The backstory on AG & Social Media
We’ve been talking about social media for real estate for what seems like an eternity now. We’ve hashed out the how to get started all the way up to beginning the conversation about what is and isn’t marketing and ROI. Many feel it’s been beaten to death as they have come down on one side or the other as to its value- you either are or are not convinced, but I want to give you a tangible reason that you should at the very least take it seriously.
HP, thanks for doing the right thing?
If you follow the antics of those in the real estate space on Twitter and Facebook, then you may know that recently I held HP’s (Hewlett Packard) feet to the fire on a known issue repair. They voided a repair ticket created in warranty because the machine became out of warranty during the process. Their resolution offered was a repair price of nearly $300.00. It might seem like not such a big deal, but when you consider this is the third laptop of ours to die of the same fate within two years, we’re now talking thousands of dollars in useless laptops that lay wasted around our home and office.
I was pissed to say the least and quite frankly, we weren’t going to take it anymore. I gave HP a call, and along the way informed each member of support that I was Twittering about the call along with the outcome.
Here’s the point (maybe your client isn’t telling you)
Whether you enjoy the use of new media or not, in many cases, our clients do. They’re not on the sidelines, in fact, they’re out in public, living in public, sharing in public, and quite frankly, they’re using tools to broadcast their life without cause- I know, I happen to be one of them.
The sad reality is that you may not- you’re still left searching for a reason to even bother to care, and if I may be so bold, it may be your client that gives you that reason.
Imagine tweets such as “My Realtor Jane Doe is a windbag.” Or even worse, “My Big Broker agent won’t call me back and these flyers suck!” Or how about a fat link to Jane’s website titled, “Jane Doe agent really sucks!” Depending on their sphere of influence (followers and friends), you’re on the outside if you’re not at least listening to all spheres and know how to combat serious problems such as these… imagine a client smiling to your face while the entire day Twittering every single thing you say and every lousy property you’ve shown them and about the lousy agent you’ve turned out to be, or even Twittering about how they perceive you as overcharging them on a listing all while smiling to your face and refilling your tea glass.
If you’re so stubborn as to intentionally remain on the other side of the fence (out of control), that is your prerogative, or you could at the very least take the time to learn how to use these communities to your advantage. As the economy gets tougher in many areas of the country, you can bet frustrations will equally be on the rise as will frustrated socially media oriented clients (finally they feel someone is listening to them).
While the only real cure to incompetence is an apology, there are ways to handle these sorts of situations in a proactive nature- you need to take your ability to confine, repair and rebuild client confidence from offline to online and back to offline, before you experience this sort of retaliation to your lameness.
Tips to get you started: (a process with a purpose)
- Ask your client in conversation what social media sites they use.
- Ask your client if they mind if you follow them (and invite them to follow you).
- Once you follow them, engage them and make it fun (keep it light).
- Define upfront how you would like to engage problems and in what manner.
- Agree to those terms and never fail at being responsive in the manner you’ve selected.
- Ask your client if they’ve tweeted about the new property they’ve just made an offer on.
- Share property pictures with them and ask them if they would like to share them online.
- Invite them to share their experience online.
There is no debate on the issue of self-promotion in the online space- by doing so you will be shunned by a greater audience, rather, your goal in using social media is to create fans that rave publicly about you, thus doing the marketing for you… what’s so complicated about this simple process?
You can’t control everything or even try unless you understand the potential for success and for failure. Executing a simple conversation, establishing simple rules to handle dissatisfaction, and keeping those rules are crucial. By overcoming problems during the transaction in the manner you’ve laid out in advance (and in turn executing a great buying or selling process and encouraging their enthusiasm online) ultimately sends your digital calling card as wide as their sphere of influence online and then some.
What happened with HP?!
In the end, I praised HP for repairing the laptop on their dime and with little argument or convincing- in fact, they had a plan for this exact issue, it simply took a savvy support manager to isolate the correct process- needless to say we were thrilled, and even though HP never engaged me online over this issue, SprintPCS did (but that’s a whole other story).
Do yourself a favor, stop being stubborn and at least learn how to engage your critics (and fans), because now days, everyone’s a critic (or a fan) with a megaphone (the sharper lazier version of blogging that is microblogging), even your clients– don’t be ‘teh suck.’
June 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm
Great points. An unhappy client is a danger – even more so if they are not communicating with you they are unhappy eliminating the opportunity for you to make it right. In the meantime, they are creating a bad reputation for the agent to an audience to which the agent is probably not connected.
Glad you resolved things with HP. My problems and Tweets re: ATT cellular service went unanswered by ATT. Sad.
June 4, 2009 at 2:49 pm
@brandiei “eliminating the opportunity for you to make it right” indeed!
June 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm
Excellent points. Last summer I made an insurance claim to have a new roof put on. I told both the insurance estimator and the roofer that I have a blog and would be blogging about the experience – good OR bad – and that I would name names. LOL
As consumers, SM gives us power that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Naturally, as real estate agents, we must be careful that we’re not on the receiving end of that UNLESS, of course, it’s good.
