Social Media or Old Fashioned Sales in Real Estate

I stumbled across a blog post about the Coldwell Banker Gen Blue conference on March 14-17 and watched a video of the presentation between Mike Ferry and Mathew Ferrara, entitled the Gen Blue Smackdown. The comments on this blog post  needless to say were heated with pithy comments on how Mike Ferry is a dinosaur and should be shoveled out of the real estate coaching industry.
I thought this was a good opportunity to give you a glimpse on how we think about technology, prospecting and earning a living offering our real estate websites and idx services to the real estate industry. Hint: Your website is a tool for your real estate business, not a way of life…  in most cases.
First I’ll save you a little time and offer up some notes I took on the smackdown, to prod you into spending the 30 minutes to watch this video. It certainly will offer up some food for thought.
If you’re not familiar with Mike Ferry, he is the founder of The Mike Ferry Organization, billed as North America’s Leading Real Estate Coaching and Training Organization. Mike was given the opportunity first to give a 10 minute presentation. The outcome of his presentation was basically saying that social media although not a waste of time is not the most efficient and productive use of your time. He made several mentions about how agents waste their money on ineffective advertising. For example, putting your picture on bus stops benches. Mike says that people that ride the bus, typically don’t have a car, and therefore probably can’t afford a home. Plus they land their butts on the benches covering up your hard earned, ineffective advertising. Needless to say this raised a few laughs from the audience but Mike is correct, agents spend way too much money on ineffective advertising. John Wannamaker, considered by some to be the father of modern advertising, is quoted as saying ” Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Mike explained that there are basically 3 ways to make money.
1.) Wait for people to find you – what Mike refers to as a ‘secret agent.’
2.) You can buy business by overpricing listings.
3.) Talk to other people. You need to be talking to people everyday, which shouldn’t come as any surprise, but Mike emphasized that you should be talking to people that are in the market today. That’s a very important distinction.
Next up was Mathew Ferrara from Mathew Ferrara & Company. Matthew Ferrara has been a driving force for evolution in the real estate industry for the past 20 years. From the About Us page, Mathew’s philosophy is simple: It’s time for real estate to evolve. He believes it’s time for a “Industrial Revolution” for the real estate industry.
His main message was an acronym for the FUTURE using social media as the foundation for his discussion.
F – Forward thinking
U- Understand the customer – what’s going on in their lives – social media will tell you what’s going on in their lives
T – Target your communications – how are you going to talk to them
U – Universal Sales – the world is smaller than ever – people are investing from all around the world
R – Rapid or Referral – rapid concept – the time is all online – email, skype, etc. -prospects usually pick the first agent that gets back to them  and then a second R,  the referral aspect – this part of the business will never stop being
E – engage the marketplace or simply go through the numbers – build up long term relations. Prospects want to be talked to –  you need to build up trust
The next ten minutes was a toe-to-toe conversation with great points on both sides. Mathew’s main point  is that old school thinking is antiquated, Mike’s point was that most agents aren’t going to survive if they don’t sell homes soon. He’s correct as well. In fact, I saw a statistic by a well known real estate researcher and commenter that stated that 50% of agents didn’t make a single dollar in commission in 2010. I haven’t been able to substantiate that claim, so I will not quote the source, but my guess is it’s fairly accurate.
Here’s my takeaway and one piece of advice.
Since there are millions of people flocking to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it does make sense to engage in these ‘water cooler’ conversations. You do indeed need to search out and try and friend everyone you know on these sites because that’s the easiest and most cost effective way (in terms of dollars and time) of knowing what’s going on in the lives of the people you know. You simply can’t ignore these platforms to stay in touch.  Engaging in social media platforms should be considered a long term prospecting endeavor not a quick ‘get hundreds of leads’ type thing that some so called real estate social media experts would lead you to believe and ask you spend hundreds to buy their program of closely guarded secrets.
There are other social media platforms that cater to engaging agents to have conversations between each other. These sites should be avoided during your money hours. Talking and discussing the latest trends, latest technology gadgets and in some cases a place to vent your irritations and frustrations is a complete waste of time during your working day.
In fact, a quick study of several blog posts about this exact subject led me to look up the commenter’s on these sites and here is what I found. I struck out those commenter’s that linked their comment to a brokerage site, and only counted the agents that linked to their personal website. Out of the 26 there was a total of 18 listing that these agents were displaying as their own personal listings. It seems that agents that don’t have any listings are spending a lot of their money hours engaging in conversation with other agents.  They should be engaging as Mike Ferry pointed out to finding and identifying people that are in the market today to buy or sell a home. It doesn’t make any sense that if you’re hurting for listings or buyers for that matter that you should be posting and commenting and engaging a conversation with other agents around the country.
Thanks to TechSavvyAgent for the taping the event.
If you can’t view the video above on IE8 with 64bit take a look at these instructions. http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer10_square.html

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Posted on by Rick Thomas