Elite AgentTECH + SOCIAL

The Rise of Social Media

Blogs
The cornerstone of social media success.
Blogs (short for “Web Logs”) are like online journals. While originally the domain of writers, journalists or anyone who had a viewpoint to share with the world, Blogs are now a standard communication tool for businesses, and are the cornerstone of a social media strategy. From CEOs of Fortune 100 companies to sole proprietors of corner shops, business owners have adopted the tool as a way to update clients, prospects, shareholders and employees with messages about the company, brand or just the state of their industry. Most Blogs have a “Comment” feature, which allows readers to post feedback – or ask questions – about a story or article, thus creating an interactive forum between a business and their customers.

In the real estate industry, Blogs can be used to announce open houses or auction results, give tips about buying/selling a house, share thoughts about “hot” suburbs, or any number of property topics. The only limit is your own imagination.

A massive benefit of having a Blog is that your unique content can be indexed by search engines like Google. In theory, the more useful and keyword-rich articles you write, the more Google references you will receive. This will not only increase your standing as a “thought leader” or “expert”, but it will also greatly increase your chances of generating new enquiries (and clients) from the web.

Facebook
The most popular social media site in the world.
Originally designed as a type of university student directory in 2004, Facebook has exploded onto the scene, recently surpassing Google as the most used website in the US (according to metrics firm Hitwise). That is no misprint. Facebook is BIG. If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world! Over five billion minutes are spent on Facebook every day (Source: Facebook).

In essence, Facebook is a global community of people, businesses, special interest groups and networks. People create Profile Pages (think of these as mini websites), and then invite friends, families and colleagues to view the page’s photos, videos, links, articles or general thoughts or ponderings via a “Status Update”.

Businesses use Facebook to connect to their clients in the same way, though a business generally creates a “Fan Page” about the business or brands, and then shares updates about their brands via messages posted onto the “Wall”.

By creating a page on Facebook, your brand can then be seen and enjoyed by the 8.6 million Australian Facebook users (not to mention the 400 million reported global users). This is a significant “pool” of potential prospects who may either be ready to buy/sell a home, getting ready to enter the marketplace, or may simply have friends, family members or colleagues with whom they can share your information. On your page, you can do things like announce new listings, share auction results, report on local area news, run special promotions, build staff profiles and more.

Many businesses also include interactive polls/surveys, competitions, videos, viral marketing activities and plenty of customer-submitted content. By successfully engaging your customers/fans in this way, you can create a passionate community around your brand.

You can also use your new “online community” to connect with the physical community in your local area or suburb. You could announce events that are relevant to your customers/prospects, or talk about local sponsorships. You could even connect with schools, clubs or associations of which you are a member. The opportunities are endless.

MySpace
A pioneer of social networking
A precursor to Facebook, MySpace (along with Friendster) was one of the first social media networks on the scene. Purchased by News Corp. Digital Media, MySpace allows users to create a free profile where they can describe themselves and their personal and business interests. As a user, you can then select what type of networking opportunities you’re looking for, and have the option of sharing photos, music, journals etc. The pages are more customisable than Facebook, allowing users to make their “space” more unique.

Though MySpace and Facebook have been battling it out for market share (Facebook is winning), the two sites have slightly different demographics. MySpace demographic skews younger than Facebook, and extends your brand reach to the important rental market.

While individuals may decide to pick one or the other (or both), it’s critical that, as a business, you have a presence on MySpace to complement your Facebook activities.

Twitter
Shorter is better
Every day, millions of people use Twitter to create, discover and share ideas with others. Like Blogs and Facebook’s “Status Updates”, Twitter allows you to post messages, share links, upload photos and more.

But unlike Blogs – which can be as long as you want — the folks at Twitter have taken the opposite approach. When you post a message (called a “Tweet”) you are limited to 140 characters including spaces, which is exactly the length of this sentence.

While that may not seem like much space with which to communicate a message, it is actually a very powerful medium, with more than three million tweets posted per day. People use Twitter to post random thoughts (“Just saw Tony Abbott in a speedo – ack!”) or to share useful weblinks, videos, photos and more. Whereas a Blog may be updated a few times a week/month, Twitter is often used many times per day (or per hour or minute), and thus it is extremely useful for broadcasting current information.

Your tweets can be seen by your “followers” – people who have actively chosen to follow your posts – and can be read either online, via a twitter feed or even in many handheld mobile devices.

While the obvious use of Twitter would be to drive people to a new article on your Blog (eg. “Hey gang, read our new article on 10 Tips to Selling a Golf Course property”) you could also use Twitter to share breaking news, provide auction results, or even announce up-to-the-minute events like “We’re at 104 Central Rd, hosting an Open House until 4:30. Amazing property. Come join us.” By including a picture of the property, or even a link to a Google Map (for your clients with iPhones), you can easily boost your turnout, and potentially generate a higher price for the property.

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Kelly Millar

Kelly Millar is the National Marketing Services Manager at Metricon and also a published author and regular blogger