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Is Social Media Missing the Mark?

The buzz over social media is at near deafening proportions in the REnet (and everywhere else) and I contribute to that noisy rabble. We’re excited about it, it’s cool, and it works. But, I think we’re at risk of making social media something more than it really is.

Check out just about any conversation out there on social media and you’ll find the topic in a vacuum. Meaning, folks are talking about social media as a strategy unto itself which is probably why so many agents have hopped on board but found it a waste of time.

Social media is not a marketing strategy for your real estate business. It’s a collection of tools, of tactics. But, a marketing plan for building your business? Hell no.

The Kool-Aid Is Sweet

Many agents who have never had a real marketing plan for their business are buying into the hype that social media is the answer.

“It’s the 2.0 marketing plan. All you gotta do is talk. Oh, and be ‘transparent’.”

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Hell, it’s easy to see why so many gravitate to that idea. Realtors are a social bunch to begin with.

“All I have to do is talk and I don’t have to work it? Hell, yeah! Sign me up.”

Sorry, Greg Go-Getter, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Simple Truth

It’s important to keep in mind what social media really is – a tactic, a tool, to be integrated into your marketing plan.

Social media is not a case of “if you do it business will come.” Nothing in business ever is.

So, if you’ve given social media a shot and have decided that it sucks then just take a look at how you fit it in with your overall marketing plan. I bet you there was a disconnect.

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For those of us promoting social media as a business tool, let’s make sure newcomers understand what social media really is and how to fit it into the context of their marketing plan.

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Written By

Mark Eckenrode is a Certified Master of Guerrilla Marketing raised on comic books, punk rock, and Pepsi. He's also the chief marketing trainer at HomeStomper where AgentGenius readers can learn unconventional methods for winning with social media.



  1. Missy Caulk

    March 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Very true, it is a tool, a new tool. Not the end all.

    I don’t think Social Media is missing the mark, but it is one part of all of our marketing efforts.

  2. Benn Rosales

    March 9, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Amen, but Social Media isn’t missing the mark, the adopter is the problem- and it isn’t just the so-called, it’s virtually everyone within the sm space.

    I made the comment to Lani the other day, that it seemed to me, that no one online today is a consumer, everyone’s got a job, or a product, or even a service- burnout could possibly be the next “in thing” for the comet we know today as social media.

  3. Jay Thompson

    March 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I got an email last week from an agent that said they were frustrated with their lack of success on Twitter and they asked me what I thought they should do.

    They were following 3 people, had 14 followers and 4 updates in about seven weeks — all 4 of their tweets were about two listings they had.

    I tried calling to offer some thoughts. No answer. Left message, no reply. No reply to my email either.

  4. Mark Eckenrode

    March 9, 2009 at 9:32 am

    @missy: exactly my point. it’s not the end all, it’s a tool in your toolbox.

    @benn: i suppose it’d be more appropriate to say “the approach to social media is missing the mark”

    you’re right that everyone in social media is hawking something. even those promoting ideas or points of view are trying to win supporters to their perspective.

    @jay: point made

  5. Jeff Turner

    March 9, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Mark, I reacted STRONGLY (for me anyway) to a comment by a social media “expert” on Jason Crouch’s internet radio program a few weeks ago. This guru said, “the beauty of social media is that everyone can be a rock star.” In the chat room, I said, “That’s bullshit.” When people asked me why, my answer was essentially what you wrote above.

    That kind of snake oil message is what has some thinking social media is a cure all. It’s not. But used properly as part of your overall marketing/branding strategy, it can be a powerful tool.

  6. Geordie Romer | Leavenworth real estate

    March 9, 2009 at 9:49 am

    As Ian Watt said so eloquently the other day “It is is a crappy time to be a crappy agent”

    Social media is not a panacea, it is not a replacement for hard work.

    Most of the agents in my office have a website. (because someone told them to) They were all built with the same template. They all have urls. They have the same IDX feed and many have the same content and title tags as everyone else in the office.

    “I never get any internet leads” they complain.

    Guess what, social media won’t work for you any better.

    I expect some markets are better for social media. My ideal client works at Microsoft or lives next door to someone who does. Blogging and social media are part of their world. They live their lives on the web.

