By Drew Burks
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogging …
I get asked this question all the time: “Can I really close more business using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a blog?”
The answer is YES!
I know that many are skeptical, so I interviewed quite a few REALTORS® to find out what their experience has been over the past year. The evidence is in…
But before we get to the results, I want to answer another question that I frequently get from REALTORS®: “Do I need to be active on all of these sites and how do they integrate with one another?”
The answer is YES!
We are experiencing a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and you need to be capable of communicating with the consumer via their preferred method if you want to survive in today’s business environment.
Your blog is the foundation of your online presence — the destination — and social network sites are like the roads and freeways leading back to your destination.
On to the results:
On average, the REALTORS® I spoke with have closed three to five additional transactions as a direct result of their activity on Facebook. The average sale price was approximately $310,000 which gave the REALTOR® somewhere in the neighborhood of an extra $30,000 to $37,000 in annual income.
It is important to note that these REALTORS® tell me they only spend one to two hours a day on Facebook, at the very most. In fact, most of them are relatively new to social networking and only work on Facebook. One gentleman I spoke to last week has only been on Facebook for five weeks and just took a listing for $1.1 million (I did not include this in the above averages).
A friend and fellow REALTOR® in Austin, Texas was telling me that she is getting extraordinary results with Twitter. She uses it to promote events, and has experienced as much as 60 percent growth in her event attendance. She also uses Twitter to communicate with dozens of buyers and sellers. She said Twitter is their preferred method of communicating!
A past REALTOR® of mine e-mailed me this week to say that despite his doubts about Twitter, he decided to setup an account and see what it is all about. He did a search for “San Diego” and saw a tweet where someone was asking for info on the short sale process; he sent the person a Direct Message (DM) and immediately got a response. Long story short, he took the listing and got an accepted offer within one week.
This shocked me! Most of the REALTORS® I spoke with were just beginning to experiment with YouTube and have yet to close any deals from YouTube. However everyone who I spoke with that is using video marketing tells me the traffic to their blog has picked up considerably with the use of video marketing.
Of the more online-savvy, I found REALTORS® telling me that they average more than 50 percent of their business from their blogging efforts. The average transaction for this group was in the mid-$500,000 range. The interesting fact I learned here is that several of these REALTORS® have yet to close any business from Facebook.
So, in my opinion, all of these activities can result in closing more deals! It is really important to integrate all of your online efforts so that you leverage the power of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to attract consumers back to your blog, the destination.
Drew Burks has built a brokerage in San Diego, Dream Design Realty, with a unique twist on an old business model. His Web site is devoted to helping real estate pros succeed with technology: www.WebRealEstateTools.com.
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Great stuff Drew! Thanks for sharing this with me. I am so passing this on to my agents.
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I am one of darrin’s agents – okay – I will start facebooking in earnest = but 1 to 2 hours a day? and active rain? and work? who has time?
Drew, Good information and very compelling evidence of the results that can be achieved by fully utilizing and integrating social media as a valid avenue for increased market share and consumer awareness.
This would be a great in-depth study. Anecdotally, it “feels” like those involved in social media do more business.
But I’d love to know:
– Which sites gain more traction than others?
– How are the sites being used (relationship building, marketing, etc.)?
– As more and more social networking sites are created every day is it sustainable to be everywhere?
I certainly don’t need to be sold on the value of social media in real estate, I am just much more interested in knowing HOW the successful agents use it rather than WHETHER they’re using it.
This is the kind of social proof we need to get REALTORs motivated about Social Media.
So many of them are out there going through the motions thinking they’re “doing” social media, but the truth is most of them don’t have a clue. I’m convinced that any GOOD agent could use ONLY social media in their marketing and make an equal or better living than they do right now.
What do you think Drew?
I’m an avid FB’er, twitter occasionally and used to blog, but may do so more now. I believe these networks increase your exposure 10 fold to a ‘sphere’ of your peers and potential clients. With FB helping to find people I went to high school with , (with no additional effort from me), I’ve increased my ‘sphere’ to over 400!! We as Realtors know this is a #’s game! I’ve had some old high school chums do business with me, where I would have NEVER had that opportunity had it not been for FB!!
So YES it works!!
