Pokemon Go for Realtors: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

Opportunities to grab attention can come from the strangest places. I have three kids, 16, 12 and 10, so when the Pokémon Go app went live, I knew within hours. No preteen boy (or teenage girl) could resist it, and mine certainly didn’t. They spent that first weekend wandering the neighborhood, glued to smart phones, chasing down Rattata and IMG_0764Pidgey, and asking to walk 5K so they could earn more Pokeballs. I knew this was big when my 10-year-old son begged me to take them to the mall — a place he loathed as much as math class.

So what does this have to do with real estate? Well, being the intrepid PR person that I am, I started thinking about how this could translate into an opportunity for Realtors. If a Charmander can appear on my bed and a Caterpie on my hearth, then they can appear in other homes… and during open houses.

Monday morning I got my PR team on it and they began looking for agents who were willing to incorporate the Pokémon Go rage into their open houses. Some were skeptical, or maybe they’d just been living in a hole and hadn’t heard about the game, but others saw the opportunity and jumped right in. Offices started posting pictures of Pokémon in front of their signs on Facebook, agents were Instagramming pictures of Pokémon at their listings, and our Baltimore Fells Point office invited people to “Pokestop on in.”13606850_1007922929327320_3748758208741885936_n

One of our top agents, who is extremely marketing savvy and a great guy, even got into it. Roger Pettingell, Coldwell Banker’s #1 agent in Florida, promoted a Pokémon-friendly open house and our PR team landed him on the front page of the Sarasota Herald Tribune (in addition to probably showing his two sons that he’s the coolest dad in history). To ensure the little monsters (Pokémon, not his kids) would be there, he dropped Pokémon lures at the house.

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Even ritzy Bird Key in Sarasota as Pokemon. Photo: Roger Pettingell

We weren’t the only ones who had the idea, and within hours, the news media started running the stories about how local businesses were having fun with the Pokémon Go craze, including Inman (subscription required), Candy’s Dirt and Curbed.

 

If you’re just now learning about Pokémon Go, here are some quick tips on how you can leverage the craze.

  1. Download the app on your smartphone and ask a kid or teenager (or just about anyone) to show you how it works.
  2. Visit your listings, look at your For Sale signs and well known places in your community to find Pokémon. Take pictures of where you’re seeing them, and post on social media.
  3. If you have a particularly family-friendly listing, look and see if it has any Pokémon. If it doesn’t, you can purchase a lure to attract some. Then promote a kid-friendly Pokémon open house (with your seller’s permission, of course).

Also, if you haven’t heard of the craze by now, then you seriously need to get out more. It’s been all over the news and social media, and you literally can’t go anywhere public without seeing people playing the game. You can easily spot them — smart phone up close, excited look on their face, swirling around in circles viewing the world through their camera. It’s actually pretty fun. Gotta catch ’em all!

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Think before you accept that strange friend request

Real estate agents using Facebook for business may be tempted to accept any and all friend requests — after all, the more contacts the better, right? Wrong. Facebook has become a favorite tool of scammers preying on those who will accept any friend request, so make sure it’s a real person that you know.

Scammers start by setting up a fake Facebook account and sending friend requests. Here are just a few of the ways these fake accounts are being used: Beware

  • Cyber bulling — Attacking the reputations of companies or people they don’t like
  • Sending spam
  • Posing as a real person on to solicit your friends for money or personal information
  • Bypassing your “friends only” security setting to obtain personal information

Before accepting a friend request — even of someone you know or who you have friends in common with — look at the person’s Facebook page and watch for these red flags.

New Account — If it is a new account with only one or two photos, no cover photo and no or very limited information in the About section, do not accept it. These red flags are quite common on fake accounts.  Yes, it’s possible a real friend is just late to the Facebook game and has just opened an account, but most people will add in some personal details and make a few posts right away.

A Few Common Friends — Don’t assume that an account is real just because you share friends in common. There’s a good chance that your Facebook friends weren’t as diligent as you and have already accepted a request from this fake account.

Already Friends — If you receive a friend request from someone you are already friends with on Facebook, ask the person on their original page if they’ve opened a second page before accepting. Creating fake duplicate pages of real people is a common scam.

Distant Lands — If you receive a request from someone in another town or country that you have no relationship with, that’s an obvious sign.

Make sure that you use social media with common sense. If you don’t know the person or have never heard of them, don’t accept their friend request. Facebook should be used to connect with people you know or have at least met or have some connection with, not random strangers who look friendly and post a nice picture. Doing otherwise could make you the victim of a scam.

