Category: Strategy


It can be difficult to make sense of the current social network landscape. You want to see value from the hours you invest in a social media strategy, but if the results aren’t readily apparent, justifying the time commitment to your team or client can be a challenge. Executing the steps to building a loyal, engaged following feels consuming at times, but you’ll find it can be done efficiently and can give your brand insight and exposure in a way that traditional marketing simply can’t.

We’ve already seen small & large companies implement social campaigns to great success in easily measured metrics — revenue, customer acquisition and retention. Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign was wildly successful — in large part because of the 35 million views just one of those commercials has generated on YouTube. Consider the sheer volume of comments and feedback that this free medium has given Old Spice — information that can be used to build even larger and more effective campaigns.

Sometimes it’s about a change in perspective. Consider it this way: Social media is not out-bound, it’s in-bound. It’s about listening to what your customers and clients ( and competition ) are saying, as well as driving them to your website through a call-to-action. When you have something of value to offer, and you provide it on a regular basis, engagement will happen naturally — but it’s important to listen while you find what works for you.

Given the fact that all the major players ( Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn ) offer free tools to connect with your customer and vendor base, you might take a few moments to consider the guidance below — as well as the fact that Facebook alone boasts 750 million active users as of this writing, many of whom would be happy to tell their network what a great experience they did or didn’t have with your brand.

Here’s a roadmap to claiming your online territory and learning the value of social networking — if it’s too much at once, do one item a day and in less than 2 weeks you’ll have a solid social network foundation.

1) NameChk — You may have secured your Facebook or Twitter username, but social networks are popping up by the day. Check to see if your desired username or vanity url is still available at dozens of popular Social Networking and Social Bookmarking websites — and snatch them up as fast as you can. It’s your marketing real estate — claim it!

2) Clean It Up, Fill It Out — create ( or go through your existing ) profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and ensure that each one is complete with current photos, status updates and information. There’s no point in having a presence on a social network if you don’t maintain and nurture it.

3) Facebook: Focus on updating your profile twice a day. Even if you’ve only connected with a few friends, getting in the habit of sharing news or discussing what interests you can go a long way in ensuring that your social strategy is sustainable. It can be fun to stay consistent on Facebook — there are plenty of smartphone & tablet apps that allow for easy, on-the-go updating and maintenance.

4) Content Curation: Take a photo of a tasty meal or a local park and post it across your networks; you’d be surprised how much deeper a connection can be with your online friends when you show a bit of your personal side, and it’s the most dynamic way to document your life and share it with others.

** Remember, it’s a-ok to “listen” at first . . . friend some folks, browse through Pages, see how people are sharing and engaging. That’s the best “how-to” advice I’ve learned. **

4) Twitter: Test out some different ways to tweet. Look for the “tweet” or Twitter symbol, and try tweeting a link from a video on YouTube, or a picture from your Flickr account, or do a “retweet with comment” on a tweet to engage in the discussion started by that twitter account.

5) Make it Easy: There are apps like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite available across all mobile and desktop platforms that are very intuitive to use, allowing you to do actions like “retweet” / “favorite” / “direct message” / “like” with one click of an icon. Both of these applications allow you to view Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more — all within one viewing window.Visit the Apps Market in Android devices or the App Store in Apple devices and download either service mentioned.

6) Blog Much? Check out WordPress and watch a tutorial video on how to set-up a blog. You’ll find it’s actually quite simple to create one and easy to design it your way with a variety of free themes and widgets. Writing even one blog post a week can help you feel comfortable with the WordPress platform, and it’s fun to share a quick post about any interest or passion you have, which you can then send out via all of your social networks for increased exposure and traffic. Search WordPress in YouTube for additional instructional videos.

7) What Do They Want? There are several simple tools to post a poll or survey to your customers for free on Facebook, and you can analyze the answers in some fascinating and useful ways. A new service will be launching in a few weeks and I’ll let you know how to find them. In the meantime, from your Facebook Profile or Page, click the “Question” icon ( it’s at the end of the “sharing” options under your profile pictures ) and post a poll of your choosing to your friends or customers. It might help you decide where to eat, what to buy, or how to better serve your clients!

8) GroupMe: Group text messaging — start groups with the people already in your contacts. When you send a message, everyone instantly receives it. It’s like a private chat room that works on any phone, and can be an easy way to communicate with a large group quickly and efficiently — people may ignore email or tweets, but ( just about ) everyone gets texts as a main notification on their phone. They’re hard to ignore!

9) Google+: This social network has caught fire over the last few months, but before you dive in, check out this interactive tour video to understand how it differs from the other networks.

10) If you have any questions, feel free to leave it below or send a tweet with ” @rob_a_nielsen ” in it and I’ll be happy to help!

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I’ll be the first to admit that I like the latest, the greatest, the shiniest — be it a phone, a gadget or a social media tool. But as Chris Smith of Tech Savvy Agent has said, sometimes we need to focus on “the now” before “the next”.

I was reminded of this during a consultation appointment with a top real estate broker in Berkeley, CA last week. I had been looking forward to our appointment for several weeks, and had put together a handful of ideas on how to approach the recent (March 2011) Facebook Page updates. I was ready to discuss iFrames, Pagemodo and the branding power of the imagestrip feature.

Then I took a look at her website. Despite her 20 very successful years in the business, the “news section” stopped in 2006, and the footer copyright was from 2004. Danger, Will Robinson!

Now, there’s an unfortunate standard that has taken hold of realtor websites since the need for a website became apparent about 8 years ago. Many real estate agents have a de facto approach to website design: 1) outsource it, and 2) insist that their photo be front row and center . . . coupled with how wonderful they are, and how much they love the region they serve. Effectively, it projects an “all about me” theme. And you’re not trying to buy an agent, you’re trying to buy or sell a house.

Before Redfin, Trulia, Zillow, Roost and a host of other real estate search & property information engines, that was an acceptable strategy. After all, there weren’t many destinations online to find information about a real estate agent, much less accurate data about a specific residential property for sale. But things have changed.

Any agent who’s held an open house recently can attest to how savvy buyers have become; they visit a half-dozen properties on a Sunday, clutching a stack of property printouts from various real estate websites. They already know how long the incredibly amazing house you’re holding open has been on the market, what the layout is, even what the current owner paid for it (tax records are readily available, especially on Redfin). Our value as buyer agents is difficult to validate when your open house attendees come equipped with the same info you’re eager to present.

Here are the sections a 2011 real estate agent website MUST have, front row and center: 1) “What’s the Market Like?” 2) “What’s my Property Worth?” 3) “Search Listings” and 4) “Enter Your Email Address” for a FREE item of value — be it an article on how to effectively stage your home for sale, how to navigate the escrow process or any other relevant information that they can not get anywhere else.

More importantly, don’t jump into the quickly advancing world of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn if your current “face” online — your website — was created before the advent of Facebook — and hasn’t changed since. The good news: there are many easy-to-use services and templates that can bring your .com into this decade. And realtors, this means you might have to use a photo of yourself that wasn’t taken 10 years ago . . . in fact, feel free to leave the picture out altogether.

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