Last week we compared the strengths of Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages; this week, it’s time to compare LinkedIn and Facebook Fan Pages in the Social Media Showdown:
Facebook is huge. There are millions of users of all ages, so setting up a fan page opens your business up to thousands of networking possibilities and new clients. The only downfall is that it’s easy for your real estate business or mortgage brokerage to get lost in the crowd.
The fan page itself. There are a lot of ways to customize a Facebook fan page. You can add your company logo and identifying information (address, phone number, email address) and that’s just the beginning. You can also add links to your other social media sites and cross-link posts to your blogs, plus upload entire albums of pictures.
Easy follower interaction. Once one your followers click on the “like” button or comments on one of your posts, it gets added to their personal news feed. Their friends on the site see the update, easily quadrupling your audience.
Follow and interact with other businesses. Facebook makes it easy to interact with other business directly online. Your fan page can follow other businesses, so you can keep in direct contact with your competition.
LinkedIn is great at attracting people who’ll post their resumes, but it’s under-utilized as a social media networking spot. In order to take advantage of its many options, you first have to build up a profile full of keywords that search engines will zero in on. You also need to make sure that your profile is completely updated, and join and participate in various industry-related groups to get the most out of it.
Simple profile set up. The main portion of your business profile consists of your logo, basic information and a list of your employees, if any. You can also add a sales page and cross-link to your Twitter feed and blog. It’s fairly simple to set up a business page, and there really isn’t any way to set it up wrong, as long as you include every detail possible.
Have people recommend you. You can have your clients recommend you on LinkedIn. Their comments are added to your profile page for the world to see, giving you and your company professional clout. This is something that many other social media sites don’t offer, so make sure to take advantage of it.
Show off your authority. Make sure that your profile (and that of your employees) is kept up-to-date. Add links to what you’ve accomplished, especially awards. This shows that your company knows what it is doing and is a leader in your industry. The more information that you can include, the better you will look.
Although the best thing that you can possibly do is join the largest social media sites and use each aspect of them as best you can, sometimes it’s impossible to do everything. If you had to choose between using Twitter or Facebook to promote your real estate business or mortgage brokerage, which would you go with? Here a few strengths of each to help you decide:
How Quickly Things Go Viral
A tweet sent at noon can end up on the evening news that same day. That’s how quickly things go viral on Twitter. If you want a lot of exposure in a hurry, Twitter is the way to go. Because of this, you also have to watch what you Tweet. A mean-spirited comment may get you a lot of attention, but it could very well end up being the wrong kind of attention. You don’t want to lose clients because of something that you wrote.
Ease of Set Up
Because of the simplicity of a Twitter profile, you can be up and running within around twenty minutes, possibly sooner. In order to set up a good Facebook Fan Page, you’ll need to spend several hours that could be put to better use.
You can easily search Twitter for information. There are many options available: from location-based Tweets to hashtags used by your fellow Twitter members. If something is happening in a certain place in the world that could affect your business and you want details, Twitter will have information faster than most news channels and websites.
Facebook Advertising Network
On Facebook you can purchase ads that target an extremely specific audience. This is possible thanks to the statistics that users enter into their profiles. Once you purchase an ad on Facebook, you can designate your audience: age group, male or female and location are only some of the settings that you can choose from. This allows your ad to reach exactly who you want it to.
You can set up a business profile, a personal one, and a Facebook Fan Page, and then have them all link together, or you can keep them all separate. Facebook allows you to make that choice, which is what makes this social media option so useful. Your personal opinions can be expressed to your friends and family, while your business stays out of it, preventing potential public relations nightmares. On the other hand, if you want your business “fans” to see what you do outside of work, you can allow them to.
Express Your Personality
Facebook is more personal than Twitter. Both allow you to post pictures and updates, but that’s where the similarities end. Twitter only allows you short description of yourself or your business that goes under your profile photo or logo, and a link to your company website. With Facebook, your profile is more detailed and you can customize certain options. This allows you to show more personality, which can be vital when your clients are comparing you to a competitor.
All of those necessary social media accounts are easy to update from anywhere if you have the right smartphone. Here are three upcoming releases to keep an eye out for:
1) HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE available July 5th from Verizon Wireless. This phone runs on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS and has a 1.2GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor. On top of that, its 4-inch screen makes it pocket-sized and it has an 8 mp camera.
2) Samsung Galaxy S III available July 6th from AT&T and Verizon Wireless. While this phone also runs on the same Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, it has a larger screen, more available options (including the fact that it comes in different colors) and a 4.8 inch display.
3) Apple iPhone 5. Rumors have this phone being released sometime this fall – September, 2012 is the most popular guess. As for which features it’ll have upgraded and what new things it’ll do? Your guess is as good as any of the tech blogs and only time will tell.
The new Microsoft Windows 8 phones are getting set for a fall release. No exact models or specifications are available yet, but look for phones made by Nokia and HTC to debut from the big four (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile) carriers. And, although RIM is in trouble, their Blackberry 10 operating system is said to be a “game changer” by CNET, so, Blackberry fans, be on the look out for that one as well.
