Strategy?

What's Your SMM Strategy?

I do believe that social media marketing (SMM) has a place in the modern sales repertoire, but not at the cost of other more efficient programs. It seems to me that an agent would want to start with a decent base (likely a blog) and then build outposts that lead back to that base.  I think Seomoz’s Rand Fishkin tackled the priorities well in his recent post.  Why spend so much time and energy on social media if your SEO is in the toilet?

Like many agents, I get quite a bit of business from referrals – a common argument for involvement in the re.net. The majority of my referrals come from three places.

  • Past clients who are happy the services I provided them
  • Windermere agents from Western Washington where most of my second-home buying clients live
  • CRS agents who prefer to refer to an agent with this designation and the level of experience /expertise it represents.

NAR members should download the NAR Relocation Report for their area. Where are people really moving from when they move to your town?

For Chelan County, WA people mostly move here from Washington state . The first out of state county to provide us inbound migration is Los Angeles County CA – 11th in the list of counties. The total number of families that moved here from L.A. is less than 2% of the total.

On the other hand, Western Washington counties in the Puget Sound region – King, Pierce and Snohomish provided 28% of the total movers.

I rarely get any business from agents who I know or have befriended through my involvement in Activerain or Twitter. I’m sure folks would refer to me if they had clients, but the truth is, they don’t. The numbers in the relocation report back that up. I need to focus on getting referrals from Western Washington.

Do we really need additional networks like Zolve or Broker Agent Social?

Does it really make sense to have a Linkedin account that is just you connected to all your online real estate buddies from across the internet? Does it make sense to push your Facebook Fan page in the race to get 1000 fans if all your fans are really just other agents who hope you reciprocate?

Photo By Kevin Krejci

Wanna be my friend on Facebook?

Shouldn’t your Linkedin account be filled with recommendations from clients who were happy with your services and would recommend you to others? Shouldn’t your Facebook Fan Page be a place for actual Fans?

Does it matter if you have 2000 followers on Twitter if half are other agents and the other half are spambots? I don’t Tweet for agents in Vermont or Texas. I expect my local news and chit chat would be boring. I hope they aren’t upset when I don’t follow them either. I tweet for my friends who I have met at Seattle Social Media Club. I tweet for Seattle area agents. I tweet for my new-found friends who work for the local newspaper or other local businesses. I tweet for all the people in Seattle who love my little faux-Bavarian vacation town and the recreation that surrounds it. I tweet to make connections that will lead to business or friendships.

Is your involvement in social media about points and followers or is it about running a business?

About Geordie Romer

Geordie Romer is a Realtor in Leavenworth Washington. He specializes in selling vacation homes in Leavenworth, Plain and Lake Wenatchee. He has been blogging on his own site since 2005 and guest posts for others around the web. In 2013, he rediscovered competitive cycling and if he's not showing houses, he just might be off riding his bike.

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  • Good points, Georgie. I really appreciate your article and how you articulate the importance of having a specific overall strategy and really understanding who your clients are and where they come from to support and dictate the types and kinds of outreach and marketing an agent engages in.

    As with any strategic marketing initiative, the time and effort spent in using social media should an ROI of some kind.

    We also do well to remind ourselves that massive ego strokes (e.g. thousands of followers or LinkedIn contacts) don’t necessarily translate into more clients or strategic partnerships that build and grow business.

  • There’s no doubt that a well planned strategy for social media will have a positive impact on one’s overall business but like so many things in real estate, Social Media is being pimped as something it’s not and never will be and lately it’s been getting deep out there. I’ve seen session topics at Real Estate conferences that say you can “Be Linked In For Dollars” etc. , etc., that make promises to create social media gurus that can enjoy more income immediately through a 45 minute conference track. That’s why I recommend going to RE Barcamps that are not affiliated with anyone that has an agenda (a true “unconference”) and ask the real “feet on the street” professionals the truth about what works and what doesn’t. Want to know the unvarnished truth? Listen to someone like Kris Berg or Tim Moncrief talk about what and how much time they spend on the things that work.

    Done correctly, a business professional can count social media as one of the more important arrows in an overall marketing,branding and identity quiver. Sadly, most real estate professionals do not plan marketing strategies that take into consideration long term prospects, branding and the ROI that can be put to the bottom line. Jay Thompson didn’t start getting leads the day he wrote his first blog post. The dynamics of reaching prospects and developing sales relationships are changing but that doesn’t mean that spending a dollar on the effort today is going to generate two dollars immediately afterward.

