Last night at a Social Media Club of South Florida meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Miami Realtor Ines Hegedus-Garcia shared some great tips with the crowd about how to use social media for your business. She runs Miamism.com and uses several forms of social media to market her real estate business. She's also on the advisory board of The Social Media Marketing Institute. You can find her on Twitter as @Ines.
As a real estate agent, she has to face the growing challenge of people finding homes on their own through the Internet. You can pretty much find any product or service with a little Google searching these days. So if you're going to use social media to market your company or services, you need to be clear about what value you bring to the table and how you are unique. What can you bring to your profession that no one else can?
"Find out what you're passionate about and what makes you different," she said, adding, "Be genuine. Don't be something you're not. Be yourself."
She said she spends about 5 to 6 hours a day on social media, which includes blogs, Twitter and Facebook. But if you're not sure how to fit it in your day, start by including it in your schedule and see what works and what doesn't. Of course not everyone can dedicate 5 hours a day.
She said being web savvy is no longer about building a webpage that lists your credentials. It's about being helpful to others you connect with online. Of course Niala and I are always preaching about this very thing -- it's it's about what you bring to the conversation that makes you valuable.
This also plays a part in Twitter netiquette. It's not about how many followers you have. It's about what you bring to the conversation.
"Don't go to your friend's followers and say follow me," she said. "It's not about quantity. If you don't engage these people, you're not going to achieve anything."
Hegedus-Garcia encouraged the crowd to combine their personal life with your professional life. I agree -- but of course there needs to be a balance. She tweets, blogs and posts videos about her love of mojitos to promote the Miami scene and encourage people to move down here, but she doesn't get sloshed. She also doesn't have her children mentioned anywhere on her social networks for their protection -- not even a photo on Facebook. Since she uses Facebook to connect with friends and professionals, mixing private things on Facebook isn't something she feels comfortable about doing.
I can understand that. These days it's getting so hard to keep personal stuff, well, personal on Facebook -- even with privacy settings, there are ways of seeing things.
Another Twitter netiquette tip she gave: The hard sale is not welcome. Don't just push your stuff online without interacting with others. You're human. Don't always be the pushy salesman.
The more people that connect with you online increases your social capital -- it's your online influence with a network of people that trust you. Use that social capitol to help others. If you receive a favor, pay them back.
"Start doing favors before you ask for favors," she said -- like retweeting other people's stuff that you like before you ask for people to help you on Twitter.
She also brought up what Niala and I spoke about in a previous post: Have a human name behind the Twitter account, not just a cold company name.
"If there's no person behind the brand, it loses strength," she said. "If people aren't engaging you, its because they don't think you're human." She added, "People want to talk to you, not a business."
Oh, and you can't just dip a toe in the Twitter pool and give up after a week it doesn't work. "You have to try things for at least six months," she said. "Be consistent about it."