Grousing About Social Media

I just got through with a webinar on the latest social media app – the one Zucherberg paid a billion for.  I say I ‘got through’ with it, not that I completed it.  After 32 minutes I could not find a compelling reason to invest any more time.  Oh, the presenter was good and information was . . . informative.  But I just couldn’t make the leap to understanding how this thing was going to make me any money.

Look, it’s true:   I’m old.  But I’m hip-old.  I can tech it up with the best of them.  I understand technology and use it constantly.  I get excited over the next great thing.  But there is a naked emperor in the room and I can’t believe I’m the only one who sees him!

Our industry is bombarded with ‘gurus’ touting the benefits of social media in our business.  I am not sure if any of the ‘gurus’ ever sold real estate or ever sold much, but they sure are talking and we sure are listening.  Still, I have yet to hear from anyone who can point at Facebook, Twitter, Printerest, Google+, Instagram, etc. and say without reservation that the app (all by itself) created a single new client who generated income.  I’m sure the stories are out there, but I haven’t heard them; which tells me it’s a pretty rare phenomenon.

Kirk Eisele taught me about the ‘Network Effect.’  That’s something that occurs when there are enough people in a group that the group becomes valuable.  An example would be Facebook.  A large part of their revenue stream comes from selling highly targeted pay-per-click ads.  When Facebook had just a few thousand members, the value of those ads – the value of Facebook – was minimal.  But when Facebook started talking in terms of millions of users, the ‘Network Effect’ had been achieved and each new member increased the value of Facebook as a marketing tool.  (The ‘Network Effect’ is something Facebook has all over Google +).

So, it seems to me that you’ll make money with Facebook not by having a page and posting and liking and commenting, but by tapping into Facebook’s strength – that ‘Network Effect’ – and buying pay-per-click ads aimed at homeowners in your target market.  Honestly, I think it’s one of the best marketing vehicles for real estate today.

Tammy Patzer helped me understand that, by themselves, social media platforms – heck, all electronic platforms – rarely produce adequate or consistent results. But there is a synergy that happens when you are in a dozen places online, and that synergy yields better results all around.  You have to think of it as a world wide WEB – just like a spider WEB – and the more strands to your web, the more flies you’re going to catch.  So Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t the stars, they are the supporting cast.  Yet I see brokers investing time into Facebook who have done nothing to localize or optimize the star of the show:  their Help-U-Sell website.

When I got my first real estate license – you know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth – I started noticing a lot of people coming into the business looking like they were going to set the world on fire.  And sometimes they did.  But more often, they’d get bogged down on organizing their farm or researching the market or mastering the MLS . . . .in other words, doing things that looked important but kept them from doing the things that would make them productive (like going out, meeting people and asking:  wanna buy?  wanna sell?).

Today I think we have the same group passing through.  But today they’re investing all of this time in social media, thinking that somehow it’s going to make them tons of money.  It’s not.  Face Time – time spent eyeball to eyeball with people in your marketplace – is what will help you maximize your productivity and your income. Your electronic life is there to make staying in touch easier and less time consuming so that you can have MORE FACE TIME.

I love what’s happening for Ken Kopcho this year.  Since January his production is way up.  He’s having a good year.  He’s using his electronic tools, his websites, his Facebook, and even jumped on Zillow with both feet.  But when you ask him why he’s doing so much better he’ll tell you:  More Face Time.  Not more Facebook time, more Face Time.

So can we please return to common sense?  This is a people business.  When people need help with a big project – like buying or selling a home – they look for knowledgable practitioners they like and trust.  Likeability and trustworthiness are rarely established through typing and clicking.  It usually takes a handshake and a smile.

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