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Your brand is your baby

Is your business growing up and going social? Asks Tracy Falke.

The Negotiator

entering social media imageShe’s all grown up now, standing in front of you in a skirt so short you wonder, “Where did my baby go?” Remember how proud you were when she had her first steps? As she turns to smile at you and step out of the door for her first date, you almost shout “Stop!” You want ten more minutes to coach her on all the things you should have said, the things she needs to know to protect her innocence from the perils sure to come.

How do you turn a ‘new marketing fad’ into a way to expand your business?’

Tracy Falke Streetsmart Social image

Tracy Falke, Streetsmart Social

When it comes to your business, it’s the same. CEOs, CMOs, PRs and marketers across the globe are worried about sending their darling brands out into the uncertain and tenuous world of social media. They know they have to do it. They’re also expected to make this endeavour into a commercial and PR miracle. All eyes are on their interactions in these spaces with a global scrutiny that leaves little room to fail.

Darren Rebeiro, Business Development Manager, Keatons Estate Agents, spotted the opportunity for the property market in the social media space. He is taking their ‘baby’ into unknown ground in digital and social media. He said, “A number of estate agencies have, in the past two years, tried to dabble in social media, but to no great extent.

“The big fear for all agents is that any public complaints would be online for everyone to see potentially damaging their brand reputation.

“However, they have all now started to wake up to the fact that they can be slated on line whether they utilise social media or not, so, when they are looking at the cost/benefit analysis for B2C processes has meant that agents have been forced now to get online and starting dealing with these opportunities and issues.” So how do you prepare your business/baby for the adventures surely to come? How do you turn what you thought might be a new marketing fad into a profitable way to expand your business, sell or rent more houses and satisfy your internal stakeholders? Your brand is your baby. Social media is…scary.

ASK THE EXPERT

My name is Tracy Falke and I’m founder of the digital and social media agency Streetsmart Social. I work with a range of clients who are just entering the social media space, or who have set up their social media presence online and are looking for a way to make this marketing channel a profitable part of their business.

Every day I see websites which are virtually invisible in Google searches even though they contain the homes that people want.’

I’m very honoured to have the opportunity to write a monthly column for PROPERTYdrum. I see a huge opportunity for the property sector to capitalise on social media marketing channels, an opportunity that will change the face of property marketing forever.

social media platform imagesSince the downturn in the market in 2008 many agents faced hard choices of routes to market their agencies and properties. Many now opt for a standard approach for the strategic marketing of properties via web portals. In many ways, the dependence on portals as the main digital port of call for property marketing has led to an ‘infantilisation’ of digital marketing for individual estate agents.

Property marketers no longer feel compelled to ensure their digital presence (website) is ship shape, despite spending a substantial amount of their budget in other digital marketing channels (advertising via portals, for instance). Every day, I see websites which are virtually invisible in google searches (despite the site containing exactly the sort of properties that customers are searching for), I see misspent pay per click advertising campaigns, and a flagging, limpid response in social media channels.

Let me be more clear. Gone are the days when an agency could primarily rely on larger portals to sustain the marketing of their clients’ properties.

With the emergence of the social platforms into mainstream communications, agents need to break new ground and engage customers through social media. Most agents are taking the baby steps of starting out in social media, but lack direction and focus. So, back to the analogy I began at the beginning of this article. Many companies are like toddlers in the social media space: full on careening round the house with the big headed balance of a toddler.

It is a real challenge to get it right, to learn to run without falling over every two minutes, to learn to communicate with the huge, global audience that awaits you on the internet. I get as worried as you do! But these column inches are my opportunity to help an entire sector (one that is already beleaguered by the economic climate) do what they do best: move property. Fast.

Every month, I’m going to be here to cover a range of topics specific to property marketing via digital and particularly social media channels. I invite you all to please email (details below) or tweet me your questions on @tracy_falke or directly to @propertydrum. I promise to answer your questions with the fervour and wit only seen in someone utterly obsessed with all things digital. I lie awake at night thinking of how businesses can measure effort in these channels against their bottom lines. I promise to answer in useful, practical ways that are – for lack of a better word – ‘streetsmart’.

Although it’s just as scary as your daughter going on her first date, social media marketing is here to stay. It’s the best opportunity you have to get ahead of the competition. I’m here to show you how to punch above your weight!

DOWN TO BUSINESS

So, enough of the pretty words. Let’s get down to business. What is the very first thing you need to do?

Own your real estate. You should own an account on every social media platform in your company name. We will explore more advance ‘social media optimisation’ in future articles wherein you obtain other social media accounts based on keyword research (or in layman’s terms, the words people use to find your properties or your business in search engines).

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and Google+ are the big players. Google + is relatively new to the space, but the implications for more ‘real estate’ on the Google search pages is HUGE. I cannot overstate this and will cover it in a future article as it deserves a piece entirely on it’s own.

When you obtain each account (or tidy up and optimise what you’ve already got), ensure that you:

1. Make it social.

Use an email address that all of the company can access. I open a free gmail account called companynamesocial@gmail.com for each of our clients. This allows company wide access. From gmail account settings, you can then route emails to your company inbox as well for monitoring and response.

2. Choose your name wisely.

You need a brand name account, but try and sandwich essential keywords that users will use to find your properties or business online into the title. For instance, use Manchester Estate Agent Brandname as your Facebook page name rather than simply Brandname. This is so that Google will display your social media profile to users searching for property or estate agents in a particular area who might not know your brand name.

You won’t get immediate page one exposure using this social optimisation strategy, but when you progress to pumping content and interaction through these channels, you have the chance of appearing on page one with your social media account alone. This will seriously affect your bottom line as you begin to be able to divert marketing spend from underperforming areas (PPC, traditional SEO) into stronger performing areas.

3. Optimise your bio.

Wherever a social media profile allows you to enter bio or product information, max out the opportunity by using as many keywords that drive people to your business or products as possible. If you don’t know how to look at Google analytics to see what is driving traffic to your site, then you need to find out who has access to your analytics account and get them to show you. If there is sufficient demand from our audience, I will do a piece on how to assess this as it is truly the core of what you need to know to reach your audience with the information that they want.

Make me a promise now. Before our next article, ensure that you follow the steps above. Every following piece of advice hinges on having this baseline. You don’t build a house on shaky foundations, and we all know what that means for a valuation.

Every property marketer worth their salt knows that there’s a hard monetary value attached to each feature and bit of space in a property. Make sure you maximise your own market value online. See you next month when we’ll cover Twitter, baby!

And then I’ll see you at the PROPERTYdrum National Conference on May1st! Don’t miss it!

Tracy Falke is the founder of Streetsmart Social. Tracy’s focus on holistic, integrated digital strategy is honed through years of working with a range of blue chip clients across multiple sectors.  Streetsmart Social marries good old fashioned business values with digital strategy and social and emerging technology for some of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. Not content with fluffy metrics, Streetsmart drives hard return on investment for business engaging in digital channels. If you’re wondering about sector expertise, take heart. In a previous life, Tracy began her career in property management in Edinburgh during the big boom.

e: tracy@streetsmartsocial.com
w: www.streetsmartsocial.com

April 16, 2012

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