If you doubted the social media prowess of the four people sitting on the "How to Become a New Media Guru: Social Media and Real Estate Sales" panel at REO Expo, then you didn't notice them Tweeting, picture snapping and Facebooking — even when they were on stage.
The four panelists, Cade Holleman, executive director at National Association of Women REO Brokerages; Chris Evans, REO Success TV; Wendy Forsythe, executive vice president and head of global operations at Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate; and Tony Rosales of REOwarrior.com all had this message for the audience:
If you aren't on social media, get on it. And if you are on social media, learn to use it more effectively.
"The age-old premise of business is that people like to know, like and trust you. We use social media as an outlet so that people can know, like and trust us," said Forsythe, who uses several outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and GooglePlus to promote her company.
But, she said, people will only know, like and trust you if you are authentic, and you will only be authentic if you enjoy what you are doing on social media.
"If the idea of tweeting 140 characters to the world is not appealing to you, then I would say Twitter is probably not your best outlet," she said, warning against the "spaghetti approach" of throwing a bunch of things at a wall to see what sticks. "Pick two or three and rock at them ... and they don't have to be the same two or three sites everyone else is using."
Holleman echoed that, and recommended continuing to check the sites you decide aren't for you — even if only once a month — so that people don't think you've shut your company down.
"You want to avoid the negative connotations brought about by leaving a site," he said. "We changed our profile picture to say 'We're no longer here, but you can find us at these sites.' That let our followers know where they could continue a conversation with us."
Once you've found your niche, Rosales recommends getting followers by finding people who have the followers you want. If you find a broker that has 10,000 followers, follow him and his followers, eventually those will start to trickle back to you.
And while thousands of followers might be tantalizing, Holleman recommends keeping it in perspective.
"Don't benchmark your number of followers against Freddie Mac, benchmark your number of followers against local agents," he said, telling the audience that was the only real way to gauge success in social media.
Once you have your followers, Evans said you need to give them useful information in order to keep them coming back. He recommended using websites that track keywords in designated areas to see what local clientele are searching for in order to find out what the real areas of interest are in your target area.
"This way, you can get ahead of that traffic," he said. He recommended making videos to solve the problems seen in those searches. "The videos don't have to be fancy pants. They just have to answer the question in detail. Google ranks videos very highly, and because they are so easy to do now, it makes sense that you should start doing them and including them in your social media strategy."