What Kind of Time Are You Putting into Social Media?

As you probably noticed, that’s an ambiguous question. The reason it’s ambiguous is because you don’t hear my tone when I say it.

What’s my tone? Is it soft or harsh? Am I asking you our of curiosity or concern? Let me make it plain to you: I’m asking out of concern.

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into social media lately–most notably of the microblog and network types–and what kind of time investment real estate agents are putting into it.

I’m talking about the Twitters [I use Twitter, by the way, but for reasons you wouldn’t have guessed] and Facebooks of the world…

And the slow drift away from series contact management and meticulous, heavy-duty customer relationship management.

Ten years ago, Top Producer was the king of social media camp (it was social media before “social media”): You met people in the grocery store, generated leads from ads, hooked up with prospects at open houses and imported their contact information into a tool like contact management.

You then set them up for systematic contact over a six month period.

That hard-nosed mind set bent on repeated touches and measurable results has softened.

Social media like Facebook feeds into our normal disposition for the easy way out. The result is that now we have 1,000 friends on Facebook, but no idea if those people are client-worthy…

The result is we consume more information from our Twitter feeds–but it’s all of the fluff nature.

Dustin at 4RealsStrategies has a good suggestion on how to manage your update consumption (which can seriously suck time away from you), but you certainly can’t track that and tweak to predict better results.

So what kind of time are you putting into social media? Couple months ago Wired magazine had a good suggestion on how much time you should invest in social media. It boils down to 2.0 hours a day–1.25 for social networking and .75 for Twitter.

That to me still sounds like a lot.

Besides, are you making money in it? That’s really the question behind my opening question.

See, the problem with social media in real estate is seen in Twitter’s shaky future. If it doesn’t learn how to monetize soon, it may need to plead with the government for a bailout. [That was a joke. Partly.]

Which brings me to the point of this post: When viewing tools to use like social media, it’s best to filter it through a simple little test from the book Good to Great:

1. What’s your passion?

2. What are you good at?

3. Can you make money at it?

Naturally out-going people are going to love Facebook. [Not Twitter so much, I’ve found.] Around the clock conversation with people? Life couldn’t get any better. Extroverts are passionate for people, so in this respect, Facebook passes the first test.

The next question, though, is this: Are you good at it. You may be out-going and friendly, but not have a technological bone in your body. Not to fear, really, cause Facebook is a very-low barrier to overcome. It passes test two.

Here’s where the rub comes. Can you make money at it? Well, maybe. But not likely to do so as accurately as other means. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for working the intangibles and I think that a tool like Facebook could groom certain prospects for clienthood.

But that’s not a given.

So, in the end, use social media sparingly and make sure you maintain a rigid focus on measurable prospecting and conversion rates. At the end of the year, you don’t want to have logged in 10,000 hours on Twitter and have nothing to show for it.

That would be no way to celebrate New Year’s.

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