Texas CRB – Using Social Media to Increase Production / TAR Convention, Galveston TX

I was invited, along with others, to share a bit about Social Media, and ways it can be used to help grow success in the real estate business.  Usually a panel session is short, maybe 30 minutes or so.  This one is a couple of hours, and it’s good for MCE Credit.  Because we have some structured questions to keep us on track, I thought it would be a good idea to sorta, ramble down some notes, and include some links (for future reference) that illustrate what I’ll be sharing.  Forgive the lame sentence structure, and randomness, this post is pretty free form, it’s short hand.

If you’re attending, or you missed it, I hope these notes help you wrap your arms around social media, and forward you success.

Here you go.

PS.  I’d like to thank my good friend, Sharon Teusink for recommending me.  I guess I owe you, again;-)

Texas CRB – Using Social Media to Increase Production

Approved for 2 hours MCE Credit – course number 02-00-082-9460

September 15th, 2010

TAR Convention in Galveston

Panel Questions

The bold headings below are taken directly from the handout we submitted to TREC for MCE credit.  Since this is a panel format rather than a formal class, it is important that we cover the content submitted to TREC so that the information delivered at the panel discussion coincides with the handout.

In preparation for the session, give some thought to the questions below.

Choosing your Social Media.

There’s the game you see, and the game we’re playing. There’s the game you understand, and the one you haven’t yet begun to comprehend. There’s the game you want to play, and the game you’re facing.   Chris Brogan, Rock Star Social Media Consultant

Ha, Ha. Thought this was funny. Actually Social Media Is A Destiny Accelerator. The Sooner You Get Started, The Faster What's Supposed To Happen Will Happen.

Q:  What social media do you use and what factors lead you to choose your platforms? If someone in the audience wasn’t to follow or become a fan, give them your social media URL and/or your handle. If you do this for someone else in the firm, give that person’s URL and/or handle.

A:  My introduction to Social Media began a few years ago with blogging.  I began my blog as a way to share information with my team mates.  I wanted to make my stories, training, updates, announcements, posting pictures, etc., available to the agents in my office, from anywhere, at any time.  Then it became a way to share with everyone, and anyone.

The strategy changed as it became clear that you could broadcast your personality (your personal brand), the company brand, and anything else you choose, to a larger audience (recruiting + civilians).  Then we became aware of the long tail benefits, the idea everything you shared stayed available forever, and was sharable, and discoverable. The more we share online, the higher our visibility on Google (secret agents are invisible), meaning we show up on the first page when people try to learn more about us, by Googling our name.  I imagine that most people would Google the agents they are considering, or that have been referred to them.  It’s part of our discover process.  Don’t you use Google to check things out?   Here’s what happens when you Google my name, Ken Brand.  What happens when people Google you name.  If it’s not much, get busy publishing, and posting.

Because I was a blogger, I began to read lots of other peoples blogs, learning what I could about all kinds of stuff, blogging, writing, marketing, social media, etc.  The more I read, the more I became convinced that Social Media stuff wasn’t a fad, or a trend, it was a shift in culture.  I became an early adopter, instead of waiting for things to come to me, I went searching.  I joined Twitter three years ago, in 1977, I had no idea what the purpose was or how to use.  Then Facebook showed up on the radar, and I joined that, etc.

Since then, I join things that show up on my radar once, or twice, or when respected people recommend them.  The primary networks I would recommend, and where I invest the majority of my time is:








Because I was an early adopter, I was able to secure my name as my User Name.  For example, Facebook.com/KenBrand, Twitter.com/KenBrand, SlideShare.net/Ken Brand.  What I recommend, and what I’ve done, is I use a service called Card.ly.  The service allows you to have one page that shares all your social networks.  Here’s an example of what the page looks like.

After setting up my account, I then pointed one of my domain names, Kens411.com, to my Card.ly Social Media page.  This way, for example, instead of listing all my social media addresses, I can share one web address on a business card, email signature, profile links, etc.

I recommend that as you set up your new accounts, your use your name as the User Name.  This reinforces Top Of Mind Awareness, when you promote and broadcast your Social Media URL.  A handy tool for checking the availability of names is Knowem.com. Here’s what the site looks like.

Security Settings that are comfortable: what to share and not share.

Q: Go over setting up security settings in Facebook.  Discuss the pros and cons of turning off or on certain settings.