How to create a Facebook business page

One of the most common questions I’m asked when talking about social media for Realtors is: How do I set up a Facebook business page? If you already have a personal page, are comfortable using Facebook and are committed to using Facebook to build your business, then a business page is definitely recommended.

How to create a Facebook business pageCreating a business page is fairly simple, just click here to start the process on Facebook. Choose Local Business or Place, then choose Real Estate from the drop down menu and add in your contact information. I recommend using your branch office’s mailing address and your cell number.

Then just follow the prompts. For the web address, it’s best to choose your name or team name so it’s easy to remember and easy to find. For example, mine is facebook.com/jenniferathertonmcguire.  If your name is taken, try including a middle initial, middle name or maiden name. If you are setting up a page for a team, use the team name.

As with your personal Facebook page, it’s very important that you fill the About section out completely. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for people to find you. It’s all searchable, so use key words like “Atlanta Realtor”, “Atlanta real estate agent” and “Atlanta homes for sale”.

If you are still debating whether you need to create a business page or if your personal Facebook page is sufficient, Facebook makes a great case for using a business page. For real estate agents, see my post on the topic. To me, it’s a no-brainer — you need a business page.

However, if you aren’t committed to using Facebook to develop relationships, and you’re only doing this because someone told you to in a training class, hold off and think this through. Social media is only beneficial if you are active on it. Having an incomplete and outdated social media page is like putting a hand-written For Sale sign in a yard, which you would never do, right? I recommend only starting a page if you’re serious. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, but you do need to make a commitment.

And if you’re not on Facebook at all yet, you are definitely late to the party, but it’s not too late. Visit Facebook.com and it will walk you through the steps to get started. Then take some time to fill out the profile as completely as possible, making sure to provide your email address, cell phone number and website. Add a picture of yourself for the Profile Picture and add another for the Cover Photo, and start connecting with the people you know. Once you are comfortable with how Facebook works and have connected with your sphere, then it’s time to open a business page.

9 social media mistakes to avoid

Social media can provide an excellent opportunity for real estate agents to expand your sphere of influence, demonstrate your expertise and make a name for yourself, but making mistakes can derail your efforts. To get the most out of social media, avoid these 10 common pitfalls that many Realtors succumb to:

  1. “Friend” My Business – You don’t want a prospect to have to send you a friend request to see your Facebook page, do you? By using your personal page as a professional page, you also subject them to your privacy settings, your thoughts on last night’s reality TV and silly cat videos. Instead, create a business page that focuses on building your business and not your personal life, then invite your friends, clients and prospects to like it.
  2. Have You Seen My New Listing? – Or this new listing? Or this one? Pages quickly get boring if all you do is post about listings. Do incorporate listings into your posts, but make sure that’s only part of your overall content and not your only content.
  3. Let’s Talk Politics – No, let’s don’t. Agents who discuss – or worse, rant – about a politician, party or political decision not only risk alienating a large percentage of prospects, but they also look unprofessional. If you’re using your page for business, leave the politics out. The same goes for any topic that is controversial or polarizing. I know it’s hard not to jump in and offer your two cents during an election year, but it’s best to resist the urge.
  4. Negativity Town – Never post anything negative or critical against your brokerage or a competitor. It looks unprofessional and will not win you any friends.
  5. Old Page Better than No Page – Actually, that’s not true. Having an old profile that hasn’t been updated or posted to in months or even years sends the message that you are out of touch, or worse, out of business. It’s best to take it down and start again (click here for directions), then make sure to post at least 3-4 times a week. Use a free tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance, so you can keep fresh content coming without spending a lot of time.
  6. Mr. Roboto – Social media is all about engaging with real humans, so be
    Automating posts from another social media profile, vendor or the MLS will make you look like a robot. And that's not good. (Photo Credit: Kopf odor Zahl/Flickr)

    Automating posts from another social media profile, vendor or the MLS will make you look like a robot. And that’s not good.
    (Photo Credit: Kopf odor Zahl/Flickr)

    one. Don’t automate your posts from another social media profile, a vendor or the MLS. You’ll look like a robot, and what’s appropriate for one social media platform may not be appropriate for another.