Starting a Facebook fan page for your real estate or mortgage broker business and linking to it from your website is the easy part. Keeping your fans happy is where it becomes tricky. There are ways to make your page (and business) popular without going overboard and spending 40 hours a week updating it. Here are five tips for running a successful fan page:
1) Add fresh content on a weekly basis. Ideally, you’ll want to update your Facebook fan page almost daily, but adding new items at least once a week will work. Make sure that any entries made to your company blog are cross-posted to the Facebook page and that any changes in content on the main website are pointed out in your Facebook update stream.
2) While you’re updating your content, check the business information that you have posted. Make sure that your links work properly and that your address and phone number are correct. Also, check everything for typos. Having a slew of misspelled words makes your business look sloppy.
3) Make some of the content unique. Although you will want most of the same information on your Facebook fan page, blog and website, adding a few different things will give your fans a reason to come back on a regular basis. Special items like behind-the-scenes photos, product previews and even contests for free merchandise can make being one of your Facebook fans worthwhile.
4) Respond to comments left on your page. Get used to interacting with your fans. Many internet businesses never have a chance to match their customers’ names with their faces. Now you do, so take advantage of it. The interaction doesn’t have to be overly detailed. If a customer or client gives you a compliment, thank them. If they have a complaint, do your best to resolve it out in the open.
5) Treat your Facebook fan page as if it were a public relations officer, only less formal. Don’t let your guard down or disparage similar companies on your page. Use it as a forum to release information about new products or re-releases of old ones. While a good P.R. rep will get your company featured in newspapers and magazines to bring in new customers, the ones on your fan page already are customers. They will buy what you’re selling, as long as they know about it first.
Running a successful Facebook fan page does require time and effort. Make sure that you set aside an hour a day or a few hours during the week to welcome new fans and answer any questions sent your way. You also need time to update your fan page content with new photos or information. A neglected fan page will reflect poorly on your business. After all, if you neglect one part of it, what else are you cutting corners on?
Twitter is one of the most popular social networking apps out there, and can help your real estate or mortgage brokering business immensely, as long as you know how to set up your profile and use it properly.
There’s more to Twitter than following everyone in sight and hoping that they will return the favor. Successful Tweeting requires choosing your words and your followers carefully, or else everything may backfire and you’ll end up with either no publicity, or the kind of attention that you don’t want.
Choosing your Twitter handle (@your-company-here or something along those lines) is just the first step. Your Twitter handle is often the first thing that your potential clients will see, and should be something that you feel confident telling other people and printing on your business cards. While it’s okay to use something cutesy and attention getting, just make sure that it’s something that people will understand.
Make sure to personalize your page, including the font colors and background graphic. It might take a few extra minutes, but the results will be worth it. Also make sure that your company logo is displayed someplace where it can be easily seen, and use a picture of yourself as your profile pic. This lets everyone know that you are a real person and not a Twitter-spam bot.
Compose your Tweets as carefully as possible, and if you think that something is inappropriate to post, then it more than likely is. Also, you need to make sure to not spam your followers. While it seems tempting, every Tweet that you send should not include a link back to your website. This will annoy more people than it will attract.
Although it may seem time consuming, it’s extremely important to add to the conversation on Twitter by Re-Tweeting interesting comments, joining in Twitter memes and commenting on things posted by your followers. However, do not send out new Tweets every few minutes of every day. This is not only time-consuming, but it will seem like you have nothing better to do, plus you don’t want your clients to think that you’ll be Tweeting while talking or meeting with them.
The most important thing that you need to realize is that even though Twitter is important, it is just another way to get in touch and keep up with people’s lives, so have fun with it!
Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn can be used for social media purposes beyond that of a “virtual resume.” After all, if you do a Google search on your name, your LinkedIn profile is usually among the top ten results. What this means is that your real estate agency or mortgage brokerage can benefit from having its employees (or just yourself if you’re your own boss) sign up for and use this social media service on a regular basis.
Unsure of where to get started? Follow these four quick tips:
#1: Cross-link your profile and your blog feed
Not only is a blog the best way to promote yourself and your small business by showing what you’re capable of, but, by including its feed on your LinkedIn profile, you can attract new clients. Adding your blog’s feed to LinkedIn is pretty simple – just go through the steps on the site and it’ll be up and running in no time.
#2: Plan events and invite your network and clients
LinkedIn makes event planning — including open houses — easy. You can fill in your whole calendar so that you know what you have upcoming, or you can plan an event yourself. By making the event public, it will show up on your profile. Your clients will be aware of it, and you can even invite everyone in your network.
#3: Help Your Search Engine Optimization
Instead of filling in your profile the traditional way and using the included phrases, “My Blog” and “My Website,” choose “Other.” Then, fill in the blank with a keyword phrase that describes what you do. When someone searches on that keyword, your profile will pop up.
#4: Get Recommendations
One of the best things about LinkedIn is the ability to have others recommend you. Their recommendations show up on your profile and are seen by everyone who looks at it. Ask satisfied clients, as well as current and former co-workers to give you a big virtual thumb’s up.
