First a disclaimer, I am in no way claiming I have cornered the market on Social Media Networks, I happen to use them for my business. I’m also generalizing, you can find many that don’t suffer from the problems I rant about below. The three sectors, niches or whatever you want to call them, all three have something in common. They don’t know how to listen, nor do they know what their constituents want. All three claim to know that building relationships is paramount. All three claim to understand how to use Social Media Networks, but have been failing miserably. So what’s wrong?
Let’s start with a short story. I attended a MeetUp some 30 minutes down the freeway from me, I got there a little late, but as I walked in, I was introduced and then promptly put on the spot. I was asked, what top tip would I give a person or business in using Social Media. I had to stop and think for a nanosecond, and blurted out two things, one was to listen, and the other was to pay attention to the bigger picture. Now I can hear most of you Social Media Experts cringing, but I don’t mean what you think I mean.
The listening part, and the paying attention part are not separate, they are tied together. If you are a business, and you are just starting to dip your toe into the Social Media Networks, there are a few things you should do before you even attempt to listen or pay attention. But I was put on the spot, but I did clarify what I mean’t to ensure there was no confusion.
One of the first things I did, was write down some objectives, outcomes, before I even setup any kind of listening system. I wanted to know up front what I wanted from this exercise, before I began the listening, I also wanted to collect data from a higher level. I wanted a 50,000 foot view of what I was looking at, I wanted to see patterns and trends. But I’m getting sidetracked.
Now let’s get back to the real reason I’m writing this rant.
After the MeetUp was over, a small group of us went out to a local eatery for some chit chat and finger food. A funny thing happened while eating, I was noticing some tweets from all three of these sectors or groups, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. And these tweets were being done by people I know, people I have talked to on the topic, and thought they had a grip on things from my perspective. Afterall, this is all from my perspective, which means you can disagree, and it’s also subject to change without notice : )
REAL ESTATE AGENTS
If you talk to any Real Estate Agent, they will tell you they understand or have been coached by someone who claimed to understand, ya you know who you are. If these agents even remotely listened in anyway shape or form, they would know that posting every frigging listing on Twitter, FaceBook or what have you, is not what the consumer, the person(s) looking, or wanting to buy expects from them. I mean really, is that what you Agents think, really? A blast of 6 to 9 Tweets or Updates, all listings, tell me I’m completely off base here, I triple dog dare ya. I work with enough agents to tell you, some get it right, but very few do. If spamming 3 to 6 listings is building a relationship, then you clearly don’t know how to do it. But wait, if you ask a Real Estate Agent what’s the best part of what they do, it’s the relationships they build, it’s the most important part of being successful in the business. Is it possible? Are Real Estate Agents that out of touch? It would appear that they haven’t learned or figured out how to take relationship building into the digital realm.
Here is another group of people that seems to miss the listening part, maybe it’s the asking part. We have an election happening in my province and or community, it’s always a tenuous time. I was meeting with someone who is handling Social Media for a person running for city council here. They wanted to know what I thought, so I told them. Most people don’t follow politics that closely, if they did, voter turnouts would be at all time high’s and the world would be a happy place right? The truth is, politicians are no longer trusted, just like bank managers and the like, why? All they want is your vote, they don’t really want to know what you want, they don’t really want know your problem, they have their own agenda already.
I did say this, if you want to get votes, connect with your constituents, keep things simple, in such a manner in which they can understand what you are saying and asking. In simple terms, answer the damn question(s). I also said, asking broad global questions only tells your constituents you think they’re stupid. There is always a small percentage of people who enjoy or even understand the global questions, but most don’t. The average person wants to know what you are going to do for them. Don’t ask me broad questions like, What’s your vision of (enter name of city here) 2, 5, 10 years from now? I don’t know where my next pay cheque or meal is coming from, and you’re asking me about the vision of a city? Is that what your constituents said they wanted? I want to know what your vision is, not mine, you tell me and I’ll decide if it makes any sense. Then I’ll vote accordingly.
