Everyone has an online reputation. The question is how are you showing up online?

The younger your potential client is, the more likely he or she is to search you out on Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Today’s column takes a fun look at some of the ways that people are positioning themselves in the social media space.

Without a trace
Many Realtors lack an online presence. When you search their names on Google or Yahoo, their names turn up only on genealogy sites. They don’t have a Web site. They may have a Web page on their broker’s site, but it includes only their name and phone number. More than 90 percent of all clients use the Web when searching for a home. Sadly for this group of agents, their business will steadily decline as their client base shrinks from attrition and failure to attract the next generation of clients.

Follow me!
There was a rather obnoxious, but funny spoof on YouTube about a woman who is addicted to using Twitter. She does hundreds of tweets (posts on Twitter) each day detailing such events as walking her dog and making a sandwich. Her contribution to the online conversation is, "I like mayonnaise on my sandwiches. Do you like mayonnaise on your sandwiches?" Although it seems obvious that this is poor use of the social networking space, much of what posted on Twitter and other social networking sites falls into this category. If you are using social networking as part of your marketing plan, avoid posting a constant stream of updates about you and the trivial events in your life. If you don’t, your followers will soon be hitting the "unfollow" button.

Party animal
Early adopters of MySpace and Facebook used these sites to keep up with their friends. A foolproof way to ruin your business is to post pictures of yourself playing the role of the party animal doing stupid pet tricks. If you use Facebook and Twitter for this purpose, it’s smart to set up two separate identities. Use one for your personal posts including family pictures or other personal data about what you are doing. Keep your business identity separate and professional. This also means that you must carefully monitor both your own posts as well as what others post about you as well.

Blogger connect
An interesting pattern among some bloggers is to be in conversation almost exclusively with other bloggers. While it may be great to have a high score on ActiveRain and interesting to be involved in agent-to-agent conversations, they often do little to develop relationships with potential clients. If you are not getting results from blogging, an important question to ask is whether your time would be better spent reaching out to your community rather than to other bloggers. …CONTINUED

Lights on, nobody home
Have you started and then abandoned a blog? Have you filled out a Facebook or LinkedIn profile and then never done anything else with it? While having a profile on major sites is important in terms of protecting your online identity, when younger clients see that you are not actively involved in the online conversation, they will move on to an agent who is.

"Twammers" probably isn’t a word yet. It refers to those who use Twitter to spam their marketing messages. Some companies are using "bots" to sign up with new users and to automatically send them messages. If you read Twitter on a regular basis, you will see that there is a tremendous backlash against this type of activity. People and companies who do this lose business. For companies who are doing posts on social networking sites, consumers respond well when there is a real person’s name connected to the post. For example, "SusanB@Inman.com" will be much more effective at garnering responses as opposed to just using the company name.

There was an interesting thread on Twitter during the middle of March. Guy Kawasaki is one of the most followed people on Twitter. Kawasaki, however, does not engage in the conversation by responding to other people’s tweets. A number of "Tweeple" (people on Twitter) elected not to follow him because of this. On the other hand, the information that he posts is often useful and entertaining.

Who will you be?
What online persona will you choose? The smart move is to join groups that serve your community rather than having conversations exclusively with other Realtors. Remember, those born after 1964 will want to get to know you online. That means, they want to learn about what interests you, what roles you play in the community, as well as how you can potentially help them buy or sell real estate.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com.


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