As many social media experts, gurus, and ninjas try to “monetize” social media for their clients, others are focusing simply on the connection and interaction with clients.  Dare I say “engaging”?  Engagement used to be for when 2 people decided to get married, but today it has quickly become the reason you use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets.  In fact, it might be the most overused word of 2009.  We all agree social media and engagement are here to stay though, at least for now.

I want to take this article in a slightly different direction.  That direction is using Facebook, Linkedin, and maybe even Twitter to boost your lead conversions today.   At my brokerage, Investor Nation Realty, lead generation is the lifeblood of our company.  We distribute leads to our Realtors who then call and follow up using a CRM tool to nurture the leads.  As a company we have your standard Facebook Fan Page and I have all my Realtors on Linkedin.  Getting them to use Twitter has been a struggle or even actively use Linkedin and Facebook.   As with any group of people, some of them get it, some of them don’t.

The problem with lead generation is you seem to get leads in various forms; some with phone numbers, some without.   The problem is also the solution. This is what you want.  In converting leads frequency of call attempts, emails, or otherwise comes to mind as does the most important element; recency.  He who calls the lead first seems to win the business in the real estate industry.  I want to add a third element:

Recency – How quickly you try to reach a lead after you receive it.  Often the quickest person or company to respond gets the business

Frequency – How often you try to reach a lead after you receive it.

Format – What methods are you using to try to reach a lead?  Most of us are using phone and email.

In the summer of 2009, we started using social media to convert leads by changing up the formats in which we tried to reach them.   First let me preface by saying that any attempts to reach a prospect or lead are done in a non-salesy manner with serving the client at the forefront of this type of campaign.

Using Social Media to Vary the Format

Assuming as an agent or as a brokerage you have Facebook Pages and Linkedin profiles already set up which are clean, professional, succinct with your website or blog, and somewhat memorable  (Please no Mafia Wars or growing tomatoes on your Farmville).

The strategy is this;  when a new lead comes in which has an uncommon name (example:  Ryan Hinricher, since there’s only one), quickly search on Linkedin, and then send a request to connect with that person.  Here’s a sample request I recently sent out to a prospect who signed up on our site to view properties for sale:

linkedin req

If the potential client or lead does accept your request, you now have access to a trove of information which you didn’t before including; employment, education, and a general idea of who they are as a person.    Also In doing so you’ve reached out to them in a way in which your competition, at least for now is not.  Those are obvious pros, but what are the cons?   First off you’ll be spending additional time searching and you’ll come up empty handed.  Try doing a search for your new prospect, John Smith.  Good luck with that one.  I’d say roughly 20-25% of the time we’re able to locate them on Linkedin and maybe 25% of those folks will accept our connection request.

The pros outweigh the cons and I feel that while it may be a bit more aggressive, most prospects who are serious appreciate the aggressiveness. They’ll realize we apply the same aggressiveness for finding and negotiating the perfect foreclosure for them.   Plus isn’t in our best interest to do everything contact and service someone who is showing genuine interest?

The second method, which I’ve found a bit less effective, is using the Facebook page.  Many people see Facebook as a very personal, non-business, experience, so our response rate is pretty low.  It doesn’t, however, take up much time and we’ve had maybe a 10-15% success rate in securing the connection this way.   The agent will go to the bottom left hand corner of the Facebook Page and hit the “Share” button.  This will prompt them to either share it with a friend if you start typing or just an email address.  We use this as a requirement on all of our leads we’re generating.  Everyone gets an invite to join our Fan Page.  Remember to make it about adding value to the user, not about YOU and YOUR Page.

facebook req

Although I wish everyone would accept our invitation on Facebook, the majority won’t.  I rarely accept all the invitation causes I receive from my friends on Facebook, so why would I from a total stranger?  If that stranger is truly interested in finding more information about your market, or getting the content you’re offering, then why not?  If they do, you now have access to a lot of personal information including their Birthday.  This makes dropping the Birthday card out in the mail much easier than the awkward questions that result from phone interviews and profiling.

In a new real estate economy where each and every lead and prospect is a precious commodity, real estate professionals can maximize the volume they already have versus always chasing after more leads.  Plus these tools are free to use.  Unfortunately it is extra effort.   Most of us are no stranger to that, especially in this economy.

These strategies work no matter if your lead generation is in-house or via Zillow, Trulia, or somewhere else.  You must tailor your reply and specifically mention where the lead originated from.

These methods can be used with most any other social media site, though outside of Linkedin and Facebook we’ve had abysmal results.  Usually too much time spent searching for them.   So go where your prospects already are and make this strategy part of your ongoing process.  I’ve incorporated a checklist on our CRM, SalesForce.  Prior to deletion of a prospect, the Realtor must complete the checklist which includes multiple calls, emails, a Linkedin request, and Fan Page suggestion on Facebook.

In doing so, you’ll likely have a leg up on your competitors who see this as too much effort.  The effort yields results.