A:  You should choose your security settings based on how you use plan to use Facebook.  If you’re using it as a business related; relationship building, sharing, and Top Of Mind Awareness tool, then your security settings would be more wide open.  The more people see what your about, and what your sharing, the better.  Personally, I feel it’s called Social Media, not Privacy Media for a reason.  I have my Facebook settings as open as possible, my security settings are internal, I choose what I what I share, I understand that any and everything I do on Facebook, can and will be seen by everyone.  Here’s what the security settings page looks.

One of the blogs I follow, AllFacebook.com,  shares up to the minute, easy to understand and follow, Facebook tips, announcements, new features explanations, etc.  It’s a great resource.

One thing you’ll want to enable, is notifications.  Facebook allows you to receive email, or text notification, whenever their is activity on your Facebook page.  For example, someone posts on your wall, tags you in a post or photo, comments on your status, etc.  When people interact with you, you want to know about right away.

Another good idea is to sign up for Google Alerts, this is a free service that notifies you by email when key-words you’ve selected show up on Internet.  For example, you might set up a Google Alert for key-words like your name, or company name.  Here’s a super easy to follow video on How To Set Up Goole Alerts. Thanks Amy Smythe-Harris for the vid.

One thing you’ll want to disable today, if you haven’t, is the ability for friends to check you in to Places.  Here’s an article on how to diable that feature.

I recommend you organize your friends, into Lists.  I have lists for Family, Team Members, Real Estate Agents, Recruits, Real Friends, Prudential Gary Greene, etc.

Also, you can block individuals from being able to view specific things, like lists, photos, etc.

Developing a Social Media Strategy

Q:  Describe your social media strategy and what you are trying to accomplish.

A:  I use social media to:

Promote my personal brand.

Share with the team, the industry, and the public.  Which is promotion, broadcast, branding, recruiting, education, and retention.


Recognize, and acknowledge.

Observe, and learn what others are doing.

Building relationships.

Reveal myself. – Be sure to fully complete every Social Media site profile, and about page.  This helps people get to know you, and gives your Google juice a kick.

Leading by example.


Learning what’s new, what works, how it works, and how to best point it.

I’m pretty sure people Google us before they hire us, or contact us.  I want them to find me, and learn all they can before they meet me.  If you’re all prominent on Google, and your competition is not?  Or, on negative note, if your competitor is, and you’re not?

Here’s list of 100 Branding Ideas from Chris Brogan.  I would definitely recommend you read Chris Brogan’s blog, and he has two easy to read, and easy to put into action Social Media Books.  You should read them. Trust Agents and Social Media 101

Be sure to get a Facebook Vanity URL – then you can point someone to your Facebook Profile with an address like this:  Facebook.com/Ken instead of some crazy string of alphabet/number soup.  Here’s how.

Q: How does your social media strategy increase your production?

A:  Sharing with the team has helped them adopt social media, and participate in a, growing in importance, way to build relationships, share, create Top Of Mind Awareness, and stay in touch with their network, and team members.  This has lead directly to listing and sales.  What can’t be tracked, but is a certain as the sunrise,  is the positive influence it has on maintaining, and strengthening their relationships with their network.

A word of caution, social media is a Destiny Accelerator.  What I mean is, social media provides a wide open window to who you are, what you believe, how you behave, who your friends are (or aren’t), and how you behave.  If you suck, social media will reveal it and accelerate your unsuccess.  If you shine, social media will reveal it, and accelerate your success.

I see team members interacting, and sharing, and commenting with one another on things they might otherwise not know about, this is very positive for team culture.  It allows me to see what’s going on with my team members, and that’s a great thing too.  I believe it continues to have a supremely positive effect on recruiting.  Facebook allows anyone with interest to check me out, and get to know me, long before we meet.  This is a big deal.

Be sure to set up your profile on Google, here’s what it looks like.

I use SlideShare to move things I’d like to share, out of my file cabinet, into the cloud, then into the hands and minds of whoever wants it, needs it, or finds it. For example, I’ll upload my Sales Meeting Agenda notes to SlideShare, then post them on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  And I mail the link to team members who missed the meeting.

Here’s a few tips on best practices.

Q:  Do you track production from social media results? If yes, how?

A:  No.  I use the SWAG method.  Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess.

Finding Customers vs. Customers Finding You: how to let the world know you are a player on the social media stage.

Q:  Who is your target audience?