Every real estate agent and mortgage broker already knows that owning a cell phone or two is necessary in order to do business. Being able to answer questions when out of the office is an absolute must, especially when it’s a buyers market. But which smart phone should you go with?
The main two to choose from are the iPhone in all of its iterations, and those that use the Android operating system. There is also a Blackberry apps market and Windows phones, but those are not overly popular, since most people use one of the other two. Here’s a quick breakdown of the real estate apps available for the iPhone and Android phones:
iPhone: There are plenty of apps available for the iPhone that can benefit both agents and buyers. Some are related to popular websites, like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and Homes.com. Others are aimed at buyers and contain specific information about real estate, as well as breakdowns by state and location. Some larger realty companies also have their own apps, for example Coldwell Banker and Century 21. One in particular, entitled Real Estate Math is dually handy, since agents and mortgage brokers can do the math quickly and easily from anywhere — just in case a client needs a monthly mortgage estimate. On top of that, there are bunch of social media apps so that your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn status can be updated from anywhere.
Android: While the number of real estate related apps is high, most of them are geared toward the buyer. Some realty companies (and even a few individual agents) have their own apps available, and some are designed with a specific state or location in mind. There are also apps containing information about investing, vocabulary, and more than a few titled along the lines of “Real Estate 101″ but, again, those are geared more towards buyers than realtors. That said, the MLS listing app could come in handy for sellers and brokers as well as buyers, and there are the ubiquitous Twitter and Facebook apps to make updating your social media accounts easy.
Klout is one of the hottest social media apps out there right now. But does it really matter if you’re only running a real estate business or mortgage brokerage? It’s one thing if you’re working for a P.R. company and trying to get press for your clients, but if your goal is running a successful real estate business, is your Klout score going to attract the right kind of clients? Or are they only interested in what you’re selling, not how much Klout you possess?
If you haven’t heard of Klout yet, here’s a quick run down: instead of the traditional social media habit of running independently and making you fill out a ton of information to get started, all that you have to do is allow Klout access to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social media accounts. It then runs an algorithm and comes up with your Klout score. The score ranges from 0 to 100 and is based on your interactions with your Twitter followers and Facebook fans and friends. It also tells you what you’re influential in. People with a Klout score that’s above 50 get access to cool freebies and perks. These perks range from a free one-day rental of a luxury car to something as small as a $5 gift card to Starbucks. It all depends on how much Klout you have. But does that translate into the real world?
While people have been passed over for jobs due to a low Klout score, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your clients are going to check yours out before deciding to attend your open house or apply for a mortgage in your office. A high Klout score could be something to brag about that may attract clients (think of it as showing off your expertise, for example, “Look at my Klout score and my list of houses for sale, doesn’t that mean that I’m awesome at what I do?”) but other than that, your score is irrelevant.
On top of that, getting and holding a high Klout score is a lot of work. It takes a lot of Twitter interaction and Facebook posts in order to get that above-50 score, and in order to keep it that high, you’ll have to spend a good part of each day on your social media sites. That’s time that could be better spent meeting with clients and setting up open houses. Sure, the perks are great, but are they worth it? Not really.
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Continuing with the theme of how to run a proper real estate or mortgage broker blog, here are some tips on how to make yours easy on the eyes…
Many blog hosting platforms (like WordPress and Blogger) offer a number of pre-designed layouts to choose from that can be further customized to suit your needs. But, just like you don’t want an under-designed blog, you also don’t want yours to be over-designed either. After all, the entire point is to have a quick-loading site that’s extremely readable. Here are five quick suggestions to move you in the right direction:
Change the background color from simple white or black. Most templates start out with one of these two. By going into the “design options” section of your blog hosting platform, you’ll be able to change this. You can either upload a repeating logo or pattern, or change the color to something that matches well with your overall color scheme. This gives your blog some personality and helps it stand out from the crowd.
Set a text block color that contrasts. Once you choose a color for the background, make sure that your text blocks, where the type will go, are white, and your type font is set as black. These will float over the background, and you want them to be as readable as possible. You could also go with a black text block and white type font, but these can sometimes be hard to read, especially on older computers. You have to remember that your blog will be read by people with all types of computers, not just newer ones with fancy graphics cards.
Decide on a two or three column layout. Some pre-designed layouts come with one or the other, but others allow you to choose. Before deciding, think of how much information that you want displayed at once. A three column layout allows you to have one column of sales listings, one column of important information (“contact me” buttons, a tag cloud, listing of categories,etc) and one wider column for the blog content itself. For a simpler look, choose a two-column design, but keep in mind that this limits the number of allowable widgets. Speaking of which…
Limit your widgets. These are the gizmos that go in the sidebar(s) of your blog. While you do need some important ones, keep in mind that too many will cause the page to load slowly, causing you to lose some readers before they even get to see your content. Before deciding which ones to use, examine a few of the blogs that you read every day. Make note of which widgets they use, then come up with a list of the ones that you absolutely need.
Add a logo. Every good blog has a logo of some sort. Whether it’s simply your business logo or a complicated graphic-artist commissioned piece, you need to have something permanently at the top page of your blog announcing what your blog is about to your readers.