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Social Media Works [Case Study]

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social media case study


We’ve all talked a lot about our use of Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and the like and don’t we all get the same question from people who haven’t drank the kool-aid- “yeah, but have you made any money off of it?”

Yes.

The “secrets” to social media that no one has quite spelled out yet are the following:

  1. Being present. Most people sign up for services and hope people will follow them. It takes a physical presence to garner a substantial following (aka potential clients that become friends).
  2. Being yourself. I make jokes on Twitter, I cuss sometimes, I write random crap, I just interact with people the way I do in person. It’s gone over well so far.

By being present (aka available) and by naturally being yourself (aka approachable), friendships forge which is the foundation for many client relationships and naturally occurring referrals. Billy Bob is not buying or selling right now, but his friend Jimmy John is and since you’re his buddy, he’ll have Jimmy John direct message you on Twitter. *BAM*

Tapping into social media is NOT however a lead generation machine, it is a pipeline filler. Understanding that defines your success.

  • @MrMan (a made up name to protect the innocent-ish) and I usually talk about Austin food and music, we’ve been Twitter friends for a few weeks. We meet @MrMan at a Tweetup over burgers and talked about oil drilling in Alaska, beer preferences and technology but not real estate.
  • @MrMan begins making jokes in the general Twitter space that divorce proceedings have taken place. In private, I sent him condolences and asked if he needed anything. Knowing that we’re in real estate he noted he’d need an apartment.
  • Benn (@agentgenius, who is his twitter friend also) tells him to meet us at Starbucks in the morning, he already knew the perfect place for him. @MrMan orders some fancy coffee and we are off to the apartment community up the road (that are really nice by the way and I’m a little jealous of all the amenities).
  • 24 hours later, @MrMan picks up his keys and starts the moving process and the invoice is immediately processed and although Benn (@agentgenius) focuses on residential sales, he knows apartments like the back of his man fist. Check’s in the bank.
  • Since then, we’ve happy houred several times with @MrMan and gone to coffee and he has sent three referrals because he got to know us in a non-invasive, very organic, natural way.

Don’t force the connections, just be available, become part of the social stream, and be the best source of information and entertainment (my specialty) as you possibly can. It is a natural process and it is happening every day. Feel free to follow @agentgenius (Benn on behalf of AG) and and stay tuned for more social media case studies to come.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Matthew Rathbun

    June 3, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    …awesome…

  2. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 3, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Authenticity works. People will be able to tell based off what you say & do – whether or not you are putting on an act faking it, or really being yourself. Besides, its a whole heck of a lot less “work” if you are enjoying what you are doing and it really is an extension of who you are as a person in the first place.

  3. Bill Lublin

    June 3, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    From the Queen of all NEW & SOCIAL MEDIA – Howard Stern eat your heart out! 😉

  4. Barry Cunningham

    June 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Queen of all NEW & SOCIAL MEDIA ??? Please explain..

  5. Eric Blackwell

    June 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    So many people live in the mistaken world that they have to find “tricks” and “shortcuts” and not be who they are…

    The real “me” is a pretty reserved nerdy, search engine type that loves to dig up stuff that works in the way of online marketing…and making friends with even nerdier types. I have a great time sharing with the agents in our office the stuff that I find…as well as sharing with some close friends around the internet…hmmm…I wonder if that comes through?

    Way to go Lani, kudos on making a new cash flow positive friend!

    grin

    Eric

  6. Benn Rosales

    June 3, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Barry, are you asking a question?

  7. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Matthew- agreed.

    Jennifer- you nailed it, authenticity is extremely important, especially on Twitter. To beat a dead horse, it is *not* a lead generator rather a pipeline filler. I like to think of it as happy hour where work comes up as part of the natural conversation but you aren’t selling anything rather making yourself (or in my case, my husband’s company) available.

    Bill- thanks for the sweet compliment (although I don’t think I’ll be throwing ham at lingerie models’ butts anytime soon). I like your new Twitter avatar by the way- very James Bondish!

    Eric- You’ve identified who *you* are, so it’s not a hard step to find others on Twitter who will identify with you. Twitter (from my vantage point) is dominated by programmers, designers, engineers that share your mindset, it’s just a matter of branching out outside of the industry (which does take work). You might take a look at my Twitter followers; if you’d like me to make any introductions, I would love to do so!

    Does anyone have any social media success stories they would like to share?

