Back in the stone age (around 2006) social media platforms were new and exciting and exploding into the awareness of individuals and business communities alike. Now, 10 years later, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have become a ubiquitous part of marketing, and an extension to broadcast media like newspapers, TV, and radio stations as people send in crowd-sourced material, and entertainers and personalities use these platforms as extensions of their shows. But even with large corporations co-opting the conversation in some instances, the magic of social platforms is still best found in the conversations that we have and the real relationships we establish online.
It may be a little more challenging today to cut through the noise, and the platforms are still shifting as some companies sell or fail and others appear amidst the clutter.
Real estate agents, always chasing the elusive magic bullet that makes the job of prospecting easier, and the vendors that want to sell products and services to them see the social spaces as huge billboards or bullhorns for broadcasting listing inventory to the networks of the agent and everyone they know. At least twice in the last month I have had vendors tell me how great it would be if every listing of every agent in our company was to be featured in the social streams of every other agent in the company. They take about how creating thousands of listing ads placed (IMO) exactly where consumers don’t want them, in the stream they use to follow their friends and family or to share with them the details of their perfect lives (or their tough lives).
I don’t think anyone has ever woken up in the morning and said “I think I’ll check Facebook (or twitter, or Instagram, or Pinterest or Snapchat) to see if there’s a property I can buy” – and if I’m right, then what are those non-ad “ads” doing in our Facebook stream? Likewise, I don’t think that any social space is where people go to look for open houses, and yet weekly I see people sharing those events with people that they call friends… but is that something you would do to your friends? Do you call them on Friday or Saturday each week to let them know where you’re holding an Open house? Or do you, at least, text them all? Or email them all? Of course, you don’t – your Momma raised you better than that! So why abuse your digital community? Did they somehow offend you? Or do you think it’s OK because someone, somewhere, told you it was a great marketing idea? Because they were wrong- in a huge way that could cost you real relationships – because these online relationships are real relationships.
So if you want to use social spaces, consider using them in a social manner. Talk to your community about what they are interested in, not what about things that serve your business interest. Celebrate their successes with them, share their agony or stress when appropriate, and do so out of real concern, not as some electronic “lip service” – then you will be a valued member of the tribe or group or community, and as a valued member, you will increased your sphere of influence as an individual and a professional.
If networking is not necessary, and marketing is your main thrust, then consider advertising in the social channels. Use retargeting – or promoted Tweets, or targeted Facebook ads to reach your desired audience with whatever it is you want to sell. It’s far better to be an honest hustler than a false friend, and people will respect you far more.