Editor’s note: The following guest article, by Jim Cronin, is republished with permission from the Real Estate Tomato blog.

I am so proud of the real estate industry. You’ve come so far.

Editor’s note: The following guest article, by Jim Cronin, is republished with permission from the Real Estate Tomato blog.

I am so proud of the real estate industry. You’ve come so far.

In the latter half of the 1990s, as the Internet promised to be a modern Gold Rush, curiously, Realtors showed little interest. It wasn’t until just recently that a Realtor’s personal Web site was accepted as an obligatory expense. The irony is that now it has little chance of being effective.

But today, I actually have faith in the real estate agent’s embrace of the Internet as an effective marketing tool.

As much as the $500 brochure Web site of yesteryear catered to the ego of the Glamour Shots agent, it failed to jibe with their gregarious nature. Affable and outgoing agents couldn’t recognize any immediate relevance to their obvious business model: network, network, network.

Yet now, with the rise of social media, Realtors are feeling much more at home online, recognizing the opportunity to leverage the Internet as a viable networking tool.

Where it once seemed that Realtors needed to be dragged into the 21st century, they are now marching forward in droves. A rush, if you will.

But there’s a problem.

In the rush of 1849, where hundred of thousands broke from their traditional lifestyle in search of riches in the hills of California, there was no guarantee of success. For every nugget of gold discovered, there were thousands left holding a fruitless shovel. River panners spent back-breaking days sifting through the silt of the river bottom only to discover enough flecks of gold to keep them fed, and yet hungry for more.

As it turns out, those that were making the best living during the gold rush were those that sold the equipment (shovels, maps, mining tools, waterwheels, hydraulics, etc.) to the prospectors.

This rush for Realtors to leverage social media for ready-to-act homebuyers and sellers is proving to be a similar environment. Shovels, pans and picks have been replaced by blogs, Facebook, Twitter, ActiveRain, search-engine optimization and the endless list of consultants willing to sell you a few hours of their expertise (maps, if you will).

My intent … is to bring some clarity to the social media fog in which I see most participating Realtors aimlessly wandering around.

Almost no gold came easy, and just doing what everyone else was doing made it harder still. But there were fortunes made, when the proper systems were implemented. It wasn’t about the map, the shovel, or the pan. It was about organizing the community to work for you.

To be as successful as a prospector, there was a formula:

1. Get there early to stake out as much land as possible.
2. Build an outfit of contractors to do all the heavy lifting.
3. Provide tools and equipment.
4. Establish strong vigilance in an effort to prevent any "unaccounted-for" gold.

Let me paint another picture. …CONTINUED

For most, participating in social media is like going to a rock concert. You find yourself surrounded by people that all have a common interest (be it the rock band "AC/DC" or real estate). You like the familiar loud music, you like the energy of the crowd, you feel connected. But, at the end of the show, there are only a select few that the whole crowd remembers. It was those on stage, leading the audience to be connected, who made the biggest impression.

So with your efforts in social media, you need to make the choice: Are you going to be on stage, making the lasting impression? Or are you going home in an overpriced souvenir T-shirt, telling all your friends how great it was?

For prospectors, making a fortune during the California gold rush was so challenging, because the effort and investment of organizing an outfit to do all the heavy lifting was out-of-reach for most.

Social media, on the other hand, has made it all too easy to organize a formidable community. Now, to be successful in leveraging that community to "work" for you, it is your responsibility to get up on stage, in front of them, night after night, and start leaving an impression. If you go to the show just to hold a lighter, you’ll always be just a face in the crowd.

To be successful in social networking, there is a (much easier) formula:

1. Get there early to develop the largest amount of followers as possible.
2. Regularly provide relevant, compelling, eye-catching, and impressionable content for the community to consume.
3. Update your status regularly with relevant, compelling, eye-catching, and impressionable bite-size content.
4. Participate (comment, message, tag, nudge and friend) in the greater community to grow your reach, relevance and influence.
5. Lather, rinse, repeat..

I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn to use these social tools of today.
Be certain, they aren’t going away. The generation coming up will make sure of that.

Originally posted at Real Estate Tomato.

Copyright (c) Real Estate Tomato

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