Anyway, it would be to a politicians advantage to keep things simple and bite sized, so the average person can chew on it and actually provide a proper response. If politicians are listening, or asking, then why does it appear they all ask the same type of questions? Because it works, probably not, it’s because people can’t and won’t answer broad global questions. So the politician gets elected with a false sense of security, and can’t figure out why the people at large aren’t happy…it’s because they didn’t listen and pay attention in the first place.
SOCIAL MEDIA GURUS
You know who you are, you need to stop pretending you understand the larger picture of what all these Social Media Networks means to the business world at large. No one does! There are some common practices now, but just now. Social Networks have only been around a short while on the Internet, there is too much to know, and too much to understand for anyone person to claim they are an Expert or GURU. And I’m certain most don’t fully understand ROI, and the global effect on human behaviour in these circles. I can only count on one hand how many people I trust to tell me about what’s going on, how is it that the plethora of Consultants, GURUS and Social Media Experts have miraculously figured it out for all of us? I think not.
As you can see I’m barely scratching the surface here, the truth is, these three sectors are only three, and it’s not all there fault. But it’s mostly the snake oil salesman called a Social Media GURU / Expert, all in the name of making a buck. Or worse yet, to expand an already out of control ego. It is and always will be a Buyer Beware world, find people you know and trust, then ask them who to seek out for sound information and direction.
Good luck, and please do leave your comments, I love hearing from you whether you agree or not.
- The Future Of Business – Social Is A Feature Not A Platform (owengreaves.com)
- Community Only Means Something If You Keep It Warm (chrisbrogan.com)
- The Future Of Business – Fight Off The Mainstream Media & Big Business (owengreaves.com)
Back on October 15th, 2009 I wrote a bitty called, ” Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete?“. I have taken a lot of heat for it, but those who attacked couldn’t see past the anger. My point was simple, change or be ignored, the role is changing, but many have chosen to continue as they always have, That’s OK.
Another challenge, is getting Agents to learn a better way to use Social Media Networks to, well….do business better. You will find I’m not alone on this, some agents are actually doing a good job, but most I’m sorry to report, are thinking old school. I could go on and on about this, but there’s no need, I will however let marketing man share with you, his name is Scott Stratten. Please take this as an opportunity to make some subtle changes in how you the Real Estate Agent uses Social Media & QR Codes.
What do you think? has Scott nailed you, or better yet, did he give you some good ideas? Is he right, is wrong, or are we barking up the wrong tree? Be honest with yourself if you are in Real Estate, look in the mirror, are you that agent, or are you different?
I wrote a blog post in October 2009 called, Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete? I ruffled feathers, I’m probably going to do the same in this post : ) My point at the time was, times are changing and they (in general) are not! I consult many agents on the topic of how their business is perfect for Social Media Networks, they are a service oriented business, a relationship business, perfect! So what’s the problem?
The tools aren’t the problem, the Internet isn’t the problem, people are not the problem, so what is it? It’s the way Real Estate Agents think. I’m generalizing so don’t get your listings in a knot.
I’m not trying to embarrass any one individual here, I’m speaking in general terms, don’t you realize what you have on your hands? The Internet is only 15 or 16 years old, what you did before the Internet came along worked great, offline, but those tactics don’t translate to digital very well do they?
Today, you can do open houses LIVE with a digital camera connected to the Internet, what a great way to find out if a home shows well. There are very few people willing to buy a home without actually going on site, so what are you worried about? The Internet has one real strong purpose for Real Estate Agents, and for the most part, they don’t know what that is.
Look, much of what Real Estate Agents do is now hyper-sensitive here online, why? People don’t want to be bombarded with sales pitches, and they don’t have to either. The “service” agents provide is just that, a service, you are not a classified ad. So why do you act like one?
Think about that for a moment, Social Media Networks are not more places to do outbound marketing or yelling. Well, you could use them that way, but you’ll fail miserably. There I said it. Social Networks are opposite to Radio, TV, and Newspapers (outbound), they are inbound. You need to be drawing attention through building relationships, being helpful, not constantly selling your stuff.
