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!

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.

Why PR should take social media seriously

Jeff Bullas tweeted a past blog post today about why the PR industry should take social media seriously. If you read my last post, you know how I feel on the subject.  While the numbers he cites are a little outdated now, it still puts things into perspective.

USA Today’s audited circulation is now 1.83 million plus 16.9 online readers, which means getting a story in there has the potential to reach almost 19 million readers. That’s a lot.  But consider Facebook, which has more than 800 million users. That’s a whole lot more!

Obviously there are many differences between a professional, edited and respected news outlet and a social media site. But the sheer size of sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn cannot be ignored. They offer tremendous potential to reach a wide audience. They also offer a huge challenge in times of crisis.

So I’m with Jeff. PR needs to take social media seriously.

“Not sure if this social media thing will stick around”

I attended a PR industry meeting this week where I watched yet another old schooler show just how stuck in the 20th century he is. I won’t give too many details in an effort to protect the guilty. But the presenter, who was  CEO of an agency, said, and I quote, “I’m not too sure if this social media thing is going to stick around.”

After wiping the sundried tomatoes and spaghetti sauce off my chin, which had fallen with a THUD onto my plate, I glimpsed up to see if his team was as mortified as I was. If they were, they weren’t showing it.  

To continue this agency suicide, the CEO went on to joke that he has a Twitter account and checks it once a year to see if anyone’s talking about him.  Then he quipped that it’s fun for the big celebrities with thousands of followers, but he didn’t see much of a business opportunity for clients. 

Now I’ll be the first to say that there are a lot of amazing PR pros out there who see social media for what it is — a huge PR opportunity and challenge. At no other time in marketing history has it been so easy for the consumer to immediately tell millions of people about a positive or negative brand experience.  Businesses can now skip the media gatekeeper and get their message straight to the masses.  The word of mouth potential is a bit mind-boggling.

But there are still plenty of old school PR practitioners who are resisting change. I can sort of understand — when you spend decades doing it one way and things change, you are bound to be sceptical.  But to publically admit — at an industry event attended by clients and potential clients, no less — that you don’t really get the “whole social media thing,” seems like agency suicide to me.

This really drives me crazy.  When established PR practioners stick their heads in the sand and insist that social media will go the way of VHS and cassette tapes, it makes the whole industry look old fashioned and unable to adjust to this new marketplace.  The ad agencies are cleaning our clock right now on the digital front.  The PR industry should be leading the charge, or at least locking arms with the advertising and digital guys and pushing forward at their side. Because no other marketing discipline knows more about building and leveraging relationships. And that’s what social media is all about.

The PR world is changing, and until we can all embrace it, we’re going to be left fighting for a seat at the table. True, Facebook probably won’t be the force it is now 10 years down the road, but something else will just replace it.  And I’m certain it will be digital and social in nature.

Now I’m off to listen to some Ke$ha on my iPhone…D-I-N-O-S-A  UR a dinosaur…and then Tweet about it.

Before you pitch, follow the reporter on Twitter

One of the first lessons neophite PR professionals (should) learn is to know a journalist and what they cover before you pitch. That’s sometimes easier said than done.

But I have found that Twitter can be an invaluable tool for researching a journalist.  Apart from hiring a mind reader (unrealistic) or stalking (illegal), there’s really no other way to listen in on the conversations, thoughts and opinions of a specific journalist. If you’re trying to get on the radar screen of a reporter, follow them on Twitter and pay close attention to what they’re tweeting. It’s a wealth of information.

For tips on how to find journalists on Twitter, here’s a great piece by Patrick Garmoe, a content and social media strategist for PureDriven, from Spinsucks.com (love the name!)

The rules of public speaking have changed

Great blog post out today by Drew Neisser from FastCompany on how public speaking has changed in the social media era.  If your career path ever puts you or your client in front of an audience, whether it’s an internal meeting or a massive conference, this is a must-read. The rules have changed. A few take aways:

  • Resist the temptation to ask the audience to put down their tech toys.
  • Tweeting during a presentation is today’s version of taking notes, and it doesn’t mean they’re not listening.
  • You are speaking not only to the people in the audience, but to every person who follows them on Twitter.
  • Better get your facts straight, or you will be corrected instantly on Twitter.

And finally, if you hadn’t figured this out yet, drop the PowerPoint slides. If you must present information on a screen, try a cooler tool like Prezi.

Why you need a social media expert

Anybody with a smartphone or computer can start a Facebook or Twitter account. Adding pictures, pithy status updates and finding friends from high school isn’t rocket science. But marketing a brand or business on social media is a different matter. It’s not quite rocket science, but it definitely does take some skill.

You can always tell when a business has recruited an intern or their receptionist to manage their social media. That inevitably ends up with a post like this, which I saw on FB today:

  • We have some AMAZING deals in time for the Holidays!!! Check this out, save BIG now through December 31st!

OMG!!! Not too professional. Unless your brand wants to presents itself as a teenager, you need to hire a social media expert. If you are still doubtful, check out this article from smedio.

If you agree that you do need a professional, give me a call.

 

How to write the perfect tweet

Dismayed that your list of followers isn’t skyrocking on Twitter? It might be your boring tweets. Check out this article from Mediabistro on how to write the perfect tweet.

A few things I would add to their list:

  • Tweet more often. If you only make a post two or three times a week, no one is going to listen to you unless you’re famous. Try tweeting three to five times throughout the day.
  • Space your tweets out. Nothing is more irritating than people who send out five tweets in quick succession. I always feel like they’ve hijacked my feed. Anyone that tweets like that couldn’t be too interested in building a relationship. They just want to hear themselves talk.