Aaron Rose, realtor, Re/Max Boone

Aaron Rose

Aaron Rose

Of all the sites I visit, my “top 3” are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. All three allow my friends to view my profile and keep up with my real estate activity at their leisure and privacy level. It’s a passive, non-invasive way to keep my clients and friends in touch with me.

Facebook not only has doubled my real estate business and quadrupled my exposure, but it also gives me a forum to post videos, pictures and display Rose of Realty updates. Although I do know a lot of people in Columbia and central Missouri, not everyone will call or e-mail me directly. Facebook allows me to become everyone’s online resource for questions or needs. Some are existing clients, but most are local friends and acquaintances, who could become potential clients.

Real estate is a business with friends, so social networking sites have become crucial in connecting buyers with sellers. Maintaining several sites and keeping up with friends takes time and commitment, but my online image works for me 24/7 (even if my real self is not). “Work smarter, not harder” has always been my motto, and using social networking sites is one of the most valuable tools in use today. Umm… and did I mention it’s free!

Here are my opinions of other sites I use:

  • Myspace.com: It’s what started it all, although now it focuses more on music, video and entertainment. Most people use nicknames or fake profile names. Within the last year, MySpace has had a lot of spam (the same year Facebook grew in leaps and bounds).
  • Realtor.com: Consistently still the top real estate Web site. Searched and used by millions daily, the site includes the options of uploading videos, pictures and virtual tours, plus at an extra charge a profile can go international. All of my Columbia listings can be seen worldwide, and it still impresses me when I have e-mails from people all over the world asking about Columbia real estate.
  • Zillow.com: This site is huge on the coasts and large metro cities, but it’s useless for Mid-Missouri. It’s similar to Realtor.com, but it has much better search parameters and caters to “for sale by owner listings.”
  • Youtube.com: YouTube has changed the way people view, watch and interact using video. I post all my listings on YouTube, and it has an effective tool for me to have my videos viewed, locally and worldwide. YouTube is very user-friendly, and the site keeps gaining new and better features, including HD recordings.
  • Activerain.com: This is a talk shop site for real estate agents, bankers, lenders, appraisers and anyone else in real estate and finance. It’s a way to keep up with trends from other markets and a place to get ideas and to test out ideas. It’s not an important site for most people, but I log on daily to keep up with the inside of things in the real estate and banking industries.
  • Craigslist.com: This site has single handedly changed the way people buy and sell. The online classifieds have never been so easy to use. It’s an easy and private way to buy and sell.
  • Woot.com: This site is just fun! If you don’t know about it, log on and see for yourself. They sell only one item per day until it sells out.

arose@goarose.com

J. Peter Meng, director of interactive, Woodruff Sweitzer

J. Peter Meng

J. Peter Meng

I use or try out every type of social media that comes out. Different tools have different purposes.

I use LinkedIn for keeping tabs on business contacts and Facebook for tracking my kids plus messaging with true friends. I’m not afraid to drop acquaintances and turn down friend requests-you only have so much time.

Twitter is not about “what are you doing now,” but it should be used for sharing things others can use or add to a conversation. The reality is that most of us don’t really care that you’re picking up your kids or your cleaning. If you add value to the conversation, it seems to come back multiplied.

To get the most from Twitter, I use Tweetdeck to help me monitor search words, not necessarily follow specific people. Try searching on a current event. For example, try “Cardinals” right after they lose. You’ll get an interesting perspective of the game in real time!

The most interesting aspect of social media is what’s coming. Exclusive, subscriber-based “gated” communities are in development. How these will interact with the public networks will be very interesting.

pmeng@woodruffsweitzer.com

Scott Wendling, commercial broker/realtor, HoB Commercial Realty Group

Scott Wendling

Scott Wendling

I only use social networking platforms that will give me the largest attentive audience for the time I spend working on them. Currently, I actively use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Facebook is a good place to keep up with friends and clients because a lot of people update it regularly. I’ve gotten leads from reading status updates and posting my own status updates.

LinkedIn is my living resume that is searchable by Google. It contains the same information as a traditional resume, and it’s constantly available for people to add references. I have used the site to find professionals in other industries and ask them questions.