Good stuff Drew…I like the specifics you’ve given regarding the income and results you can get working social media effectively. Many agents have a hard time quantifying results, which can make this business seem like a magical, nebulous process at best…which causes a lot to not get involved! Fact is, with diligence and actual expertise, an extra $30k or more annually is doable for any practicioner, with a LOT more upside as a potential if they really work at it. Social media is not a magic bullet, but the upside is real for any agent who has real expertise to share.
Jonathan, I don’t think I would refer to this as “social proof.” Just because a group, on average, closes more business than another doesn’t directly correlate to the use of Facebook. The non-Facebook group could be “wood,” they could be new to the business, they could be part-timers, or any other of a myriad of reasons that could yield less business. Frankly, there is nothing scientific here. Drew claims to have interviewed “quite a few people,” and it doesn’t really prove anything as it’s all anecdotal at this point. Not that I question whether or not he interviewed people, just that the demographics and professional information aren’t shown and could be varied. I agree that this could be interesting, but as it is here, nothing ground breaking or wholly valuable as proof.
The important part here is that while people have stated that they did things or spent time on the sites, there is nothing discussing actual actions completed, how the technologies were used (other than the good idea from the Twitter section), what value they brought to their market via the technologies, or how it fit into their marketing strategy as a whole. Communicating is one thing, but pimping your services via Facebook gets annoying after awhile and may even cause “friends” to leave you out of their feed. I know I’ve done this with some of my friends because I don’t like seeing the advertisements a couple of times per week.
I’d disagree with the fact that you need to be active on all these sites. You need a marketing strategy that is concrete and portrays the value of doing business with you. This marketing should be different than the redundant stuff that everyone else pushes out there and should make you stand out in a crowd. If that strategy includes some of these social media components, great, but a well executed strategy that delivers value to your potential market is 10x more important (and will be 10x more effective) than just being on social media. That is a fallacy that is being pushed far too often in the business world today. It’s like having a Website. Driving traffic to the Website is important, but the key questions you need to answer is, “What are they going to do when they get there,” and, “How is that going to be valuable to my market and keep them coming back to my site and/or generate a lead?”
I talk about all of this quite a bit on my blog. While it is more tailored to the mortgage professional, much of it can and will translate will for the real estate professional. If you’re interested, take a look (http://voyagebranch.wordpress.com). Social media is great, but do you know how to use it, and are you using it as part of your strategy as a whole?
@Darrin – thank you, hope it inspires some of your agents to participate online 🙂
@Lise – lol, it does seem like it would take forever. Truth be told though, it is like everything else in life… you get out what you put in. Time is the biggest objection from almost every Realtor I speak with. I would submit to you that it should replace some other tasks that may be occupying your time.
@Shawntel – thank you. I agree 🙂
@Derek – you make some excellent points. Knowing to use social media only gets you so far, understanding “what” they are doing and “how” they are doing it is much more valuable. It is probably not reasonable to think we can keep up with or manage accounts on all of the available social sites; however, I would strongly encourage you to have a complete profile on each. My guess is that Facebook and Twitter are the ones that get most traffic.
@Jonathan – I agree. Social Network sites (i.e. Internet) have really become the new geographic farm for Realtors. Take Facebook for instance, with approx 300MM users, it is by far the world’s largest sphere, it has built in advertising that allows you to target any demographic you want to for pennies. Like everything though, there are some smart ways and not so smart ways to use social networking sites… and I agree that the majority are completely missing the boat and doing it the not so smart way. It is all about “the conversation” online NOT posting your awards, closings, listings, etc….
@Sue – congrats on your experience and closed deals! keep up the good work.
@Christian – you are correct, this stuff is no magic bullet. it takes time & effort, but the results are real and can be explosive. My guess is that social networking will yield much better results than old school tactics like door knocking, cold calling, etc… I find the tough pill for people to swallow is that blogging/social media don’t always provide instant gratification like the old school tactics.
@Ryan – you also make some very good points. Just being on social sites isn’t enough, as you stated you need a strategy. I also happen to agree 100% with you about those that pimp their services on their FB profile and/or Twitter (i.e. I closed 3 deals today or I just took a new listing, etc….). This should be done on your FB fan page or a blog post.
There is nothing new here …. this post could have just easily been written about Door Knocking, Direct Mail & Cold Calls….; however, it was about Social Media. Social Media has created a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and it is about time that Realtors get it. Since I am asked every single day … “Can I really generate & close more business by being on social sites?” I decided to post some of my findings.
