Agents always ask whether social networking is worth it. By worth it, they’re usually referring to leads. I give them the bad news – don’t expect a rush of new clients. And then I point out the other benefits to social networking. Like bolstering your online presence so when prospects check you out, they find something useful (and positive) or building relationships with other CRE professionals. But even those who acknowledge and want those benefits don’t know where to start.
It doesn’t help that “experts” seem to insist that you must have a blog. I’ve always thought that was putting the cart before the horse. It’s often interacting on social networks that inspire someone who’s not a writer to blog. So forget about blogging for now. Here’s my recommended strategy for getting started with social networking. Begin with a presence then participate because, after all, social networking is about being social.
LinkedIn. It’s not only your online resume but the network is a great prospecting tool. Posting regular updates – news articles, an occasional listing and commenting on or liking items in your news feed keeps you top of mind to your connections. Plus there are plenty of opportunities to interact or expand your reach via groups and long-form posts where you can try your hand at blogging.
About.me, the virtual business card site, is the most popular of the “personal” landing page sites (Flavors.me and Jux.com are two others) often appearing in search results for name searches. It doesn’t take long to set up and it’s an excellent way to provide a professional summary with link to websites, associations and business related social profiles.
Set up business accounts for Foursquare or Yelp (you’ll need a real business address for Yelp). They’re both heavily trafficked local mobile services and good additions to your Google and Yahoo Local accounts (you do have those, don’t you?). In fact, directories and search are about the only type of mobile exposure for commercial real estate right now.
Instagram is easy enough if you want to keep a stream of properties or listings handy. You can use Instagram URLs in posts on other social networks or in emails.
If you’re interested in making contact with other agents, consider CRE networks like theBrokerList where you can engage with peers, post wants and needs and use several social marketing tools.
If you’re willing to spend some time regularly posting and interacting, Google Plus will definitely increase your search results visibility. And there does seem to be quite a CRE agent community on the network so if meeting and conversing with peers is your goal, Google Plus is a good place.
Everyone should have a Twitter account at least to keep up with “of the moment” news. For CRE, it’s moderately useful for keeping tabs on companies, competitors and people of interest (set up search streams or hash tag queries), something you can also do on LinkedIn. But Twitter is the closest you’ll get to real time conversations and opportunities for relationship building if you want to spend the time.
Now that posts on Facebook business pages have limited exposure, companies who have to pay for ads are finding out that they’re not getting much for their money – even with the advanced targeting. Stick to reminding your friends and family you’re a commercial real estate agent on your personal Facebook account instead.
Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit and messaging services like Snapchat – the demographic and use patterns just don’t make sense for CRE – so skip them.