  7. Privacy, Shmivacy – You would never run a picture of a client or their family in an advertisement without their permission, so don’t do it on social media. Respect their privacy, ask for permission to use their photo and get it in writing before posting.
  8. Hang Your “Open” Sign – Don’t leave the big image at the top of Facebook (called the Cover Photo) and Twitter (Header Photo) blank. That’s like a shopkeeper forgetting to light the “Open” sign in the window. Show followers that you are open for business by choosing an image that represents your niche, community or business.
  9. Borrowing Images – While a quick Internet search may present thousands of entertaining photos to share on social media, that doesn’t mean you have permission to use them. Avoid a costly lawsuit by:
  • Sharing links to websites
  • Using photos from Flickr Creative Commons — they’re free, just make sure to give a photo credit to the owner
  • Purchasing inexpensive images through sites like shutterstock or istockphoto
  • Taking your own photos

If you follow these rules, you’re on your way to an engaging real estate social media profile that will help you accomplish your business goals.

Tips for finding the right audience on social media

Not all social media are equal — they’re actually very different, particularly in who you connect with and how. Because real estate agents don’t have time to build a presence on several social media platforms, it’s important to understand the differences so you can pick the ones that work best for you and what you want to accomplish. I’ll post more on the differences, but one of biggest things that makes each site unique is who you can connect with and how.

facebookUse Facebook to connect with people you know, whether you know them well, knew them several years ago or they’re acquaintances. Friends, family, neighbors, college buddies, friends from high school, clients, and real estate agents or employees at your brokerage are an obvious place to start — people you know, see regularly and already have a relationship. But you can also connect with acquaintances, such as agents, appraisers or mortgage brokers you’ve done business with, and people you’ve met at networking events. But it’s considered intrusive to send a friend request to someone you haven’t met, so it’s not recommended.

twitterTwitter is my favorite social media platform because it’s easy to connect with people you don’t know, but with whom you share a common interest. Follow the same people you would on Facebook who are on Twitter, and then expand your sphere by following people you may not know but would like to build a relationship with, like your local real estate reporter, business owners and even celebrities. I actually know a Florida Realtor who sold a property to Rosie O’Donnell for $5 million, and then turned around and sold that same property for Rosie two years later for $5.3 million, all because she connected with Rosie on Twitter!

pinterestOn Pinterest, it’s less about making connections and more about sharing pretty pictures. But it’s through your gorgeous property photos that you can connect with potential buyers. If you use the right search terms in your posts, such as dream home, family home or beach house, along with the location, you’ll start to attract followers who might be potential buyers. Just make sure every property photo is linked to that property on your website, so they can find it online if they’re interested.

instagram-icon-circle-vector-logo3Instagram is also about pretty photos, but it’s very different from Pinterest. Instagram is used more to show off personal photos that you take, rather than photos you find online or from another source. Use the “Find Facebook Friends” and “Find Contacts” functions in your Instagram settings to connect with people you know. Then follow people you’d like to connect with. Most importantly, use lots of hashtags on Instagram in your posts to attract the people you want to follow you, like #SarasotaHomesforSale, #AtlantaProperties or #beachhomes.

youtubeYouTube, while technically a social media site, is viewed by most people as just a place to post videos and use the links in other social media. However, if you really love making videos, it presents a great opportunity to build your sphere and influence. Check out what Jessica Riffle Edwards has done on YouTube. With more than 400 videos, she has amassed a following of 3,800+ subscribers and has received almost 1.2 million views. If video is not your passion, then use YouTube as a place to post what videos you do make, and then share a link on your other social media and your website.

linkedinLinkedIn is all about business and is set up for you to connect with people you know or have done business with, like other agents, mortgage brokers and bankers, appraisers, plumbers, landscapers, Chamber of Commerce members, clients, etc. If you want to connect with someone you haven’t met, you can ask for one of your connections who knows that person to introduce you through LinkedIn. For example, if you want to connect with a city council member and one of your clients on LinkedIn knows her, you can ask your client to introduce you through LinkedIn.

googleplusIt doesn’t seem like Google+ ever really took off like Google had hoped, but it does enjoy a dedicated, if somewhat techy audience and you can use it to boost your website’s search engine optimization. You can connect with people much like you do through Facebook. The advantage of Google+ is you can arrange those connections into “circles” (friends, agents, family, etc.) and share posts that are only visible to a specific circle. So you can easily share vacation photos of the kids with your family, and keep more business-appropriate posts for your clients.

So pick the social media platform or platforms that work best for you, then start connecting!

3 Tips for Streamlining Your Social Media

Social media can be a bit daunting for the busy real estate professional who needs to be out selling homes and prospecting, not sitting inside working on the computer. Here are three easy tips that will help streamline your social media activities — especially for those who are relatively inexperienced in social media — so you can get the most out of this powerful tool without taking up too much time.