A:  My team, real estate agents (recruiting), the public.

Q:  What do you to do to let your target audience know that you are out there engaging in social media?

A:  I actively look for people to connect with on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.  They all have a scan-your-email-account-to-find- connections feature, I use that to find friends.

I status update daily, I “like” other peoples stuff daily, I share daily, I comment on blogs daily, I comment on comments regularly.  On Facebook, I wish people I know Happy Birthday.  I post pictures routinely.

I include links to my Social Media stuff in my eamails to the team.

I have a mostly every Monday email I send to 2,700 agents, usually it’s a reworked blog post about something that will help an agent succeed. I include my Social Media address in my collateral materials.

I use CheckIn with Facebook, and FourSquare, forwarding to Twitter as a status update.

Engaging friends, followers and fans.

Q:  What do you do to get your friends, followers and fans to actually engage in conversation with you?

A:  I status update daily.  Most of my sharing is information about the community, technology, trends, tips, and some personal stuff.  This generates comments and conversation.  The best way to comment and converse about what others are talking about.  I also make comments on interesting blog posts I read.  I share and forward interesting blog post articles.  It’s important to comment, re-comment, with the people who tag you, like you, and comment on you comments.

Creating conversation: meaningful, valuable, worth passing on.

Q:  What criteria do you use to create conversation that is meaningful, valuable and worth passing on?

A:  I forward things I think will be helpful, fun, and funny.  I set up an account on a website/service called Delicious.com.  This site allow me save, and sorta tag/file web pages, article, and blog post for later re-sharing and reference.  There’s some funny stuff at FailBlog.com and There I Fixed it.

Will There Be Inspection Issues?

I also use Google Feedreader.  When I find interesting blogs, I subscribe to their feed, which means, when there’s a new blog post, it automatically shows up in one place, my FeedReader.  This way I don’t have to click around to 180 different websites.  The Feedreader acts as my modern day, customized newspaper. This is mostly where I find things to share, and learn about new things.  Also, the FeedReader has built in sharing functions, I can share interesting things on Facebook and Twitter, with a click of a button. Here’s an example of things I share. Here’s a blog post on how to set it up.

Finding content

Q:  Define valuable content.

A:  Value is subjective.  I think the important thing is to focus on others, not yourself.  Share mostly others peoples stuff.  Don’t brag, or overpost your real estate stuff.  I focus on sharing community news, tech tips, local market data, answering commonly asked questions, funny stuff.  I stay away from politics, religion, and Farmville type games.  I include pop culture in my status updates, things comments on New Jersey Housewives, The Bachelorette, Lady GaGa, sports, etc.

Q:  Is posting without engagement enough? If not, why?

A:  Posting, sharing, and broadcasting is a great start and helps to create Top Of Mind Awareness.  To develop relationships, having conversation and interaction is KEY.  Just like all marketing, you’ll have better success when you’re conversing and engaging, rather than broadcasting in monologue mode. Share, share, share.

Q:  Where and how do you find valuable content?

A:  I create my own content (blog) focusing on market data reports, answering commonly asked questions, tips for agents and consumers.

I don’t read the newspapers, I read blogs I’ve selected using Google Feedreader (180 subscriptions). Here’s a link to the things I share from my feedreader, this will give you an idea of what it looks like and what I’m talking about.  I share interesting things as I find them.

I also use the share feature in Facebook, it’s an appreciated and generous gesture.  Social media circles consider it good form to share other peoples interesting content, I do it on Facebook, and Twitter.

Q:  Who in your organization finds the content?

A:  I find the content I use.  Our company has a Facebook business page, our marketing department maintains the page, agents and managers can add content too.  Co-Creation and multi-author strategies help provide fresh content.  As I shared earlier, be sure to have your Facebook notifications set so you receive an email when people post on your wall.  As you can see from this screen capture, there are clowns who spam business pages.  Receiving alerts will allow you to delete and block spammers quickly.

Engaging others in the conversation and participating in theirs.

Q:  How to you get others to join in conversation with you as opposed to just reading your posts?

A:  Asking for feedback.  Asking questions.  Talk about something that’s relevant.  When people comment, be sure to comment back.

Q:  How much participating in other sites do you do to keep them interested in conversation with you?

A:  I consciously take the time to leave comments on blog posts I like.  I click on the Facebook “Like” button frequently, and I’ll join in Facebook conversations.

