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How Your Business Can Benefit From Social Media RIGHT NOW

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real-estate-social-media.jpgDid you ever go to a school dance? Was it awkward for you? Were you paralyzed by the fear of having to dance with a classmate, the fear of being rejected, the fear of embarrassment?

The current Internet environment can be a lot like that sometimes.

Let’s face it, if you are a real estate agent who is surveying the current Internet landscape and trying to figure out what your next step is going to be, it is very easy to get confused and to suffer paralysis.

The Internet provides so many marketing opportunities that the choices can sometimes seem overwhelming. Sure, you may have your own personal website, complete with all the bells and whistles (content management, SEO optimization, user registration, customized property search, lead generation, etc.) but you want more. You want to be on the bleeding edge of technology, innovating and moving your business forward. In short, you want to dance, but choosing the right partner can be difficult.

Now what?

You may have heard of social media (or user-generated content). Even if you haven’t, you are sure to have heard of its examples: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, blogs, and wikis, just to name a few. The expansion of social media is the latest and greatest phase of the Internet. Because of this, it should at least be on the radar screens of real estate agents who are interested in more completely leveraging the power of the Internet to grow their business.

Since the social media options can sometimes be so overwhelming that brain freeze can quickly occur, I thought that it might be helpful to offer what I think is a basic primer on using some of these sites to benefit your business. This is a basic primer, designed just to expose you to sites that can be of some benefit, and also sharing strategies for realizing that benefit. This is not meant to be an exhaustive review by any means, but is should be enough to put you on the road to building meaningful relationships with clients, customers, prospects and other professionals.

If the Internet is like a dance, then your song is about to come on. . .

The Philosophy Behind Social Media

The first thing that you need to understand about the social media movement is that it is built around relationships. Social media sites exist to foster conversation between people. The people who use these sites want to engage with others, not just experience one-way communication.

The majority of traditional real estate marketing is one-way (i.e. look at my listings, read about my service, visit my website). Social media sites are different. The expectation of people who use these sites is that they will have a part in the conversation. The good thing about this, for agents, is that it enables agents to cultivate relationships with people. Rather than marketing to prospects, you can converse with them and build trust in a more natural and meaningful way. Traditional Internet marketing takes your hand and says, “dance with me!” Social media sites offer a hand and ask, “shall we dance?”

4 Resources You Can Use RIGHT NOW to Build Meaningful Relationships

1) Blogging— You are reading a blog right now, but you probably knew that. The reason that blogs can be beneficial to agents is that you can use the blog as your own personal slice of the Internet to show people what you are really about. A blog gives you a way to share your insights and expertise with people as often as you would like. At the most basic level, a blog gives people a way to meet you before they ever meet you face-to-face.

How to use your blog: Use it as a way to converse with and inform your readers. Your goal should be to share with them your insights, opinions and experience is such a way that benefits them. After writing a few posts, and receiving a few comments, you will find that you will be learning just as much as you are sharing.

How NOT to use your blog: To advertise listings. There are plenty of other ways to do that. If you really want to use a blog for advertising your inventory, create a separate blog for such a purpose. I did just that.

2) Facebook: Facebook was a sight that was originally created as a way for college students to communicate with each other more easily. Originally the exclusive domain of colleges, the site has since been opened to anyone with an email address. That means you. Facebook is a social-networking site that allows you to share as much or as little information as you want with others, but especially your “friends.” Aside from being a cool place to find friends, former classmates and colleagues, Facebook can also be a valuable business tool.

How to use Facebook: Use it to establish yourself as an expert in your community and build relationships with people you already know and also with potential clients. If you are looking for great ways to use Facebook for business, you can find some here, and some real estate-specific possibilities here and here.

How NOT to use Facebook: Remember that if you are going to use one Facebook profile for both business and personal use, anything that you put in your profile should be appropriate. You may have had a great time at that party the other night, but do you want your real estate clients and prospects viewing that photo of you with a lampshade on your head?

