By Maria Patterson
RISMEDIA, June 29, 2011—Despite the hard-and-fast proof that social media is increasing exponentially—first for personal and now for professional use—the naysayers are still out there. You’ve heard them … “Social media is a waste of time.”… “I’ll never get more business from Facebook.”… “Social media is just another distraction.” While this faction, however, continues to cast aspersions, other real estate professionals are figuring out how to make social media work for them. And programs like The Personal Marketing Company’s new social media platform, Social SolutionsTM, are helping to take the guesswork—and the time wasting—out of the equation.
Sheryl Grider, development and operations coordinator for Traders Realty in Peoria, Illinois, has been in the real estate business for 30 years, and knows an important consumer shift when she sees one.
“I’ve listened to all the reports and have seen people gravitate to social media in recent years,” Grider explains. “I’ve seen the tremendous growth on Facebook and Twitter among normal, everyday consumers—it has exploded over the past few years. Facebook started out for college kids and when the general public found out how useful it was for communicating and staying in touch, it just made sense for us as a business to become involved in social media.”
There is a wealth of statistics to support Grider’s decision. According to a study conducted by Arbitron/Edison Research, Facebook is being used by 51% of Americans aged 12 and over compared to only 8% in 2008. Twenty-seven percent of small businesses are using Facebook in 2011, according to Network Solutions 2010 State of Small Business Report, representing a 17% growth since just June 2010. Similar growth is documented for LinkedIn and Twitter as well.
According to Grider, social media is an important communication device for Traders Realty’s agents. It also provides her firm with a new-found level of flexibility…and speed. “As opposed to your website, social media makes it very easy and fast to update consumers on what’s happening with our company.” Grider uses social media to post information about fundraising events her firm is involved in, pictures from events, and links to great articles. “It’s much easier to do this on Facebook as opposed to changing out your website. Facebook helps guide people to our website.”
For social media to be effective for real estate professionals, two things must happen, says Grider: it must be quick and easy; and it must involve the posting of targeted, quality content consistently. “Agents have to think about who their audience is and what they’re trying to accomplish,” explains Grider. “You have to reach consumers with information about the market, home values, loan values, how to take care of their properties, and then integrate postings about listings. The consumer will get turned off if all they see is listing after listing.”
This is where Social Solutions from The Personal Marketing Company (TPMC) is making a huge difference for Grider and her agents. By providing consistent, quality information to post in a turnkey fashion, TPMC provides brokers with peace of mind, knowing that their agents are posting appropriate and professional information. The content provided by TPMC is available in five different content categories so that agents can choose the category that suits their own personality and is most like something they would post themselves. The content is lifestyle-oriented and designed to complement other information an agent might post, such as local market data, personal messages, and, yes, the occasional listing.
“Consumers don’t want to be sold by agents on Facebook,” says Grider. “They want you to be a resource for good information about real estate, and then when it comes time for them to buy or sell, you’ve already gained their trust.”
TPMC’s Social Solutions program allows Grider to engage even her veteran agents in social media. “Many of my seasoned agents are not necessarily high-tech—that’s part of the struggle for them because the world is evolving so quickly,” she explains. “We want to make sure they can use all the tools that are out there for them, so we’re encouraging them to turn to TPMC to help give them that content. They can then add in their own personal posts, but TPMC ensures consistent posting is taking place.”
Lynn Carlile is one such veteran REALTOR® with Traders Realty. Carlile admits that she is not a heavy user of technology for connecting with people and prefers to connect one-on-one with clients via phone calls or text messages. She realized the need, however, to bridge the gap with social media.
“The typical consumer today is searching for information through social media sites,” says Carlile. “I began social networking knowing I had a supportive team of experts that would make me look professional and updated.”
TPMC took the guesswork out of social media for Carlile with a program that posts automatically for the agent. The content posts directly to the agent’s blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—the agent doesn’t need to do a thing.
“The Personal Marketing Company is working to keep pace with the consumer’s need for real estate information, delivered in a professional and truthful way,” says Carlile. “When I do not take time out of my day to post, TPMC is posting for me. I like that!”
“This is a huge time saver for the agent,” says Grider. “They still need to post local information, but the content they receive through TPMC saves them from having to spend time researching articles and chasing information.” The information from TPMC is professionally researched and written with quality photos and links that lead the reader to more information. In a nutshell, it is designed to help position the agent as an expert.
Grider says an agent’s goal should be to post something every day. “If you post something monthly, then there’s not enough new information there. But you also have to be careful about overkill.”
One of the biggest mistakes real estate professionals can make, says Grider, is not considering social media as a serious source of business. Through Google Analytics, Grider was able to determine that Facebook was in the top 13 referral sources for the company’s website.
“Some form of social media is here to stay,” says Grider. “For people in the younger generation and those being born into the world today, they are growing up with social media. There will probably be something that comes out that hasn’t been thought of yet, and there may be some sort of shakeout where certain social media sites won’t last, but social media will be a permanent part of life and business.”
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