Giving cool real estate products, tools and news a Big Encore

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

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.

Strengths:

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

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.

Strengths:

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:

 

 

 

Twitter Strengths

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.

Search Functions

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 Strengths

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.

Profile Options

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.

 

 

 

Online videos are the key to adding on your customer base and watching your number of sales (or loans) go up. People want to know everything about a house before they set foot in it for the very first time, and they also want to know more about you before making that first phone call. While you can place videos on your website and your YouTube account, as well as cross-link them amongst all of your other social media accounts, there is another platform available that many people have not heard of — WellcomeMat.

 

 

WellcomeMat specializes in real estate videos, and having an account allows you to not only upload videos, but also place them on your website and social media accounts. It can also connect you with professional videographers in your area, just in case you feel like your video-making skills aren’t good enough, or if you simply don’t have the time to film every house that you have for sale yourself.

Part of WellcomeMat functions like a social media account. You have an online profile to fill out, and can connect with other professionals. You will be given your own “channel” similar to YouTube, and will be assigned a point value, based on how many videos you have uploaded and the traffic coming in to them. WellcomeMat also submits your videos to search engines, and is compatible with all MLS requirements.

The only downfall to WellcomeMat is the price. A 30-day Pro Membership is free, but after that, there is a charge to use the service.

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?

Social media can be intimidating. One false step and you’ll lose your followers, which in this case, are either your clients or your potential clients. In order to make the most of your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, follow these simple tips:

1) Your Facebook Fan Page needs to be worthy of the “like” button. Your profile needs to be fully filled out and your content needs to be thoughtful and informative. Think of the “like” button as an Olympic Gold medal. Clicks on it must be earned through hard work and dedication.

 

 

 

2)  Stop #Hashtag stuffing. One per Tweet is fine. Two is pushing it, and three should never be attempted. Not only will you run out of space and end up sending out Tweets that consist of nothing but hashtags (and therefore, no content), but you’ll begin to annoy your followers.

 

 

 

3) Cross-link, cross-link, cross-link. It cannot be emphasized enough. In order for a social media campaign to be successful, you need to link your accounts together.

 

 

 

 

4) Stick to what you know, and use your blog posts to explain issues and problems that deal with your industry. It’s all about showing, rather than telling. You can put up blog post after blog post stating what you do, while one post explaining a major nationwide issue from the perspective of your company can explain far more.

 

 

5) Don’t be afraid to confess if you made a mistake. An ill-timed Tweet or hacked account can have major consequences, so don’t be too shy to apologize and admit that you screwed up or were hacked. However, you can’t blame everything on hackers, and accusing them for your mistakes on a daily basis will make your followers think that you don’t know how to create a proper password.

 

 

 

6) Stick your business hours when solving problems and dealing with customer service issues. It may be tempting to help that client out at midnight, especially if you’re still awake and have your smart phone in front of you, but keep in mind that you need time to yourself. That problem can wait until the morning.

 

 

 

7) Mind your manners. Just because you can’t see who is following your social media accounts or reading your blogs, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t human beings with feelings. Be just as polite online as you would in the real world.

 

 

 

8) Always think of your target audience. It’s one thing to write about what you like, but another altogether to aim your Tweets, updates and blogs at your clients and other members of your target audience. Remember that it’s not all about you.

 

 

 

9) Carefully come up with a plan and follow it through. Sit down and seriously think about why you’re using social media. Is it to gain customers? Spread the word about your business? Share your knowledge? Treat your social media as part of your business plan, or as a separate plan altogether. The goal here is to have something in place that’s cohesive and makes sense in order to maximize your social media accounts.

 

 

10) Turn your knowledge and expertise into an eBook or two, then publicize it on your blog. Buying real estate and taking out a mortgage are two things that many people will do at least once in their life. There’s no better way to get their attention (and their clientele) than by sharing your knowledge.

 

 

 

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.

Social Pilot.org Website

A Screenshot of SocialPilot.org a website for Social Media Training

If your grandma’s facebook account isn’t a telltale sign that the Internet has come of age, here’s another SocialPilot.org. Sometimes it feels like social media is developing minute by minute, and it’s hard to keep up… Until now. SocialPilot offers free, high quality, social media training tutorials.

What is it?

SocialPilot offers a weirdly useful stream of videos explaining the do’s and don’ts of social media. It offers tips on maximizing your presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so many more. It even gives great advice for bloggers looking to improved their SEO.

Who is it for?

SocialPilot is for people wanting to increase their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and their Social Media ROI (return on investment). Most savvy small business leaders will be very pleased with its ease of use. On behalf of all the Real Estate professionals out there we thank you.

BigEncore is always looking for cool websites that make our lives easier. This one hit the spot. We give SocialPilot a BIG Encore.