3) LinkedIn: LinkedIn is like the big-business brother to Facebook. While Facebook is a personal social networking site that people use for business, the explicit purpose of LinkedIn is to foster business networking. It isn’t quite as social as I would like it to be, but their Q&A section can be a great resource for learning. The basic purpose of LinkedIn is to start a profile and link yourself to other professionals, thereby increasing your overall network by degrees. I have linked myself not only to other real estate professionals, but also to any of my clients who have profiles. The networking potential is enormous.

How to use LinkedIn: Build as detailed and creative a profile as you can. This will be people’s first impression of you. Answer as many questions as you can on the message boards as a way of making additional contact by sharing your experience and expertise. Who knows, you may even be able to leverage your network to create new business opportunities.

How NOT to use LinkedIn: Don’t spam people, and don’t use it to advertise your listings (again). Like all the others, LinkedIn is a networking site, not an advertising outlet. Engage people and become part of the conversation.

4) Twitter: Twitter is a site that I recently started using. It is essentially a micro-blogging platform. While many people use it just to publish status updates (telling people what they are doing at any given moment), the site has possibilities far beyond that. The most valuable feature of the site is the ability to follow the tweets of others. Find some interesting people, and you will have insight into what is catching their attention. A lot of news breaks on Twitter, since it can be disseminated instantaneously. Also, by using “@” replies, you can actually converse with people, like the chat rooms of yore. Right now, there isn’t a tremendous real estate industry presence on Twitter, but I hope that will change.

How to use Twitter: Read this first. I am sure, however, that there are plenty of other innovative uses for the site as it pertains specifically to real estate. Most of them are going to require building a cadre of followers for your tweets, so you are going to need something interesting and compelling to follow, first.

How NOT to use Twitter: While the original purpose for Twitter was to answer the question, “what are you doing?” Don’t get carried away. No one wants to know when you are going to grab a cold one from the fridge. If you are doing something that you think people may find interesting, than tweet away. Oh yeah, “I just listed ‘such and such house’ today,” does not qualify as interesting. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so choose wisely.

Get Out on the Dance Floor

Those are just 4 social media resources that I think are valuable. There are plenty of others. I included these because I have personal experience with them. Doing just a little bit of research will yield plenty of other possibilities. My advice is to pick a few and use them faithfully for a while. Only use as many as you can effectively manage. That is why I use the 4 listed above. Any more than that would get a bit unwieldy for me. I like them, and I have experienced some degree of success with all of them.

The main thing to remember is that social media is about building relationships. In order to do that, you need to do something. Maybe you just start a blog and see how it goes. Maybe you build a Facebook profile and find some groups that are interesting to you. Whatever it is, believe me when I tell you that your colleagues, friends, clients and prospects are out there socializing right now.

Remember those school dances? If you have been standing on the wall, waiting for the music to change, the time for waiting is over. Now is the time to dance!

I'm a REALTOR, basketball referee, happy husband, and Community Manager (in no particular order). I have a passion for the real estate industry and officiating, a passion that I try to turn into inspiration on my blog, The Real Estate Zebra. I am also the Community Manager at Inman News. When I'm not blogging here on AG or the Zebra, you can usually find me on Twitter.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Kevin M. Butler

    October 14, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    The introduction of social networking websites and more specifically, business networking websites is having a big impact on business and helping professionals who haven’t truly found success at local networking events because they may be shy or overwhelmed by folks just trying to make a deal or sale.
    Business networking is truly about the relationship and not the sale. Build great relatioinships by helping others first and they will knock down your door to help you in the future.
    I decided to start my own business networking website to help people manage their existing personal business network and provide additional resources for them to enhance their network and pass business referrals online.
    Please experience ChamberFish.com and provide feedback to us on the contact us page to let us know what additional features and benefits you’d like to see.

    Good luck and happy networking,

    Kevin M. Butler
    Owner
    ChamberFish.com

  2. Dick Todhunter

    October 28, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Very informative. Being a newbie to the world of blogging and social networking I appreciate your minimalist approach (4 recommendations). A concern is expressed by Jay Thompson (sidebar comment about spam). Who needs the spam (I haven’t experienced, don’t want to).