Twitter is great because it allows me to only follow people talking about things relevant or interesting to me. This means to get followed I have to provide fresh and relevant information that is worth reading. The benefit is I know the people following me are in one way or another interested in commercial real estate.

The biggest mistake I see across the board is people approaching social networking like it’s a billboard or magazine. They will create an account, follow everyone in the world in hopes of being followed and constantly try to shove marketing material down your throat. This is annoying, offensive and simply not going to work unless you want to sell other people the same system of annoying people.

If I went to a cocktail party with some brochures and simply ran around the room shoving a flyer in everyone’s hand, I would just upset and annoy a lot of people. The right thing to do is grab a cocktail and join the conversation.

The same thing applies to social networking. By joining the conversation, I can respond to what other people are saying and provide information of my own. This creates a rapport with others, allowing me to establish myself as an expert in my field and find experts in other fields.

scottw@houseofbrokers.com

J. Scott Christianson, Kaleidoscope Videoconferencing

J. Scott Christianson

J. Scott Christianson

As a small business owner, business and personal interactions mix and mingle already, so it makes some sense to combine the social and professional networks online. The customers and colleagues that are my friends on Facebook get to know what type of person I am-which hopefully is a good thing! Of course, this is a double edged sword: customers who learn more about your politics, beliefs or other personal information may end up de-friending you if they don’t see eye-to-eye. For employees, this would be a dangerous proposition since alienating a potential customer may get them in trouble with supervisors, but for me it seems to work well.

Social networking has a big advantage because it reminds existing customers that you exist. Rather than having to reach out to them periodically, the clients get your status updates as they choose. I have had several customers send me notes after seeing something on Facebook and ask me to call them about a potential project. In this respect, Facebook can be a great tickler for customers to remember you and your services without being intrusive or taking up too much time.

jsc@kalvideo.com

Mark Farnen, managing partner, Strategists LLC

Mark Farnen

Mark Farnen

I was not an early adopter of all the social media tools that today seem to be so commonplace. In fact, before 2005 I didn’t even like being enumerated as one of hundreds of e-mail recipients in a giant listserve group.

Why? Because I hated having my inbox flooded with inane e-mails regarding angels, Iraq, Viagra, naked pictures of Britney Spears or requests from a deposed king of Liberia who needed me to deposit $2 million in my bank account until he could get safely out of the country.

It was a giant time suck. The advent of social media tools such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter seem to have accelerated the distribution of the equally inane content to a new level. Now I get messages like this: “what up”, “where u at” or ‘What Rock Star Are You’ and I am Ludacris.'” It is ludicrous and most of it is misspelled.

Having said all that, I must admit that I use many of these social networking tools on a regular basis, some more frequently than others. I’m subscribed to at least 17 of these types of services, not including a host of emails and online subscriptions to news feeds, RSS feeds and other services requiring passwords and user names.

I’m on Facebook. I’m LinkedIn. I sent a virtual Shakespeare’s pizza to my sister, and she thought it was real. I blog, I tweet and I condense my links to tiny URL’s. I even help my clients learn how to use these various tools. But, I do so with a few caveats.

First, be selective. Not every tool is meant to be used by every fool.

Second, consider to what extent you want to mix business and pleasure. Your business clients do not need to know that grandma has the shakes, and your friends could care less that your company just released an upgraded version of RFID tracking software unless, of course, all your friends are geeks.

Third, use the proper etiquette. Even though spelling does not seem to count for much, except on blogs, there is a set of norms that govern the use of the various services. Learn it. Obey it. Bad etiquette on the Internet is as annoying as spitting Skoal juice in an old beer can to frequent users.

Finally, don’t put anything in writing that you don’t want the whole world to read. These new technologies are amazing in their levels of interlinks, access and distribution. Assume that anything you write on someone’s wall or any tweet you send to a fellow Twitterer is the equivalent of a live news broadcast. It’s not erasable in most cases, and you can’t control the distribution. You never know who may be offended, even by a seemingly innocuous comment.

Just remember this. Social networking forces you to live in public. If you are not comfortable with that side of this new technology, run for your old rotary phone and your thermographic paper fax.

strategists@mchsi.com

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