Is having a social media presence really making a difference in your business or would your time be better spent doing something else?

I’ve spent the last month recuperating from major surgery. Since the recuperation time for me was supposed to be six to eight weeks, I made a conscious decision: no real estate, no social media — only self-care for the first month after surgery.

In fact, I didn’t even open my computer for two weeks (it hurt to sit up). I did take a few calls on my iPhone, but that was about it.

I have now been on hiatus from social media and blogging for six weeks. One of the questions I’ve been asking myself is whether blogging, tweeting and being active on Facebook are really worth the time and effort?

Is having a social media presence really making a difference in your business or would your time be better spent doing something else?

I’ve spent the last month recuperating from major surgery. Since the recuperation time for me was supposed to be six to eight weeks, I made a conscious decision: no real estate, no social media — only self-care for the first month after surgery.

In fact, I didn’t even open my computer for two weeks (it hurt to sit up). I did take a few calls on my iPhone, but that was about it.

I have now been on hiatus from social media and blogging for six weeks. One of the questions I’ve been asking myself is whether blogging, tweeting and being active on Facebook are really worth the time and effort?

For example, did any of my 2,800 followers on Twitter even notice that I hadn’t posted anything for six weeks? I haven’t received a single direct message for the last month, although I’ve had plenty of mentions because of my Inman articles.

How about my friends on Facebook? My close friends knew I was out, but what about everyone else? I didn’t receive a single communication from anyone saying, "Where the heck have you been?"

I have to believe that many Realtors are also asking the same questions. If my job is to list and sell real estate, is it really worth it to spend massive amounts of time building a social media presence?

As I have started to slowly ramp up again, I began looking at our Web stats for the time while I was off. The statistics really surprised me — everything was going up! Did taking a break from all of my regular activity actually improve how well we were doing? Somehow that didn’t seem likely.

1. Improved website ranking
While keeping track of your internal website statistics is always critical, it’s also smart to check how you’re scoring in comparison to other sites using a tool like the one from WebsiteGrader.com. Using more than 50 different factors, WebsiteGrader ranks your site against the 2.7 million websites that they have graded in the past.

While I was out, our main website jumped from the 96th percentile to the 99th percentile. While there is no way to know what’s in their ranking algorithm, there are two things we have changed that are probably driving these results.

The first is our regularly changing radio show content (it’s a podcast). Regular updates to your site help your search-engine ranking and probably improve your WebsiteGrader scores as well.

The real improvement, however, seems to be tied to the date where I added a second blog that was integrated into my existing site. Specifically, I started blogging on TypePad about three years ago. The problem with TypePad (among other blogging platforms) is that the blog resides on their server.

The result is that their websites get the traffic.

When I added the second blog using WordPress (WordPress.org), my Web designer integrated the blog into my website. As a result, the traffic from that blog is now going to my site rather than elsewhere.

I have also observed a major uptick in comments on both sites due to the fact that when I post on either blog, I am also linking those posts to Facebook and Twitter.

2. Facebook Group and Fan Pages
Our general manager recently came up with an excellent way to build the fan page for our radio show. The first step was to write at least four posts per week on the fan page.

One post covered what the show was covering and who our guest mentor will be, and the other three posts were tips I selected to share with our fans. While I’m still writing the content, our general manager is handling the actual posting for me.

She also suggested that we start inviting people who were in my regular friend feed to "fan" the show. I received a call from Kevin Turner, who produces the show, about our increase in RSS feed subscribers. He said, "I don’t know what you’re doing, but our numbers have jumped way up in the last few weeks."

We had put each of these initiatives into play prior to my surgery. It took about six to eight weeks before these changes produced measurable results in our traffic.

It’s pretty clear to me that, at least for our business, we can’t afford to ignore Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, nor can I afford to stop blogging. Each of these activities dovetails with other aspects of our business. More importantly, with each element I have added, our statistics have improved.

In terms of your real estate business, the research on blogging is clear — it is one of the best ways to build credibility and to attract clients. Once you have written a blog post, you can post it on all the major social media outlets with a single click. It’s so simple there doesn’t seem a reason not to do it.

My brief hiatus from social media is over. I definitely enjoyed having a real estate-free zone for three weeks, but once I started feeling better, Twitter, Facebook and all those marvelous blog posts were calling — how could I not be a part of it?

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