RISMEDIA, March 22, 2010—Social media is taking the real estate industry by storm as real estate companies and professionals alike are using popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep in touch with their clients and prospects.
While the real estate industry is ever-evolving, professionals around the country are doing their part to enter the social scene and connect with their clients on a whole new level. In addition to the social aspect that goes along with networking, real estate professionals are finding simple ways to leverage their business at the same time, creating a true, win-win situation. Keller Williams Realty is a prime example of a real estate company striving to focus on the “social” aspect in everything they do.
A Social-Media Mindset
“For Keller Williams Realty, social media isn’t just about broadcasting our message—we want to strike up a conversation and engage our community. Really, these sites are a great way to provide valuable information that our agents can use in their business, or even on their own Facebook or Twitter pages,” says Amber Presley, PR and social media manager, Keller Williams Realty International.
As social media infiltrates the real estate market , agents continue to perceive it as a now-standard way to connect with clients.
“Social media provides a way to connect with people on the level they want to be connected with,” says Sue Adler, Realtor/Partner, Keller Williams Realty, in Essex, Union and Morris counties. “Connecting with individuals through social media shouldn’t be the end-all, though. It is simply an extension of what real estate professionals do on the phone or in person, and it should be used to facilitate face-to-face time.”
“Social media is a new medium for real estate agents to advertise, market and lead generate,” says Ben Kinney, real estate team owner, Keller Williams Bellingham, Washington, and “is creating a fundamental shift in the way we communicate, educate, shop and nurture our relationships. While being involved with social media is half the battle, the other half comes through creating good content that will spread effectively. It is crucial to be consistent and create informative content, as this is what will spread virally.”
When approaching social media, it is important to remember the “social” aspect and focus on providing information that you yourself would find interesting.
“I tend to post a variety of content on Facebook and Twitter,” says Adler. “It is important to keep it interesting by sharing videos, business and social information as well as questions so people can interact.
Adds Kinney: “Real estate agents need to create good community resources so they can establish themselves as an expert in their local market for free, to thousands of people.”
Strategic Business Building
Social media is not just a tool to strengthen existing relationships with friends, clients and your sphere of influence; it is a way to strategically build your business through creating community-related resources as well as generating traffic and leads.
“I use social media as a tool to leverage my time, my expenses and my business—not as a replacement for any traditional business activities,” says Kinney.
While social media has allowed him to network and work his sphere of influence, Kinney has focused on successfully integrating social media into his real estate business by:
-Becoming an expert on his local area—Using Twitter and Facebook fan pages to create community-related resources
-Generating buyer and seller leads—Using targeted Facebook pay-per-click ads
-Networking by occupation—Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great resources to meet targeted individuals.
-Farming social networks—Using tools like demandspot.com, you can search for leads based on what words are used in tweets.
-Working his sphere—Status updates, tweets, blog posts and pictures can all serve as a reason to pick up the phone and call.
“I see social networks as a warm introduction to REO asset managers, local and national builders, relocation companies and investors,” says Kinney.
While many may argue that being involved with social media is the way of the future, real estate professionals shouldn’t get involved just to get involved.
“Social media has taken the place of the local newspaper in terms of being top of mind, but if you are going to get involved, be sure to use it correctly, or it can ultimately hurt your business,” says Adler.
Adler’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and her blog have provided her with business opportunities that she never would have had otherwise. Through posting links to videos as well as LinkedIn testimonials, Adler has created a steady referral business in addition to gaining a lot of attention both locally and nationally.
Focus on Being Social
Social media has proven a win-win situation for Adler, Kinney and Keller Williams Realty as a company.
“I’ve received a tremendous response from my clients,” says Kinney. “My use of social media has helped to solidify my reputation as an aggressive real estate agent and it also shows that I’m exhausting every market resource available and thinking outside the box.”
With a large network of friends, followers and connections, Kinney is able to refer business back to individuals who refer business to him, creating a positive situation for everyone involved.
A Top-Down Approach
Over the past year, Keller Williams Realty has continued to focus on educating its agents first and foremost about the benefits of being involved with social media, and how to use it properly.
“It has been part of our strategy to not only build up the presence of Keller Williams Realty on social media sites, but also to build our agents’ presence through education. In addition to Webinars and teleseminars, we have developed how-to guides for the most popular social media sites with videos to help our agents understand the tools, as well as weekly articles in our e-newsletter on new and emerging trends,” says Presley. “Most recently, we launched the KW Blog, which focuses on social media, and soon Keller Williams University will launch its new course, Internet Lead Generation, with a social media module, focusing on developing a smart social media business strategy.”
“The most important thing to remember about social media is that it’s all about being social,” says Adler. “There is no secret to being successful at social media except that you need to get your name out there and connect with others—whether it be through phone, e-mail or social media.”