The Social Media Culture as a Business Tool

By Jesse Dougherty

One of the most challenging transitions for small business owners within the past decade has been making the leap from speaking to their audience to speaking with their audience. The square peg in a round hole phenomenon has been a common occurrence among those business owners who have found themselves sorting through how to correctly communicate via social platforms. The Internet changed by the fundamental principles set forth from social websites and it happened fast. Many started with the tried and true methodology of attempting to convince consumers to use their product of service, commonly used in interruptive marketing, such as television or print ads. But with an open forum for businesses and potential clients to directly communicate, those methods fell short. Larger brands spent a lot of time and energy perfecting these new rules of engagement.

This challenge becomes even more imposing if you are running a business on your own as many REALTORS® do. I saw this firsthand before I became a REALTOR®, as the owner of a digital marketing company seven years ago. I was providing marketing services to real estate professionals for their listings in the Los Angeles area. One of our company’s core services was providing HD video tours of listings. One of the ways I gained new business was to speak to audiences in a classroom setting about using video as a marketing tool online. The conversation inevitably transitioned from YouTube to all the other social media platforms and content marketing. I could see the panic and confusion within the expressions of many in attendance each time the subject shifted to these topics. It was a major evolution that happened very quickly and I think we all felt it.

Fast forward to today and I think most of us can say we have accepted the fact that we as a culture are addicted to sharing our stories to those around us. For many, the first thing we look at as we awake and the last thing we scroll through before bed is our mobile device surging with social media activity. For some, it’s all noise; for others, it’s a crucial part of how they see others and themselves. With all that aside, it is a tool when it comes to business. If you know how to use it.

Like most things in life, consistency is crucial. Whether it’s the diet you planned as the new year came along or the prospecting goals you have set for your business. This type of awareness and subsequent action is just as important when it comes to being recognized as a business online. For many, they jumped on the social media bandwagon because it was a hot button phrase, not because they really wanted to discover how to use it. As REALTORS® we are bombarded by so many magic pill sales pitches each year. Vendors promising an avalanche of leads if we sign up today before the others in line secure their spot. But unfortunately just like that diet, there is no magic pill. The good news is it can be done well and for quite a low cost.

What do most people care about? The truth is, a lot of times, it’s ourselves. What’s in it for me? That’s a question we are all subconsciously thinking about when being pitched something by an advertiser. So if you use online platforms as a soapbox to preach about how you’re the best agent in the area, it gets old quick. The other issue I see is REALTORS® often think about our business in terms some consumers may not. At least those who are not in the grips of searching or about to sell a home. Just sold or sales volume stats are all valuable in their own right, but in some scenarios it doesn’t mean much to the person who isn’t in that sales mode right now. Social media to me is about farming not hunting. Giving multiple times before asking for something. Share value first and become someone who earns the respects as an expert. I think it’s great to think a few degrees outside the numbers and figures of our industry. Talking about the homeowner experience, or the lifestyle and current events of a community. What matters to the people looking to sell in a year or two? Maybe not the hard numbers about inventory. So whether it’s writing this content in a blog, sharing an article written by established publications or creating your message via photos you take with your smart phone, make it about them, not you. The other huge factor is getting your message seen. I’m a believer in using business accounts, especially for Facebook. The tools you have are on a whole other level when it comes to getting in front of a target audience. You should be boosting almost everything you share via your business accounts.

Without getting into a whole tutorial on to boost your content on Facebook, I suggest watching YouTube videos on the subject. Here’s great intro video if you want to get started: http://tinyurl. com/hvg5h4r. So in closing, be as resourceful as you can to the people in your target demographic. Make the most of the time you spend by getting in front of the audience by boosting the content. Lastly, be consistent (think of it like farming via direct mail), and give it time. You have to be realistic when it comes to this type of marketing. Remember, this is a branding building tool and your brand is a valuable local resource.

Jesse has been professionally involved in both marketing and real estate throughout his entire career. As an owner of a real estate multimedia firm, Jesse has overseen the marketing of over 750 properties in the Los Angeles area. Later, he co-founded a digital marketing agency which works with businesses, organizations and nonprofits to engage their audiences online. As a partner of a top-producing REALTOR® team at RE/MAX Estate Properties, he specializes in the South Bay and Greater L.A. markets.