Quick Answer Series: What Do You Think about Social Media?

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.

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Comments 22

  1. author Ray Roman posted June 5th 2010. 9:05 am Reply

    I totally agree with you the social media as an activity can be wasteful. As a marketing tool I think it has it’s virtue. I think if an agent will set himself a specific time and goal to engage his network than it can be very effective.

    For example I post to Facebook once a week usually on Tuesdays early in the morning prior to any other activities. My goal is usually to spread the word on a listing, an article or post and that’s it.

    I have seen agent write about their weekend, what they are doing that day, very unimportant stuff that tells me they are not being productive at all.


  2. author Linda posted June 17th 2010. 1:38 pm Reply

    Hi Matt, I see the “emperor’s new clothes” in more places than not these days. I missed a class this morning, 8-4, for social media. I was tempted and intended to go even though I’ve heard what they are offering before. I was waylaided by an international call from Germany. I reconsidered the time, 8-4 , and realized that I have a deal I could be working on instead. I never thought I would be one of those addicted to email, but I can see that I am. What you say is true, I just wanted to echo Ray, and say that I’m looking forward to more of your post. Keep going!


  3. author Lydia posted June 17th 2010. 1:47 pm Reply

    Thank you, I feel so much better to know I am not the only one that does not particularly care for “social networking”. It is not because of “generational” differences, I am not technogically challenged, it just does not feel right to me, or feel that it is “me”.

    I send out efliers, do virutal tours, etc etc. personal emails. I do not want my SOI’s to feel that they lumped together with everybody else and everybody is getting same mass mailing.

    No desire to describe what I am doing, or care to read about everything everyone else is doing. No Thanks.

  4. author Micah Olson posted June 17th 2010. 1:54 pm Reply

    I agree that agents can waste time in social media. Did you really just call it a FAD though? And are you seriously correlating a decline in agents business to it? I do not believe that in the nation as a whole there has been a significant drop in total sales numbers. Any drops that have occurred though wither in volume, or value (on a nationwide basis) is due to the economy, not social media. An individual agent’s decline COULD be related to social media, but more often than not it would be their inability to adapt to current market conditions.

    The following conclusions can be made using your reasoning… Maybe too many agents are wasting time reading crazy blog posts. That means that the decline in the real estate market is due to blogs. Blogs, therefor are a fad. Don’t waste your time reading, or authoring blogs.

    I do agree that agents need to be careful not to get too involved in social media, at least during their business time (and really shouldn’t outside of business as well) but to call social media a fad is crazy. To write it off as unproductive is, at best, a gross misrepresentation.

    • author Matt Jones posted June 17th 2010. 3:18 pm Reply

      Hi Micah,

      Thanks for reading and for your great comment! Nope… I am not saying that social media is a fad. It is the shiny object of the hour for most real estate agents. Let’s be honest here. Have you ever seen a business where the average practitioner spent as little real effort at their job? Certainly the economy has contributed to the downtrends at least for the last 2-3 years, but the trend I cited is over 10 years long. It is not just the economy, in my humble opinion. It is that we have created a culture of no-supervision and no accountability in this industry and many agents are looking for anything they can find to feel busy while not really having to work hard at what they do. But, that’s just my opinion. Thanks for your post… sorry for giving the wrong impression. I never claimed to be the best writer in the world.

  5. author Barrett Powell posted June 17th 2010. 2:09 pm Reply

    Ok Matt, at the risk of getting fired from my Column here at NewsGeni.us, I want to respectfully dissagree…sort of.

    The real problem with Social Media is that most agents using it make it their ONLY marketing tool. As you and I know, marketing is about leveraging what you have at your disposal to reach your target prospect base with your message and product. Social Media is but one tool out of many that can be used to accomplish this. But in the end, if it doesn’t result in face to face, skin pressing skin interaction it is all a waste.

    So how would I suggest an agent leverage Social Media. I’m going to take the liberty of assuming the agent has done a business plan and part of that plan is determining who they want to be when they grow up. What market(s) they want to pursue, what demographic, basically what it is they specialize in and do better than other agents. With that in mind, the agent needs to let the outside world know they are the expert in their particular subject or area or both. A good way to do this is to do what you and I do; write about it in a blog. Hopefully that same agent has his own WordPress blog as part of his plan to “get the word out” and bring his knowledge and other content to one place.

    To get the word out about your article, use one of many WordPress plugins available for free to cross post your article to your Social Sites. This is all done automatically when you posted your blog to your WordPress site. The Social Media post also includes a link back to your full article on your WordPress website for those who want to read more. The links act as trackbacks further enhancing SEO. Oh and you posted your article via an e-mail template that I have embedded with tags and keywords so all you do is e-mail your article to your WordPress website and all the magic happens automagically behind the scenes.

