Last week I received an e-mail from a colleague in another state asking me if I know a certain social media speaker and if I would hire him. The person who sent the e-mail indicated that there are many "social media experts" and that she had no way of knowing if they knew their stuff.

She is right. It seems like everyone is an expert. A real estate agent or consultant sets up a Twitter account and after a couple of weeks begins dispensing advice on how to use Twitter. It is the same with Facebook and blogging.

With blogging there is a kind of cycle. The blogger starts a blog and within six to eight weeks some become experts and start writing about blogging. I believe they take this route because they run out of ideas. A year later they cannot be found on the Internet, as they have dabbled in both real estate sales and in blogging and have moved on.

I have attended some amazingly bad presentations on social media — Twitter, in particular — and I have read some articles that have made me cringe. The presentations, books and articles are not just coming from the real estate industry. Twitter is not just for Realtors. Twitter experts can be found in other industries, like marketing and technology.

In my Facebook account I have written on my profile that I am an antisocial person who uses a lot of media. The Internet has made me somewhat antisocial, and the social media experts have taken some of the fun out of it, as have the people who are trying to get my attention and those who are trying to sell me something.

The experts follow me on Twitter and make friend requests on Facebook. They want me to turn my social time into a structured business activity that has rules. I would rather keep it social.

There is a disconnect on social media and its use by real estate agents. I found a couple of articles written by experts on major Web sites for Realtors stating that people search the Internet looking for real estate, but they do not search social networks or blogs looking for real estate.

They went one step further and suggested that social networks like Facebook are a waste of time for real estate agents. Using the same logic, why do agents mail out calendars when no one pages through a calendar looking for homes? …CONTINUED

It isn’t hard to understand how meeting people and socializing with them can lead to business, but there are some who can’t make that leap. They should hire a social media expert.

The Internet isn’t just a place to capture leads or where agents can put pictures of themselves on Web sites.

When looking for someone to offer a presentation on social media for Realtors it is a good idea to ask for references and then go out on the Internet and ask around. Keep in mind that using the networks is not rocket science.

I know children who are very good with Facebook. They have had no formal training. They would not be the best presenters because they have not refined their public speaking skills to the point where they can charge for a presentation and might not have the credibility needed for a presentation to a seasoned sales staff.

Be wary of social media experts. Ask for references and do some research. They should be easy to find on the Internet — if not they must be doing something wrong.

There are too many people who call themselves social media experts. A social media expert has to be someone who understands that social networks are for being social and not for selling anything.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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