    If your clients don’t, maybe social media isn’t the space you need to be spending your time.

  7. ines

    March 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Like everything else – it’s a tool that should be used to supplement your existing marketing strategy – I’m complimenting this with an post today (…stay tuned)

  8. Jacki

    March 9, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Amen, my brother! There’s a scary amount of mis-information out there as to what social media is and how to use it. And it’s across all industries, like Benn mentioned.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached out to my Social Media network…actually trying to HIRE someone…only to be ignored. As with all marketing, SocMed is a way to reach out and build familiarity and consumer confidence. But if you don’t interact beyond Twitter, Facebook, etc, then you’re just wasting time on your computer and calling it “work.” And then you’ll wonder why you can’t pay your bills!

    Great post, Mark…you’ve hit a hot button

  9. Matthew Hardy

    March 9, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Two people walk into a party. Both move about and have pleasant conversations with many people. One makes it their business to collect enough information to allow follow up designed to get more customers. The other thinks that attending the party was all that was necessary. (For more on this, read recent posts by Jeff Brown; aka BawldGuy.)

    Benn’s right about everyone having something to sell. (BTW, everyone having something to sell is a good thing.) Perhaps the inherent contradiction in the phrase “social media” is becoming evident. The social part is nice, but at some point (as a businessperson anyway), the “media” part has got to kick in if you’re going to make any money. To want success as a capitalist while eschewing the term is silly.

  10. BawldGuy

    March 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Mark and Jeff Turner put as succinctly as can be. We’re all carpenter’s out there, and twitter’s in our tool belt. As soon as the agents stop trying to cut wood with their hammers, things will begin to make more sense.

    I identify with Matthew’s party analogy. It amazes me hearing agents wondering why they can’t see results when they’ve spent the entire party in a darkened corner sipping their drink, feeling ignored.

  11. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    March 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Ok, but I’ll play devil’s advocate here with regards to the cocktail party analogy.

    Some of us approach the party from a different perspective and have a different goal – to be noticed and to be talked about without EVER making an aggressive move and sit in a corner sipping our mojito – because we understand the hidden implications of those social metaphors it works for us…but it’s not easy.
    (but the bottom line is thought, it’s planning and strategy)

  12. BawldGuy

    March 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Ines, you wouldn’t last five minutes in the corner by yourself. The party simply wouldn’t allow it. 🙂

  13. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    March 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    THAT’s what I’m talking about! 😀

  14. Matthew Hardy

    March 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    > thought… planning and strategy

    The very definition of expert selling (and a rose by a few of its names).

    My favorite parties? Where I go just to party!

  15. Benn Rosales

    March 9, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I’m still stuck at the title, we all agree social media is the tool- so if the tool is missing the mark…

    The problem is in the wielding of the tool, which stems more from economic desperation to monetize than to actually learn and implement the art of engagement.

    It seems that since the economy went south, so did regard for the consumer, the etiquette within the community and the subtle nuance of the digital handshake- an exchange of long term gains for short term gratification.

    I don’t think this Genie is going to fit back into the original bottle- social media is evolving, and probably not in the way many had predicted- the question is, can you compete at the same casual 2.0 pace, while the world is beginning to rotate the mediaverse at the 1.0 pace of ROI?

  16. Lisa Sanderson

    March 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    And yet the vast majority of agents I know still think that SM has no business value. Maybe this is why…the connection between it and all the other tools we have is not easily explained. Something to think about, thanks….

  17. Matthew Hardy

    March 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    > economic desperation to monetize

    A fairly ridiculous string of words… we are talking the business of real estate here, aren’t we?

    > since the economy went south

    I believe the economy went south because values were misplaced. Social media has played its part in deriding capitalism and calling “the art of engagement” work. Engagement must have a purpose: to make a friend, to get a spouse or to earn money. There is nothing wrong with that and is nothing to be ashamed of. What’s happening, Benn, is that Fun on Facebook flourished when business was good; now some are finding that they actually have to work for a living – you know, those nasty things like calling people, direct mail, etc.

    The unsolvable dichotomy is this: to derive “business value” from a mentality that derides business.

