Sunday, November 19, 2017

“You’re Running a Marathon…Not a Sprint”

By Julie Escobar

Finishing out our series on social media – I was honored to keep company with fast moving and far-reaching super star Michael McClure – aka @ProfessionalOne.  He was recently named one of Inman’s “50 Most Influential Online” and if you follow him for about five minutes even you’ll know why.

Forget baby steps — smart, funny, eager to share and wonderfully open – Michael is someone who took a GIANT leap into the social media not all that long ago.  In fact, he’s the same man who was quoted in 2009 as saying “I think Twitter is the stupidest, dumbest, most moronic idea in history.  I have no idea why anyone would waste their time on this narcissistic endeavor.”   I’ll admit to almost choking on my coffee when he sent me the link to an article written by another social media wonder Chris Smith (@TechSavvyAgent).  Clearly, he’s no longer of that impression – but it was a fun place to start – as we all know there are plenty of you out there who still believe social media in general and certainly certain platforms are just as “stupid” today as Michael once believed.

Now, as someone’s who’s business has jet propelled beyond even his expectations and is now joining panels of experts alongside industry powerhouses such as Stefan Swanepoel and Sherry Chris, he’s all about the tweet, the post and connecting with people far and wide.

A little background to start…Michael McClure is the President and CEO of Professional One Real Estate, which was named a “Beta Brokerage of the Future” in 2010. Named one of Inman’s “50 Most Influential Online” and one of Proxio.com’s “25 Most Connected,” he’s co-founded several blogs, including P1Fran.com, MacSavvyAgent.com and 500CoolThings.com, and he contributes to several others, including Dale Carnegie. He co-founded and co-hosts BlogTalkRadio.com/RaiseTheBar, which focuses primarily on the issue of “raising the bar” in the real estate industry. McClure has spoken at many industry events, including Inman Connect San Francisco, Inman News’ Agent Reboot Tour and NARdiGras. He is a CPA, and worked at the international accounting firm Price Waterhouse for 10 years before entering real estate. He attended Michigan State University, where he received a degree in Accounting. He lives and works in Plymouth, MI, a suburb of Detroit.

Good grief – does he sleep? Let’s take a peek inside his world to find out some secrets he was gracious enough to share about how to succeed using social media as your springboard.

Q:  Michael – thank you so much for sharing your insights and inspired thought with our readers!  Let’s start out with the obvious – you’ve really managed to find a great way to not just embrace social media as a means of communication – but also truly make it a pivotal part of your business strategy and marketing plan.  Can you share with us some best practices you’ve come to trust?  Let’s start with Twitter…

A:  Absolutely!  I’d love to – let me start by saying the really short answer is this: Success in Twitter boils down to (1) mega-engagement, (2) providing content of value, (3) having an intentional strategy and (4) not “selling” anything.  In a piece I wrote not long ago, Think Before You Tweet and in terms of the “golden rules of Twitter” – here’s what I shared…

  • Engagement | Just as in real life, the BEST conversationalists are the ones who ask questions…listen to the responses…and then ask more questions. When Tweeting, engagement is EVERYTHING. Remember, “you” is every other person’s favorite word.
  • Be Intentional | Tweet with a vision and a purpose. Before every Tweet, I try to stop and think: “What is my ultimate purpose in Social Media, and how does THIS Tweet further that purpose?”
  • Digital is forever | Digital is FOREVER. When I’m about to hit “send” on every Tweet, I think, “How would this look on my resume?” If the answer is “not good,” I TRY not to send it. Or, as Twitter superstar Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) said it so perfectly:  “Don’t tweet anything you don’t want to see on a billboard, with our name/logo on it and your mom driving by.” 

Q:  Grin – great advice Michael – and nods to Scott (note to self – follow@ unmarketing!)  What about Facebook? What are your thoughts on making that work?

The same basic principles that apply to Twitter also apply to Facebook. It’s a different platform though – with different languages in some ways.  I was late to the Facebook game (I’ve only been using it for about six months), so I really don’t consider myself very knowledgeable. To really get up to speed, go to http://budurl.com/khqz and learn from the guy that is REALLY crushing it on Facebook, Chris Smith.

Q:  From the looks of things – you’ve done more in six months than many there Michael!  But you’re right – Facebook too is really about engagement – just a little different feel to the communication.  And Chris is extraordinary – (grinning at the thought of the Twitter group hug this morning!) – you both are so willing to share, help others up and out in terms of learning and growing – from that perspective you’re both CRUSHING it!   Let’s talk about LinkedIn…

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of LinkedIn. I view it as the least valuable of “the big 4” (Twitter, Facebook, blogging and LinkedIn). I wrote about  my thoughts in a post called If You’re Only Going to Do One Thing in Social Media – it sort of sums up my thoughts….feel free to share!

