Mathias Bergendahl's Marketing Blog

Analyzing Social Media: Whose Value is the Driving Force?

Everywhere you turn there’s probably someone advocating that Realtors® and other professionals simply must get started with social media. “You’ll be left behind and your business will suffer unless you get on Facebook and Twitter,” I recently overheard a speaker tell his audience.

It seems similar messages are heard just about everywhere I go these days. I recently attended a social media forum for communications professionals where just about every speaker was marveling over the latest phone with which you instantly, and with less effort than by using a computer, can keep all your contacts updated with what you’re doing at any given time during the day. New platforms come out literally on a daily basis that will enable us to have everyone in our sphere of influence aware of our daily routine.

A common discussion topic regarding the use of social media is its value. While many simply regard value based on the number of contacts that conceivably will see their messages, others use mathematical formulas by which they determine the return on their investment. Others go into great length analyzing the benefits of broadcasting their messages through Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of other social media platforms – all considering the value their efforts will bring to their business. A common belief seems to be that any message will do as long as it’s giving you presence in front of those you’re connected with.

Few, though, address the most crucial aspect of social media: is there enough value for the recipients of all those messages?

First, let me share my philosophy on social media as it relates to its use in businesses building relationships with other businesses as well as consumers.

For almost a year I’ve taught real estate professionals how to use social media as part of their marketing mix. Because that’s really what social media is – one component among a mix of various marketing vehicles. I strongly encourage professionals to build a presence on social networks such as Facebook and especially LinkedIn. In my classes I walk attendees through the process of building a blog, and I share how to syndicate blog posts automatically on other platforms. I also teach how to make the most of online videos and photo albums, and of course the value of asking past customers for testimonials that you can showcase.

In short, I definitely believe in the use of social media as part of a carefully developed strategic marketing plan, with a diverse marketing mix and an integrated approach between all on and offline marketing activities.

When I monitor the use of social media for business use in our industry, I’m often surprised how little attention is paid to the value each and every Facebook update and Tweet (as Twitter messages are called) brings to the recipient. Most messages, in my opinion, tend to be agent-centric rather than consumer-centric, and in many cases they are more likely to turn off a consumer than bring the relationship closer.

Consider the following example. A couple hires a Realtor® to sell their home, and they expect their agent to put all their efforts into their particular sale. Their expectation is that the Realtor will go all out in marketing their home and they will most likely monitor all those efforts to make sure they’re done effectively. A Facebook profile I came across stated on a Monday morning at 11 a.m.: “I’m too tired to work today.” Imagine the impact such a message will have on a customer eagerly awaiting word on the sale of their home. Hardly a positive one, I’m sure. Similarly, I often notice how the vast majority of messages on Facebook and Twitter describe personal details, opinions, and various points of view rather than give thoughtful insight into their business and process as a real estate professional.

It seems these platforms have become little more than our own personal billboards through which we share messages that focus only on ourselves. On top of it, we’ve lost our inner monologue, now sharing things from our personal lives we would never share in person. Being personable is certainly important, but being too personal may simply be too much information.

I thought I’d share a suggestion on how you can turn an agent-centric message into a rather consumer-centric one. Let’s say you have a listing presentation on any given day. That’s certainly good news, but a brief note online with the text “I have a listing presentation today” will offer nothing more than a promotional line.

Let’s take a look at what you’d like to accomplish with such a statement. Essentially, you’d like to show that you in fact are active with sellers.

Rather than providing a Rodney Dangerfield style one-liner, consider adding a bit more information. Here’s a sample text you could instead share at your blog and then link to from your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts:

Are Homes Selling?

Earlier this week a person next in line at Publix asked me if the market is improving. I shared with her the same information I just presented to a couple looking to sell their condo in Gulfport. It’s a common question given today’s much-discussed housing market. I thought I’d share some information about current sales, media price level, and other statistics you hopefully will find helpful.”

Such a brief article will show that you serve the Gulfport area, that you service the condo market, that you met prospective sellers, and that you are knowledgeable about your immediate marketplace. And, most importantly, the message provides value to the reader.

While you certainly should be engaged in social media marketing to benefit your business, make sure your driving force is the value you provide those you’re connected with. In return, I promise you’ll establish yourself as the knowledgeable professional they’ll think of when they need someone to assist them with a sale or purchase of a home.

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