Imagine having a Rolodex the size of the Internet, you do! Who would need one that big right? Well, everybody knows someone, and that someone might be moving to your area, but you would never know if you don’t build relationships first. Go figure, Twitter as a Rolodex. This is the new CRM (Customer Relations Management), build relationships, build a huge network online, just like you would offline except you’re not selling. You are, building friendships first, then data mining, and through these relationships you will find business otherwise not found. Notice the order of things.
Be social, be mobile, and be the kind of person I and all of us would want to do business with, we want to know you, we want to know if you can help us when the time comes, but we will never know if you only cram your listings down our throats. This constant yelling and broadcasting is the disconnect with those you would consider clients in social networks, that way of thinking shows me that you only care about sales. I bet that statement makes you mad if you an agent, if so, then do something about it. Perception is everything, and once it starts, BAM! you are now stereo-typed.
A good friend Ron Karr wrote an interesting book on sales, I recommend it, it’s called, “Lead, Sell, or get out of the way” By Ron Karr, he can teach you a few traditional things, but most of all, he talks about how you think. Here’s my review. And that’s what I’m talking about here, the old methods got you to where you are today, and some of those methods may still work for now, but most likely won’t on Social Networks.
Scott Stratten coined the phrase in his book UN-Marketing, ” Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.”, these words should be your new mantra, they speak to the heart of every selling profession. My review of his book.
So build your Rolodex here online through building relationships first, where else can you save so much time & money, and reach so many in so little amount of time. Amazing isn’t it, most people don’t care what you know until they know you care. Gary Vaynerchuk is about to release a new book called, “ The Thank You Economy“, people want to know you care, and saying thank you goes along way to fulfilling that need.
The Future of Business in terms of Real Estate Agents, it will be entirely up to them. The business as a whole needs to pay attention, learn how to be social and mobile, both are critical to they’re success. More importantly, they need to unlearn a great deal of what they think they know about sales, specifically online.
I think in the next 5 – 10 years, Real Estate Agents will become fewer, because the current red tape and gate keepers will eventually be removed. It could happen sooner, you can by-pass agents already, but thats not the real issue. The mechanism of control is, and it will be harder to control the consumers of the future, so something has to give. For many agents, they don’t have the luxury of time, they must make sales to put food on the table. It’s that kind of pressure that makes you make mistakes, in social networks, the tolerance level for selling all the time, posting your listings, is much lower.
So, relationship first, don’t sell, provide information of value, teach me something, and tell me what you can do for me when I need someone just like you. Be an educator, be someone who cares about people, all people, because they are potential clients. Get to know me before you ever try to sell me something, that’s the mode of operation in social networks. And that takes time, but imagine the huge Rolodex you will have because you cared.
Forgive me if you are one of the very few actually paying attention to what’s going on, I am however talking to those who are not. I know brokers and real estate systems try teach you, but they too are stuck in old methods, it’s time to look around, the world is changing and it’s going to whether you do or not.
There is so much more that can be said, I am scratching the surface on this topic, I would love to here your thoughts.
If I was in Real Estate Today, the very first thing I would do is identify my PURPOSE, the why I think I should be using Social Media Networks. This would appear obvious but it can be misleading, if you don’t believe Social Media will increase revenue, help build a stronger market share and develop community around your brand, your right, the strategy will be an exercise in futility. If you do, get to work and build a plan.
Get started by doing the following:
- List requirements needed to implement strategy
- Key Result Areas – What are they
- Discern objectives
- Identify Key Success Factors
- List Core Competencies
- Complete a S.W.O.T. Analysis, a plan needs to be well thought out.
Once you’ve completed the above get the following action items flushed out and then make it happen.
- Setup accounts on multiple Social Media Networks and get active, participate, get involved in the communities…then….listen to what is being said, what is happening and where it’s being said. Never stop listening, never stop having a presence in these communities. People come back to things and places that are useful to them. Especially if you can help them.
- Use all SM Networks like Twitter, FriendFeed, YouTube, Viddler, Tumblr, FaceBook, StumbleUpon, Digg, Del.icio.us, Technorati, MySpace, LinkedIn, Seesmic, UStream.tv, and BlogTalkRadio. There are many more.
- Blogging is a must, convert or add a Blog to an existing website, this is where you build community and give customers a place to go and something to do.
