Channeling Social Media
Hopefully the title has caught your attention - yes, no, maybe? First let me be clear that this is not a slight towards Active Rain. In fact far from it. I am a firm believer in how great the Active Rain Real Estate network has been to all it's members since the day it was first created.
There has been a lot of changes since Active Rain first hit the scene but it has remained a powerful social media tool. I can speak from personal experience, as I was one of the original bloggers to join the network.
Active Rain however is much different now then when it was first cutting it's teeth as a great place for Realtors to hang out and share ideas on how to grow their business. Back then it was far more personal then the behemoth it has grown into. Such is life and to be expected when something is so successful.
What is amazing to me is how many members here put all their eggs in one basket. They fail to realize there is more to social media than just blogging and commenting on Active Rain all day. In fact there are a number of social media tools that most in the Real Estate community are missing out on because they have their collective heads in the sand. Sorry to be so blunt but it's true.
How do I know this? On past occasions I have written about other social media networks here and how they can be of benefit to a Real Estate agent, mortgage broker, stager or any one else with a tie to the Real Estate industry. There are certainly other ways a Realtor can use social media for increased Real Estate sales and business connections besides Active Rain.
When I have written about other social media avenues in the past what always puzzles me is the comments you will get by many of the members here that go a little something like this "I really need to start using Google Plus more", "I have a Twitter account but don't know what to tweet about", "Pinterest looks interesting but I just don't have the time."
Hello Active Rain! Yes you really need to make time! There is a world out there waiting for you! You need to branch out and expand your online visibility. There are so many who don't know what their missing. It is funny because I do not spend nearly as much time here as I used to. The reason why I don't is simple - there are other places that are equally important and stand a better chance of helping me achieve greater business success. That is not a knock on Active Rain - it just stands to reason that diversifying what you do in social media is important.
This doesn't mean you have to abandon what you are doing here, you just need to make the time and put in the effort to use other channels to promote your business. Ok so how do you do this?
Using Google Plus For Real Estate
Other than having your own blog, there is nothing more powerful that you can do for your business than using Google Plus on a daily basis. If you took a survey of every Real Estate agent on this platform and asked them what their number one goal in blogging was, I am quite sure that being found in search would be near, if not at the very top of the list. We all want to see our content on the first page of Google because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know this is what makes the phone ring.
You would have to be under a rock not to know this by now, but if you have not claimed authorship to all of the blogs you write then you are missing out on a huge opportunity for business growth. When you claim authorship to your content there will often times be a picture of yourself next to the search results when someone does a search in which you are found. Why is this important? It is estimated that the click through increase on a result with a picture is as much as 30 percent greater.
So in order to paint a crystal clear picture here, you could be at the bottom third of the search results and if you have a picture next to the results even though you are positioned lower, there is a much greater chance of getting a visit to your website. Claiming authorship is something everyone who blogs should do.
When many Real Estate agents join social media platforms they make a few very big crucial mistakes. One of them is treating the platform as an advertising vehicle and not a place to grow relationships. The automatic inclination of many Realtors is to have a "billboard mentality". They will join Google Plus, start dropping in their listings and then wonder why they get no social interaction from anyone. The answer is really very simple - nobody cares about your listing on Main Street. The same can be said for anyone who just hits the share buttons at the top of the screen and does nothing else.
Link dropping is not what social media is about. You will never find any success from social media channels until you realize these are places to make personal connections first and foremost. Just like you have done here at Active Rain by the way. It is not until you have established yourself in these mediums that anyone is ever going to support you for your listing that you want to share with the world.
Those that are really successful in social media do three things - they share their own awesome content, they share others exceptional content and they engage by commenting with others. This is how you win with social media. Awesome content is not a Real Estate listing - sorry it isn't.
If you take a look at my account over at Google Plus you will notice I have over 22,000 followers. People ask me all the time how I was able to get so many people to follow me. It is as simple as what I just mentioned above. I don't do what 95% of all other Realtors will do on social media sites and wonder why they never get anywhere. Like this article, a good part of what I do is try to help others achieve some success. The fact I have been in the business for twenty six years and have a strong understanding of SEO and social media allows me to pitch in and try to give solid advice to others.
Keep in mind none of the other social media platforms have a direct tie in to search. Google Plus is Google guys! Using Google Plus helps your business from a search engine standpoint. Did you know you can write an article in Google Plus that can be found as a search result? You certainly can! Each piece of content you post also has the potential to be enhanced with social signals such as shares, comments and plus ones. These are validation points that your article is worthy of attention.
What to do?