Tracking progress:  clicks through, re-tweets, mentions, network health, posting (frequency, quality, timing).

Q:  What metrics and methods do you use to track your social media results?

A:  I use Google Analytics for my blog. Here’s how to set it up on WordPress.

I use a service called Su.pr to track clicks on links I share, and schedule Facebook, and Twitter status updates.

Here’s what the dashboard looks like.

I use Google Alerts to let me know when words I’m interested in show up on the Internet. Here’s a link to info on how to set it up and how it works.

As I shared earlier, I have Facebook alerts set so that I’m sent an email when important things happen on my Facebook Account.

The biggest benefits (IMHO) to tracking clicks and engagements is two fold, it satisfies my latent OCD tendencies, and I can get an idea about what people think is popular.

When I leave comments on blogs, I always  check the box that email notifies me when other comments are made.  I try to always comment back to commenters on my blog posts, or replies to my comments.  Also, when I comment on blogs, if the option is available, I’ll broadcast my comment on Twitter, and Facebook.  This helps promote me, and the blog author.  People like it when we share their stuff.

Q:  Have you set goals for these metrics and if so what are they?

A:  I haven’t really developed metric goals.  I go as fast as I can, and do the best I can.

Q:  What have you done to track the best posting routine?

A:  I haven’t really figured out when the best time to post is.  I did discover that when I use Su.pr to broadcast links, there are plenty of people clicking on links in the wee hours, 2am, 3am, etc.  What I do to help spread my stuff, is broadcast in multiple places, Facebook Personal & Business Pages Company Facebook, and Twitter.

Also, blogging platforms and Su.pr allow you to schedule automatic future posts.  There’s a new service available for Gmail that allow you to choose a future time for email delivery. It’s called Boomerang.

Q:  How do you judge network health?

A:  Interaction, clicks, shares, conversations, the number of friends and followers.

Apps to use in conjunction with your social media.

Q:  What other applications that work with your chosen social media platforms are you using?  What benefit do they offer? Any shortcomings?  Any recommendations?

A:  I think Smart Phone applications help us stay connected and share on the run.  It’s fast and effective.

The iPhone Apps I use the most are:

Facebook – Receive notices about FB activity.  Status update.  Upload Photos & Video. Check in with Facebook Places.

Twitter – An occasional status update.

Foursquare – Geo-Location Check-Ins and broadcast to Facebook and Twitter.

Other applications I use, or recommend are:

Google Apps For Business – Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, Contacts. Here’s how to set it up, and what it’s about. I dumped MS Outlook and never looked back.

SlideShare.net – Move things out of my file cabinet, into the cloud, and broadcast in the wild, wild web. It also makes my stuff sharable, and discoverable.

DropBox – Syncs content, between, all my computers, iPhone, iPad.  Everything I need is available everywhere I am.

WordPress.com – Blogging platform. Here’s how to set one up.

MadMimi.com – Colorful email newsletters for recruiting. Here’s a sample.

GoogleReader – Reading blog posts. Set it up.

Picnik.com – Resizing, and customizing photos for use in blog posts, etc.  I used Picnik to add a drop shadow to the pictures in this post

Youtube.com – Sharing videos Go here to Create A YouTube.com Account.

Flickr.com – Sharing photos.

Delicious.com – Organizing, tagging, and saving important links. Here’s how.




Q: Who can post to your social media platforms?  Who monitors content?  How much time is devoted to it?  How often do you post?  If someone else in your firm is posting for you, how engaged are you in monitoring it?

A:  I post all my own stuff.  I’m a control freak, and I want everything to have my fingerprints on it.  Our company has the marketing department maintain the company blog and Facebook Page.  I spend a hour or two a day between, reviewing others activity, posting status updates, and reading blog posts.  You can have an effective Social Media campaign on Facebook in 30 minutes a day, easy.  I try to post on my blog three times a week.  It takes between 30 minutes and 3 hours to create a blog post, depending on the type of subject.  I include reviewing our company material when I review everything else.  To help save time, I have organized lists on Facebook.  I highly recommend lists on Facebook, and Twitter. Here’s how to create lists on Facebook, and Twitter.

Chris Brogan, Social Media consultant, and cool guy, has these 19 Things You Can Do Every Day, it’s not as much time as you might think.

Thanks.  If I can be helpful, give me a call: 832-797-1779

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