Q:  My thoughts as well – now let’s move onto something you are CERTAINLY an expert in – BLOGGING!  I’ve lost count of how many you manage and contribute to – but it is a great means of communication and connecting – what are your top three suggestions for today’s bloggers?

A:  Blogging, and all social media really boils down to these three things:  Consistency, Quality Content and Authenticity.  In terms of consistency – you’ve got to be willing to show up over and over.  You’ve got to be willing to put the effort into making your messages count by providing quality content and you’ve got to be true to who you are.  I’ll share the take-aways from an interview we did with Jay Thompson who is tops in the field of blogging – I believe much of what he does on this topic and I think your readers can get a lot from him – find it at Top Ten Thompson Takeaways.

Q:  Goodness – another great one to follow!  Thanks Michael!  Let’s talk a little about those newbies to  being cyber social – your best advice for Beginners?

A:  Social Media truly IS the next (the now?) big thing. Get into it or be left behind. The “digital divide” is REAL, and you do not want to get caught on the wrong side of it. Beyond that, succeeding in Social Media takes real time and real effort. If you think you’re going to see results without putting in the time, forget about it. Just like anything else in life, the people that work the hardest at Social Media tend to do the best.  Remember – you’re running a marathon – not a sprint – so don’t make the mistake that some do and think of social media as a shortcut.  It’s simply not.  In fact – instead of working less – you can find yourself working harder – working more.  But the difference is that the results can be EXPONENTIALLY larger.  Your sphere is expanded in huge way – and the opportunities for success, if you’re open to them are limitless.

Tapping Top Tweeters & Facebook Friends for Expert Advice:  Part Two

By Julie Escobar

We’re having some fun this month getting to know some friends and followers who are at the top of their social media games!  In part one of this series we chatted with RE/MAX agent Shanna Lafontaine aka @slafontaine about her mad social skills.

Today, I’m excited to share the strategies and systems deployed by another smart social media cookie – Pat Williams (aka @cletch) – who I didn’t even realize at the time knows Shanna very well.  (That six degrees of separation thing is always popping up isn’t it?)

Pat’s as interesting and knowledgeable as they come and we actually spent well over our half hour interview time just getting to know each other better- what a tremendous spirit and great gal to get to know – if you’re not following her yet – hop on Twitter and befriend the woman – you’ll be glad you did.  I know I am!

Pat’s passion for social media really took root when she moved to a new state and knew all of two people – so connecting in a hurry became a necessity more than a luxury.  Her strengths lie not just in her knowledge of real estate but her savvy approach to building books of business that she’s fine-tuned working as a Virtual Assistant for top real estate professionals.

Genuinely curious by nature has its advantages – as she struck out to investigate all the subtleties and substance that surround social media.  By testing, re-tooling, and learning along the way – she’s devised not only strategies that work for her – but for the real estate brokers and agents whose businesses thrive under her watchful eye.  Here are some of my questions coupled with Pat’s thoughts, strategies and lessons she’s learned along the way:

1.    Do the numbers matter? The real value of social media comes when there is engagement and interaction between yourself and your followers.  If you’ve got 30,000 folllowers but only engage with three – the other 29.907 don’t really matter.

2.    What if your BRAND new? If you’re a new agent just getting started cold – you can expect the true turn-around time on your social media efforts to be about a year.  However, if you’ve been in a community for a while then you more than likely have a sphere of influence that you can use as a foundation to build on and that will certainly help speed up the process.  I built my entire business by continuously filling my funnel with leads from social media – it’s the jump start to building relationships.

3.    Do you have to “know it all” before you jump in? No – just START somewhere and begin building.  Most agents start with Facebook.   A good place to begin is to create fan pages on something that has to do with real estate and your market rather than just YOU as an agent.  For example if you like to sell lake homes in your area – create a fan page and blog about lake homes – fill it with great information that consumers who are looking to buy or sell lake homes in your area would find interesting and want to come back for over and over and reasons for them to keep you in mind – tie your fan page into your blog.

4.    Best advice?

Tapping Top Tweeters & Facebook Friends for Expert Advice:  Part One

By Julie Escobar

With a nod for some social media love this month, I tapped some real movers and shakers in cyberspace to learn some best practices and cool strategies for real estate professionals to put into play to help build their online reach, referral base and even have a little fun along the way!

First up…social media powerhouse Shanna Lafontaine (aka @slafontaine) from RE/MAX Affiliates in Dublin, Ohio!

