Got hundreds of Facebook friends or thousands of Twitter followers? Good for you. But turning all those social media connections into closed real estate business isn’t just a numbers game. Rather, success in this type of prospecting takes know-how, time, and a persona that works well in cyberspace. To fi nd out how agents are making social media work for them, California Real Estate magazine asked three REALTORS® to share their success stories and secrets.
CRE: How much business have you closed as a direct result of social media?
ERIN ATTARDI: In the last year and a half, I’ve probably closed nine or 10 transactions from Facebook.
STEVE OSTROM: Usually, we do about 30 [closed transactions] a year. Last year, we did 40. This year, we are on pace for more than 60. [Of those,] 15 percent, Twitter; 35 percent, Facebook; and the rest are others. We’re getting a lot of good business from online reviews, too.
MEREDITH McKENZIE: I am probably generating about 20 to 25 percent of my business off social media, but it’s not a substitute for the old-fashioned way.
CRE: Which social media sites are you using?
ATTARDI: Mainly Facebook and Twitter.
McKENZIE: I’m a regular user of Twitter, Facebook, and Linked- In, and I blog at www.arroyolover.com. OSTROM: [My wife Heather and I] both have our own Facebook pages, and we have a ColdwellBankerRosevilleRocklin.
Com page. We also have an assistant who has her own personal page and a business page for short sales. And we are on Twitter.
My wife has more than 4,500 followers.
CRE: Which social media site has generated the most closed business for you?
ATTARDI: Definitely Facebook.
OSTROM: New business, definitely Twitter. Referral business, definitely Facebook. With Twitter, we wouldn’t have had that business. With Facebook, I’d like to think we would have still had that business.
McKENZIE: I have generated business from Twitter and Linked- In, but my best success has been on Facebook.
CRE: Are your social media transactions “good” business?
ATTARDI: Most of them are buyers, ranging from $180,000 to $375,000. Our median price here is about $180,000, so they are above median-priced transactions. A lot of them found me because I list a lot of short sales, but ultimately they ended up [being] a mix of short sales, REOs, and regular transactions.
OSTROM: Twitter, especially, is a lot of first-time home buyers.
We also have an assistant who just does short sale [listings], and I think we’ve given her probably six or seven referrals straight off of Facebook. Our average price here is $200,000, but I would say the [social media transactions] are usually $250,000 to $350,000, and they’re in our area, where we like to work.
CRE: Why does social media work for you?
ATTARDI: You maintain top-of-mind awareness with people without constantly physically being in their face.
OSTROM: It’s easy to communicate, that’s the main thing. It’s also fun. If you do something that’s fun, you’re more involved. Our Twitter [name] is RosevilleRockLn. Just having that name has been a very powerful force for our area. Even if it has nothing to do with buying a house, they’re still contacting us. We’re the local person, the resident authority.
CRE: Let’s talk about your social media activities.
McKENZIE: I tweet every morning and that tweet is linked to my LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. I use HootSuite to manage my social media, and I love, love, love HootSuite. I intersperse promoting my listings and my real estate projects with what I call “vetted information.” I position myself as the Arroyo Lover, so I tweet about great trails along the Arroyo. Sometimes I’m tweeting about the great architecture of a listing.
OSTROM: We’re very area-centric. Everything in the area that’s happening, [my wife] posts. Like our friends opened a business, and we went there. Fourth of July, fireworks. Halloween, the local pumpkin patches. Community events.
ATTARDI: I don’t post, “Want to buy a house? Call me at….” I just post things like “I took a new listing today” or “I just did a home inspection.” It’s all whimsical and light, and I think people appreciate not being hit over the head and asked for their business, but they feel like they connect with me on a personal Level. I’m constantly showing up in their feed on a daily basis, so they always know I’m around and I’m doing real estate, and I’m the one who comes to their mind when they think about buying or selling a house.
CRE: How much time do you spend on social media?
ATTARDI: Most of my social networking takes place from my iPhone. While I’m standing in line at Starbucks, I’ll look at Facebook and see what other people are doing and comment on their statuses or photos. It will be a few minutes here and a few minutes there. It’s not like I sit down and do Facebook for an hour in the morning.
McKENZIE: I’m usually limiting my time to an hour a day— 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night—and I get any messages or comments on my wall e-mailed to me, so I can respond to those.
OSTROM: Forty minutes a day for each, Twitter and Facebook.
CRE: Do you use any traditional media for marketing purposes?
ATTARDI: No, I never really have. I don’t do print. I haven’t done an open house in about two years. Pretty much 100 percent of my marketing efforts are online.
