Social media “experts” abound these days. Many send conflicting messages every time technology changes, delivering “urgent” signals to hop on the next big thing or be left in the dust.

If someone refers to themselves as a social media expert, your first red flag should go up. The landscape of social media is huge. Someone may be an expert in strategies, tactics or particular channels (for example, Mari Smith is an expert in Facebook), but an expert in all of social media? Nope.

If you hopped on every bandwagon as instructed, you would be in a constant state of disarray. How could you possibly have time to run your business?

The following are directives you may receive as you search the Web, and things to consider as you hear them.

1.  “Be on every social media channel or be left behind”

Particularly for those just getting started, this will take you down before you begin. If you have a goal of running a marathon, are you going to put “run 26.2 miles” on your calendar tomorrow morning? No. You would map out a plan that takes you from point A to the point of reaching your goal in digestible pieces. This sort of overwhelming statement is what causes people to procrastinate — sometimes for years.

Sure, you may want to set up each channel for your business so that you secure your consistent branding, but, from an implementation standpoint, create a strategy based on what you can currently manage, what you know you will use to communicate with your target audience, and something you know you’ll be able to see some success in.

Once that becomes manageable, diversify your portfolio. This will look very different if you are an independent real estate professional versus a large brokerage with a team and a large budget. Plan accordingly, and allow yourself the space you need to learn and grow.

2.  If you don’t use [insert currently hyped platform here], don’t even bother.

That’s just ridiculous. Perhaps you hate YouTube. Is it a powerful platform for Realtors? Absolutely. Will it benefit you if done well and consistently? Absolutely. If you know you will never do it, does that mean you should also not even bother with LinkedIn, or blogging, or Google Plus? Absolutely not.

That’s like saying if you don’t like vegetables, just don’t even bother eating.

3.  Successful social media takes only minutes a day!

Sorry, successful social media takes time. And shouldn’t it? If everyone could simply set an automator and check in a couple minutes a day, that would not be a very fair landscape for those generating valuable content, education and customer service, now would  it? Your goal should be effective time management, not “how little time can I dedicate?”

Just like anything else in business and life, you get out of it what you put into it. Strategy should be your foundation. Social media can create overwhelm for any busy professional. Create a challenging but achievable plan, and once you build experience and comfort with it, advance from there.

Sue Koch is the owner of Soaring Solutions, a Chicago-based social media strategy, consulting and training organization that supports several top-producing mortgage lenders and real estate brokers.

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