You Don’t NEED to Succeed in Social Media

by Nick Bastian on June 4, 2010

Chart showing social media ROI

Image courtesy of Flickr user Intersection Consulting

You have heard the buzz, right? Social media is the “next big thing” in the real estate business. Class after class is being taught by social media gurus, experts and specialists that sometimes have the combined social media presence of many non-experts. I am not really sure what it takes to be a social media guru or expert, but I am pretty sure of this: Many of them are trying to sell you a magic bullet, a sure-fire way to connect with markets that you are not currently serving, a get-rich-quick snake oil that does not exist.

We all bought into the “website thing” many years ago. You know, the one where you put up your high school photo, talk about how cute your dog is, “allow” people to contact you, and be sure to tell them how many homes you sell and which designations you have received. How’s that workin’ out for ya’ these days?

Today’s internet-focused homebuyer is probably looking for instant information, the kind of things that let them know what is for sale and tells them why they would want to live in that area. Research and information begins online – being the source of that information is what can bring them to YOU.  The downside to this is the fact that it is a LOT of really hard work to rank for certain keywords, to provide useful and relevant content, and to be the go-to guy (or gal ) for the area these potential clients are seeking.

Blogging is a tool that can be a great addition to a real estate agent’s business, but you need to understand a few things about this tool that some call the hub of an online presence. It is HARD work. It takes consistency, planning, determination and skill to pay any real dividends. Many agents dive right into social media and say they will have their assistant run it, their college kids or siblings do it.  They “know” it is important, but they “don’t have time” to “mess with that stuff” because they are “too busy.”

For many successful agents, I do believe social media can be a distraction. It can be a complete waste of time. I doubt Walt Danley worries too much about Twitter. I also believe there are many successful agents that make a VERY good living being their own social network. They meet people in coffee shops, send newsletters, rely on “belly to belly” relationships with past clients and continue to do what has always worked well. If that is you, awesome, keep on doing your thing! For me, it is a combination of the two. For many of my friends, it is one or the other.

Adding social media to your business plan should be just that–part of your plan. While setting up your profiles and getting started is good, it is probably going to take much more effort to gain any real business. Learn as much as you can by attending things like Real Estate Blog World in Las Vegas, going to Real Estate BarCamps in many cities or by “chaining” yourself in a room listening to self-proclaimed, “best in the world” types teach about becoming the epitome of an online expert.

While I have established a social media presence, what I have found to be the hub of my business hasn’t really changed in the last 17 years. Treat people well, be honest and work hard. If you can do that, you don’t need some guru to tell you where your next client is coming from…

Scott Graff June 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

Good job Nick, as always!

Jennifer Mathus June 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

Great article, Nick! It’s not a magic bullet – it is a tool! And a great tool, in my opinion.

Nick Bastian June 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Thanks so much for the kind words Scott and Jennifer!

Dave Smith June 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Amen Nick.

And, you get to meet a lot of interesting people.

Ed Ricketts June 4, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Hi Nick,

I appreciate your opinion about social media. And I have to admit, I am presently on several of these social media, at the advice of my consultant. I hope it works. I hope I have not got the time to constantly interact on these media….

Nick, here is what I really think about social media, notwithstanding that I am hoping there is something worthwhile about social media.
Remember that you heard this first, right here, from me. Social media is destined to failure, even before it has peaked. Really? Why?

Yes, even before the peak of this social media phenomenon, I am predicting its decline. You see, social media is really not all that many advocates are hyping it to be. And here’s why.

In my mind, there are 3 primary reasons why the Twitter, Facebook, ActiveRain, Linkedin, etc., the social media of the world, are destined to ultimate failure:

1. When people jumped into these social media, they fell into a number of categories (a discussion for another time), but they were all very excited about and eager for a new (realtime) way to communicate. While the numbers remained relatively small, and recognition was high, and subject cognizance was relevant to the group and accepted, then all was well. Well, sort of. When user numbers began to climb, the attraction of the medium also continued to climb, but at a decreasing rate. You see, there were too, too many people with disparate motivations, perspectives – and lacking commonality. Social media is no longer a predictively positive posting experience. That has become a distinct disincentive for social media buffs. Not all is well in social media land. Bummer.

2. The social media were initially attractive to a demographic of users who loved trivia, meaningless interaction and to an unthreatening validation to one’s existence. Soon, responsive posting began to occur. Oh, bummer, it was just like emails and interactive online forums. Recently (and worse), vendors began to “farm” social media. After all, that’s where the consumers are aggregating. Unfortunately for those vendors who are late to the scene, social media users (non vendors) are becoming turned off to these all too obvious solicitations. Thus, the Kumbaya character that attracted so many participants is degenerating into a retail forum.

3. Finally, and most importantly, a need exists with all human beings that has been totally ignored by the advocates of social media. We all need personal, physical interaction. We all need face to face interaction and the ability to physically reach out and touch someone. We all need to talk with someone, to see them in reality. (Oh, gosh, have I committed PC blunder? Is the O Administration going to sentence me to prison?)

So here it is. The kids that drove the social media adventure are still humans. They need something more personal and meaningful than a mere electronic recognition of their existence. They want and are seeking out personal (vis a vis) interaction. What they desire is a personal touch, or at least the potential of a personal touch.

My prognostication? Social media is doomed to mediocrity and ho-humdrum. It’s a blip on the communication scale.

What does this have to do with real estate? I mean, for those of you for whom the answer to that question isn’t perfectly obvious? Easy. You are wasting you time, dear brethren. Spend your time in more conventional media: email, snail mail, presentations, print media, phone calls. Trust me, although you may snag a prospect from time to time on a social medium, consider your time spent and how much more productive you would have been be vis a vis. Consider your time on social media versus hitting the street, or directly soliciting your demographic.

There is much more to discuss on social media, but this will have to do for Part I.

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute, Nick. I look forward to meeting you.



Nick Bastian June 8, 2010 at 8:14 am

Thanks Dave!
Yes, meeting a lot of interesting people has been a great “bonus.” Heck, those relationships might be the most valuable part! 🙂

Nick Bastian June 8, 2010 at 8:21 am

While you make some interesting points, I can’t say I agree with the “destined to failure” line. Generalizations are many and I am not sure anyone could or should try to say there is a right or wrong way to use social media. For some, it is fun and for others it is work. I am aware of success stories and of failures.
Best of luck with the book.

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