May 6th 2010
Real Estate Weekly
Experts debate should social media sites be strictly business for brokers?
In the marketing era where agents need to be everywhere and anywhere, is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? As brokers expose more about their personal and professional lives on social media, it’s a question more industry leaders are grappling with today. Speaking at a Green Pearl marketing and technology event last week, some of New York’s best sales people gave insight as to where to draw the line.
“There’s a lot of white noise out these,” said CORE President Shaun Osher. “With the advent of the internet there’s a lot of information out there, but do you really want to read everything?”
Prudential Douglas Elliman managing director Jacky Teplitzky would say no.
While a big believer in cross marketing and increasing one’s visibility, Teplitzky says some things are left best to the imagination, meaning social media pages that blend the personal with the professional are problematic for some brokers.
Citing “half naked” and “obscene” photographs colleagues post on their facebook pages, she stressed the importance of maintaining a professional presence on social media. Her solution is simple – keep professional contacts and personal contacts separate.
Teplitzky operates two facebook pages – a personal one to engage with friends and a second facebook fan page to cuild her professional contacts and further control her brand. Advising team members to exercise the same caution, Teplitzky says she’s not afraid to ignore a friend request in order to maintain that distinction between the two personas.
But Warburg Realty president Frederick Peters disagreed with Teplitzky’s strict separation of the personal and the professional and, when done tactfully, said he feels it actually enhances the broker’s reputation.
Prudential Douglas Elliman executive vice president (and moderator of the panel) Corinne Pulitzer attested to that first-hand. After learning through social media that Peters is a baker, she said she grew more intrigued by him.
Cityrealty.com president Daniel Levy says finding the perfect balance of personal and professional often proves a high hurdle for social media users.
But in Peters’ case, he seems to have struck a chord with readers. Most active on the blogosphere, posting a new entry at least once a week, the number of direct hits on Peters’ blog has climbed at a rate of 10,000 every few months and his blog now attracts an average of 30,000 viewers per month.
Peters believes coupling professional information with personal anecdotes makes blogs successful, and that learning about personal tastes, hobbies and interests “actually deepens my interest in them.”
Halstead Property president Diane Ramirez applauds social media as “another tool in our arsenal” citing new agent websites, an online portfolio, dedicated staff operating twitter and facebook accounts and posting videos.
The one commonality among these tools is the opportunity to unveil personality.
Halstead may broadcast deals of the day, but the firm is leveraging social media to post about the economy, highlight a new shop or restaurant and reveal aspects of personality otherwise unknown to the client. Like it or not, Ramirez said, clients want to know more about the people who they do business with.
Panelists were in agreement that neglecting social media is a dangerous move in today’s digital age. Though firms and agents have embraced social media as the branding tool it has evolved into, deciding which tools to deploy and how much to expose poses some tough decisions.
Some of real estate’s brightest stress consistency in the message, avoiding overuse of too many social media apps and focus on your brand.
In regards to the personal versus professional, that’s a debate likely to play out over the next several months as more brokers tap into the new technology.
But whether one agrees with Teplitzky and Osher’s strategy of separation, or the comingling marketing of Ramirez and Peters, every broker should consider this, said Osher: “Transparency is a double-edged sword, because once it’s out there, perception is reality.”