    Blogging and Social Media are time consuming efforts and may not be right for everyone, that’s what makes it so easy for people to sell a pig in a poke to unsuspecting people who think you can throw a miniscule investment at it and have it work on auto pilot.

    Social media has been invaluable to me as I have been able to build a brand and get recognition that would have heretofore cost a fortune in marketing and PR. When it comes to me being able to say it has resulted in direct sales, not so much.

  • About time someone said it! I know exactly what you mean Geordie and it’s an approach I’ve taken with the company blog and social media marketing. The question I asked myself was: Does it matter if other agents do not comment/follow my blog? The answer was an astounding “no”.

    Like you pointed out, business rarely comes from resources like AR, FB and/or Twitter so what is the point of having all those fans, comments and hoopla from other agents? None in my opinion but it does help the ego to know other professionals are reading.

    I use blogging and use social media outlets to connect with a specific audience looking for Sno. Co. real estate and most of the time they do not leave comments. But they do register and use our search which is where it all counts.

  • I’ve never been a real estate agent, so I can’t precisely say whether it’s valuable for an agent to use SMM to get business. HOWEVER, I can tell you unequivocally that many agents (and other real estate professionals, especially lenders) say they get a ton of business through their online networking. And this only makes sense — after all, we all know that buyers and sellers are spending their time online, so it’s totally reasonable that the RE.net is where they will meet their service providers.

    I do think you have to differentiate between uses of the RE.net to win business versus using the RE.net to get smarter about our industry. For example, when agents prospect for clients on Zillow Advice, that’s a B2C activity which will win them business. But when agents gab on Active Rain about how annoying it is to hold open houses, that’s a B2B activity which will educate them on how to be a better agent (or not). Both of these activities involve the RE.net, but they serve very different purposes. If I were an agent, I’d spend time on both types of activities, but I’d limit my B2B gabbing in the interest of finding more time for B2C prospecting.

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  • Spencer I speak to many of those same RE professionals that attribute a great deal of what goes to the bottom line on their social media and blogging initiatives – they ALL had to put an extraordinary amount of work,trial and error to fill that pipeline and start that flow. You’re observation is dead on but I would hasten to say you’ve made an assumption that all agents even understand that B2B & B2C stand for business to business and business to consumer. I’ve been at this for a long time and I have to be constantly reminded by my partners to keep the vernacular – technical or otherwise – more fundamental.

  • Thanks for all the great observations.

    I agree with Toby, Mike and Spencer that SMM can be invaluable. However, agents need to think about how they are going to strategically use Social Media to connect with consumers (B2C)or to connect to those other real estate professionals and vendors who will help them further their business goals.

    Spencer mentions using the re.net to learn more about the industry. I think this is a great point. I learn more about current trends, legal updates, sales strategies and marketing every morning from my feed reader than I do in a year of weekly office meetings.

    Are the rockstars of the re.net to blame for the way too many of use social media?

    Many of the social media darlings of the re.net are vendors (and I am a fan of many of you). They use social media to connect to their consumers throughout their market – Realtors throughout the U.S. They travel to rebarcamps and Inman and collect friends on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin like it’s going out of style.

    Their consumers are Realtors not home buyers or home sellers.

    If we are going to play in the social media pool we need to remember who OUR consumers are and spend as much time as we can connecting to them.

  • “Are the rockstars of the re.net to blame for the way too many of use social media?”

    Depends on who you refer to as an RE.net Rockstar. I know a few :), some are vendors, some are bleeding edge re professionals, most all of them are very insightful and honest business people who share what they believe to be the unvarnished truth of what works and what doesn’t and realize that much of this is still uncharted territory. To say that social media is “overused” is probably a misnomer – abused, misused, unglued, yes. (sound like Vince the slap chop dude) If you’re “overusing” these kind of tools, you have entirely too much time on your hands.

    “Many of the social media darlings of the re.net are vendors (and I am a fan of many of you).”

