Be a Social Climber

Social media can strengthen your real estate business

Status updates. Tweet and retweet. Like. Connections. Followers. Social media is a whole new language, and real estate leaders are letting their fingers do the speaking on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But when it comes to getting down to business online, how do you logon to a successful social media presence?

Some real estate specialists and beginners maintain official pages on several social media platforms. Others use them exclusively for personal networking. We could comment — and comment on comments — about the uses for social media all day. But there are a few principles to keep in mind no matter what your purposes are for going online. Read on for some dos and don’ts to help you find your way around three popular social networking websites.

 

Facebook

If you’re going for pure exposure, Facebook is a pretty safe bet. As of July 2011, Facebook had more than 800 million active users. An estimated 41 percent of the U.S. population currently has a Facebook account, and that status update is increasing every year.

Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking website, but you should understand a few things before “friending” a full-on Facebook marketing campaign.

Facebook is, first and foremost, a social environment. People visit the site to see what their friends are up to. (This is where Facebook’s atmosphere differs most from the professionally driven LinkedIn.) Still, Facebook’s social setting has proved to be good for business if used right.

Do be personal and interesting. People will be turned off if your posts sound like commercials about real estate. You can post about deals and projects, but avoid too many posts that sound like advertising copy.

Do use Facebook’s strengths. The website caters to dialogue, so use that to your advantage. Communicate with business partners and clients. Respond to comments on your page and ask questions. Listening to others and engaging in conversation will improve your online image and give you a better idea of how you can improve your real estate profile.

Don’t get lazy. Facebook users generally visit the site at least once a day. You don’t have to spend hours online, but make sure you’re logging onto Facebook every day or two. Update your status, respond to comments and clean up spam that might collect on your page. If you’re lazy about your online image, it will reflect poorly on you.

Don’t get caught up in driving traffic to your Facebook page. It feels great to have people “Like” you, and Facebook is certainly an effective way to communicate with others in your industry. But it’s still best to drive people to your website (if you have one). There, you control the content and explain your approach to real estate. Driving traffic exclusively to a website you can’t control, such as Facebook, is not a good online practice, regardless of how credible or helpful it is.

 

Twitter

Most professional social media campaigns today have a Twitter element, although the “tweeting” crowd is substantially smaller than that of Facebook or LinkedIn. As of March 2011, Twitter had 200 million users with registered accounts.

Twitter — a micro-blogging site where users share short messages, or “tweets,” with followers — has some advantages Facebook doesn’t, including the ability to “follow” a person or company’s tweets without them following yours. This makes Twitter perhaps more conducive to one-way communication than Facebook, but you’re still not excused from interacting with others.

If you decide to take the Twitter route, here are a few tips.

Do make sure you need to be there before you tweet. Know the people with whom you’re trying to communicate. Are the people you’re talking to about real estate listening on Twitter? If your clients are an older demographic or seem to prefer being contacted in other ways, focus your efforts elsewhere. You should be aware of what people are saying about you on Twitter, but you may not need an active account to do so.

Do use Twitter as a conversation platform. If someone mentions you or passes along your tweet, thank them. Retweet positive things people say about you, adding a thanks. As on other websites, adding your voice to conversations reflects positively on you.

Don’t spread news no one cares about. Twitter is a quick and easy way to keep customers up-to-date, but remember you’re in a social environment. Apply the same rules you would at a party. Would you tell a stranger the long and detailed story of a real estate deal? Of course not. So why would you post details on the same topic to your Twitter feed? Stick to interesting topics.

Don’t use Twitter as a broadcast system. People want to feel like they’re engaging in a conversation, not watching a commercial. If you post pre-produced promotional chatter every hour, you’ll lose followers. Make your tweets timely, relevant and not too frequent. Your followers can tell if you’re genuine.

LinkedIn

While Facebook and Twitter exist primarily for social purposes, LinkedIn channels social interaction toward professional networking. LinkedIn has many of the same capabilities as Facebook and Twitter — you can update your status and send messages to connections — but as a primarily professional site, communications are used to connect users with other professionals.

Businesses use LinkedIn to share news, solicit potential job applicants and connect with professionals online, among other things. Individuals use it to find jobs, keep in touch with connections and share professional goals. LinkedIn pages also rank well on Google results pages, so a well-managed LinkedIn profile will build your online reputation.

In short, if you want to become a presence in your industry, find potential projects or stay in touch with colleagues, LinkedIn is the place. Here are things to keep in mind as you link.

Do use your LinkedIn profile to provide more information about you. Your LinkedIn profile is an ideal place for people to start learning about you as an industry professional. You might even link to your profile from your e-mail signature, blog or personal website. You should also link back to web pages that put you in a positive light so potential connections can get a clear, accurate idea of who you are and what you are looking to accomplish.

Do use LinkedIn as a means to an end. Don’t add connections just for the sake of having them. Add people who can give you good recommendations. Endorse people with whom you have had positive interactions, but don’t feel obligated to recommend everyone. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for networking, but it’s just that — a tool. Use it to stay in touch with people you know and to generate leads as you build your real estate business.

Don’t measure success the wrong way. Don’t count the number of connections or the number of endorsements you’ve managed to collect. Instead, count the number of opportunities you’ve generated through LinkedIn. Have you learned about a real estate investment? Have you made contact with people who you’ve partnered with on a project? Connections and opportunities are the true measures of LinkedIn success.

Don’t forget why you’re there. If you want to talk about Disneyland, then Facebook or Twitter may be a better outlet. Limit your communications on LinkedIn to professional matters. And don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar. Everything you do on LinkedIn reflects on you as a professional.

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