  8. Ricardo Bueno

    June 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    It’s usually easier (and better) when you start being “social” and stop being something you’re not. (Does that make sense? Lol. It made sense in my head).

    Anyway, I dumped the ol’ Twitter profile that I initially had because it just wasn’t me. I created a new one @ricardobueno and I just let me be me. I updated things I found interesting from around the blog-o-sphere, threw the occasional blog post up there, and most importantly…I interacted and engaged in the mini-conversations.

    I’ve met more genuine people that way. In fact, one woman contacted me via Twitter saying she needed help with a rehab loan… Truth-be-told, I don’t think we would’ve met had I been spewing rates all over the place. Plenty of other online sites do that. We met because we crossed paths and conversed with one another genuinely.

    Be yourself and the rest will follow!

  9. Jay Thompson

    June 3, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Fantabulous post Lani. Real estate is still ultimately a face-face business (for the most part). But the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Pownce et al are tools that can help fill the pipeline. I’ve “met” many good folks through these tools, re-connected with old friends and (I think) provide a way for people to get to know me and “connect”.

    Forcing it, ramming salesy crap down people’s throats and not acting like yourself are all great ways to turn people off. Turning people off in this business is generally a bad idea.

    “Does anyone have any social media success stories they would like to share?”

    You saw my recent Twitstory. Not a “success” (yet) in terms of an actual sale, but may be…. I do have two active clients that I first “met” on Twitter, and a recent LinkedIn blitz of my old semiconductor stomping grounds have produced several in the Phoenix area that had no idea I was in real estate. Just growin’ that “sphere of influence” one connection at a time….

    @eric – “I wonder if that comes through?” — I think so.

    @jennifer – “Authenticity works”. Brilliant and amen.

  10. Chris Lengquist

    June 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I simply cannot “twitter”. It just doesn’t sound manly.

    As far as success stories are concerned I can measure it in a couple ways. The most awesome is that when people see me again and again an again on different media platforms. They make comments about it. Guess that means they notice and I’m on their mind.

  11. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Ricardo- being yourself is the best sales tool possible. If someone doesn’t like you, they wouldn’t like your services anyhow… if they click with you in a social arena, a transaction with someone you get along with is always easier (and ideal), right?!

    Jay- and amen.

    Chris- I see you as a tremendous success in blogging which is the King of all social media. Because I know you personally, I know that your personality thrives in blogging and I can’t wait until you decide to be girly and “twitter.” 😉 That’s a great point that you are present AND active in multiple platforms… location, location, location applies to SM also, huh?

  12. Rich Jacobson

    June 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Let’s face it…most people are simply way too impatient when it comes to social networking, especially as it relates to putting something relatively new through its paces. We live in a microwave, drive-thru, glasses-in-about-a-hour society. We want results, and we want them NOW! However, much of it depends on your individual marketing plan, and how you want to use a particular SN to further your business. I see Twitter as more of a B2B network more so than something I use for consumer-oriented prospects. Much of it is planting seeds. Much of what we do as RE pros is simply planting seeds. Twitter is like a fun fertile field for sowing who and what I am. Like all such involvements, it’s a garden that needs tending. But there are rewards, both professionally and personally.

  13. Matthew Hardy

    June 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    boomshakalaka!

  14. Ricardo Bueno

    June 3, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    “If someone doesn’t like you, they wouldn’t like your services anyhow…”

    How very true! There’s no sense in trying to convince them either. The more you try, the more distant they become.

    “if they click with you in a social arena, a transaction with someone you get along with is always easier (and ideal), right?!”

    But of course! It makes life and work more fun this way. And that’s how things should be…you should be having fun doing what you do.

  15. Jeanne Breault

    June 8, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    There’s a saying from a community in the Catholic Church that summarizes this concept. I won’t promote the community or the complete saying because I respect everyone’s religious preferences and affiliation.

    I do want to share the first part of the saying, which is “Make a friend, be a friend…” For our purposes the third part could “to earn your friend’s business.”

    It’s such an important concept in business and in life. If people know we care about them beyond making a buck, they are much more likely to trust us and want to do business with us. And God knows real estate agents are (maybe) a notch about attorneys and used car salesmen – with apologies to anyone reading this who might be in one of these professions!

  16. ines

    June 9, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Nice!! (doing the cabage patch here)

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Coaching

Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!

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magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Coaching

Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:

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short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Coaching

Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.

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short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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