  18. Lisa Sanderson

    March 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Facebook wrecked the economy? Brilliant!

  19. Matthew Hardy

    March 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    > Facebook wrecked the economy? Brilliant!

    Clearly not what I was saying – but a good example of in depth thinking. 😉

  20. Matthew Hardy

    March 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    > since the economy went south, so did regard for the consumer

    PS: I predict that as the recession drags on, you’ll see regard and care for the consumer increase. Sometimes, there’s nothing quite like the need-to-feed to create higher levels of customer service.

  21. Benn Rosales

    March 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    “A fairly ridiculous string of words… we are talking the business of real estate here, aren’t we?”

    I’m not sure why you’re disagreeing just to agree with me- I’ve never said one should be ashamed of doing business, I said, “can you compete at the same casual 2.0 pace, while the world is beginning to rotate the mediaverse at the 1.0 pace of ROI?”

    What I am pointing out and getting at is the death of 2.0 idealism and the reality of 1.0 business practices – accelerated by a failing economy- this has only put pressure on those that once believed in 2.0 philosophies to sell out those ideals to pay the bills and who’s stopping them? 1.0 business practitioners that enter the space do so with a preset 1.0 mentality operating under 1.0 principles and further, we’re not talking the business of real estate, we’re talking about business in general within new media spaces.

    I’m actually commenting in the context of the last five years, not about the last six months.

  22. Matthew Hardy

    March 9, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    First of all Benn, I find much to like on Agent Genius and am glad that a clearer understanding of these matters is explored here. That’s why I read here – that’s why I write.

    Now to this 1.0 versus 2.0 stuff…

    I’ve been working in the field of computing since it’s early days and believe that overlaying a designator for software updates to society at large is simplistic to the point of detriment. But to go with it for a moment: 2.0 is virtually (no pun!) all idealism and much of it seems to be anti-business. I’m guessing 1.0 is defined as all of human history before social media came along.

    > those that once believed in 2.0 philosophies… sell out those ideals to pay the bills

    What is being “sold out”? Did people not know how to be social, friendly, caring and upright before social media companies and gurus figured out how to make a business of it? I’m really not sure what “2.0 philosophies” there are now that did not exist previously. Just what exactly is a 1.0 mentality and what exactly are 1.0 principals? It’s like saying that someone doesn’t get “it” while never defining “it”. (Reminds me of a favorite South Park episode where a dangerous “smug alert” threatens…)

    > we’re not talking the business of real estate

    Sorry. I thought Agent Genius is a real estate magazine. Did I post at the wrong site? 😉

    The last time I checked, businesses actually making significant amounts of money still consider the metric of ROI important – and far more important than the number of SM icons under a person’s name.

    All I’m saying is that amelioration on the part of “2.0” gurus is probably more apropos than referring to decades-old business success pejoratively as “1.0”.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond – I really respect what you do here.

  23. Benn Rosales

    March 9, 2009 at 6:29 pm


    “Sorry. I thought Agent Genius is a real estate magazine.”

    Comment 2 – I said,
    “Amen, but Social Media isn’t missing the mark, the adopter is the problem- and it isn’t just the so-called, it’s virtually everyone within the sm space.”

  24. Matthew Hardy

    March 9, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    > the adopter is the problem… virtually everyone within the sm space.

    Well of course – there’s no way that the underlying philosophies could use any correction whatsoever. 😉

  25. Ken Brand

    March 9, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    When I was kid, we had a picnic at Mission Bay. It was an awesome day, sunny, hot and the water looked seductive. I was just a kid, so I didn’t know what seductive was then, but it looked inviting and fun and splashy, so I ran as fast as I could and dove in. The water was shallow, I banged my head, jammed my neck and chipped my front tooth.

    It was still a beautiful day, the water was cool and sparkly, I just shouldn’t have dove in so hard and deep without knowing the depth or what the hell I was doing. I got all caught up in the glee.

    I still find myself all giddy and attracted to lots of things, I’ll a bit more thoughtful, social media is like that for me.

  26. BawldGuy

    March 9, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Hoping not to become an inadvertent BawldGuy samich, I’ll wade in just a bit. I kinda sorta feel like Billy Barty gettin’ between Benn & Matthew.