    So I posted my article via e-mail and my WordPress site cross posted it for me to all my Social Sites. Now how much time did that take?

    One other thing to remember about Social sites like Twitter. For those agents going after Gen X and Yers, many of them prefer to get their messages via their Social Networking service instead of e-mail. So don’t be afraid to use direct messages (@barrettp) to communicate with them via the service.

    Have a look at what Ethan at Flowtown is doing (http://flowtown.com). Want to glean some information about that lead you just got and all you have is an e-mail address? Put it into Flowtown and poof, just like a D&B lookup for a business, Flowtown will track down the person using only their e-mail address and bring back their profile information and post from the major Social Sites. So when you call that person you will know more about them.

    No Social Media should not be used as much as agents are using it today. It SHOULD however be a part of an overall strategy. Know your prospects, know where you find them, and communicate with them directly that way.


    • author Matt Jones posted June 17th 2010. 3:13 pm Reply

      Thanks for reading Barrett, and for commenting. I feel confident your column is safe. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not against social media. In fact, if you look at the top right of my blog, you’ll see I am on Twitter and Facebook. I’m syndicated on Amazon Kindle and several other locations as well. And like you mention, when I post, it all happens automatically. I have WP set up to automatically send my posts via RSS or API to those sites. Very cool.

      What I’m fundamentally against is agents using social media as a distraction from the real work of generating business. Of course, we want to stay in touch with our sphere. That is a given. But we want to be productive as well. I am simply saying that for most agents I know, Facebook is the great distraction! Thanks again for your well articulated comment.

  6. author Tom Bibb posted June 17th 2010. 2:28 pm Reply

    Within 25 days, I will have closed my 4th sale this year directly from social media. Listed a home where the referral came from one of my friends on Facebook. I do not spend that much time on there, no games or anything but I do make comments when people in my SOI have something interesting to say. I do post links of articles, my listings and virtual tours on my business page and I have noticed increased traffic from my fans when I post regularly. My company has a strong social media position.

    • author Matt Jones posted June 17th 2010. 3:21 pm Reply

      Hey Tom, thanks for reading and for your comment. I am in favor of using social media — I do. I just don’t waste my time with it. You sound like a perfect example of using it smartly. Many agents spend hours and hours playing on Facebook when they should be working. Keep up the good work and thanks for posting!

  7. author H. Guenther posted June 17th 2010. 2:47 pm Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. If you are a stay at home person with nothing better to fill your time then get with it. When the doctor tells you that you are 50 lbs overweight you might listen to that inner voice that tells you this country better get out and smell the roses. Time could be better spent walking around the block. It does not increase your production. By the way, it is a great year to get out and get a few great listings or work with hundreds of buyers that are wanting the attention of a good Real Estate Agent that will devote their time to helping them make a good investment.

  8. author Cindy Balouris, Associte Broker, GRI ,CRS, CRS posted June 17th 2010. 3:22 pm Reply

    Thank you, for stepping up to the plate. My thoughts on social networking are even more frightening, than wasting your time. The legality of the matter is more important. Agents giving opinions and or advice in real estate, is my biggest fear. There is no disclosure. I went on to a site where Agents are answering questions to legal matters and steering the public to certain areas which we all know can be very serious.

    I have been in the business for 31 years, I was a Manager for a very prestigious Real Estate Company, for the last 6 years. My office was the first to close down, in this financial mess of an economy, thus making me unemployed and back in to the business of selling again. Thank God, my production was higher than the average Agent, the first year back, but I needed to get back to modern day basics so I can improve my sales. I purchased, I believe one of the nicest websites I have seen for a RE Broker/Agent . I am having difficulty building up my SEO, and the Companies I have talked to, said that I should be blogging and Twittering and seeking clients from Plaxo, and the beat goes on. They call this organic SEO.

    Every class I have taken, are warning agents to disclose your background and also the formal rhetoric needed to speak or write to the public. I see agents offering advice, through the social media that is way over their heads. Every day in my business I learn something new, I am not a know it all, and I will never lay claim that I am an expert. Agents are claiming an expertise, when they answer questions and or offering opinions on the topic of the day. I had an argument once with a Gentlemen who wanted to share his political view at a party. When he was gutsy enough to ask me my thought on what he was professing, my answer was,” I don’t consider your opinion as an expert so why should you care or want to know my opinion? Unless your a scholar on the topic, please close your mouth and enjoy the gathering”.

    Social media should not be taken lightly. It is serious, and agents need to be very careful on what they say or write. This is just my opinion. I am not professing that I am an expert. So again, I say “why should you care about, what I just wrote? Get out and make money, and
    stop reading what I had to say.”

