“The sky is falling!” That’s how some Craigslist users are feeling as I write this post. By the time you read this, the hullabaloo over the Craigslist changes may or may not have blown over. (The company made some BIG changes in policy that have negatively affected how many real estate agents generate leads. But that’s a whole other post!) Regardless of the outcome, it reminded me of two things:
- Never put all your eggs in one basket. If all your leads are coming from one source, and that source suddenly goes away, you’re in a bad spot! I learned that lesson the hard way back in the ‘80s when my entire 401(k) was invested in stock in the National Bank of Washington. When the bank went under, I lost it all. Don’t let this happen to you in your real estate business. Diversify your lead sources just as you diversify your stock portfolio.
- “Change is the only constant”, said ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus.Our industry is a perfect example of that. Remember the days when we used to fax and FedEx contracts for signatures instead of using DotLoop or DocuSign?
SO – maybe that means it’s time for you to dive into (or dive back into) the social media pool!
But first, let’s talk about purpose. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook, was interviewed at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference. They asked him, “Are you still having fun?” I’m paraphrasing his answer, but it was something like: “For me it’s not about having fun. It’s about having a mission. And that mission just might be fun to get excited about.”
“For me it’s not about having fun. It’s about having a mission. And that mission just might be fun to get excited about.” - Mark Zuckerberg
That’s how I look at social media. I LOVE doing it and it IS fun, but I am doing it with a mission and a purpose. (Just don’t tell my Facebook friends that!)
One more thing before we dive into the meat of this post. Personally, I don’t like the name “social media.” It makes it feel like getting on and connecting with people is a game. I prefer to call it “relationship media.” Social media is really about connecting with people and nurturing relationships. And so, throughout this post, you’ll notice I’ve replaced most instances of social media with relationship media.
So now that we've gotten the "why" down, let's get to the "how!"
1. Generate Trust and Demonstrate Market Knowledge
Real estate is a relationship business. People do business with those they like and trust. In the old days, relationships were built face-to-face, over the back fence or in coffee shops. That still happens - and face-to-face is ALWAYS best - but now we nurture these connections through relationship media.
First, people find you. Then they want to know what you know. And then they want to know if they can trust you. Your relationship media strategy might play out as follows: A consumer lands on your blog and finds out what you know. Then they find and follow you on Facebook and determine whether they like you. Finally, they go read your online reviews which, hopefully, instills confidence that they can trust you.
We have closed multiple sales because I friended someone on Facebook whom I knew just slightly. (Note: I never friend potential clients until I have met them face-to-face.) They saw me post both personally and about real estate then called us to help them buy and sell. Like + Trust = Confidence. And confidence means they’ll call.
2. Guarantee that the Consumer Can Find You Anywhere
What’s the first thing you do when a potential client calls? The same thing you do if your daughter is set up on a blind date. First there’s the Google search, then off to Facebook! Guess what? Consumers do the same thing for you! So the object of the game is to maximize your presence. The more they see you online and the more valuable the content you have out there, the more credibility you have as an expert.
If behavior isn’t enough, think about these cold hard facts. Nearly four out of five active Internet users visit social networking sites and blogs. And in 2011, more than twice as many people over the age of 55 visited social networking sites on their mobile phone, than the year before. I guarantee you that number has exploded further over the past two years.
3. Drive Traffic to Your Website to Capture People BEFORE They’re Ready to Buy or Sell
On The Belt Team, we make sure that every relationship media channel drives people back to our Website. The fact is none of your channels stands alone. In fact, whether consumers are ready to buy or sell today or years down the road, we want to capture the lead. We want them in our funnel before they even know they want to buy or sell, so that when the time comes there is NO one else they’d think of calling.
4. The Internet Can Source Leads, but Relationship Media Gets Prospects to Call
The Internet can generate plenty of cold leads. But relationship media triggers leads to actually call YOU. For example, a seller may have been given the names of three different agents from people they know. Chances are they will Google all three agents. Let’s also assume they found you and read your blog, saw your reviews and check your Facebook page. To me, there’s no comparison, they’re going to call you.
I’ll give you an example. A few weeks ago, a high school classmate (who I have not seen since 1979) instant messaged me on Facebook. We have been Facebook friends for five years and although we’ve only “talked” a couple of times, she sees my posts every day. We comment back and forth sometimes and it feels like we are old friends. Well, she messaged me because she and her husband were ready to move. “You were the first person that came to mind when we decided to move.” she said. They are now working with us to buy a $1.5 million dollar home and sell their existing $800,000 home.
5. Perception of Market Exposure Is Key
We also use relationship media as a listing tool to differentiate ourselves. Most agents in our market are somewhat active in relationship media. Most sellers know they want maximum exposure of their home to the market. So we make a point to show prospective sellers how we provide the added value of relationship media exposure. We also show them how to determine whether an agent is really putting their money where their mouth is. It’s up to you to tell them what they need to look for in an agent and why it’s important to them.
6. Relationship media Is an Easy CRM
The biggest complaint people have about their real estate agent is that they did not stay in touch after closing. Every agent needs some sort of Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) tool, and relationship media can fill that bill. When you engage in conversations via Facebook or Twitter, people feel like you’re staying in touch because they “see” you every day. In my opinion, there’s really not a whole lot of difference between Gary Keller’s old fashioned Rolodex/card system and my Facebook account. They are easy ways to PURPOSEFULLY stay in touch with your sphere of influence and past clients.
7. Drinking From the Fire Hose
Have you ever heard people say that going to Family Reunion (#KWFR) or Mega Camp (#KWMC) is like drinking from a fire hose? So much learning that you can barely take it all in? That’s the same experience you get with relationship media. Participating in private Facebook groups, live chats and Google hangouts and following your favorite hashtags on Twitter open you up to a world where news, education, culture and training exist in a never-ending stream. It’s like being able to summon your favorite professor any time you want to learn something new. You can learn from the best of the best in our business and in other businesses. And these top performers are totally accessible.
About Christy Belt Grossman: Grossman is an associate with the Keller Williams McLean, (Va.) market center as well as the Chief Operating Officer and Social Media Guru on The Belt Team, which ranked in the Top 250 Residential Real Estate Team in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal (out of more than 1.2 million Realtors) and in the Top Fifteen in North America for Keller Williams Realty. She is a KW Blog Guest Contributor and KW Social Media Ambassador. Grossman invites anyone to connect with her on Twitter at @TheBeltTeam.