    Have heard that digg generates tons of spam.

    Have you any pearls of wisdom on sites like digg, technorati and the ilk? What’s the utility.

    Thank you maven Dan.

  3. Lee Aase

    October 28, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    Great post, Daniel, and some good advice for people getting started. Especially the last part about just getting out on the dance floor. Inertia is the enemy.

  4. Daniel Rothamel

    October 29, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Dick,

    Those are great questions. I think they are better answered in a full post, but briefly– Technorati will help promote your blog to other bloggers. It works well, but I wouldn’t get too caught up in rankings and the like. Digg is a social bookmarking site, but since its focus is mainly Tech-oriented, it can be tough to get many Diggs on real estate articles. I think the importance of Digg is over-rated, especially for a real estate blog.

    Lee,

    Thanks for checking out the post. Your work on the subject is quite inspiring. You are absolutely right– inertia is the enemy.

  5. concord

    April 11, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Some point should be included in social media optimization

    Know how to target your audience

    Create content

    Create a SMO strategy

    Bookmarking and tagging

    Increase your linkability

    SMO should be a continuous process

  6. Jim Garrison

    March 20, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    https://agentgenius.com/?p=191 Interesting discussion of using this stuff for business

  7. Mary Ann

    May 29, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Great post! Social networking and social media as we are all enjoying today is a place to connect and make new friends while professionally finding proper ways to promote your products in a way that does not offend others or be seen as aggressive.

  8. Jeffery N. Whigham

    January 10, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    As Social Media "enables agents to cultivate relationships with people" https://bit.ly/78iIG6, let's b sure 2 focus on people, not just tech.

  9. Eric Lance

    June 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Using social media in real estate – great read for a tough market! https://bit.ly/aNcXzE

  10. mcurtis808

    June 17, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    How Your Real Estate Business Can Benefit From Social Media RIGHT NOW https://bit.ly/4GqAWi (from @agentgenius)

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Social Media

Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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Social Media

Should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are there times when it makes sense to connect with your boss and team on Facebook? Or is LinkedIn enough?

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facebook friends

Just as we learn, grow, and change in life, so does our use of social media platforms and technology in general. It makes sense though – when hot new programs come out and “everybody’s doing it” (thinking of you MySpace and Plaxo), it’s easy to create a user profile to see what you think of the platform.

You may be a heavy user at first (looking at you Facebook) and then back off, only to use it for certain functions (Groups and Events for example). In the interim, you may have joined Instagram because for some reason it seemed simpler and light-hearted. And don’t let the new, shiny things coming out pass you by without at least seeing if you like them, or if they help entertain you and connect you to loved ones (looking at you Snapchat and TikTok).

Amongst some doubt of new or potential users in the mid-2000s after Facebook opened up to those outside of universities, we have to admit that Facebook has had a longevity that some of the other platforms have not. It allows you to keep your personal network in one place as well as your photos, significant dates, your career changes, events, and even see what your cousins are up to. It almost feels like once you’re invested, it’s hard to get out.

The thing is, there is definitely a grey area on who you accept as a “friend”. It really is up to each person’s comfort level on who they want to be connected to, and how much sharing they do on the platform. This article isn’t going to address Facebook privacy concerns and data sharing, but we do encourage you to look in to those if that is something that is important to you. It’s a similar idea with LinkedIn – some people are happy to connect with anyone and everyone, while others prefer to keep their connections to those they personally know and/or have worked with.

This story is addressing a question as it relates to an article in Inc. about whether or not is it’s ok for managers and employees to be “Facebook friends”, and some other tricky professional situations. We have to look at few things first, including the evolution of our use.

Since Facebook was made available to everyone, we have gone from a simple profile picture, relationship status (oof), and random updates about our breakfast/dentist appointments, to joining interest groups, sharing news articles, promoting brands and memes at a mind-boggling rate. Many people have considered deleting their Facebook profiles due to a high level of negativity, privacy concerns over their data and pictures, and how ultimately, scrolling your newsfeed can be a total time suck.

