Social networking certainly is an example of technology. But what exactly is social networking and why is it important to understand in all business today?
A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests, values, vision, and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interest and ideas of others. A social network allows individuals and organizations to exchange ideas and expand relationships and business opportunities.
When the internet was first widely available to consumers, it was primarily used to retrieve static information from content providers, allowing only passive viewing. Users could not easily publish their own content or interact with others. Over time, the Internet evolved to be more dynamic, active, and collaborative, becoming what was referred to in 1999 as Web 2.0
Even before that, however, the first social network site was germinating. In 1995, Classmates.com launched to give people a way to re-establish ties with former school mates. Still active today, Classmates.com was ahead of its time, proving that social networking could become a thriving business strategy.
In 2003, Myspace was launched as a social network site emphasizing pop culture and music. Popular with teens, including myself. Myspace introduced bulletin boards for posting and allowed users with common interests to form groups. At one time, Myspace was the world's most popular social network site. Though no longer at the top of social networking chart, the wild popularity of myspace kicked off a new era of social networking, now estimated to include more than 1 million specialize site where like-minded people can communicate, conduct business, share opinions, etc. Clearly, social networking is the future of online business and that includes the real estate business.
The past decade has witnessed tremendous growth of social media usage . Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are among the most popular sites and applications, creating online communities with a whole lot of daily users. Real estate is a local business built around communities and relationships. Communities are part of our daily lives. Who is included in your communities? Social media puts everyone in the relocation business as we relocate our business from the physical world to the online world.
Facebook, founded in 2004, is the largest social media network. Initially developed as a network for college students, Facebook has become a world-wide phenomenon with more than 1 billion users. As a result of it’s reach and saturation, Facebook has become a critical messaging tool for business as well. How many clients do you work that prefer messaging through this outlet?
Twitter, formed in 2006, gives users the ability to send, or tweet, short messages, initially limited to no more than 140 characters. Users can choose to subscribe to, or follow, the tweets of specific users. Tweets can then be re-tweeted via Twitter, say that three times. Users tag tweets by topic using a hashtag followed by a word or phrase for example, #ManfredMembers #NYStateMLS #WosCorp #NoBrainer etc. Topics that are tagged frequently are referred to as “Trending.” Users can mention or reply to other users by using the “at” sign @ followed by a username such as @ManfredLC. According to Twitters website , Twitter users send 500 million tweets every day, probably higher today. In 2013, Twitter introduced a complementary network called Vine for creating and sharing videos using smartphones.
LinkedIn bills itself as the world’s largest professional network. Started in 2002 and now with more than 300 million users, mind you 10,000 of those are Real Estate Professionals in some fashion throughout the Capital District of New York including Albany, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schenectady, Warren and Rensselaer Counties. LinkedIn allows users to maintain a personal profile that includes their education, work history, professional affiliations, awards, endorsements and recommendations. Users make direct connections to other users, and then once a connection is made, users can request a link to their connections’ connections. Users can add skills to their own profiles and endorse the skills of users to whom they are connected. Job seekers use LinkedIn to look for open positions or opportunities and research companies visa versa.
YouTube was created in 2005 to allow users to upload, view, and share videos. Most of the content on YouTube is posted by individual users, businesses have found YouTube to be an effective tool for launching content. YouTube videos can be embedded in other social media pages, such as Facebook or Twitter.
Instargram, founded in 2010, is a social network that focuses on photo and video sharing. It provides tools that allow users to manipulate and edit their content before publishing it. Like Twitter, users can follow the posts of other users. Users can also share their content to other social media sites.
What does all this mean to the real estate professional, one might ask? Every real estate professional wants to reach more clients and prospects. The market is very competitive, and it can be challenging to stand out and get attention. You want to make sure your clients and prospects understand the value of service you provide, are able to trust you and your brand, find positive reviews about you and are able to establish a relationship with you. The more you are seen in the online world, the more known and trusted you will become. Another important role of social networking is to understand how the consumer searches for their dream home.
To better understand the evolving role of digital media in the consumer home search process, Google and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) collaborated to uncover trends and insights around digital media usage among home shoppers, e.g., whether they were looking for an existing home, a newly constructed home, or an apartment. Together, Google and NAR’s individual research results tell a cohesive story about today’s uber-connected home shopper.
According to The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate. A Joint Study from the National Association of Realtors® and Google
Did you know thirty-six percent of new home shoppers utilize a mobile device while they are watching TV. You need to know how to market yourself online, that is the bottom line, it's not the only part of your business as a real estate salesperson/Broker or Home Inspector, so be smart with how much time you spend on it. Social media is low-cost and very effective. It is worth taking the time to learn it and set up a digital marketing plan. Pick one at a time and immerse yourself in it until you have it mastered then move on the next. Remember we all get the same amount of time every day, what matters the most is how we use it.