Did 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.
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!
*New* TikTok Insights launch: Content creators finally get audience analytics
(SOCIAL MEDIA) The popular short-form app, TikTok, finally launches the anticipated Insights feature, where content creators can view target audience data.
Marketers searching for the zeitgeist which means TikTok scrollers pause to watch their content and then click through to buy a product have a new tool to help make that happen.
- TikTok Insights offers marketers bite-size bits of user demographic information that will help build content that leads to sales.
- With TikTok Insights you can learn more about your audience’s behavior, their interests, and their general sentiment toward brands.
- TikTok Insights is free to use. Marketers can find TikTok user demographics by using filters to determine what they’re looking for.
The demographic info can be age-focused, focused on specific types of marketing, or even as specific as holiday or event marketing.
This is a step in the direction marketers have been asking for as they create content for the TikTok platform; however, creators looking for detailed analytics like they get from meta need to wait. Insights doesn’t offer that for now.
Like TikTok says in its own analytic information,
“While analytics are helpful in understanding the performance of your videos, you don’t need to create future videos based primarily around them. It’s best to consider the bigger picture, lean lightly on analytics, and use them as a source for insight rather than strategy.”
Marketers trying to key into reaching TikTok’s billion users worldwide are left, right now, searching for the magic that leads to consumers making the jump from the platform to using their purchasing power.
For marketers that means keeping things creative and collaborative, two key factors in TikTok’s success. And that success is huge. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the platform when they log in and a staggering 90% of users say they log on every day.
TikTok Insights will help marketers find ways to connect, but the content TikTok is looking for is authentic.
And while entrepreneurs can bid for advertising like other social media platforms, they need to remember when planning that spend, that most TikTok marketing success stories are more accidental than planned. Have fun with that knowledge. Instead of pressure to create the perfect plan, TikTok Insights allows marketers to keep it creative and to find a way to tie it into what they enjoy about the platform.
Like all other social media marketing, focus on creating content that stops the consumer from their continual scroll. Make it a challenge and keep it real.
Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers
(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.
If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?
Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.
Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?
They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.
This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.
If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?
So, moral of the story?
Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.
You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!
BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app
(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.
BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.
According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.
It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.
As the app says when you go to its page:
Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.
A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.
The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.
“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”
The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”
Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.
Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.
For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.
None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.
We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.
BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.
It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.
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