Social Media is a Sinkhole for Real Estate – Seriously?

Someone sent me this article by Mike Parker this weekend and I had to read it a couple of times to make sure that what I was interpreting his message correctly, and this paragraph in particular keeps hitting that sensitive spot,

Well, as I have been telling you for three years now, that is hogwash. Social media is a sinkhole that absorbs time, effort and money that could better be spent on finding listings and selling houses. Social media is the new blogging. It too will peak, then decline with one very large exception: affinity group business communication.

Before I can even start commenting on this article I feel a need to define Social Media – isn’t it another “tool” in our marketing bag of tricks? Isn’t Social Media a marketing tactic like any other that should be used strategically with other marketing tools in order to obtain a balance that works for you as a real estate agent and becomes a good conductor between you as a professional and your audience? (the audience that ultimately buys and sells real estate from you).

I’ve learned a lot from my marketing genius friend Murray Izenwasser who I first heard speak in a local BarCamp and later at a Social Media Club meeting and his message was clear. Social Media is not just marketing but a marketing TACTIC – should be used intelligently according to your needs and should be understood for its power to reach an audience you may not have had the exposure to with customary and traditional marketing tools.

So if our industry is about relationships and social media has added a “social” aspect to internet marketing, doesn’t it seem like the perfect fit?  I do agree with Mike that it can be a time suck if not used properly, but I don’t agree that you can separate blogging from social media, because blogging is part of it.

The section in his article called “Why social media won’t be a long-term selling tool for real estate” is one of the ones I find the most intriguing. I think most of you will agree that it is crucial for someone that will post an opinion on Social Media tactics to understand the dynamics, intricacies and social behaviors of the medium before they start coming up with conclusions. If you understand the basics of SM being about permission based marketing as opposed to interruption marketing then you would see that statement as absolutely ludicrous. In an age of an educated consumer with spam filters and TiVo – you need to know that posting your listings and ads all over the Internet will never work!

Just came back from NAR’s annual convention in San Diego where numerous real estate agents proved how they were using Social Media successfully – some of them utilizing their blog as their hub and the rest of the platforms as prospecting tools that lead potential clients to that hub which consequently has plenty of google juice and calls to action.  Others using different platforms to add to their “bag of tricks”, others simply answering questions directly from the consumer in places like Trulia or Zillow.

I do agree with Mike in his statement about the success of an agent online being measured by the speed at which you answer inquiries – but that in itself is a demonstration that you cannot turn your back on Twitter, for example, where the conversation is happening real-time and you have the ability to answer and connect on the spot.

One thing we do need to understand is that there are different users of SM. I recently told you about my presentation to top producers in their late 60?s who don’t need to make any changes or even learn how to turn a computer on, but are still curious about SM. There’s also the successful agent who has ventured into SM to compliment their already effective marketing and who can stop their efforts at any point and still be successful. And there are the newer agents who have immersed themselves in the medium and are expanding their sphere of influence at a pace that traditional media would have never allowed.

Mike Parker advises thousands of agents and brokers on the subject of online marketing services for realtors

– I’m sure Mike is great at what he does, but I’m also convinced that he doesn’t quite get SM, maybe some of our readers can enlighten him.

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