In answering this question, I realize that many of you who read it will likely never read another thing I write. Nevertheless, I think it’s important that somebody tell the emperor about his new clothes, and I guess I will have to be “that guy”.
I believe that the social media fad, as a marketing tool, is “the great distraction”. What do I mean by that? I mean today agents are spending — no wasting — far more time playing on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, all the while telling themselves that they are being productive, than they are at legitimate prospecting activities. And today’s agent production numbers reflect as much.
When I came in the business in 2002, the average agent closed 12 deals a year. Last year, 6 short years later, the average agent closed only 7, or in other words, agent productivity is down by 42% in only 6 years. No, I don’t believe that it’s all Facebook’s fault. But neither do I believe that you can Twitter your way to success as an agent.
Let’s analyze today’s social media. At its very core it is simply Internet empowered networking. Using powerful tools like Facebook and Twitter, you can electronically work your sphere of influence. Here is the problem, though. In typical SOI marketing, you are able to limit your activities to your actual sphere.
In today’s social media, there is a pseudo-friendship phenomenon that doesn’t translate into referral business at all. In fact, you really ought to watch the powerful Seth Godin interview on this very subject. In his interview, he makes the following statement that echoes my feelings well: “Networking is always important when it’s real, and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake.” And much of the “networking” going on with social media is fake.
Another difference and disadvantage to traditional SOI marketing is that, using a disciplined approach, an agent could methodically and systematically stay in touch with his sphere in a specific window of time each day. Very manageable.
The ability to keep one’s sphere of influence marketing activities focused and systematic doesn’t seem to carry over to this new media. Show me an agent that spends much time with social media, and I will show you an agent who is totally consumed with it, and as a result is also a low producer.
But agents love it because it makes them feel like they are being productive. Let’s be honest: It’s much easier to tell a joke on Twitter than it is to call back an Internet lead and turn them into a prospect. But at the end of the day, one makes you busy and the other makes you money. Since real estate is a business for me, you can imagine which one I would recommend. And that’s my quick answer.