I participated on a Social Media Expert Panel at CAL NARPM (California Association of Rental Property Managers) State Conference in Concord, CA this week. It was a great panel with representatives from Oodle, Rental Homes Plus and Appfolio. I was honored to be a part of such a dynamic panel. I wanted to share with you three questions we got, because these are the questions I get asked every day and thought you might have them too.
Q: What is Social Media going to do for me? How is it going to change my life?
A: Social media is not the end all and be all of marketing. As John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing says, “Social Media is a tool, not a religion”. Yes, Social Media is all the buzz, because it’s new, it’s exciting and it’s growing like wild fire. But that doesn’t mean it’s the “Magic Pill” of marketing. Social media, like direct mail, email marketing, referral marketing and PR should simply be another tool in your tool box to help people get to know, like and trust you so that when they need what you offer, they come to you!
So what am I saying? Well I’m saying if you’re using it, great, but I hope it’s just one part of your overall marketing strategy. If you aren’t using it you should probably invest some time in figuring it out – but don’t stress over it! Start small. Choose one platform a month – maybe Facebook – and devote an hour a week to building your fan page. Then move on to LinkedIn, Twitter, or some of the local search profiles.
Marketing is a system made up of many pieces – Social Media is not going to “cure” all of your marketing woes. So take it one step at a time and keep it in perspective! The only “Magic Pill” to effective marketing is a Marketing system.
Q: What’s all the hype? Do I really need Social Media?
A: Think of it this way, your customers are participating in Social Media, even if you aren’t. Like restaurant owners, Property Managers know all too well that their customers and tenants are using social media even if they are not. As I heard in the discussion on Thursday, people seem much more motivated to leave bad reviews than good ones! Sites like Yelp, Insider Pages, Yahoo Local and more make it easy for customers to broadcast their views to the world. So, if you aren’t claiming your brand and controlling your messaging online then you could be allowing the masses to run amok and smear your name – and your reputation.
Participating in Social Media allows you to keep a pulse on what is being said about your company and positons you to react to it quickly and appropriately. Remember – you can’t erase bad reviews- but you can bury them by asking happy customers to post positive reviews and by taking charge of your company’s online content and learning some basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies.
Q: Isn’t Social Networking so impersonal? I prefer to do my networking the old fashioned way – face to face.
A: I challenge the idea that Social Networking is wiping out face-to-face relationships. I believe that Social media is bringing communities together – maybe in a different way – or maybe not so different. We no longer live in “Little House on the Prairie” type communities where everyone knows everyone else by name and meets up at the church/schoolhouse on Sunday to catch up with one another. We live in large cities; we may not even know our neighbors’ names. We work long hours, we commute, we don’t have the time to invest in our physical communities like our society used to.
To me, Social Media is changing that a bit. We can now meet people who share our ideas, interests, and beliefs through social networking that we may never have met otherwise- and the beauty of it is- those relationships don’t have to exist solely online! Many of us take at least some of these online relationships off line – and actually meet in person, face-to-face! I now have several people in my offline circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances that I would never have met in the offline world. Social Media is a bit of a contradiction – it allows us to connect with people all over the world; yet I feel it makes our own personal worlds smaller again. Social Media gives us the opportunity to connect in ways we would otherwise not connect, with people we’d otherwise not meet but with whom we share very real commonalities.
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