Shanna’s been on Facebook since it was a college campus platform!  It was a way to stay connected when she went back to school so she’s definitely learned it from the ground floor up!  She can attribute more than 50% of her new real estate business from a social media source, connecting through Facebook, Twitter or her blog.

That’s powerful –  to help you find the same kind of results – here are a few of Shanna’s secrets for success:

Why it works:

  • People have the chance to “get to know you” through your posts on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. It paves the way for them to get comfortable with their choice of agent.  Just last week I had someone call me and say they looked up all the REALTORS that were recommended to them.  They told me they put my name in to Google and said “You’re everywhere!  That’s what we want in an agent!”  I had the listing before I even walked in the door…
  • Helps to create trusting relationships – but you have to take it beyond the written words online.  Make it a point to get out and socialize with your audience in person to help create a deeper relationship.  Here we attend Ohio State Football, the local music scene, etc.

Best advice for new bloggers?

  • Have a clear plan and idea before starting the blog
  • Write out outlines and notes on ideas – that will help when you get “writer’s block.” I’ll keep them in drafts of my blog so that I can just use those when I need them.
  • Know who you are aiming to reach, speak to that “person” when writing
  • Plan out the time you are going to spend each week – it’s a commitment – whether on your blog or posting on the social media platforms – you’ve got to treat it like the prospecting appointment time that it is.
  • If you’re on a roll – keep writing.  Some afternoons or mornings (or whenever your time to write is) you can come up with four or five posts and then coast for a couple of days!
  • Be consistent – this is a big one!  You’ve got to keep showing up!  On Facebook and Twitter you’ve got to post at least 4 or 5 days a week – blogging a few times a week.  It’s like building that foundation for your business – brick by brick.  If you’re going to tweet for a couple days and then leave for two months – it’s NOT going to work for you.

Good tools to use? (social media platforms, etc.)

An Interview with Top Agent Stacy Stateham

Stacy Stateham

By Julie Escobar

Every now and then while circling cyberspace you run into someone who makes you stop and think, “Wow!  I like that person’s style.”  You can see they’re bringing substance and certainty to the conversation and it makes you want to get to know them better.  For me this month – I found JUST such an agent following me on Twitter — @StacyStateham. (If I were you I’d go ahead and follow her.  Trust me on this one.)

Funny, fierce and smart I did what I do – asked her for an interview.  She had lots of wisdom to share — so FAIR WARNING – it’s a long post – so bookmark it if you’d like and come back for snippets!

Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way…I hope you enjoy!

Q:  Hey Stacy – as I said, I’ve enjoyed following you on Twitter & Facebook and I think you’ve got some interesting spins on real estate and the modern agent.  Can we start by telling me a little about you & your business?

A:  Sure!  I’m a middle aged broad who loves her job.   I have an awesome guy, Skip, a daughter, Alisha, who just graduated from college who is starting her professional life, and a step-son Josh and his sweetheart Jessica who gave us our first grandson.  I’m originally from Denver but I’ve been in Rockford since the 1980’s, after growing up in Singapore thanks to my dad’s job.

*I’m an escapee from corporate life. I spent over 20 years in sales, marketing, and management.  When I wasn’t flying somewhere I was driving somewhere.  I was making money, getting things done, checking things off the list, and unhappy.  I hit a point where I wanted to quit and couldn’t because of finances and I realized that I was trapped.  I needed separate sources of income to be able to cut the chain.  I built my savings and investments (source #1) to allow me to quit corporate life and do independent consulting (source #2) which allowed me time to build my real estate business (#3).  Leaving Century 21 and joining Nextage has allowed me to replace the consulting work with sales bonuses and to do more of what I love in helping our agents and brokers be more successful.

An old boss of mine told me that sometime I think so far out of the box that he wondered where the box went.  I love finding creative ways to solve problems, I’m a geeky addict of cool tools, and I’m all for making the most of what we have available to us.

Q:  *Loved that line so much I decided it HAD to be the title for the interview!  Stacy, you’re quite the  rock star social media marketer – and I know you help train new agents on Social Media Marketing 101 and how they can integrate social media tools into their business plans.  Can you share some of your top strategies for success with our readers?

A:  I’d like to say to start with Facebook, but don’t.  Start by spending a few hours figuring out who you are likely to be most successful with.  What kind of people do you want to connect with?   Forget your real estate business for a minute and think about them.  What do they like?  What are they interested in?  What will keep them coming back?  Now, bring your real estate business back into the equation.  How can you match their interests with your business?  Laser focus on that core audience and build all of your marketing around them, both online and off.

Say you want to attract successful 50-60 something’s.  The might be interested in food and wine, they might like to travel, they’re concerned about their nest egg, they may have adult children and possibly grandchildren.  Oh yeah, and they buy real estate.

Next –