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2011-05-20 18:06:05

Social Networking – Are You Doing it Right?

Do you use social media outlets to market yourself or your services?  Do you actively post?  Do you have a strategy or plan put together?  Do you engage other Facebook users?

If you struggled to answer these questions immediately, you aren’t alone.

Your first step should be to decide how much time (and content) you will be able to invest in this form of marketing.  Remember, these days most people are online and print advertising is going out of style.  Do you have the time and creativity to keep up a blog?  If not, do you plan on joining an already well-established social network or forum?  Which one(s)?  Facebook?  LinkedIn?  Twitter?  What do you plan on sharing with these networks? Your own personal experiences, your schedule, available rentals, open houses, articles you’ve read, your listings, re-posts of other peoples’ content, local information, garage sales?

You need to decide who your target audiences are.  You might choose to run more than one page in these social networks—one for people you know personally, and another where you market actively, posting information about the areas you serve, local news, open houses, yard sales—the sky is the limit.  If you have a special niche like HUD Homes, or Senior Housing, take advantage of that.  Become the trusted resource for new listings of this type in your area.

Another aspect of social networking that many people tend to ignore is participating on the pages of others.  Follow/Like other pages about your town, about the latest and greatest tech gadgets, or anything you and your target audience might be interested in.  Participate on those pages, like, share, and repost anything that you think might be of interest.  Don’t be shy. Engage people.  Repost, comment on, or ‘like’ the posts of your followers.  If someone comments on one of your posts, thank them and write back.  You want to create a presence—you want people to get to know you at some level.  Remember that friends of those followers will then see your name, and perhaps they’ll see your page/profile and decide to add you to their network. It’s all viral.

What you don’t post can be just as important as what you do post.  While you might be proud of your politics, lifestyle, or religion, you might want to keep your online appearance more neutral to avoid alienating some of your followers.  You don’t want to give anyone a reason to stop following you if you can help it.

Lastly, be sure to maintain a certain level of privacy.  While your friends and family may decide to follow your marketing/business page, you might want to keep your potential clients off of your personal page.  Remember that your goal is to market yourself and your services so it is likely that everything you post on the business specific page will be visible to the public via a simple web search of your name or town.  Don’t post anything anywhere, if you don’t want it to be seen. There is a risk that eventually it will be, even if it is in restricted areas of your page, such as Facebook.

When you begin the planning phase, you don’t have to have all the answers.  If you think you do have all the answers before you begin, don’t be afraid to change things.  Try to track what works and what doesn’t.  When did you get the most traffic, who are your followers, and did you post anything that caused people to follow or block you?  Your plan will likely evolve over time, even if your original strategy worked when you first implemented it.  This world of technology changes fast, so try to keep up!

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