    • author Matt Jones posted June 17th 2010. 3:52 pm Reply

      Hi Cindy,

      Thanks for your insight. You certainly have more time in the field than I do. That’s for sure. I checked out your site and it has a lot of good content. I think your advice that we should be careful what we put out there is great advice. Thanks again for reading and for your comment!

  9. author Moxa Chiu, SRES,e-PRO, CDPE, RCS-D posted June 17th 2010. 6:08 pm Reply

    I believe that if you want to use social media as a tool to help you build your business in Real Estate, you have to comment or Post information that is related to your goal. You should not just talk about movies and expect to build your real estate business.

    Some agents do not perform that way. In these last few years many did not re-educate themselves to fit the fast change of the industry. It has little to do with social media. Like any other industry, the high performers always align with the market trend and move forward with the trend.

    I also agree that we are dealing with people’s largest investment decision. We’ve got to be very serious with what we do, whether we are helping our clients to build their wealth or to get rid of their debt, or increase their liabilities? We better know what we are doing.


    • author Matt Jones posted June 17th 2010. 7:15 pm Reply

      Thanks Moxa, for reading and for your comment. Good points! Keeping up with the latest trends is very important.

  10. author Lark Logan posted June 17th 2010. 6:31 pm Reply

    I somewhat disagree, as it depends on how disciplined a person is when it comes to utilizing social media. I have a specific Facebook Business page – business only, and my and friends (potential clients and referrals) who’ve joined it, enjoy getting real estate news on a daily basis which goes directly to them. They don’t have to search the news blogs/sites for it, and most of the time, I’m spot on with what they want to know.

    It takes me less than 30 minutes throughout the day to post my daily news updates. My Facebook page is also directly responsible for 2 transactions and several referrals. By the way, one of those transactions involved a purchase from Naples, Italy to Midlothain, Virginia…and it was a referral that came from Virginia – and my business presence on Facebook is directly responsible for that closed transaction.

    Yes, for those who waste time posting jokes and funny videos – that’s one thing; but to utilize Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as direct outlets for keeping your friends (who are always potential clients and referral foundations) in the loop, it can be very satisfying.

    • author Matt Jones posted June 17th 2010. 7:20 pm Reply

      Hi Lark,

      Thank you for reading and for your very succinct and well articulated comment! Please understand, I am very much in favor of using social media. Just look at the top right corner of my blog. I simul-post on Facebook and Twitter, and my blog is syndicated in many places. The key is exactly what you said: how disciplined is a person when it comes to using social media. Thanks again for reading and for your post.

  11. author Richard C Dennis posted June 17th 2010. 7:47 pm Reply

    AHA! From the very start I have felt that Twitter and FaceBook and all the rest were nothing but glorified chat rooms that basically say NOTHING AT ALL! Good to see so many agree with me, especially you, Matt.

  12. author Cora L Johnson posted June 17th 2010. 7:52 pm Reply

    Hi Matt I agree that some of the social media has been hyped beyond practical value. However for those that focus on networking with a view toward sharing their business goals or inventory more exposure is certainly better for the home buyer, or searcher. Also the economic picture requires that we at least check out the value of these sometimes less expensive communication paths. I can also see how getting familiar with some of these media can take up a lot of time. It was once said the time spent upfront is a good long term investment. I am determined to become more familiar with the uses of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Please do tell me about others worthy of checking out.

  13. author Bob McTague – CNYAgent Realty Group – Coldwell Banker Prime posted June 17th 2010. 11:34 pm Reply

    Social media has become a way of life for many people. All you hear about is that you must get on the “Social Media” train. I agree, that you must be “connected” to the network of consumers and use social media as another “system” in your business… but it should never replace hard core “money making” activities such as “FSBO / Expired” Systems, 1800# systems, and the most important system “Internet Lead Generation.”

    Without Internet lead generation systems my business would not be what it is today! And Internet lead generation comes in many forms from 3rd party, pay per click, organic SEO, etc… and yes, you can get leads from Facebook… It still amazes me that more Realtors are interested in attempting to learn how to utilize “social media” and have not even attempted Internet lead generation which is old news! Internet agents will always make more money than traditional agents…

    • author Matt Jones posted June 18th 2010. 4:50 am Reply

      Thanks for the great comment, Bob — I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for reading and for taking the time to post. All the best to you, my friend! Oh, I visited your website (our system strips all websites from posts but it was cnyagentcom and you know where to put the dot) and it is one of the best I’ve seen. Great site!

  14. author Helen Willy posted December 23rd 2010. 4:00 pm Reply

    Awesome, I like it. I truly enjoy my clients and friends a lot, and want to stay in touch, but I unfortunately don’t have the inclination or time to spend on playing games or hunting down the next to be top selling cafe latte. Thanks Matt.

  15. author Matt Jones posted December 23rd 2010. 4:27 pm Reply

    Thanks. I’m with you! Thanks for reading.

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