According to Socialmediatoday.com, a recent survey of 600 small business owners across the United States shows 90% are actively using social networking sites and 74% see social networking as valuable, some say even more valuable, than networking in-person. Forty-two percent of owners surveyed said that 25% of their new customers found them via sites like Foursquare and Facebook. Clearly, it's essential that your business has an online social presence. Socialmediatoday.com also notes that 58% of surveyed owners have a tough time promoting their pages, if they even know how.
Most real estate agents will still say that the number one way they get new clients is through referrals. A referral alone, however, doesn’t guarantee you new business, and you're far less likely to get a referral for a client who is new to your area when they don't know anyone there. While people do value the advice of friends and family, they also want to do their own research on their own time, which generally means a Google search. If Google results don’t represent you well, or even worse, there aren't any, then a recommendation won't help you much.
The message of this digital age is clear. To succeed, you need to be where your customers are: online. So, what to do if you're one of those owners who doesn't know how to promote themselves via social networking, are not getting the return you expected via social media, or don't have the time to manage it properly? You could get an expert and hire us to do it for you, or if you're happy tackling the 'social media quagmire' on your own, here are a few tips:
1. If you have a LinkedIn profile, be sure it is filled out with a professional biography, links to your website and/or blog, and testimonials from your clients.
2. If you're on Facebook, separate your professional and personal contacts so that you don’t share something inappropriate with clients, and be sure to create a page for yourself. According to Drew Hendrix from HuffingtonPost.com, some people only use advertisements on Facebook and other websites to market themselves, which "is a good way to bring in traffic to your website, but it completely skips over the free form of advertising".
3. Love those who "like" you. Always add a Facebook widget on pages of your website. Yes, it can take up space but those "likes" are valuable. Not only are you finding out what people think but it opens a dialogue, allows you to keep in touch with your fans with promotions, and people tend to like pages more if they see it has lots of likes already. Always be kind and thank those who have "liked" you.
4. Think like your clients, then use key words wisely. Remember, your prospective clients will be searching for you using relevant key words such as, "real estate for sale", "Cincinnati", "$200k", so test yourself often by running searches to make sure you pop up. If not, change it.
Social networking offers tremendous benefits for real estate professionals, but it’s just a tool. Like any other tool, if you aren’t using it properly, you won’t fully reap the rewards.
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