  1. There’s an App for That – Download apps for the social media platforms you use and make posting a part of your day, straight from your smart phone. Touring a new listing with a cool pool? Share a photo on Facebook. At a sporting event and your local team just won? Post it on Instagram. Quick, in-the-moment posts take just seconds from your smart phone or tablet, and show you are the local expert and actively working your business.
  2. Use Notifications – Responding quickly to comments that are posted on your page is vital for engaging in conversations and building relationships with prospects. Go into the Settings on your smartphone and enable the Notifications function on each of your social media apps, so you can instantly see any activity on your page. Then when you see someone post a question to your page or private message you, you can respond right away.
  3. Schedule Posts – Use a free tool like Hootsuite, which allows you to manage all of your social media accounts in one place. You can schedule posts and share posts from other social media users, although make sure you are still making in-the-moment updates to supplement the more evergreen scheduled posts.

 

4 Tips for a Winning Social Media Profile

One of the most important pieces of the social media pie – and often one of the most overlooked – is having a complete, engaging and searchable profile. Here are four quick tips for creating a profile that will help you attract new followers and build your business.

  1. Call Me, Maybe… – You want prospects to be able to contact you easily, right? Don’t make a prospect have to look too hard for your contact information, or they may give up and go to your competitor. Instead, post full contact information in your profile so interested prospects can easily reach you by phone, email or your website.
  2. Searching for Mr./Ms. Right – When writing your profile, include key search terms that prospects might use to find an agent just like you. By using terms like “Miami luxury real estate,” “Baltimore real estate agent,” or “Atlanta homes” in your profile, you will come up in search results when prospects search using these terms. Also, what you name your profile photo is searchable, so calling your picture “Suzy Seller Realtor” will be better than “IMG_0554.”
  3. Say Cheese! – People want to interact with real people, not a logo, so show them your biggest smile in an updated photo. Avoid using props like sunglasses, pets or cell phones, which can look cheesy and distract from your professional appearance. Remember, saying cheese is good, being cheesy is not.
  4. Who Are You? – Fill out your profile completely to show prospects who you are and how you can help them. Facebook’s “About” and LinkedIn’s “Profile” pages allow you to fill in a number of fields – the more you have filled in, the easier you make it for friends and acquaintances to find you. Twitter and Pinterest “Profiles” both limit you to 160 characters and Instagram allows 150 characters, so choose your words wisely, use key search terms and don’t forget to include your website. YouTube’s “About” allows 1,000 characters: Click here for tips on how to create a winning profile.

Follow these easy tips and you’ll be on your way to attracting an audience.

Which is Best on Facebook? Personal or Business Page?

One of the questions I get asked most frequently by Realtors is which is better, a personal or business page on Facebook. Personal pages on Facebook were designed to represent a person, not a business, but many small business owners and independent contractors don’t understand the difference. By using a personal page for your biz, you may be sending the message that you’re not serious.

Perhaps the biggest reason not to use a personal page for your business it that it’s against Facebook’s user policy. Doing so could get your page shut down permanently with no notice. But even if you’re not detected, there are some good reasons why a personal page is not appropriate for your business:

The About section of a personal profile clearly speaks from the perspective of a person, not a business. You are from Boston, are married and like Taylor Swift and Twilight, not your business. Right?

  • Privacy settings are a good thing on a personal page, so you can restrict who sees pictures of your kids or who sees certain posts. When you’re using your personal page for a business, though, this only puts up a big Keep Out sign when prospects try to view your page.
  • Requiring prospects to send you a friend request before they can fully view your page is just another roadblock and will automatically turn off anyone who doesn’t already know you well, or perhaps even some who do.
  • Personal accounts can only have up to 5,000 friends, while business pages can have an unlimited number of followers.

To best showcase your business, create a business page in addition to your personal profile. It’s really easy to do, just follow these tips from Facebook and you’ll be on your way. Once your page is up, invite all of your Facebook friends to like your new page. Then use your business page to talk about real estate, and keep the cat videos to your personal page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool new Facebook tool!

Facebook has launched a new tool that I, for one, will be using frequently. Here’s a blog post on Inman from Coldwell Banker’s Lindsay Listansky, social media manager, explaining all the details.

Here’s the gist: You notice a cool item in your Facebook feed that you’d like to share or comment on, but you don’t have time. When you go back to find it later, it’s become lost among thousands of other updates and you can’t find it anywhere. Facebook has created an easy new feature that lets you save these items and recall them quickly whenever you want.

Great idea!