My thoughts about Social Media after my first month.
Posted by jamesdearsley on April 27, 2009
I first heard about Social Media over a dinner table about how the business world was evolving and it intrigued me. It was discussed about how LinkedIn was changing my friends way of networking in the world of Recruitment. This interested me as my business is all about communication and networking. However, I also was finding this the hardest area to penetrate due to the international nature of the business that I am in.
My movements over the first month:
I quickly signed up to LinkedIn and immediately saw the benefit of it all with the international nature of the people on there and the discussion groups discussing a variety of real estate issues.
Very quickly it became apparent that you needed to have a triangular approach to it all by utilising Twitter and also operating a blog. It immediately became clear that this was going to be quite time consuming as well.
I quickly learnt that all of these sites were interconnected and that my initial thoughts about this being a networking tool quickly expanded as I was making contact with a lot of people from India to Russia to the US. It also surprised me in that it gave me a really good way to communicate my message to not only my own staff but also journalists, clients and other people who maybe interested in what we do, news we have and products we deal with.
I have used LinkedIn really as a network tool which, I suppose, is primarily what it was set up for. The groups have been a great way of me learning more about my own industry and also telling more about others at the same time however they have been a great platform to make good contacts from people who are very knowledgeable and experienced in the world of Real Estate. I have used it to promote blog articles that I have written as well and seems to be the majority traffic source for the blog so far.
My blog was a great way to summarise my thoughts on the market in each country and at the same time made me look into more detail it at the same time – in a position of management my focus, primarily is on my staff as opposed to the product that I have been selling. Therefore it has been really good for me as I feel that I have learnt a great deal in the last month – certainly good for my own development as well as helping me manage better as I feel more informed and in touch with my own market. After all, if you are writing a blog it needs to be factually correct and correctly sourced as well so that your arguments and statements are backed up. It is fast becoming a great resource for my staff, clients and journalists as well.
Twitter has been the resource that I have struggled a little bit to see the worth in so much that the other two in the triangle have been a real step forward for me. Certainly I have used it to promote blog articles and people post very interesting articles which have taught me a lot but it is the resource that I currently use the least. Perhaps because I have found it bewildering in the content that is actually posted – if you want it as a business tool there is a lot to trawl through first.
What have I learnt about Social Media?
I have certainly learnt that Social Media will be a force to be reckoned with in coming years. It has long been said that the Internet will determine business in the coming generations and your product, especially if you are within the service industry will be scrutinised online by your clients. If you don’t step up to the plate your product will not sell. By being proficient in Social Media you can prevent this from occurring while also increasing the chances of improving your business.
From my own industry standpoint I have learnt that there is a real window in the UK residential property market to really make an impact within Social Media. Currently there seems to be a bias towards Commercial Real Estate and mainly from the US market. I have had many discussions with people about my belief that the UK is a little bit behind in the Social Media circle and some disagree but they cannot argue when it is relevant to the UK residential property market. I do believe that a lot of this could be explained by the way the UK and US operate their own markets. The US brokers are often a lot more independent and their areas of influence a lot larger than our set up and could explain the need to share information over a wider spectrum of resource? However a strong online and social media brand will no doubt help in the future, more online orientated world.
From a slight negative stance, I have really learnt that there seems to be a real trend towards generating followers both on LinkedIn and on Twitter. I have been guilty of this as well and I can’t really see a huge benefit other than vanity and, possibly, keeping track of useful and informative people. I have definitely started to self regulate on Twitter because of the way that the following is set up i.e. if people follow you it is generally accepted that you follow you back. I don’t want to do this and am not interested in people who are not in my industry.
Perhaps the next very important point that has really stuck out for me is that of time. It really is not a quick thing to generate an online profile for yourself or your company or, ideally, both. To start with you have to learn about it all, how to do it, which sites to use, become comfortable with the online world, know what to say and how to say it. You also have to then start building a presence essentially from scratch as you are trying to build a profile. You are trying, in a sense to show you are knowledgeable, love the industry you are in and at the same time fun. If you are not open, informative and fun you will not see people returning to see what you have to say. Online branding is all about the person, not necessarily the information you are supplying – this I think is perhaps the hardest notion for companies to take on board. Online you are aloud to occasionally slip out of the corporate mode as people love you being personal – this is hard to grasp and one that I still, if I am honest are struggling with.
