Do you have a robust Web presence? To succeed in today’s online social networking-based environment, a single page on your broker’s site is no longer sufficient.
I recently moderated a panel for the Good Life Team that included the owners of six of the most successful independent real estate brokerages in Austin, Texas. The goal was to give the agents in attendance the tools and strategies that it takes to succeed online today.
One of the most interesting aspects of the discussion was the distinction between having a website vs. a Web presence. A website is part of your Web presence, but that alone isn’t enough. In fact, the large proportion of agents either have nothing posted online or just a page that resides on their broker’s website.
There are a number of ways to create your Web presence. If you’re just getting started, here are some easy ways to expand your Web presence using the social media.
1. Post a profile on each of the main social media sites
To protect your online identity, it’s important that you fill out a profile on each of the main social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you don’t post a profile along with your picture, someone can impersonate you and seriously damage your online reputation.
In fact, even though I have a Twitter account, someone who was promoting a work-at-home business opened a Twitter account using my full name, and even posted my picture. To get Twitter to remove this, I had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, send the company a copy of my driver’s license, and provide additional proof that this person was an imposter. The process took about two weeks.
Unfortunately, a number of the people I know were already "following" the imposter on Twitter. The lesson here is clear: Not only do you need to be online, but you need to monitor these sites to see if someone else is pretending to be you.
2. A simple way to get started on Facebook
There’s no question that Facebook is the most powerful of the social networking sites. The challenge is that most agents who use Facebook are using their personal profiles to market their listings.
This violates the Facebook terms of service. A better approach is to post your listings on Facebook Marketplace. This part of Facebook is set up specifically for people to advertise their products. You can upload photos, video links or any other information pertinent to the property.
A more advanced approach to using Facebook is to set up a Facebook business page devoted to a specific niche that you serve. This is much easier and cheaper than setting up a website or a blog, although the best return will occur when you have all three.
To set up the page, scroll down to the bottom of your personal profile page and click on the "Create a Page" link. That will take you to the next step, which is to select the type of page you want to set up. Click on "Local Business or Place." (Avoid "Cause" or "Community" due to issues about who may "own" the rights to the cause or to represent the community.)
When the pop-up menu appears, click on "Real Estate." Facebook has created a way for you to market your business publicly rather than relying on your profile page. Furthermore, Facebook Marketplace and Facebook business pages are searchable, but your profile page is not.
In terms of what to post, take pictures of local landmarks or historical houses. Do video interviews with local merchants or capture the Fourth of July or Halloween parade. Have fun and invite people in your community to join and share what they love about living in the neighborhood.
LinkedIn was set up specifically for people to post recommendations and testimonials. When you fill out your LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn searches for people who worked in the same companies or attended the same schools you attended at the times you were there.
It also looks at your current connections and then makes recommendations about "people you may know." Furthermore, you can also use your current LinkedIn connections to be introduced to other people in the LinkedIn network.
For example, say that a company is relocating part of its operations to your town and you would like to go after the relocation business but you don’t know anyone at the company. You check your LinkedIn connections and you see that one of your contacts has a friend who is an executive at the company. You could ask your contact to make an introduction.
Where LinkedIn really shines, however, is in the area of recommendations and testimonials. LinkedIn has a specific part of the site that is dedicated specifically to recommendations. To take advantage of this, when you join LinkedIn, see if any of your past customers are already members. If so, offer to do a testimonial exchange — you do a testimonial for them and they do one for you.
Also, here’s another important reason you may want to be on LinkedIn: The average LinkedIn member makes more than $100,000 per year. This is a great place to be building potential business relationships.
A key point to keep in mind as you build your Web presence using these tools is that your focus needs to be on building relationships by interacting with people, not by broadcasting how great you and your services are. Your goal is to provide such great service that other people will be saying how great you are.