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How many agents do you know who rely on social media to generate leads? It seems so easy—post a listing or an ad on Facebook and watch the leads flood in, right?

Many transactional agents think so. They spend hours online, updating their statuses and posting listings. They may even purchase ads to run on various social media sites in an effort to draw the attention of potential buyers and sellers in their area. Instead of making personal contact and building relationships with their current clients and asking for referrals, they hole up in their offices fishing for leads online. They waste time chasing down cold leads instead of connecting with great past clients, and then they wonder why their business pipeline is a trickle, rather than a gush.

When used properly, social media is a great supplement to your communication strategy. After all, social media makes it easy to reach out to your clients. If you’re young or new to the business, your online connections may also make up the bulk of your database. However, connecting online is no substitute for the traditional groundwork that builds trust and relationships through voice-to-voice and face-to-face contact. “Liking” a photo or status doesn’t mean as much as having a conversation with someone on the phone or in-person. If you want to build trust with your clients and lay the foundation for a lasting relationship, it’s vital to do most of your communication in-person.

How to Communicate with Clients Online
Connect. After you speak with a client on the phone or see them in-person, write a short note on their page, such as, “It was great seeing you/talking to you today. Remember, I’m never too busy for your referrals.” While it’s also customary to write a personal note to reaffirm your commitment to helping them reach their real estate goals, posting a few kind words on social media is a thoughtful touch.

Provide value. Today’s buyers and sellers are hungry for information they can find about the real estate market. By posting information about the real estate process, homeownership, recent statistics or even local events, you’re not only giving them the information they want, but you’re also building trust.

Show your service. In addition to showcasing your expertise, social media can also help you establish your brand. Remember, you’re not only a local real estate market expert; you’re also the person your clients rely on for great service. Post photos from client appreciation parties, photos of your buyers receiving the keys to their new home, and other examples of providing great service to your clients. It’s a way to build relationships while showing the great service you offer.

Social media has become a valuable tool for communicating with your clients; however, it should never replace phone calls, lunch meetings, personal notes and occasional visits to their home or office with gifts of appreciation. It should supplement traditional forms of relational communication and be a complementary way to stay top-of-mind when you’re not reaching out in-person. When you consistently communicate with your clients in-person or on the phone, you’ll build trust, which is the foundation of all lasting relationships. Log in, but be sure to get plenty of time in-person as well to stay in touch and serve your clients.

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