Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Social media for the real estate industry

An excellent post about social media and business networking appears on Geek Estate and is worthy of a read. Some of my thoughts based on their comments:

Many agents and real estate professionals in this country have yet to even consider the jump to the social space, but if one looks at it as business networking it is even more perplexing why they haven’t started to embrace this space. Consider the old school of business networking, local business groups, chamber of commerce, institute of directors, sponsoring local events, the Masonic Lodge etc you find agents and industry professionals all pressing the flesh in these areas, helping the local community and all realise that eventually this assists in generating future business.

So why can’t they apply this tried and tested theory to social spaces on the Internet, it is exactly the same, but with a far wider audience and greater reach. This is an important point as the old school of networking I would say is hyper local, which is great for listings, but what about the buying audience, they are more widespread and need to know who you are.

Geek Estate looks at Facebook and Linkedin for starters and how these sites can drive traffic to your business. Taking their bullet points:

‘...You place your personal and business profile up on these sites for all of the world to view. Accomplishments, awards, education, specialized training, and your business goals are all there if you want them to be. Visibility.

In a few minutes time online, you can ask or answer questions, interacting with people from all parts of the country and the world. Your direct contacts have their own direct contacts, creating a possible sphere of influence far greater than any you could develop locally via personal interaction.

A referral or recommendation is much easier, thus you can get more of them. Your direct contacts can recommend you to someone else with a few keystrokes, no letter or personal meeting required. They’ll be far more likely to do so. LinkedIn formalizes this process more than Facebook. On LinkedIn, there are formalized recommendation formats that can be keyed to your specific areas of expertise. What? Let’s say that you work both residential and commercial real estate. You can have those two segments of your profile, each with recommendations specific to that expertise.

Both sites allow the sending of questions, but again, LinkeIn has formalized the process more. A question, once answered by all who are interested, can be closed out, and a Best Answer and Good Answer selected. The person who supplied that answer builds “expertise credit” in the category. In other words, if you are answering real estate related questions, Best and Good Answers get you more visibility in that category. That’s possible future business.

While listings are all local, as that’s where the homes are that you service, buyers are world-wide. You can network locally for listings, but people moving into your area from afar have no way to know who you are unless they find you somehow. With almost 90% now using the Internet to search for real estate, these networks are one way in which they can locate you...’

I will of course suggest joining a more focused networking group such as Juicy Red Apple where agents and all professionals share information and refer business. Indeed, yet to happen in the UK is business referral, but what better place to conduct such business.

Geek Estate concludes that sites such as JRA ‘... are powerful exposure tools, and you simply can’t overlook them in planning for the future. In all of your entries and interactions on these sites, you’re placing links back to your website, and when you can, to specific pages or posts that answer specific questions. This builds credibility, but also site traffic. And, it’s coming from sources that are real estate related, as that’s the way you’ve set up your profiles...’

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