There’s no doubt about it. The Internet has become the social meeting place for people from all walks of life. Whether they’re looking for a new place to live, need information on a certain topic or just want a little laugh, they’re turning to the social web to get what they need. In addition, search engine giants like Google are using that same social web to deliver relevant search results to their users. As a real estate agent, that means it’s becoming ever more important that you get involved in social media.
How involved you get is up to you, and will depend on your resources and objectives. Social media can take up a considerable amount of time and resources, so you need to plan accordingly. It’s also important to have a plan for your social media and to stay focused because the lines between “working” and “playing” are easily blurred on social media websites.
This article will give you an introduction to some of the biggest social sites and provide you with some ideas on how you might approach them. Put your focus into the places where you can find your ideal clients, and always refine your approach as you continue to explore.
Top Social Networking Sites
If you do a bit of searching around you’ll probably find lists of social networks, and you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number out there. The thing to remember is that most networks have a very small user base and it is not often worth investing any time into them. Of course, if you find a network that specifically targets your ideal client, they might be worth exploring. But for the purposes of this article, I am simply going to take a look at the top social networking sites overall.
Description: The granddaddy of all social networks, Facebook boasts the largest number of users from a wide demographic. Users can post updates, photos and videos. Interaction comes in the form of comments, sharing updates and “Likes” which demonstrate that someone likes the update they just read.
Demographic Data: (From fb.com)
936 million daily active users on average for March 2015
798 million mobile daily active users on average for March 2015
1.44 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2015
1.25 billion mobile monthly active users as of March 31, 2015
Approximately 18% of our daily active users are in the US
Business Opportunity: Facebook allows businesses to create “Pages.” Users can subscribe to receive updates from your page by clicking a “Like” button to indicate they are a fan of your business. (Only 3-5% will actually see your updates) You can post updates about your company, interesting facts, share news, create polls and more. Facebook allows customization for branding your Facebook Page.
Description: Often described as a micro-blogging network, Twitter allows its users to send short updates of a maximum of 140 characters; referred to as “tweets.” They can post text updates, and while the site also allows the posting of photos, users have to click a link to view the photos. Users can interact with one another by replying to user updates or “retweeting” them – which means rebroadcasting someone else’s tweet to their own followers. Twitter also employs the use of “hashtags,” which are keywords preceded by a “#” character, that make them searchable, so people can follow conversations on specific topics.
Demographic Data: Twitter has 302 million users that post over 500 million tweets per day. 80% of those users are on mobile devices. 23% of the users are located in the US.
Business Opportunity: Businesses are allowed to set up Twitter accounts as the service does not distinguish between business and personal accounts. You can post updates about your company, share information, interact with other Twitter users and post photos. Hashtags are an opportunity to share information during events of interest and relating to specific topics. Twitter allows for custom branding of your Twitter profile page.
Description: LinkedIn is focused on connecting professionals, with the purpose of sharing industry-related information, as well as job and other opportunities.
Demographic Data: LinkedIn has over 360 million members, with over 115 million US members and over 4 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages, making it the largest professional social network online. It is available in 200 countries worldwide and is available in 16 languages.
Business Opportunity: LinkedIn provides professionals the opportunity to create profiles and increase their professional contacts and connections. You can also set up a Company Page to share company news, employment opportunities and more. It is a good opportunity to meet other like-minded business owners and professionals for the purpose of sharing information, forming partnerships and more. You can create polls, share files, promote events, share presentations and more. LinkedIn allows for minor customization in order to brand profile pages.
Where Should You Focus Your Efforts?
Now that you have a better understanding of what’s available at each of these 3 social networks, it’s time to decide where you’ll first direct your efforts. There is no sense in signing up for all of them at once if you don’t have enough time or resources to dedicate to every one.
Here are few things to consider when deciding where to begin:
- Facebook definitely has the largest user base, so it’s a natural starting place for a lot of businesses.
- Twitter is smaller than Facebook, but is a much more open network that is readily searchable. In addition, all updates are public by default. That means that your updates on specific topics may catch the attention of someone who otherwise may never have heard of you.
- If you are a new agent, building a following on a Facebook Page can prove challenging. With a network like Twitter, it’s easier to find other likeminded individuals and follow their updates and start making connections that way. For Facebook Pages, there isn’t nearly as much of a reciprocal-minded following of brands.
- If you like to share a lot of visuals like photos and videos, Twitter and LinkedIn may not be the natural first choice. While you can link to those types of media, they aren’t readily seen while a user is viewing the updates on the site. Facebook, on the other hand, is a more visual social network that can put your visual content in the forefront.
- If your business is to create influential business connections or to meet others working in the same niche or industry as you, LinkedIn probably provides the best opportunities.
Those are just a few starting thoughts. The best way to decide what will work best for you is to get your feet wet. Set up a profile, start looking around at what other agents are doing and get in on the action. However, just like everything else in business, it can take time to build your following. Just because you don’t hit it out the ballpark in your first week, it doesn’t mean the social network isn’t right for you. It takes consistent work and effort to grow over time.