OSTROM: Zero. We didn’t even send out Christmas cards last year. We used to do just-listed and just-sold cards on every property.
CRE: What are your best tips for other REALTORS® who want to close more business from social media?
ATTARDI: Don’t be afraid to accept a Friend request from somebody you met once at a baby shower or a cocktail party or whatever. Make sure you’re interactive, that you not only post things about yourself, but that you interact with other people. Find your former clients and interact with them, and do it on a regular basis. You need to do it on a consistent basis to be effective. Don’t give people too much information. Don’t tell them you’re going to the Proctologist. Keep it light. Make it relevant.
Make it funny. And just be yourself.
OSTROM: Pick the one social media outlet you like and focus on that one. If you’re good at videos, do videos. If you like Facebook, do Facebook. If you’re good at Twitter, do Twitter. It has to be one that you like, because then you’ll do it. Don’t do one that’s uncomfortable for you because you won’t do it.
CRE: What’s your own personal next big thing in social media?
McKENZIE: Facebook has just modified how you can use your [business] pages. I am going to be investigating how I can leverage that because they are making those pages look more like your personal pages, and I think that’s exciting. The other thing I’m looking at is how I can reach out a little bit more internationally.
OSTROM: We’re getting so many leads that we can’t handle them all, so now I have [an associate who lists short sales] and we’re getting a buyer’s agent also. Heather’s also doing our billing, so we’re Trying to find someone to do the lesser work to free her to do the social media, our website, and YouTube videos.
ATTARDI: Facebook is something that evolves. They’re always adding new features. So my plan is to roll with those, find the ones that are the most popular and use them, if I feel they’ll be productive. I don’t know what Facebook will look like in a year or even if there will be some other new shiny website that replaces Facebook in popularity.
CRE: How do you keep up to date on what Facebook is doing?
ATTARDI: I follow Facebook on Twitter, so when there is a new feature or new application, I will see it on Twitter or someone will post about it on Twitter. That’s actually where I find out the most about Facebook. It’s ironic.
Marcie Geffner is a freelance real estate reporter and former senior editor of California Real Estate magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @marciegeff.
Dunnigan REALTORS®, Sacramento
Website: www.SacREBlog.com Twitter: @erinattardi Facebook: www.facebook.com/ erinattardi
“At the Dunnigan Realtors Sierra Oaks offi ce, if I look out the window directly ahead of me, it is dark and pouring down rain. If I look out the window directly behind me, it is sunny and not raining. Crazy!”
“Just closed another short sale listing…I think my client will remember this Valentine’s Day for a long time.”
“Any day that includes giving keys to an excited buyer is a good day.”
“Estimate of value for a new listing+short sales+office meeting+listing tour+teaching a class+buyer loan doc signing+showing property+final walk-through=CRAZY BUSY MONDAY.”
Keller Williams Realty, Los Angeles
Websites: www.losangelesriver realestate.com, www.arroyosecoreal estate.com
Blog: www.arroyolover.com Twitter: @ArroyoLover Facebook: www.facebook. over.meredithmckenzie
“How ironic that Caltrans destroys the historic integrity of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, already designated as a National Scenic Byway, then turns around and applies for and gets approval from the National Park Service to have the Arroyo Seco Parkway join the National Register of Historic Places!”
“Dog Lovers: It’s time for the Westminster Dog Show!”
“The #Kyoto Accord to address climate change went into effect on this date in 2005. The United States never signed on to this #UN agreement.”
“The proposed LA County #Trails Manual is a must read for all #hikers & #river lovers!”
“It’s Super Sunday! Stop by my Historic #Pasadena #Bungalow Open House 12n-3p – then enjoy the #SuperBowl #re #yam #km.”
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Roseville and Rocklin
Website: www.rosevilleandrocklin.com Twitter: @RosevilleRockLn Facebook: www.facebook.com/rose villeandrocklin
“Funny moment: S.O. walking into a vacant house & seeing a Jacob (“Twilight”) cardboard cut-out in the dark and thinking it was a homeowner. I think I heard his ‘man-scream’ all the way from Rocklin.”
“What a great photo! From the Rocklin Historical Society page courtesy of Gary Day. This is a fun page to follow for historical facts about Rocklin, CA : -)”
California Real Estate – May/June 2011 : Tweet. Post. Sell.
Contact:Dr. Armen Vartany, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon1510 South Central Avenue, Ste 620, Glendale, CA 91204-2598 (818) 500-0823 Vartany.com