Social Media in Real Estate.

Social Media. No matter our knowledge or personal feelings social media continues to play a vital role in our professional and personal lives. Simply put, social media is the marriage of online tools and technology to social interaction.

Social media includes, but is not limited to, discussion groups, podcasts, blogs, email, text messaging, and social networking sites. If we wanted, we could have a discussion that would fill up the pages of this publication. Today, let’s take a look at a few “old” examples and then some new tools that today’s Realtors need to embrace in order to compete within today’s dynamic market.

Email and text messaging. Yes, email is a tool that real estate professionals have just recently (in the past 7 years) started to use to keep in touch with associates, clients and leads. The power of email and text messaging has shortened the time and space between people like no other technology before. Today, with these two simple tools, you can communicate with someone across the world from the comfort of your home. In fact, with wireless access, you can be “in touch” virtually anywhere you are using your laptop, cell phone, Blackberry and iPhone.

You already know the positive impact this has had on your business. Let’s take a look at some new tools.

REMonline. Seriously! Have you taken a look at REM’s online presence? There are plenty of opportunities to network with fellow Realtors and other professionals from across, Canada, and the world. Take a look at the various discussions going on and participate. Your expertise and brand will become recognizable the more you respond and create discussions.

Blog – both a noun and a verb! Create a blog and blog – on your blog and other’s as well. What can a personal blog do for you? With the right type of content can make you the expert in your industry. Social media expert, Chris Brogan (www.chrisbrogan.com) suggests, “Create a videoblog of interviews of people in the community…Build an events page or community site where people can gather, share their stories, post events, and express themselves.”

Answer this: as a consumer, when we are looking for something, what is one of the first things we do? We google it! So, if someone is checking you out, what will they find? A website with no character or stickiness? Stickiness refers to the fact that visitors are very likely to re-visit the site, time and time again. So it’s important to continually update your blog. And don’t forget to post on other blogs as well. This will help in creating your online identity.

www.ActiveRain.com and www.Facebook.com. Interested in Real Estate in Fraser Valley? What about Realtors who hate the Leafs? You’ll probably find it on Active Rain. Guess what? You’ll also find a cornucopia of sites devoted to specific real estate topics on Facebook as well. Both sites are great and I highly suggest you develop a presence on both. To find interesting groups on both sites, just utilize their easy-to-use search functions.

Why is this important to you? If you are an agent in the Calgary area you understand that people are moving in (and out of) your area from around the world. A satisfied client from Toronto will ask her agent to help her. If you’ve properly developed relationships through Active Rain and Facebook you will have a plethora of agents to refer her to!

www.Twitter.com and www.Summize.com. Twitter asks the question, “What are you doing?” Your question might be, “What the heck is Twitter and why should I care about it?” The answer to the second part of the question is that real estate is not really a business regarding properties and buildings. Real Estate is a people business. You might be selling homes, but your client is not 123 Main Street. Your clients are people like you, me and the person who is looking for a Realtor. That’s why you should care. What is Twitter? According to Wikipedia, “Twitter allows users to send updates which are text-based posts…and are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.” Have or need a listing? How about answering, “123 Bridle Path for sale at reduced price. Message me.” Or, “Looking for 3-bed in Oakville.” If you’ve created a community on Twitter comprised of realtors as well as family and friends, your message will be read instantaneously.

Even if have not created a considerable following on Twitter, you can follow other conversations on Summize. Summize follows “tweets” so that you don’t have to! For example, search for Moncton home on Summize and you’ll see potential customers you can converse with. Do these tools work? Just ask James Buck. This journalism student was detained in Egypt for photographing a protest. On his way to jail he used his cell phone to post the message, “Arrested” to his followers on Twitter. As a result of the efforts of his Twitter friends, he was released the next day.

Overwhelmed? I was too. Take one step at a time. The point is that there are technologies and online tools available for you to use for your business. Learn about how these can help you. Search out an expert who can help you adapt. New and young agents are entering your industry. They are already using these technologies. Their potential clients are also using these tools. It’s time you did as well. Like the cell phone, social media is a vital tool for your business. Like your cell phone, don’t leave home without it.

Karim Kanji continues to discover the many uses of social media as the Business Development and Client Services Officer for RealCash Bancorp Inc. You can find Karim at www.RealCashCanada.com, Facebook, Twitter, Active Rain….