- Take advantage of video, do LIVE open house events streamed via UStream.tv or one of the other web broadcasting services. Record those events and archive them, build a library, make them available to anyone to view at their leisure. These video’s can also be training or teaching prospects on what questions to ask, how to and so on.
- Do a live web radio show, field questions on a live video show that has Twitter embedded so it’s real-time.
- Do video interviews, record testimonials…etc.
- Sponsor or Host a major Social Media Event, these events charge for attendance and should not only cover expenses but should realize a profit. Bring in people who are actually doing or using Social Media at a high level, not just lip service.
- Hire or contract a Community Management Officer or a Social Media Director.
- Get Educated on Social Media, attend major conferences and get around those who are high profile in Social Media, and read books for more insight.
I’m just scratching the surface of your plan, but make sure you actually have a plan before jumping into the Social Media mayhem.
This doesn’t have to be difficult, it doesn’t have to be hard, but one thing you do, is work if you wish to realize the results you want from your efforts. It will take time, money and above all else, EFFORT! Whether you are a Broker or an agent, it makes no difference, build a plan, work the plan. But hey, you already know that, but do you know the technology and how to implement it? Do you know how to prepare? Are you willing to pay the price?
In this business, success is not measured by fitting in, it’s by standing out. (Mad Men)
I’ve met with a number of Real Estate Agents and Broker’s the past few months and I’m not surprised they view Social Media as a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I have found a few that get it, they have taken the risk and setup virtual offices and even opened accounts with FaceBook & Twitter. Some use these Social networks well and some just say they use them effectively, my research here in Canada reveals that most aren’t practicing what they preach.
I’ve made recommendations and suggested radical approaches to how an agent prospects and wastes a huge amount of time with tire kickers at open house events. They look at me with those puppy eyes and say I couldn’t do that, I don’t know how, that sounds like too much work. I think it’s harder the way they do things now, but they’re stuck! If you’re an agent or a broker that’s been in the industry longer than 10 years, you may have a tougher time making the paradigm shift. I’m not saying you can’t or don’t have the ability, but I am saying if you don’t, life is going to get very interesting when the new tech savvy up and comers produce at a high level with a very different kind of effort. How will you compete and survive?
Let me give you an example of one thing you could do and have fun doing it. I’ll look at the old school traditional agent first, then the new tech savvy agent.
Old School Agent
The old school agent would sit on the phone rounding up prospects for hours on end, then would set up 4 or 5 walk abouts and even a few open house events two weekends in a row. A lot of time and effort goes into this type of selling, hard work is important but with today’s technology why would you do this? Organizing and worrying about how may or may not show up, worse yet, having to go and pick them to ensure you do have a prospect. Getting flier’s out and setting up sign’s, the list goes on. The advertising costs can be staggering too, time spent networking, convincing people they should come and see this house and so on.
The New Tech Savvy Agent
The new tech savvy agent sits at the desk and decides which homes to work on this week, then prepares how they would sell the dream of the home on video. This agent goes out and buys a Flip MinoHD Camcorder 2nd Generation (Amazon Link) hooks up to the net, logs into their UStream.TV account, walks through the house and broadcasts it LIVE! They walk through the home and share how this home could be plus records the whole event, then puts the recorded video on UStream and his or her Blog and other locations for prospects to view at their leisure. The tech savvy agents then jump on Social Network’s that feed multiple Social networks all at once with this new home to look at via video.
This new agent let’s the prospect qualify themselves and let’s them contact him or her when they’re ready, this agent is thinking about the prospect not themselves.
As you can see the new tech savvy agent takes a different risk, invests their time giving what prospects want and then makes it ridiculously easy for them. The prospect that calls the new tech savvy agent back just qualified themselves, less work than the old school way of handling the same task. This is just one opportunity to start making the shift to Real Estate Selling with Social Media, if you don’t take baby steps now and don’t learn how to do some of these techie things. I have to wonder if Real Estate Brokers won’t become obsolete, Broker / Owners at some point will figure out they can handle inventory in a less complicated way. By the way, people complicate things not flip cams and iPhones.
Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete? Maybe not yet, and maybe not all, but more than you think.