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Using New Technology to Connect with Today’s Consumers

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RISMEDIA, September 21, 2009—With 80% of today’s buyers starting their home searches online, it is crucial for real estate professionals to keep up with the latest technology trends in order to stay in front of their consumers. In this month’s NAR Power Broker Roundtable, real estate professionals share their tips on how to successfully use social networking to their advantage in today’s marketplace. 

Moderator:
Virginia Cook, Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR 

Participants:
Kaira Rouda, COO, Real Living, Columbus, Ohio
Michael Fischer, SVP Marketing, Coldwell Banker, Parsippany, New Jersey
Jodi Dines, CIO, Real Estate One, Detroit 

Cook_VirginiaVirginia Cook: For those of us who’ve been in the business long enough to remember those heavy Multiple Listing Books we carried around, the revolution in real estate marketing over the past few years has been nothing short of astonishing. From laptop computers to BlackBerries to YouTube and Twitter, the still-evolving technologies and social media have presented both opportunity and challenge. Are we doing the best we can to harness the power of these technologies to increase our access to these consumers? Kaira, is it possible to connect with consumers without utilizing the new technology? 

Kaira Rouda: With 80% of today’s buyers starting their home searches online, I would have to say probably not. We need to meet our customers where they are and, today, that’s on their smart phones. Of course, individual Rouda_Kaira_0407agents have to find what works for them, but we tend to embrace Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media as the best new ways to target our audience. 

Michael Fischer: Absolutely. Our goal is to know what streams consumers are using and how we can best make them accessible. We want people to be able to get our listings anytime and anywhere—even if they’re sitting on a beach somewhere and daydreaming about having a vacation home. We launched a platform last October that enables them to get what they’re looking for right that very minute—right there on the beach—on their BlackBerry or iPhone. Next month, we add a new application with a GPS function. 

Jodi Dines: We are actively pushing and training our agents to increase their presence on social media—especially Fischer_MichaelYouTube, where we’ve been posting every new listing since way back in May 2008. Now we’re doing the math to get a real sense of how much our brokers are seeing in terms of return for effort. 

KR: There is a lot of return for effort if you are consistent. We find LinkedIn to be a very professional arena, and Facebook is growing exponentially. We try to keep Twitter posts very relevant, full of up-to-date neighborhood information that people really want and can use—and we feed those Twitter posts into our Facebook page, so we reach two audiences with one Tweet. But as is often the case, we also know that no one thing is the answer. 

MF: You have to do that, because the fact is that every consumer will want to reach a salesperson at some point. The better Dines_Jodiyou are at keeping in touch, the greater the chance that you will be that salesperson. 

JD: Mentoring and training are very important, especially for those agents who didn’t grow up with new technology and social media. Some are overwhelmed. They say, “I can’t put out Tweets and update Facebook and keep up with my e-mails and everything else.” So you have to work with them and help them focus on the best ways to stay connected to their customers. Most will get it eventually, and we’re still experimenting on the corporate level on how best to enhance the big picture. 

VC: Of course, you can look to NAR for resources and assistance in navigating and effectively utilizing the latest technology to better reach consumers. With publications, statistics, field guides, webinars, blogs and more, you’ll find what you need at www.REALTOR.org. 

The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Virginia Cook, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones. 

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