Many stay on because they are in groups (like super amazing, supportive, and popular ones such as Austin Digital Jobs) that they enjoy, and it’s a way to stay connected with others. This has felt true especially during COVID-19 where many people have lost their social outlets, networking opportunities, and have not been able to get together in person. Social media has also been a useful platform for small business owners and entrepreneurs to run a business page at minimal costs (free unless they run advertising), and reach out to customers. Facebook (owner of Instagram) also seems to have been making strides this year to better support small business owners.

So, should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

That is up to you (we are not here to tell you how to run your life) and while many have said, “Nope” in a super unofficial survey of 30 respondents, there were a couple of interesting perspectives:

“Since I’m my boss, twist on my answer… I don’t yes any professional that asks to be FB friends. That’s what my page is for. I even have a canned response that says this because I get so many asks. My personal FB is for actual friends of mine. I didn’t want to yes my MIL either. I have her on the restricted list.”

“I guess it depends. I’m friends with my boss and most of my coworkers. Creative shop within a corporation … about 45 strong. We are tight.”

“If you love your job and you love your boss then I think it is ok. I work 2 part-time jobs and both of my bosses are amazing! I am friends and Facebook friends with both of them.”

“I’m fine. I don’t post much on Facebook anymore. My bosses are all fairly chill. ”

“I have been Facebook friends with previous bosses while they were my boss. I am not with my current boss, but I’d be fine with it if we were. I don’t post anything too crazy, and I tend to over share in the office already. I like to be an open book. Tiktok would be different though… ”

For some who are part of a start-up or smaller team where collaboration and getting to know one another  are supported (thinking teams of 10 or less, hey AG Staff Writers), this may be more of the ‘norm’ and acceptable. However, the majority of people do not want to be “Facebook friends” with their boss to draw a line between work and personal sharing. Many people also mentioned that it varied if they chose to be Facebook friends with their colleagues, although they seem to be more open to colleagues vs. direct supervisors.

This seems to reflect back on how you use Facebook and if sharing your weekend or family photos is not something you want everyone to see. On the flip side, if you’re not sharing much, maybe you’d be OK with being connected there. A more professional way of connecting with your supervisor and others at work is through LinkedIn, and is in fact, highly encouraged.

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Could TikTok soon be banned in the U.S for privacy breaching?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok, a video content social media giant, has been deemed a potential national security risk by the U.S Federal government.

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TikTok is banned

U.S lawmakers are calling for a full investigation into TikTok, the fifteen second video app with almost 180 million downloads, after expressing concerns of a privacy breach by the Chinese government.

TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, purchased the platform originally known as musical.ly in November 2017. Since then the social media app worth an estimated $150 billion has almost 180 million downloads in the U.S, and 800 million downloads worldwide.

According to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the U.S has reason to believe the Beijing-based company, ByteDance, may have been coerced into handing over data to China’s communist leaders. The app’s Founder, Zhang Yiming, and TikTok’s spokesperson responded to the accusations with the following statement: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

We don’t know if we believe you TikTok.

TikTok received over 500 legal demands, including emergency requests, in the first six months of 2020. TikTok has also previously confirmed that the app stores user data on “U.S-based servers” withdrawn from phone downloads. Information includes IP addresses, messages, location information, and according to Pompeo, “sensitive information”, exposed by data breaching that disregards American rights to privacy and potentially violates national security guidelines.

Company employees may live in the U.S, but with its head of operations stationed in Beijing, pressure from the Chinese Government to provide user information is a very serious concern for Americans using the app. 41 percent of its users are part of Generation Z, a highly influential, social media-friendly age group, ranging between 16 and 24.

A sense of invincibility within this age range encourages users to use the app without caution of personal information that may be provided or derived off your phone after installation. In the past two years, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have also been criticized for not abiding to lawful privacy standards.

ByteDance has halted the use of its corporate office in Beijing and is looking to establish headquarters within the U.S or under new management.

The U.S. government is seriously considering banning the use of TikTok.

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