Ask me if I care!

 Posted by at 7:01 am
Jul 192014

Social Media SoapboxHere’s a quote from a respected real estate expert. He’s unnamed because there are plenty of others making similar statements. “…many agents overlook is the benefit of sharing personally… on Facebook, via email, or on Twitter, writing from the heart about what matters to you can be more beneficial than pumping out stock reports about housing data.”

Well, firstly, I wish the experts would stop preaching this whole “sharing personally” sermon. Secondly, I suspect stock reports and housing data SHOULD matter to anyone in the real estate business.

I do not need to know how hard you are working, what time you are going to bed, that your cat needs to go to the vet, and how smart your kids are. The photo of the sandwich you had at the local bar is not something I’ve been waiting for with great anticipation. Many of your clients–and prospective clients–do not need this “sharing” either.

Some years ago I experienced a rather painful purchase of a brand new vehicle. Since I know the game that is played quite well, I’m afraid it was more painful for the salesman than me. He’d work up a price with trade and run to his sales manager to “get it approved.” Of course the manager would not approve it. My salesperson would return looking rather dejected to see if I would accept the higher counter offer. After about six of these trips, he said, “Well, at least you can see how hard I’m working.”

Because I was out of patience, I replied, “No, what you are showing me is that you’re not a very effective negotiator. I should be dealing with your manager. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to give you my final number. If the boss doesn’t accept it, I’ll leave and you won’t have to work so hard.”

See, when you brag about how hard you are working, you might give some thought to the message you are sending. “I’m so busy!!” might mean your prospective clients better take their business elsewhere. I always wonder how these people who are so busy find time to announce it. A lot of people who think they are busy are really just unfocused.

At least bragging how about busy you are and how late you worked is about work. Sorta. What all this misses is a question of boundaries. Where does one draw the line between personal and professional? When it comes to social media, the question too often goes unasked.

Even more important is this: potential clients are, frankly, more interested in their own hearts than yours. If you’re serious about using social media to build a client base you might want to have a little sticker on your smart phone or whatever device you’re going to use. “It’s not about me.”

Maybe that housing data should be important to you–because you can bet it’s important to your prospective clients. (They may not know it is and they may not know why–tell them that.) You ought to know the questions on your clients’ minds–answer them before they are asked in a way that shows you deserve trust. Before you post something, ask yourself if the people you are trying to reach care.

Understand, this is not a plea for sterile, impersonal profiles and posts. It’s about balance, really–and setting some boundaries. Real estate, like many businesses, is ultimately about relationships and all relationships have a personal aspect. Think about who you want to attract and the most effective ways to do that. There’s some consensus that most of the social media platforms do not encourage critical thinking and discipline. It’s all about spontaneity and the good news is the bad news.

Oh–if you’re curious about how the car story ended–that hard working salesman came back with yet another counter offer. I thanked him, shook his hand and left. He caught up to me in the parking lot to tell me the boss changed his mind. After we completed the transaction, he remembered I’d said there would be a second purchase coming soon. He joked that I should give him a day’s notice so he’d be well-rested. Since this all happened before social media, he didn’t post how hard he’d worked that day.