Social Media is all about allocating time to building your brand. If you follow the triangular approach that I am, you need to spend a certain proportion of your working day updating, reading, posting, blogging, analysing etc etc. I am trying to get in early each day and spend an hour just reading and keeping abreast of all that is new. I then try to spend about an hour through the day updating things that I am working on – this article for example has taken over a week to write simply as I have to fit it in around everything else.
I have learnt that Social Media is definitely going to become more important in the business world, and certainly in the world of residential real estate, but don’t expect it to be an immediate thing. It needs to be worked on, needs to be moulded and it has to be remembered that what you do now in the Social Media world will probably be moulding the way you want your company to be seen in five years time.
Useful sites, people and add ons that I have found in the last month.
In my first month it is all a little bit mind blowing so I thought I would list some of the resources that I have found useful so far and those that I will continue to exploit:
http://tinyurl.com/ – if you are using the Triangular system you will need to shorted your weblinks that you refer to. This has been a great site for this. Another one is http://budurl.com/ which is meant to allow you to see how many times your link has been clicked on – I am not confident of the statistics however
http://propertyadguru.com/ I have used this in the past for information but they do have good daily news articles that I often share with people
http://www.opp.org.uk/ another good resource for articles about Overseas Property
www.juicyredapple.co.uk the UK Real Estate networking site that seems to be in its infancy but is generating people all the time and I should really spend more time here.
Joe Stampeone – this is the first name that really stuck in my head when reviewing all sites (you will find that there are one or two names that keep on cropping up!) but he has a very useful blog at www.astudentoftherealestategame.com or http://www.linkedin.com/in/joestampone
James Digby – Really switched on guy from Copenhagen and keen to develop the world of Social Media and the use of technology over here in Europe. http://www.linkedin.com/in/digbyj
Steve Favill – Good guy for helping you out in getting going with the Social Media and networking set up http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevefavill
Shiv Arora – Another good guy from India who seems to be getting more proactive all the time and certainly I look forward to working with him in the future http://www.linkedin.com/in/shiv12
There are two here that I will recommend here with reference to my first month
1. I wanted to be able to provide audio guides on my own blog and so I have to recommend the http://www.box.net application that you can use within wordpress. It seems very easy to use and you can use it in conjunction with Audacity to do all the recordings (you can just type audacity into Google and download it for free)
2. The best application I have found so far is TweetDeck that you use in conjunction with Twitter to organise all the messages into Direct messages, replies and general messages – this has helped me to understand a little bit about Twitter and where its application could lie in my world.
Where will I aim to use it in the future?
One thing is for sure however, this triangular system of LinkedIn, Twitter and a blog has certainly helped me focus me more onto my industry, forced me to learn more about it and also has helped me to generate business. However there is an every evolving world out there of new networking sites that need to be looked at.
Firstly there is Facebook which, I have to be honest, I have always avoided like the plague from a personal perspective. I just haven’t been interested. However, it is said to be very good from a business perspective.
There are other websites which I want to look into a little bit more. Here are a list:
• www.ecademy.com – which seems to be quite progressive in updating you of information – US focussed however
• www.activerain.com – seems to be one of the most active networking sites in the US though again it really isn’t built for the UK and Europe markets – even logging on is a challenge as they don’t recognise non US phone numbers….
• www.juicyredapple.co.uk – the UK real estate networking site – not really very active at the moment but we shall see
• www.twitter.com – I have to learn more about this and see if there is an angle on this. I truly believe from a UK market perspective Agents could really utilise this to their advantage for negotiators and clients alike on new releases.
• More blogs. I really want to know about more property blogs out there and learn more and more.
In summary, it has been a busy month and I feel pleased that I have started to scratch the surface. I have made some great connections and have expanded my business sufficiently enough to warrant the time spent on it.
I really see the potential here for the future and see the UK is lagging behind but as with most things, you start to scratch the surface and there is a hell of a lot more digging to do once you have penetrated that top layer. There is a lot of good information and websites to use but you have to find them first.
I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts and feel free to comment.
This entry was posted on April 27, 2009 at 8:50 am and is filed under Blogging, Real Estate Industry, Social Media, Technology. Tagged: Blogging, networking, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.