Building and managing your reputation online can be puzzling. There are many networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, property listings sites, bookmarks, and more. This leaves many real estate professionals wondering how they can manage all of these sites and portals at one time. The answer? You can’t. There simply isn’t enough time to be hyper-connected and do a significant amount of real estate business at the same time.
So what’s a real estate professional to do? The new goal? Create profiles where the majority of people are; Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and maybe a few others. Then build a consistent online reputation through meaningful interactions. Continue to manage your online reputation and monitor it effectively. Well, if only it were that easy. Of course that’s what the social media gurus and ninjas will have you believing. Let’s take a closer at the fundamentals which you can control.
1. Go where the people already are
Your goal is to set up online profiles at the sites where the majority of people already are. Avoid the start up social media sites, for now. Focus on the big 3; Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. These sites have over 400million people on them. Why chase rainbows with all the new startups? You simply don’t have time. Focus on your own site or blog and where the majority of people already are.
2. Use a semi-professional photo
Don’t do the old suit-and-tie gig. There are simply too many of these already. You need to be different, but not different to the point people think you are too strange to do business with. See my sample photo on the top right of this post. Look casual, confident, and relaxed. Find a bright setting and make sure people can clearly see your face. Your goal is to earn trust and not look “salesy”.
3. Build a consistent profile across all channels
Having a consistent profile is key. People, including potential customers and your peers, will start to recognize you online in various places which will build trust over time. This makes your online presence more reputable. Consistency is king when managing your reputation online and in the trust game. Use a similar profile description on these channels. Condense the same profile for Twitter’s 140 characters.
Samples of Consistency:
4. Be professional.
I wish there was s stronger way to say “be professional”. I was sitting down for coffee with my friend, Chris Clothier yesterday. He told me when he’s discussing social media with people he often asks them if they are playing Mafia Wars or growing tomatoes on their farms within Facebook. If the answer is yes, he tells them their level of professionalism and trust has been impacted. Being professional is more than image. It’s the way you communicate with people. Make sure your email etiquette is strong and that you appropriately respond to people using concise points and properly using the “cc” and “bcc” fields. Lisa Harmon recommended me the book dedicated to email etiquette, “Send” by David Shipley which I feel is a must for any real estate professional.
5. Focus on having meaningful interactions
While I won’t go into social media and how to Tweet, Linkedin, or Facebook with people, I will summarize this point into a simple phrase, “Focus on having meaningful interactions.” In doing so, the rest falls into place. Don’t worry about making sales, number of followers, clicks, links, etc. By connecting with our clients, prospects, and colleagues and adding value to their lives and interacting in a meaningful way, everything will fall into place.
6. Effectively Monitor Your Online Reputation
With Google moving to real-time search the management of your online reputation has been simplified greatly with the Google Alerts system. With this one can quickly set up automated alerts which will be sent via email when your name, business name, or web URL is mentioned online somewhere. You can even get these set to be emailed to you as they happen.
With Google Alerts you can choose if you want these alerts set up for real time, a daily digest, or a weekly digest. This is critical, especially when you start producing content. Google Alerts came in handy when a disgruntled ex-business partner used online media to say something negative about me in an erroneous article. I immediately received an alert. This alert allowed me to comment on the article and at least offer my stand point. In this way, managing your reputation online can be just as crucial as building it.
Building and managing your online reputation doesn’t take social media expertise and technology skills. With today’s tools, you can easily set up a consistent and professional profile across multiple channels. Worrying about what others say about you can be automated, leaving you with more time to focus on connecting and having meaningful interactions.