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While it’s not news that marketing via social media can be highly effective for strengthening and growing your sphere of influence and finding potential buyers and sellers, it only works to your advantage when you do it right. All too many agents fall prey to “shiny object syndrome”—jumping on the latest and greatest platform (or all of them at once) without taking the time to understand whether or not they’re in the right place, saying the right things to the right people.

Many experts agree that the best way to approach social media marketing is to play to your strengths. As a real estate pro, you’re already good at networking, creating connections and building relationships. Instead of thinking of social media as the marketing technology “silver bullet” that’s going to magically solve all your problems, simply consider it another tool to enhance your marketing efforts, blending its gentle exposure with other, more targeted advertising media like direct mail, email and print.

Traditionally, agents boost their visibility by joining networking groups or getting involved in the community via civic clubs or by sponsoring things like art shows, garage sales and youth sports teams. Now, all those activities can also live in the interactive arena via social media. And you don’t even have to talk about real estate if it’s not appropriate at the time. Simply find ways to engage with your connections by commenting on their activities, share and like their posts and even take the conversation offline over an invitation for coffee. The tools might be different, but the principle is the same: connection, not just communication.

You can actually cast the widest net by limiting your social marketing activity to the platforms where most of your network and prospective clientele spend their online time. Facebook and Instagram are good choices to start with, and your blend of gentle exposure and targeted advertising can take many forms. Here are a few examples and thought-starters:

  • Shoot and post pictures of a community event, then invite others to your website to see the entire collection of photos.
  • Post helpful, related content (“Top 10 Ways to Add Value to Your Home”).
  • Follow key prospects, commenting on their activities and include a gentle marketing message if appropriate (“I see your youngest just went off to college. Keep me in mind when you’re ready to downsize.”)

In short, be present every day in authentic and non-obtrusive ways, always remembering that people want to do business with people they know, like and trust, not with people who market at them. By using social media the right way, you become much more than a REALTOR® who’s just fishing for leads.

Brian Wildermuth is senior vice president, Real Estate Services, for Deluxe Branded Marketing. Deluxe Branded Marketing is primarily focused on helping you distribute the right message to the right audience, via the right media, and at the right time to get leads, close listings, and keep clients for life.