Last week my Zebra Report talked about the opportunities that lie within social media for very inexpensive lead generation. I promised to share additional information on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and I’m going to do exactly that today. I’m also going to talk about Google+.
All four of these social media sites are quite different. They serve different needs in the social media world, and their differing natures mean that they appeal to some people, but not others.
I don’t think you can afford to ignore any one of these sites.
The days of ignoring online social media truly have passed. I know for many of you, the thought of becoming involved in social media sends a shiver up your spine. As happens with anything new and unfamiliar, the intimidation factor may be sky-high (in fact, I’m willing to bet that’s what’s stopping you from moving forward). But if you tackle social media one small bite at a time you’ll soon find a plate full of wonderful food. Even better, you’ll move from simply being a “diner” to being a “chef”, creating your own content to serve up to social media. Trust me – you will be amazed to discover the lead generation opportunities within these four very powerful sites.
Let’s talk about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ one at a time.
No doubt Facebook is the site the average agent feels most comfortable with. It’s been around long enough that it’s practically a household name.
Simple to use, Facebook makes it easy to connect with friends, family, and business associates. You can make comments (posts) of up to 420 characters, and it’s easy to load photos and link to external websites. Many agents have both a personal page and a business page on Facebook; others combine their work and home lives on a single page.
Membership and usage statistics on Facebook are impressive. The site reports:
- More than 750 million active users – 225 million of these (30%) in the United States
- 50% or more of the active users log on to the site each day
- The average user has 130 Facebook “friends”, and is connected to 80 community pages, groups, and events
- On average, a user creates 90 pieces of content (posts) each month
- Each day, an average of 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook
Maybe you’ve heard someone talk about “tweeting”. If so, they’re referencing comments that they are making on Twitter.
Best estimates for Twitter usage puts users currently at 106 million, with 300,000 new Twitter accounts being created each day. Twitter users are sending 155 million tweets per day. As with Facebook, about 30% of Twitter users reside in the United States.
Many agents make the mistake of discounting Twitter, for two reasons: they are intimidated by the need to keep their messages very, very short (140 characters, including spaces!) … or they think that tweets relate simply to what they’re doing at any one moment in time (“picking up kids for softball game – can’t wait!”) and they don’t want to feel that anyone is using Twitter to keep track of their whereabouts.
Agents who use Twitter as their personal GPS unit are really missing the mark, because Twitter is much more than that. Because Twitter is intended to be very “of the moment”, you can hear what people are talking about right now. Follow conversation streams of individuals, groups, events, and companies. It’s like being a fly on a wall of thousands and thousands of interesting conversations! And Twitter is a site stuffed full of experts who are willing to share what they know.
Test what I mean right now – go to search.twitter.com, and type in Chicago real estate. You’ll see hundreds of “tweets” about this topic.
Many real estate agents have a LinkedIn profile, but they’re not engaging on the site … and as a result they are not reaping the benefits of LinkedIn.
Don’t simply post your business profile on LinkedIn. If you want to take full advantage of the site, start by looking at “LinkedIn Answers” (you can find the “Answers” page by clicking on the “More” tab). This is an amazing opportunity to answer a question and establish credibility within the LinkedIn community. You can also go the opposite route – posing questions to initiate discussions and dialogue.
About 47% of LinkedIn’s 101 million members live in the United States, and the site is used extensively by companies as well as individuals. Roughly one million new members join LinkedIn every week, at a rate equivalent to a professional joining the site faster than one member per second.
Google+ is currently in its infancy. Although the company has had previous failed social media initiatives (anyone remember Google Buzz or Orkut?), the reviews so far on Google+ are very, very positive.
The folks at Google have created a social media site that is the best out there at visual categorization of groups and databases. Because it’s more visual than Facebook, it will be attractive to many people. In fact, I predict it will quickly catch up to (and overtake!) Facebook quite quickly. Google+ uses the concept of “circles” to help you manage your contacts on the site.
As I mentioned last week, membership to Google+ is by invitation only. If you want an invitation, just let me know and I’ll send one your way!
Although they have different structures, and meet different needs, with all four sites you need to do a little listening before simply hopping on and becoming part of the conversation. Take a few minutes (or hours) to discover what each site’s users are talking about, and how (or whether) they are actively promoting themselves. Follow some conversation threads. Because every good conversation will have diverging viewpoints, it’s smart to hear several sides of the story before weighing in with your opinion.
Regardless of whether you jump on to all four sites right away, or you choose to tackle them one at a time, be sure that your lead generation activities include participation on all four of these sites.
Facebook statistics: https://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
Twitter statistics: http://www.onlinemarketing-trends.com/2011/03/twitter-statistics-on-its-5th.html
LinkedIn statistics: http://press.linkedin.com/about