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.
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.
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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