Last week, at the BuzzRE Orange County event, I had the chance to hear two different agents who are using social media in completely different ways.

Given that both agents were experiencing success with their approaches, it was a great example of how a lot of "best practices" might actually be bunk.

On the one hand was Robin Milonakis, who has a very personality-focused Facebook presence. She has a wait list for Facebook friends because she’s reached the 5,000-friend limit.

Last week, at the BuzzRE Orange County event, I had the chance to hear two different agents who are using social media in completely different ways.

Given that both agents were experiencing success with their approaches, it was a great example of how a lot of "best practices" might actually be bunk.

On the one hand was Robin Milonakis, who has a very personality-focused Facebook presence. She has a wait list for Facebook friends because she’s reached the 5,000-friend limit.

On the other hand was Tyler Wood with his blog, the Big Bear Skinny. His blog is focused almost exclusively on real estate topics like market data for his region, foreclosure data, etc.

So you’ve got Robin with her giant personality, chattering away on Facebook about football. And you’ve got Tyler Wood talking market data and real estate topics on his blog.

Two totally different approaches. Two totally different social media platforms to match. The thing they both seem to share in common, from my perspective, is a clear understanding of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

When an audience member asked Milonakis what she was getting, businesswise, from her work on Facebook, Robin was quick and clear. It was about the referral business, primarily.

You see, Milonakis is a huge football fan and has, through using Facebook, built up a large following of other football fans and former players. Apparently enough of her fans are also practicing real estate — so when the time comes to refer to someone in Orange County, Milonakis is the one who gets it.

She isn’t on Facebook drumming up new business from unknown home sellers or buyers (though with 5,000 Facebook fans I bet that it has happened).

She’s there to stay top-of-mind and engaged with the understanding that others in the real estate industry will be able to add to her business through this channel. I suspect this is similar to the way many real estate professionals use ActiveRain. …CONTINUED

Tyler Wood is also focused on what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. Working his blog, which unlike Facebook is visible to everyone, he is concentrating on making content that will be valuable to a consumer looking to buy or sell property today.

So his audience of consumers differs from Robin’s audience. And his channel is also different: a publicly available blog.

I remember a few years ago when Gary Vaynerchuk presented at Inman Connect and told everyone to become their own media stars. His presentation was full of energy and vitality.

I also remember talking to a few people afterward who said something along the lines of, "Yeah, that was great, but I just couldn’t be like him — I don’t have that star power."

The truth is, even without an outsized personality you can create content and engagement on the Internet.

When you’re setting out to do your own social media activities, remember to think about what you’re hoping to get from it at the outset. Be more specific than, "I want more leads."

Think about what kinds of leads you want. New customers? Old customers? Referrals? Then craft an approach that best aligns your style with the interests of your audience.

Robin Milonakis and Tyler Wood serve as good examples that completely different approaches can succeed. Social media isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Gahlord Dewald is the president and janitor of Thoughtfaucet, a strategic creative services company in Burlington, Vt. He’s a frequent speaker on applying analytics and data to creative marketing endeavors.

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