    What’s always cracked me up is the insistence of the hi-techies that to even suggest the 2.0 world isn’t already dominant is the social equivalent of farting in church. I’ve always thought that was a crock. (And no, nobody in this thread has hinted at that.)

    I’ve always been able to have fun with ’em by simply mentioning, at least in the world of real estate, that the 1.0 guys still dominate the way Shack would over the local high school phenom. It’s not even close. Yet we still hear the 2.0 catechism from the faux elite, as if suggesting 1.0 still has viability, is akin to saying their mamas wear combat boots. 🙂

    I love 2.0 — and I earn serious return from it. But for every buck there, I earn SERIOUS money from 1.0. Am I makin’ any sense here?

  27. Charlotte Risch

    March 9, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Great post, Mark. I find this issue with most every kind of biz professional. They think social media is the answer to their needs with little work. Just post a Facebook page, put up a profile on Twitter and thats it. When I explain its a tool that offers you another way to converse with your audience and expand yourself online, they just blink and ask “But how can I make money from it?”. Ugggh.

  28. Ken Brand

    March 9, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Bawld Guy and others of a similar ilk, I am with you.

    You have icing, all smooth and creamy and showy and then you have the cake, moist and mouth watering and meaningful. Icing compliments the cake, they both taste better together. People can eat cake without icing all day, nobody enjoys a plateful of icing alone.

  29. Mark Eckenrode

    March 9, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    fear, panic, and a scarcity mindset causes folks to flail about. i agree with benn that regard for the consumer has taken a downturn and sure some of this can be linked to the economy but…

    whenever unscrupulous folks promote poor business practices as a push button solution (email spam, blog & ping, scraper sites, and now social media) you attract 2 kinds of kool-aid drinkers: 1) assholes that don’t give a damn one way or the other about the consumer, 2) people who are simply too ignorant to know better.

    @matthew: i really like your statement “the economy went south because value was misplaced.” you were referring to home values but i think the same statement can be applied to social media. the value isn’t so much in the tools of social media but in how those tools can be leveraged for the strategy.

    @benn: good points re: 1.0 business mentality being applied to 2.0 tactics. we saw this several years ago in blogging. when business first discovered the power of blogs the bloggerati went up in arms that their space was being invaded and business would do it all wrong, etc.

    but, i think it could be argued that business has actually evolved the “blog” beyond what would have been (from a development and art perspective) had the blogerati kept things the way they’d wanted.

    business is doing the same thing in social media right now – they’re making mistakes and wins and taking notes – but things will evolve.

    @bawldguy: i’m picking up what you’re putting down and what you have in the 1.0 world is a proven plan and strategy. just attending network meetings isn’t going to generate business. it’s all the other stuff that goes with it. same thing in a 2.0 world.

    god, i’ve decided that henceforth i will refrain from using the terms 1.0 and 2.0. like most of us, that i’ve grown sick and tired of that terminology. business is business and strategy is strategy.

  30. BawldGuy

    March 9, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I sure wish I’d of said it the way Ken just did.

    It’s almost impossible reading you guys without walkin’ away far better off.

    Great stuff Mark — thanks.

  31. Benn Rosales

    March 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I’m not a 2.0 advocate, nor am I a 1.0 spokeshead, that’s why I coined the 1.5- something in between is where we’ll land, the question I asked is can you afford to remain in either place, in either philosophy? The answer lies within your wallet.

  32. Jay Thompson

    March 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I’m not even sure what the hell “2.0” is any more. Or “1.0” for that matter.

    Maybe I’m just “0.5” but I treat my customers with care and give them superior service.

    Seems to work, regardless of what it’s labeled.

    So does the old “0.0” do unto others thing…

  33. Russell Shaw

    March 10, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Jay Thompson = Genius 2.0

  34. teresa boardman

    March 11, 2009 at 4:50 am

    Nope. there is no one solution for getting business.

  35. Ines Garcia

    April 22, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I think that when something gets toooo trendy its value gets diluted. Social Media is one of the many avenues to be out there and should be used wisely.
    I am talking here from my point of view as a consumer.

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