The headline of an article in an e-newsletter sent to me recently by the Florida Association of Realtors® stopped me dead in my (digital) tracks. The headline read, “Realtors’ websites no longer a key marketing tool”.
Really? Even when we know that 92% of homebuyers use the internet in their home search?
That headline turned out to be a little bit misleading, but only slightly so. The article went on to discuss a recent National Association of Realtors survey indicating that Realtors increasingly turn to social media and online communities to build brand and generate new connections/business.
Well of course they do. But asserting that social media sites can take the place of an agent website—the agent’s online “home”, if you will—is troubling to say the least.
There’s no shortage of agents who use social media well. But those who do it the best are not just generating likes and shares, they’re also generating traffic back to their own websites. That’s important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I think, is branding. An agent’s website is the place where they can tell their full story, from their core value proposition to their strategies for working with customers. Social media can help flesh that out, and give people a glimpse into an agent’s personality, but a “home base” website provides a fuller picture—a solid foundation.
An agent also has complete control over his or her own website. Not true of social media sites. In fact, let’s take a look at what’s been happening of late in the social media world:
Facebook continues to arbitrarily change the rules for business pages, making it harder and harder for business page owners to gain traction in followers’ timelines. Yes, it’s possible to blow out business-related content from your personal profile, but it’s technically against Facebook’s Terms of Service. And Facebook is now introducing something called “See First”, which means users will need to add your business page to their “See First” list to get top priority in that user’s timeline.
Then there’s Google+. The original vision may have been for Google+ to go toe to toe with Facebook. But that vision never became a reality. The Google+ Photos app has already been unbundled from the service, as has it’s FaceTime-like video conferencing tool, Hangouts. Most recently, Google announced that a Google+ account is no longer required to create a YouTube account or leave comments, just another signpost on the road to a drastically different Google+. If you’re interested, this is a good read on the vision and pending implosion of Google+.
I’m not saying that any of these social media sites, or the many others out there, are necessarily going away anytime soon. What I am saying is that change will be a constant. And if, as an agent, you’re building your online home on a site that you don’t own and control, you could find yourself in an ugly situation when the ground starts to shift beneath you. And it will…Google to buy Twitter, anyone?
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