In my experience, most of the people using the blogs, twitter, and other social networking spaces, unless they are paying to advertise on the network, the only clients they are getting are other people trying to sell their own products, not actual buyers. Now I can not say, and I would not say that people are not selling products using there social networks, but unless you have a whole, and I so mean whole, marketing and pitch campaine supporting your blogs, twitter and other social networking space, you are not selling anyting. I am not trying to be rude here, just honest. All the social net working spaces I have been on, including facebook, twitter, blogs etc are, in there basic design i.e, network useage protocal, they do not allow anyone to sell anything. The only people allowed ot sell anything are the people incharge of the networking site. Think about it, if you are not sharing information, you are not allowed to de anything else because that will be considered spam. The only people making money on social networking site, unless you really know what you are doing are, like i said before, the people incharge of the net work. But for a fee, if you are really interested in learning how to market and sell using the internet, althought I am just getting started ,because I have just complete an extensive course on how the real marketert sre able to profit, I can share some ofmy information with you. But other than that, you are deaming if you thing bloging and tweeting and facebook alone are going to generate any money for you. I will give you an example of this: I am a mortgage broker and I do funding based on stand by letters of credit over $3,000,000.00. The terms and projects are flexible. I can even show the borrower how to leverage there funding liability and make it self liquidate. Which means the are not really have to personally pay their loan back. They also won’t have to make a payment on the loan within 36 months, plus never put their lettered assets at true risk. With that said, which is ture, I bet I don’t get one buyer, but I wll get some tire kickers wantin to know more about what we are doing. Look me up on facebook and I will give you the answer. Reggie Lancaster.
Thanks, this is a great information to keep in mind! I keep thinking everyday of new ways to network. I am an Interior designer, that service various clients and especially realtors who are desperate to sell their listing and they need assistance in home staging.
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Little doubt that Social Networking is the wave of the foreseeable future in business promotion. Just watch the response to new postings. d
Problem is that it is still very much in the developmental stage, thus one has to ve flexible and stay on top of new developments every day – maybe every hout.
@ Reggie – thanks for your comment. My post didn’t say you could or even should be selling something online. Social Media is all about listening, contributing & engaging your audience… “the conversation”. After reading your post I am a little confused…. are you bashing social media and at the same time trying to sell us something by asking people to look you up on FB?
@Rawah – thanks for the comment, I am happy that you enjoyed it.
Drew, I’m glad to see you confirm that you did not say that you could or should be selling something online and in your social media sites. I find people who are pushing their agenda in selling something are a huge turnoff and I usually unfollow at that point. I think you hit the nail on the head in your thought that markets are “conversations.” Most of the time, conversations start with a personal remark, not a sales pitch.
@Jessica – thank you. I agree all good relationships start with a conversation NOT a sales pitch. Have a great week.
Drew, this is a great article and, as usual, there are plenty of nay-sayers out there. Clearly, they just don’t ‘get it.’
I can speak from experience as one who has grown his RE business (I’ve closed 10% more business through 9 months than I did all of last year) in this ‘down market’ as a direct result of my embracing social media. It’s no magic bullet, and it’s not about ‘selling something.’ I’m not doing anything special.. just building relationships that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Those relationships equate to valid, verifiable, closed transactions.
IMO, it’s no different than the networking most of us already do in person. It’s just more effective because it can be done around the clock to a much larger audience than your one-hour morning coffee networking event. The bigger benefit though, is that it’s done on my terms wherever I am. Mobile technology allows me to continue my networking conversations whether I’m at the office, at the lake, or at my kids’ ball games.
Call it working smarter, rather than harder if you’d like.
Social networking has really helped my business! I have had several transaction gained via facebook. I have learned so much from twitter and continue to do so. I learned ALL about how to blog via twitter and love it. Much of my traffic on my blog comes from social media referring sites. The combo has become necessary to my business-I am known for my social media and blogging. You do have to limit your time and make sure you don’t spend your entire day on these sites, but I usually do an early morning and then a mid afternoon check at minimum.
I recently read a great book that was very helpful for understanding Social Media and how to use it within any business; Socialnomics by Erik Qualman.
Nice article Drew. I too would like more information as to “what” successful realtors do on Facebook to generate business appointments.
Thanks for your help!
I know what you say about the facebook conversation being the real test for building your real estate business. What I don’t comprehend are these questions: what is the conversation to be about? what is it not to be about? how is it to be conducted? Can you give some examples to follow?