You can turn Facebook and social networking sites into money-making generators for your real estate business, said panelists of REALTOR® Magazine’s Young Professionals Network during the session “Marketing Strategies That Work” at the 2009 REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. Facebook recently helped Koki Adasi-Efuya, of Long & Foster Real Estate in Rockville, Md., land and connect with three clients, he said. Soon after he reconnected with a high school friend on Facebook, his friend asked Adasi-Efuya to sell his house. And that led to a surge of referalls. After the sale, the friend’s sister called and asked him to sell her house. They communicated via Facebook during the selling process, since she lived an hour away. Soon after, the friend’s father contacted Adasi-Efuya—also through Facebook. He wanted to sell his house, too. Adasi-Efuya said that reaching out to his friend wasn't a strategy to build business; he was just sending a message to say happy birthday. But now he knows that just like in real life, expanding his sphere of contacts on Facebook can lead to new clients. Panelist Adasi-Efuya is a member of the 2008 REALTOR® Magazine “30 Under 30” class. Blogging for CredibilityDarrin Friedman, the branch vice president of the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Chevy Chase, Md., says blogging turned out to be his social networking silver-bullet. It has helped him recruit sales associates, build regional and national credibility, and ultimately make his company more profitable. He attributes his blog to helping his brokerage receive more than $5 million in referrals in 2008. Plus, he says his blog (www.Cbblogestate.com) had a part in recruiting and luring half of the 70 agents he has recruited to the company since January 2007.Make Your Own Path to SuccessTapping social networking—such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs—can particularly be good tools in reaching the largest segment of future home buyers on the market today—Gen Y and Gen X, panelists said. Panelists offered the following tips on how you can get similar results in your marketing:
Advertise on Facebook. Spread the word by purchasing ads along the side of Facebook pages. You can set an age, gender, and location target market and have your ads appear on Facebook pages that match your criteria. You can also track your ad’s progress in real time to see who has been clicking on it.
Make information available electronically and virtually. Gen Y and Gen X buyers love to see rich data, charts, graphs, and electronic forms, but provide all of the information you have for them on a CD, flash drive, or online so that they can take it with them to analyze themselves later, said Amanda DiVito, ABR®, CRS, of RE/MAX Alliance in Arvada, Colo. Gen Xers (she pegged those born between 1961 and 1981) tend to be skeptics and question everything and are fact-seekers, she said. She called Gen Y (those born between 1982 and 2000) intellectually curious and tech-savvy.
Create group or business pages on Facebook. Create a Facebook group page to connect with prospects, such as a group geared to “first-time home buyers” where you provide helpful information. Or create a business page for your company, and ask others to become “fans” of your page. Whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, the idea of social networking is to communicate within online communities of people who share interests and activities, said Adasi-Efuya.
Use status updates to stay in front of your network. On Facebook, you can use status updates and the Wall—the public viewing area on your network’s pages—to stay top of mind among your sphere. The simple “Happy Birthday” on a friend’s Wall that led to three listings for Adasi-Efuya also went to all his Facebook contacts. Likewise, you can use Twitter—a microblogging site based on the question “What are you doing now?”—to keep people alerted to what you are doing in your business.
Be professional. Make your status as a real estate professional clear by posting a professional photo and creating a complete profile at social networking sites you frequent. Remember also that your duties under the REALTORS® Code of Ethics extend to your online communications.
Show your personality but not your sale pitch. Friedman said blogging is an opportunity to engage in dialog with customers and employees, to challenge assumptions, meet like-minded people, a way to get skeptical clients to know you, and an avenue to let clients know more about who you are. However, he warns, blogging should not be self-indulgent, and you should not attempt to control the message or make it product-driven. Instead, blogging should be transparent, inclusive, authentic, vibrant, and consumer-driven, Friedman said. Friedman requires his new sales associates to create an Active Rain profile within 10 days of starting at the company and then to send a link to everyone in their sphere. Follow blogging best practices, he said, and you’ll become an authoritative source on this business.
—Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
(REALTOR® Magazine Daily News Online, May 13, 2009).