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For Social Media ROI, Content Rules

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By Gee Dunsten

RISMEDIA, July 15, 2010—If we turn the clock back 30 years ago, when we started down this path as real estate agents, it was all about “Call us if you want to sell your home or find a home.” Eventually, we moved from a selling and listing focus to a marketing and then social marketing focus. In the last 2-3 years in particular, however, our industry has experienced perhaps our most significant shift—we’ve moved from being a product-based industry to an advice-based industry. This is exactly where social media comes in.

As real estate professionals, social media allows us to expand our reach and can help position us as what I call “knowledge leaders.” But this doesn’t happen just by posting or tweeting. Using social media effectively requires creating a specific strategy, and this strategy must revolve around providing content, because this business is no longer about us, it’s about understanding what we can provide in terms of advice. It’s no longer about who we know—it’s about who knows us and this is where social media plays a big role.

It’s all about understanding what’s important to the consumer not us (the agent). In today’s climate, there’s an enormous amount of confusion in terms of real estate and the public is being heavily influenced by the national media and the national statistics they put forth. But we all know that real estate is local and every region, state, city, and neighborhood has its own individual story to tell. Social media gives us the chance to get granular and deliver accurate facts and information about our local communities to our social networks.

Top 5 in Real Estate Member Krisstina Wise from the Good Life Team in Austin, Texas, admits that while a lot of real estate agents are paying a lot of attention to social media, they’re not getting a good rate of return on their time and investment. While social media is a great tool to amplify our reach, brand, and network, agents must be authentic as well as personal to be effective. Having rich content to share is critical as is providing information on a localized level. Those real estate professionals, like Krisstina, who are leveraging social media effectively, are using a well-defined, content-oriented strategy.

Social media also provides us with a chance to share our sincere excitement and love for our communities and, in turn, our knowledge about those communities. As Greg Rand of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in Westchester County, New York, so aptly states, “think of Facebook as the backyard barbeque.” A site like Facebook allows you to become the local advocate of your community and share news such as Little League scores and new restaurant reviews. But be careful not to be the person at the barbeque who everyone runs away from because all we’re doing is trying to sell homes. Instead, use the power of indirect selling.

You will offend people if you post a new listing more than once a week. Instead, share something unique about the listing, without actually talking about the listing, and also use the power of pictures and videos, because people would rather watch something than read something. For example, take a picture of something interesting around or near the property and post it on your Facebook page. This will draw comments from Facebook friends, but it also subtly plants a seed in people’s minds about the property being for sale.

Posing a question is another great way to generate. Post a question such as, “What’s a good backyard grill?” or “What’s the best Italian restaurant in town?” and you’ll generate a spirited debate. Such a tactic humanizes us and makes us more approachable while at the same time reinforces the fact that we are all about the community.

Agents who are simply posting that they went to the store to buy bread and milk are falling down because they are not focusing on this type of content-oriented strategy. They are losing money because they are wasting their time on social media without a clear plan. Be knowledgeable and be positive in your posts, because people want to deal with people who are upbeat. Providing rich, relevant news is the way to effectively expand your sphere and gain the social media ROI you are looking for.

George “Gee” Dunsten, president of Gee Dunsten Seminars, Inc., has been a real estate agent and broker/owner for almost 40 years, and a senior instructor with the Council of Residential Specialist for more than 20 years. He is currently broker/owner of Legacy Realty of Salisbury, Inc., and president of Legacy Development Corporation. To reach Gee,e-mail, gee@gee-dunsten.com.

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