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Social Networking: How much is too much? [Dear Ginny WTH?]

Dear Ginny WTH,

With all of the social networking sites cropping up, blogs, Q&A opportunities, I am challenged with my time management. After all, isn’t the job of a Realtor to be out in front of clients and not behind a computer screen?  I want to stay current and expand my online (and offline) networks, but I am beginning to feel that if I don’t tweet on a daily basis, I’ll be left behind. How much time should I be devoting to my social networking efforts, and how can I ensure my time is going to best use?

Prudential California Realty Sales Associate, Northern California

Dear PCR agent,

I call it blogs, wikis and tweets oh my. You are feeling the ‘oh my’ part. Yes, it can seem a bit intense trying to keep up with all the online social media venues. Companies now hire social media experts to keep track of all the media that is available for communicating their message online, and here you are trying to add it into your already busy schedule.

You simply need to morph some of the time that you were spending networking IRL (in real life) to social networking NIRL (not in real life).

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So let’s take Facebook or LinkedIn. These two sites are networking sites so it would be just like you attending a Chamber of Commerce event where you could see both people you know personally and those from your professional life. You spend a few hours there talking to people, making connections, sharing stories, promoting yourself and being visible in the community. You can take that same time and apply it to Facebook or LinkedIn.

You don’t have to log in every day and post something but you should pay attention to both of those sites three to four times a week. For Facebook, simply say what you are doing that day that supports your business or personal life, for example, “preparing for an open house this weekend” or “attending the kid’s first baseball game of the season.” This is the same dialogue you would have in an IRL social setting, so take 15 minutes or so and start saying those things online. It’s worth the time to connect with both personal and professional contacts.

LinkedIn is more business focused than Facebook, so why not find an article per week that you can post that relates to real estate or business? Get connected to business and real estate groups on LinkedIn, which can provide good fodder for article re-posting. For example, I am a member of the group Ladies Who Launch, which always has good overall business articles and particularly those that relate to entrepreneurship. Comment on articles; email them to your contacts. Again a few times per week will keep you active in LinkedIn.

For Twitter, there are ways to connect your posts from Twitter to Facebook so you only have to do it once, but I’m not convinced that your clients are on Twitter, so if you’re clients are not there, why do you need to be? What you will find on Twitter that could relate to your business are other real estate professionals. But they are scattered across the country and I’m not sure connecting with a group of disparate agents will net benefits as it relates to the time spent.

You probably should have a blog if you have a standalone web site, but it’s not essentially necessary to succeed. Uh oh, I might be vilified for making that statement. What does an individual agent blog do for you? It is a valid and viable way to connect with the community and subtly market services in a transparent world, but it takes a lot of attention. A blog does require weekly postings such as market analysis, community activity, general commentary, sales activity, etc. And you need to market and promote your blog. It’s the old tree falls in the forest and no one sees it, does it make a noise?

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In general, I recommend that you do take advantage of a select group of social media opportunities online and that you schedule your tasks accordingly. Time management. If you allow one hour a day to manage these venues as a part of your normal marketing activities, it shouldn’t feel so daunting.

P.S. Dit bonjour to Ed and Dave for me.

“Dear Ginny, WTH?” which is like a “Dear Abby” column for real estate objections. If you have a tough client or a marketing problem, “Dear Ginny, WTH?” is for you. Questions can be funny, they can be serious, it doesn’t matter, just ask!

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Ginny is a 360 degree marketing specialist with over a decade of experience in real estate-related fields. She’s held senior level marketing positions at Alain Pinel Realtors and Prudential California, Nevada and Texas Realty. She left the corporate world in 2007 to start her own marketing communications company, Cain Communications. She markets to segments that matter using media that matters. Follow her on Twitter @ginnycain.

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