At a party the other evening, a very good friend was telling me about a real estate development project he is involved in that has just started using social media as a marketing tool, but has yet to see any real results. My immediate response was to point out that these things take some time to pick up speed. But as I stood there thinking about the efforts I’d seen from this particular project, I realized the problem is much bigger, and more widespread.
As more and more real estate projects, brokers and brands dive into the social media swimming pool, it’s easy to see which ones are passionate and engaging, and which ones are just phoning it in. If your social media presence is decidedly lackluster, or begrudgingly by rote, it might behoove you to just leave the room.
“I have a new listing at 123 Home Street.”
“Something interesting happened here once upon a time.”
“Click here and you’ll be able to come to where I want you to buy from me.”
That last example is a bit sarcastic, but I have less and less patience for branding attempts on social media channels that feature this kind of self-serving-slacker tonality. It’s all fine and good to publish a link to your latest blog post (cough cough) or brag a bit about some achievement or other, but many real estate entities online are forgetting that social media is meant to be social.
I’ve used this analogy many times before, but it keeps on giving: if you wouldn’t do it at a cocktail party, don’t do it online. These anti-social purely mechanical company messages would be the equivalent to standing in the middle of a networking event at a sales centre and blurting out random trivial pursuit answers every 10 minutes, without ever doing anything else. It’s a party! Ask questions! Find common ground! Listen! Comment! Talk with people, not at them! Engage!
Twitter seems to be attracting a lot of these organizations lately, but it’s by no means the only danger zone. I guess the memo has gone out that real estate developers need to be there, and many are walking single file, with heads hanging, into the Twittersphere – and participating with about as much enthusiasm as a car salesman at a rally promoting bicycle commuting. You can almost hear them muttering to themselves “Fine, I’m here, are you happy now?”
So, what to do?
If you are entering or have entered the social media realm (and sooner or later all of us will have to face this new reality) please make sure your heart is in the right place. I presume you spend your days in the real estate industry because you like being here. Use social media to show us why.
Tell us what you’re thinking about. Share your crazy predictions for the future of your business. Compliment a competitor who comes up with a good idea. Tell us about your vacation, or about an interesting meeting you just had. Ask me how my pet project is coming along. Tell me about something that relates to me, not you.
Whatever you do, for goodness sake, do it because you want to, not because you have to.
If you can’t bring yourself to radiate honest enjoyment at being engaged with other human beings, maybe you’re not the right person in your organization to be heading up the social media chit chat.
If there’s no one else at your company who really wants to go to the party, maybe your brand should just stay home. It’s less harmful to be absent than annoying.
David Allison, Author and Partner at Braun/Allison Inc.
David Allison is a partner at Braun/Allison Inc.; a Vancouver-based company that provides creative services for residential and resort real estate developers. His book, Sell The Truth, is available for free here. You can connect to him on LinkedIn , follow him on Twitter @BAdavid and read his blog, One Brand Clapping here.