I know what you're thinking. "Here we go again!" Social media, the one topic everyone likes to discuss but no one really understands from a business perspective. But I'm going to be bold and tell you that I became the No. 1 real estate agent in the nation because of my social media; $3.5 billion dollars in closed sales don't lie. So give me a minute to explain, and hopefully at the end of this you will give me a thumbs up, and more importantly, access your own bottomless bank vault that is social media.
Let's start with the obvious: You have a life, because you are breathing. You own a smartphone. It has a camera. And you can download social-media apps. Congrats: You are on your way to becoming a social-media expert! Your life is the script for your own social-media, money-making hit machine.
Social media gives you and me--and of course all companies--access to a countless number of business opportunities. Social media and business go hand-in-hand. But for it to work for a company, it has to be personal. By keeping in touch with clients and reaching out to potentially new clients on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I've given my business a huge boost because I infuse each post with emotions. I sell the most expensive real estate in the world, in a conservative and actually kind of boring industry, with 30,000 agents in Manhattan alone, and therefore my social media needs to be ME if it's going to be successful: colorful, personal, authentic, and different.
The biggest mistake large companies make today is that their social-media accounts are exactly that: large companies instead of large personalities. It's now proven it doesn't work. Take United Airlines as an example. I'm a global service member with them, which is the highest of loyalty rankings and by invite only--and they fly hundreds of millions of passengers every year and employ 85,000 people--yet they have only 61,000 followers on Instagram. I have five times as many.
Reaching Out to Others
You have to make your business personal on social media. If United Airlines would create a fictitious person, let's say a young, powerful woman traveling and uniting the world representing their brand, I for one would enjoy following their social-media accounts. There would be real emotions communicated, and therefore a stickiness to their brand. Humans like to connect with humans, not airplanes. It's called social media, because it is supposed to be SOCIAL. Running a business in today's world means you have to understand and interact with the people you are doing business with. The airplane is just a vehicle; the service and the experience of traveling the world is what they need to be selling.
Check your Facebook page for comments, don't be afraid of them, and take the time to reply to them. Like each comment. This gives you a chance to answer questions about you or your business, which helps clients and potential clients get to know you better. Twitter offers the same opportunities, just in a more limited form. Use those 140 characters or less to send helpful or friendly replies to others, but please add emotion to it. Selling yourself or a business is all about talking to people, not just reading a flat message to them. With Instagram (my personal favorite, and where I have more followers than any other real estate agent in the world), companies have such a hard time growing a following simply because they don't understand people want to follow people, not companies. So why is it that Fortune 500 companies today spend hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising but can't figure out social media?
Last year, I launched a new building in Tribeca, 11 North Moore Street, with one Instagram post and immediately sold $100 million dollars there in its first month of sales. No PR companies, no meetings, no ad budgets, no deadlines, just a click on my smartphone. It was instant, international, and best of all--FREE. The Wall Street Journal, The Real Deal, and The New York Times all picked the story up because it was a first for social media and real estate. Why was the post so successful? Because I explained it was a historic first, because I explained it was going against everyone's advice, and because I explained it excited me.
Sharing Is Caring
Readers who start following you will likely share some of your posts, tweets, or photos with friends, family, and other people they know. Then, those people might decide to share them with others, and so on. Guess what that means? The number of potential clients you've gained keeps going up and up. Some posts can go viral, but they need to be slightly outrageous, very personal, and certainly different. People might have told you to think out of the box; well I say throw that box away when it comes to social media. Everyone is on it, everyone knows what other account they like themselves and why, but few people dare to really use the full potential for themselves.
Before you get started, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make your follower a co-creator of the post itself. Don't just brag, that's not interesting to anyone, instead invite the follower to feel with you, be part of your success, have them want to invest in what you are selling, believe in your or your company's journey and growth. You do that by explaining what this means to you, how you feel, and by giving out lessons learned and asking questions. Simply: engage. Someone who comes to your company's social-media page expects to learn more about what you offer. To go back to United Airlines, what if their Instagram account showed people who have travelled the world to finally meet long lost loved ones hugging at an airport, the American CEO cutting the ribbon of the new Hong Kong office, or the son coming home from college in Paris? Real people, real stories, real photos. Likes would increase, comments would rise tenfold, and follower counts would explode. And most of all, the brand would mean something to people--which would sell more tickets and further increase profits.
- Be a bit outrageous. Yes, I mean it. At least be colorful, and most important be YOU. The true you. Every social-media expert knows the power of getting people talking. How many times have you handed over your smartphone to a friend and said, "Look what she posted!" And with one click, she has one more follower: your friend. That follower is for life, since few people actually unfollow someone once they are on the account. Don't bore your readers with every little detail about new things your company is offering. As an example, I would never post every new residential listing of mine: I only post the most outrageous, visually stunning ones, and I add why I love them, why they are important to me.
- Always use beautiful photos. A photo will always do better than text. The most successful posts have these photos in order of success: cute pets, babies, sunsets and sunrises, white beaches, beautiful bodies, skyscrapers, private jets, luxury cars, yachts, and anyone overcoming any kind of challenge. Even though you're not selling any of the above, you can still use this knowledge to your advantage. If United Airlines really wants to post photos of their darling airplanes, well then they should post beautiful photography of planes in orange sunsets or with the skyline of New York City in the background and explain how proud this plane make them feel. That will get likes, and therefore more people will see the post and ultimately fly with the airline.
Fredrik Eklund is the star of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing New York and the Nation's #1 Real Estate Broker. His new book, The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone, is published by Avery Books and is available NOW. For more information, visit www.fredrikeklund.com. Connect with Fredrik on Twitter and Instagram @FredrikEklundNY.