The problem I see with tracking possible discussions about us on Twitter is that our name is likely to be greatly abbreviated. Do you have any suggestions on how we set up searches?
June 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm
Elaine, follow your clients is my number 1 way (because you asked upfront, you should know at least their fave stomping ground), google and twitter alerts for your name, and misspellings (abbreviations) , company name and misspellings, and constant temp checking of your clients (as I know you do) is the best practice. Everything else is by periodically (weekly) doing an audit on twitter search, and bi-weekly on google of possible variations. Also, watching your incoming links to wordpress is another way of catching stuff.
If anyone has more ideas, we’re glad to hear them, but these are at least the basics. Nothing ever replaces good ol’being present though.
June 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm
Thanks, Benn. I use the Google Alerts, but think Twitter is a little more tricky. Clients can pick it up later, and may not use their real name. Of course, the BEST thing we can do to eliminate the risk of negative publicity is to treat our clients well in the first place. LOL
June 4, 2009 at 6:42 pm
Since you’ve asked for suggestions for real estate Google Alerts, I thought you and your readers might enjoy viewing a public Google Alerts account I created as a demo:
You can see a real world example of how you can track your firm, competitors, clients, and properties. I also recommend collecting news alerts about your area that you can share with clients. Using local stories about schools and events can be a great form of drip marketing. You can send an FYI email to show you are thinking about them.
June 4, 2009 at 7:01 pm
Ha, hey Adam, awesome suggestions, and thanks for the read.
June 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm
Elaine, you might also want to think about following alerts for your broker- it isn’t hard to remember names of the bigger or known local brands especially and may catch some that way.
Also, you may want to set up alerts on any farms you have, buyers/sellers might be communicating with you in other ways.
June 5, 2009 at 7:39 am
Great choice for this entry, dude – we get lost in the day-to-day of how WE should be using SM to further our business, and forget that virtually all of our clients – past, present, future – are already there using it mainly for the pure social aspect.
Posted my blog entry about the tax credit on FB, and an old Navy buddy 400 miles away emails me about a prospect coming to my neck of the woods. It works.
You have to make a point about connecting to them, finding them, friending them, following them. Get on their list and you’re so, so well armed when they get in your car or you show up for that listing appointment it’s scary. “Loved those pictures you posted from your trip to Disney – Jimmy and Johnny are getting bigger by the minute! They grow up too fast” is a hell of a lot better openning line than “how many kids do you have?”
Navy Chief, Navy Pride
June 5, 2009 at 7:52 am
>While the only real cure to incompetence is an apology
Almost. The only real cure for incompetence is to become competent, but an apology is certainly a step in the right direction, and I think that’s what you meant.
I’d also add that when we are working with clients, slamming other Realtors with whom you are working, is not a sign of professionalism. If you’d like to discuss real estate as a profession, or real estate in general, that’s one thing, but would your clients appreciate you publicly slamming another Realtor with whom they might be working through a transaction? I wouldn’t appreciate seeing my doctor bitch about my surgeon in public, even if the surgeon made mistakes, it would force me to question the professionalism of everyone involved.
Our duty is to our clients, but part of that is to facilitate the real estate process. Hard to do when you are publicly bad-mouthing the person who might be bringing a client to the table.
June 5, 2009 at 9:00 am
Again, thanks for making me think and understand an excellent conversation to have with my clients (active and inactive).
Being informed, proactive or simply engaged with the world my clients are living in will help me re-tool if necessary and develop my own “apps-for-that”. The conversational web is the new frontier.
June 5, 2009 at 9:08 am
Excellent Post, the best I’ve read all week.
To add to what you said, you should add a Google alert with your Twitter ID to see who’s chatting about you and what they are saying.
Imagine someone telling their 20,000 followers that your service sucks! Now, more than ever, people are being heard!
June 5, 2009 at 9:56 am
Bryan you said:
Imagine someone telling their 20,000 followers that your service sucks! Now, more than ever, people are being heard!
Honestly, that’s an opportunity of a lifetime that most average agents would not be equipped to handle.
Teri, yep, an apology is tantamount to a diagnosis when you’re talking about relationships, but that road to getting competent is a whole other conversation! Thanks for weighing in.
Doug, if this is a new conversation you’ll be having with your clients, avoid using the words social media when you ask- be specific to get to the real homebase, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc. This will help agents who are only toe dipping in sm to not try or need to be everywhere at once.
June 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm
Great suggestions, Benn. I haven’t been sure how to Tweet because I’m a techno dork, but this article was very illuminating – thanks!
June 6, 2009 at 3:42 pm
Never thought about a twitter alert, thanks. I love my multitude of Google alerts and you can subscribe in rss instead of email to check on them.
Sounds like my nightmare with Dell a year ago. I blogged on it and after a multitude of comments a Dell Ex commented and we went back and forth.