    There are many vendors in the RE.net that have devoted resources, cash and a great deal of transparent time in an effort to advance web 2.0 in the real estate vertical – the return on investment for this effort is abysmal at best. It’s an awesome branding opportunity, but as far as direct marketing goes, it’s not a business generator, at least that’s been our experience. Granted, we have not made an attempt to sell directly in most of these venues. I’ve been doing some evaluation of the efforts of the past couple of years and I am implementing some changes to our social media strategy, including revamping our blogging efforts and cutting out some of the channels that overlap too much.

    “Their consumers are Realtors not home buyers or home sellers. If we are going to play in the social media pool we need to remember who OUR consumers are and spend as much time as we can connecting to them.”

    As the uncharted territory I referred to early becomes more familiar, best practices will emerge.

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  • I think everyone here is making very solid points, and in some degree, and saying similar things. Focusing to much on social media as a way to get business is daunting task with minimal return – I’m excluding blogging on privately owned site here.

    “I am implementing some changes to our social media strategy, including revamping our blogging efforts and cutting out some of the channels that overlap too much.”

    Overlap is so common in re.net social media. There are many social re.net networks in cyberland to post listings, blog for free, promote services that, in my opinion, an agent’s B2C message can be diluted and caries little weight.

    How many networks does it take to get to the top of the re.net lolly pop?

  • I think it’s all in the way you do it. It can take very little time to do optimization and SMM every day, if you do it smartly.
    Other than just trying to network, these mediums are amazing learning tools. You can connect with people everywhere and learn how others are doing it in different (or sometimes the same area). It’s also great for sharing ideas and concepts, and sometimes just the ability to rant and rave to someone who “knows” is a great after work stress reliever.
    It’s also greatly on the types of connections you make online that I think really matters. If you just try to add real estate agents from across the country at random to be your “friends” and don’t engage in at least some research behind selecting them (are there similar corporations/businesses in the area that might regularly transfer people?, do you share some sort of interest etc.), or don’t engage in getting into a some kind of relationship with that person– I don’t think you can expect much. Without strategy and regular work, SMM’s are a hobby and not business.

  • Rebecca,
    Sounds like you have a cohesive strategy. Here’s where the rubber meets the road:
    “every day, if you do it smartly”

    Keep up the good work!

  • Great Job Geordie!

    I think of myself as someone who stays ahead of the trends, unlike most agents who wait till something appears in Realtor Magazine (I think they plan on covering slap bracelets and stone washed Jordache Jeans this month).

    I got onto Twitter and Facebook in the early stages and watched as real life people grew in FB (as opposed to teenie-boppers on myspace) while twitter hit the news and was overrun with useless people saying useless things. It’s a great technology, but it’s not a lead generator.

    Social Media has to make sense. If you don’t have something interesting to say you can’t fake it. I try to explain Twitter to my friends and family and they just say “Why? Why would I want to ‘follow’ somebody? What can they possibly be saying that is that interesting?” The answer is probably nothing.

    I use and love FB to this very day. I keep up with friends and learn new things, I don’t however generate leads, although I have met a few people who I worked with who found me on facebook they would have found my website anyway. I stay up with clients who I formed a connection with and became my friends.

    None of this will ever replace blogging and if you don’t have a blog than you certainly shouldn’t be microblogging because there’s no end game. You’ve got 1000 “friends” who still won’t pick up the phone to call you when they’re ready to move because you haven’t given them anything more than 140 character quips on life.

  • I referenced Kris Berg in an earlier comment, if you get a chance go read this post by her today in Inman News. “Our 20 percent investment in Internet-related advertising accounted for the biggest component of our production — 36 percent of our business came from social media-related activities including our blog, our Web site”,http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/krisberg/forging-real-estate-relationships-online?page=0%2C1

  • This excellent debate should be raising the question about social media intentions: How much business do you get when you go to a cocktail party? If you are there with an intention of “selling,” probably none. And no new friends either. If you are there having a good time and making new friends someone will probably eventually ask what you do for work. At that point if you have a compelling story to tell and some value add, business will follow.

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  • That is a big problem I see with most Twitter users. All the real estate people are following other real estate agents, which makes absolutely no sense if you are looking for clients. If you were a title agent or loan officer it would make sense.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent thoughts Geordie. This is one reason why I have not spent a gazillion hours cultivating friendships on ActiveRain – I have a few friends whom I correspond with and share things with regularly but for the most part, very few people from AR are going to refer to me – I need to focus strictly on NY, southern PA, and NJ agents.

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