Alternate Title: "Social Media, Billboards & Medicating My Tourette's..."
If you are a chronic social media checker like I am, you probably started your day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on. Do you remember any of the real estate-related posts?
Or, if you are reading this at the office, odds are you drove past a slew of billboards on the way. Can you remember any of them? Me neither.
The problem is the impersonal nature of a billboard. So why should we expect social posts — void of any personalized voice or engagement — to be any different? It’s simply a world of digital billboards that are easily ignored amidst the deafening social noise.
Social media is two words — yet the real estate industry majorly neglects the first, and by far the most important aspect of the platforms: that we can be social. I mean, it’s even in the name. It’s a way to talk to people: your people.
Real estate trainers have stressed for years agents should be on social media. Although I agree, I agree only with the stipulation of how an agent is on social media. Namely, whether they are truly being social or just spamming my stream.
If you’re an agent I follow on social, it’s because I value your voice. And it doesn’t even have to be about real estate. In fact, it’s probably best that it isn’t — at least, not the majority. If consumers want to work with agents they can relate to, and they do, be yourself and post what interests you. Add your authentic voice, language, tone, emojis — yes, I went there — punctuation and personality.
In thinking through this, I’ve developed three guidelines for my personal, social engagement:
1. Be social in the moment you’re living
Most content is relevant and dependent upon the moment. Do you know what it looks like if you share 20 pictures, video, updates all at 6 p.m.? I’ll tell you: spam. Even if I truly like following you, I don’t want you hijacking my social stream — even if your content is outstanding. Post steadily throughout your day. This tempering also helps you respond, share and engage with your people.
You’re thinking, OK, Charlie, but what about scheduling my content through a service such as Hootsuite?
Scheduling isn’t very authentic engagement, so I don’t do it. I wouldn’t send someone to a lunch in my stead to say, at exactly 1:05 p.m., “I love my amazing clients, and they love me. #humblebrag.” I hope everyone appreciates how ridiculous this whole thing sounds.
My general rule is: If I wouldn’t do it in “real” life, I shouldn’t do it on social. Also, agents who schedule content are notorious for rarely engaging with their people. It’s billboards: a ton of tiny little billboards popping up randomly as you drive down the social highway with no engagement. That’s not social media; it’s spam.
Don’t just blurt random things at random times. It’s like agents have a type of social Tourette’s Syndrome (I have Tourette’s, by the way), and they refuse to take their medication. Take the medicine, and stop scheduling random $%*!.
2. Know the platforms
Let’s talk about the big three first.
Facebook is the world’s largest convention center; a giant room where people have megaphones, HD video cameras and a giant Rolodex to filter through who they know and want to know. People are everywhere. Information is shared, opinions expressed, friends made, wars started, etc. It’s super noisy in here, so you need something interesting to say, or you need to have some majorly awesome pictures or videos to get noticed. Having trouble finding your people in the crowd? Facebook dark posts. Everybody, repeat these words: Facebook dark posts. Find your people; they’re out there if you know where to look — and how to look.
Twitter is a town-hall meeting. There is a giant hallway down the middle, and people are filing off here and there to talk about different topics. There are a few folks with cameras, but it’s mostly people with notepads — little sticky notes, really, and each note holds 140 characters. Tear one off and stick it to the wall or on top of another sticky note and go about your business. Share ideas, links and news to a highly targeted audience. Careful though: Things can escalate pretty quickly with all these stickies floating around.
Instagram is a coffee shop where everyone has a camera as a way of life. Most of these folks need a rest from the noise in the convention hall but want a little more freedom than the sticky notes in the town-hall meeting. It is much quieter in here, and the artwork is stunning. These are friendly people who want to talk to you and want you to talk to them.
So, what platforms should you be on? I don’t know. Where are your people? Wherever they are, go there. No one I want to work with is currently on Snapchat, so I don’t have a Snapchat account. LinkedIn? Yeah, my people are there, but I’ve found they don’t want me disrupting them there. Pinterest: Yes, my people are there, but they hate the ads now allowed on the platform.
I’m developing (read as: my incredible wife is developing) a Pinterest page for our clients to get staging ideas. There is value for my clients in that. Right now, that’s as far as I’m going: If you are using Pinterest as part of your social strategy, please leave a comment letting us know how it’s going.
3. Respect the platforms
If you use Hootsuite or similar service, to blast out your content into a busy convention hall and town-hall meeting and quiet coffee shop all at once, folks will have a hard time understanding you. Likewise, Instagram media does not open well on Twitter (just one example). It’s not where it was designed to go. Make sense?
Publish content to its native environment, where it is happiest. YouTube does a pretty job of integrating with Facebook. You know what kind of videos work even better on Facebook? Facebook videos. I mean, it makes total sense and seems really obvious, but sometimes we just need to hear these things.
We don’t need more voiceless content-raising decibels to the social noise — it’s loud enough in here. We need people talking with people. A billboard can’t do that; a scheduler can’t do that, but you can do that, and your clients will love you for it. #stopthehumblebrag and #hustle