Would you like to know how to use Social Media in Real Estate today? “In 2014, we Utilize Social Media as Outlets for Sharing Informative Content and Use this Content for Creating Engagement and Building an Audience” OK, that’s pretty academic and a nice statement, but what does it mean? In order to understand how to use social media in your real estate business and what exactly this statement means you’ll have to first understand two basic concepts. First, the Power of Engagement on Social Media. Second, the Strategy, Techniques, and Technology of using Social Media. The purpose of this article is to help build a basic foundation and understanding on where social media marketing is today. Once you have a foundation, then we can get into more specifics about how to use Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and the rest. It’s only when you understand how these platforms work that you can really put together a solid plan for using them in your daily business. Social Media (we will just call Social for the rest of the article) has evolved. Companies large and small, non-profits, and even government agencies all have staffing dedicated for the soul mission of utilizing social into their marketing and public relations efforts. It was just a few years ago when organizations didn’t dedicate much or any resources for social, but today all of that has changed. Technology has been a huge driving force into how we are all connected to one another at any one point throughout the day. Our mobile devices keep us in constant connection with one another no matter where we go, so long as there’s an internet connection. As technology improves to bring us even more connected than we are today, it also changes how we use the internet, websites, search, and social. We are developing patterns and behaviors around the use of these devices in our daily lives. Take a second to think about your cell phone and where exactly do you place it every night before you go to bed? Now ask yourself, what is the first thing you do in the morning: Brush your teeth, or check your emails and Facebook newsfeed? Engagement on Social Media First, social is all about engagement and and providing value to your connections. It’s not about getting as many likes from your friends and family to your Facebook Fan Page or gaining 1000’s of followers on Twitter. Social is NOT a modern day classifieds ad where we offer to sell products and services directly. Don’t get me wrong, we do use social to sell but there is a process to getting that sale via social and it becomes just one part of that sales process. We use social to create awareness of your real estate services and homes for sale. Your connections on social will buy and/or sell a house at some point in time. If used correctly social will inform them about your services and keep you “top of mind” when that time comes. The term “Engagement” is sort of a buzz word in amongst the social media gurus. It’s a broad term that’s easy to say in a marketing article like this as the solution to all of your online marketing woes. However, in practice it’s easier said than done. What’s important to know about Engagement is that all of the Social Media platforms thrive on this concept. Without it social dies. Therefore, as a Marketer all of our engagement activities to produce sales out of social will attempt to make the best use of social in order to maximize the return of those activities. The minute engagement activity stops on social platforms it begins to become obsolete. Think of MySpace.com. When’s the last time you heard a social media real estate guru say “You have to get on My Space or you’re missing out on new business”. Hopefully, you have never heard a statement like this anytime recently. MySpace.com has completely died and became irrelevant because people stopped engaging on it. Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and every one else understands this very well. Every time social makes a change to their platforms you can always bet this is done because they are trying to “create” engagement. The driver of all of your marketing efforts every social media platform should be “creating engagement”. Engagement on social is also what drives your posts, comments, and videos to be seen by more of your Audience and Connections online. Posts & Videos which receive more engagement activity will become more viral. Now creating engagement on social through the use a good content requires specific strategies and techniques and we change them depending on which social platform we are using. Selling on Social Media In order to sell on social you have to Give Content & Information and create Awareness. The formula is more like Give, Give, Give, and then Sell. As a matter a fact, your sales technique on social is the age old marketing tactic of “Sell Without Selling”. I wish it were as easy as just posting up new listings online and BAMM the leads start funneling in. It worked this way back in the pre-2010 days. Today, there is simply too much clutter and too much information out there. If you want to reach your Audiences and Connections via social you have to provide value first and be creative so that you can “cut” through all that clutter. Our strategies and techniques also change as the social platforms change. One thing that is consistent about online marketing is that it’s all in a constant state of change. Therefore, what works today most likely won’t work one or two years from now. Likewise, what worked 2 years ago on social doesn’t really work today in many cases. Let’s take a look at Facebook Marketing in early 2014 and identify some of the current changes taking place. In July 2013, Facebook announced a series changes into how the newsfeed and Fan Pages were going to operate. Basically, Fan Pages (ie Business Pages) would have to create more “engaging” posts in order for those posts to be seen by the people who have “liked” their page. Organically, only 9% to 16% of a Fan Pages posts would be seen by those people unless the content was engaging. If the content was engaging then posts would become more viral and seen by more people. An Algorithm was created by Facebook to rank postings made by Fan Pages and if these postings were more engaging then the Algorithm would kick in and make those posts seen by more people then making the posts more “viral”. A real estate agent who owned a Fan Page over the past several months and has seen diminishing views of their posts in the Facebook analytics can see direct evidence of the Algorithm at work. These changes that Facebook made are partly a business decision and backed by the concept of engagement. It will reward you for creating “engaging” posts by making them more viral and thereby showing your content to more viewers. Engagement is key because Facebook wants to keep the newsfeed relevant for today’s users. The newsfeed of Facebook is essentially the lifeblood of this social platform, this is the place where most users spend the most time. People don’t spend as much time on the Fan Pages as they did just a few years ago mostly because a majority of the time spent on Facebook is occurring in the newsfeed and using mobile devices. The strategy for using Facebook then has changed to creating awareness and engagement on the newsfeed. We don’t worry about getting more people to like our Fan Pages today because the value is all in access to the news feed and getting a potential prospect and/or client to click an Ad or Paid Post which will offer some type of information in exchange for an email address. Information like an online CMA of their property, a Local Real Estate Report, and/or Tip for Prepping a Home for Sale create value and can encourage activity and engagement. I mentioned earlier that technology also plays a factor into how we market using social. Again let’s use Facebook as an example. Facebook has made their mobile app very versatile. It shows images and video vividly and offers you almost all the same features that you have using Facebook on a desktop/laptop computer. This is directly because Facebook knows we are all using our mobile devices more often and they want you to have the same experience regardless of what device you’re on. Mobile devices keeps more people concentrated on the newsfeed and makes them screen through the content in the newsfeed more quickly. Think about your own personal use of the Facebook mobile app and how quickly you scan through the news feed. The move to mobile devices by the Facebook users and the Algorithm have both changed how marketers use Facebook to offer products and services. An agent in 2014 who wants to use social into their real estate business must think of themselves as being a marketer and seek out the best possible information for how to use social and maximize it. Understanding just this little bit of Facebook information should open up your mind into how important it is to get it right and how huge of an impact it can be in your business. As social continues to evolve and technology brings our connections closer, our marketing and how we use it will evolve. We may even get to a day to where Facebook is no longer the Number 1 social media platform. Has long as people are using social media and staying engaged there will be a need, want, and desire for marketers, including real estate agents, to be part of it and not miss out on potential business. 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