April 5th - 2010

Social media’s a natural fit for REALTORS®

“REALTORS®are people people so the opportunities available to you through social media are tremendous.”

“REALTORS®are people people so the opportunities available to you through social media are tremendous.” Tod Maffin, a worldwide authority on new technologies, and the strategic use of social media told delegates at OREA’s Leadership Conference in March that they need to change the way they approach communication if they want to succeed in the social media generation.

“I hear from REALTORS® all the time who say they are on Twitter and they are using Facebook and YouTube but it’s not working for them. The reason it’s not working is because the traditional top down way of communicating doesn’t work for social media.” Maffin used the example of a flock of birds with a leader out in front and the rest of the flock in formation behind. “You send out a news release for example, and you hope the papers pick it up, and then you hope the subscribers read it and then you hope they share it with their family and friends. Instead of behaving like a bird, you need to start acting like a bee within a swarm. A swarm of bees is led from within the swarm and the leaders change position instantly.”

Becoming a participating member of the swarm by using tools such as Twitter and Facebook is the way to be effective in social media. “You can write up a listing and blast it everywhere, but it will be more effective if you target and engage your audience. On Facebook for example, you can set up separate fan pages – one that targets first time buyers or one for empty nesters. And, you can invite comments or post a question that will prompt a response.”

Maffin says the real way to be successful with social media is to build an economy of trust. “Just think about what it is that sells houses…it’s trust, it’s referrals, it’s word of mouth. Yes, you still need to have your brand, and you still need to have your business cards out there and your listings on the MLS® systems of the real estate boards. These things along with your website are what I call the points of second contact and you need these because people will check you out. If someone tells me John Smith did a great job selling my house, I’m not going to immediately pick up the phone and call him. I’m first going to go to his website and see if I like him and then I will call him.” As for REALTOR® websites, he suggested keeping them very simple. “You want people to see that you are real, that you are a REALTOR® but then get off your site and call you. All you need on your site is your listings, a bit about you and a gigantic phone number.”

Just like any other form of real estate advertising, there are many rules governing website real estate advertising designed to protect the consumer. Be sure to refer to RECO’s Website Advertising Checklist, which can be found on the RECO website at Industry Information – Advertising.

Because REALTORS® are in a business where people share recommendations, social media works very well. “That sharing idea is the engine that drives social media. But you must be in the swarm and be a trusted member of the swarm. Here are some of Maffin’s tips for success in the realm of social media:

  • Set up a page on Facebook. You can “friend-split” so your clients only see your business page and not your personal page.
  • Keep it friendly – don’t write like you are writing a news release. Sound like yourself but be professional.
  • Include a line that sets expectations of when followers will find new content.
  • Be reliable about frequency.
  • Leave your page open for comments – good and bad!
  • Respond to messages promptly.
  • Put more than listings up.
  • Start a following on Twitter by offering a bribe. One follower a month wins a prize (One suggestion: a Starbuck’s card).
  • Use instant feedback polls (visit www.polldaddy.com to easily set up an instant poll).
  • Don’t over think it.
  • Don’t talk about your vacation.

Maffin says REALTORS® who are doing it right know how to think and write like a bee and engage people in the virtual conversation. “While many REALTORS® are adopting the game-changing technologies of social media, very few understand how to harness its power to impact their bottom line. It’s all about changing your mindset and understanding the way social media works. There are currently 14 million Canadians on Facebook and contrary to what you might think, they are not all teenagers. The average Facebook user is a 30-something female which is probably a good target market for real estate.”

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For more information contact

Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations


416-445-9910 ext. 246