So how can you make Google Plus work for you and your Real Estate business? Establish yourself by going in daily and sharing your best work. Make sure you answer any comments you get. Comment on other members content you find interesting. It is more than likely thoughtful comments on other peoples work is going to get you noticed quicker than your own content if you are new to the platform.
I would start by setting aside a half hour a day and focusing making valuable contributions. One of the better ways to get your content noticed when you are new and do not have a large following yet is to join some of the better Google Plus Real Estate communities. There are many communities on Google Plus that are set aside to share information about a specific topic. Real Estate of course being one of them. Please be sure to read the rules when joining a community as they all have specific posting etiquette. For example in my Real Estate community I do not allow listing posts or market reports. Surprise - surprise:)
If you are looking for pointers on social media or search engine optimization there are some incredible groups where you will see so much great content it is almost overwhelming. Trust me on this one - Google Plus is one of the most well educated social media settings you will ever be apart of. This is not Facebook folks! When you log in type in my name and follow me. I post around five times a week about Real Estate, social media and SEO.
Using Pinterest For Real Estate
Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media channels and a perfect place for a Realtor to use as a content sharing platform. It works perfectly for those in the Real Estate industry as everything we do is so visual.
If you have not heard about Pinterest or played around with it enough, here is a brief overview to get you up to speed.
Basically, Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board. You can “pin” images or videos from all over the internet to different boards that you have created onto your profile. The amount boards that you can have are unlimited. Each pin has a description and links directly to the website you got the image or video from.
Once you share a pin, your followers can like it and re-pin it to one of their Pinterest boards, which will be seen by anyone who is following them. That can mean a great deal of visibility in a brief amount of time if used properly.
One point that is worth emphasizing is that Pinterest has the longest shelf life of a pinned article or photo. There are very few sites where your content can get shared consistently for such long period of time.
When I first heard about Pinterest I stereotyped it as a place for a bunch of housewives to hang out and share pictures of pocketbooks and shoes. Boy was I wrong! Pinterest is a powerful content sharing platform especially since they upgraded the site to have "rich pins" for those that are sharing articles. Pinterest has now become one of my favorite social sites due to how much traffic it can drive back to your website or blog. In fact the site is great from a personal perspective as well. Check out my board called funny pictures and videos and you will see what I mean.
Whether you are new to Pinterest or have been using it for a while I would encourage you to read how a Realtor can use Pinterest. Once you have spent a few weeks using and learning the ropes at Pinterest I would encourage you to join a group Real Estate board. Essentially a group Real Estate board at Pinterest is a place where those who have been invited can pin their best or someone else 's great content. The benefit is that far more people see something that is posted to a group board. Every person who follows a member in the group will see each of the pins in the group, along with anyone just follows the group but is not a member.
In the link to the Pinterest Real Estate group above you will see at the very top their is a description for the group along with what you can and can't post. If you read carefully you will also see instructions on how you can become a member of this Real Estate group! If you want to see a rise in the amount of people following you and the interaction you get on your pins, joining a group is a smart move.
More Social Media Advice
Here is a little bonus advice for those who have enjoyed following along. One of the best ways I have found to drive people to your blog is to have built-in pages that are dedicated to providing outstanding local Real Estate information for the cities and towns you cover. Obviously Active Rain does not have integrated pages so if you have a blog elsewhere such as Wordpress this is an absolute must.
It will drive a tremendous amount of targeted traffic to your site if you create something comprehensive. Here is an example of one of my community pages for Westborough Massachusetts. Would you agree that someone visiting this page and wanting to learn about Westborough Massachusetts Real Estate would get a lot of helpful data points they could use. Would you also agree that if someone was looking for a Realtor they may pick up the phone and call me? On my website there are thirteen similar pages like this one.
I have created a page for each of the local towns that I do the most business in. If you do the same I am quite sure your phone will be ringing more from those looking to interview a top notch Realtor.
One last thought - for some reason there are many in the Real Estate industry that don't understand the concept of social sharing buttons. There is a reason why Active Rain installed the buttons at the top of every blog post. The buttons are there for you to click on! The purpose of social sharing tools is to be able to visit a website and SHARE the content. The sharing tools are not there just for you to share your own content.
Would you agree someone you know could see this as really useful information? Please do me a favor and share this post in all of your networks. Put it on Google Plus, Tweet it, share it on Facebook. Not only are you doing me a huge favor but you are also helping countless others who are just starting to learn how to use social media.
When you have time don't forget to visit each of the links provided here as each of them will take you to a page with information you can use to help increase your business and make you social media experience a better one. If you can share each of the article links to your social networks I would be most grateful - Enjoy!
Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.