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Social media marketing gurus tout how they have thousands of Facebook friends or Twitter followers. While this may be a great approach for Internet marketers, it may not be a wise approach for Realtors.

When Realtors brag about how many friends they have on Facebook or how many followers they have on Twitter, they may be missing what really matters. What matters is not the size of your database, but the quality of people in your database.

Before all the advances in computer technology, the goal for a new real estate agent was to have 200 people’s names in a Rolodex (that’s one of those funny round files where you put people’s business cards or record their contact information by hand). The thinking was that if you received at least one referral from 25 percent of your database, you would close 50 transactions per year.

Fast-forward to today. Take a look at your Facebook friend list, your LinkedIn account and your Twitter account. Of those people, how many of them would you recognize if you were to bump into them on the street?

If you don’t know who they are, do you really expect them to trust you and to refer business to you? In other words, would you be better off with 200 people that you interacted with on a regular basis and that you know, or with 2,000 Facebook friends, most of whom you have no idea about who they are?

Time to cull your database

It’s one thing to have a large following on your blog or for your e-mail newsletter. In fact, it’s highly desirable to grow this list as long as everyone on it has agreed to opt in to it.

On the other hand, if you have a friend or follower feed that is packed with communications from people who you don’t know and don’t care about, start separating the chaff from the best potential referral sources.

If you’re like most agents, you probably will feel uncomfortable "unfriending" or "unfollowing" people on social media. There’s another approach that will achieve the same result without offending anyone.

Make a list now

Most social media sites allow you to create lists. Here’s how to segment your contact database. The goal is to be in conversation with the people on your lists who are most likely to do business with you or who are actual friends, business acquaintances or family.

The first step in the process is to distinguish between personal contacts and business contacts. Once you have identified your business contacts, divide them into three additional lists following the guidelines below.

The A-list

These people are your "angels." They not only know you and like you, but they are also fans of your business who will hire you and/or refer others to you. These are the people who are really worth being involved with on social media.

A major reason real estate agents experience attrition in their business is that they fail to keep up with their past clients. Instead of doing expensive print marketing, engaging with past and current clients on social media is one of the best ways to keep those relationships strong long after the transaction has closed.

Remember, social media is for building relationships, not for self-promotion. An easy way to begin is to comment on other people’s posts. When you take the time to read what they have written and comment, you strengthen the connection. This also increases the probability that they will respond to what you post.

The B-list

These are people who fall into the acquaintance mode. Your goal in interacting with them is to move them from a stranger or acquaintance relationship to a friend relationship. In other words, you are always working to expand your A-list.

To keep your business on track, monitor who is referring business and engaging with you on social media. It does you no good to spend time and effort chasing after someone who doesn’t engage.

The B-list also includes those who help you grow with interesting comments or ideas.

"The Rest" list

You can take one of three actions with "The Rest" list. You can delete them, ignore them, or attempt to move them to your B-list. It’s important to realize that it’s easier to move someone from the B-list to the A-list than it is to convert someone from "The Rest" list.

Ultimately, the best way to build your business is to be in regular contact with members of your A-list and B-list who know you, interact with you, and who trust you to represent them when they are ready to list or sell their home.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named "new and notable" by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com. You can contact her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com or @BRoss on Twitter.

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