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Social Media Marketing: Where to Begin

by Kaira Sturdivant Rouda

MarketingEvery business, large or small, has an identity, whether it's online or in real life. It's there, whether it's purposefully created or not. As a REALTOR®, you have a company and a brand. It all starts with you, your unique expertise, experience and passions. Then it extends out through the company you associate with, whether a small boutique independent or a large national brand. 

How you choose to position yourself is key. But the question isn't where do I start on Twitter or should I begin blogging. No, the question is, "How do I create a marketing plan that encompasses the real me?"

If you've heard me speak, you know I'm a huge fan of vision boards. With Pinterest, you can create your own vision board in a couple of hours, without the glue, tape and magazine ripping of the past. And Pinterest now allows you to create private boards, which are visible only by you. But once you've created that vision of who you are as an agent – of the clients who are your target audience – what's next? Hanging your vision board is a good start – but getting busy creating your marketing plan is a must.

And there is no time like the present. Creating a true, lasting and successful brand for your business is more about authenticity than ever before. To create and sustain a real brand, people inside and outside your company must believe in you – not just your latest listing or most current award. And they must find your brand relevant, dynamic and tangible. A well-created marketing plan can provide you with a roadmap to build and sustain your personal brand identity. It's the tool you use to propel your vision statement forward – and bring your vision board to life.

It's imperative, whether you consider a traditional advertising campaign or dedicate a staffperson to positioning you on social media, that you understand the purpose of each marketing message you deliver. The message AND the medium.

This means strategy. This requires thought and planning, annual revision and measuring. For me, it's helpful to think of marketing in three tiers: image, sales promotion and events. As a REALTOR®, when you position your personal brand you are working on your image. An ad in the school directory mentioning your commitment to the school board is image. A listing ad in the community newspaper is sales promotion.

A notice on your Facebook page about an open house is an event. Notice, I am talking about your business page. That should be the only place on Facebook where you mention business directly. Do not confuse the medium of your Facebook personal profile with the business of real estate. If you do, you will find yourself losing friends.

This is such a crucial point in today's short attention span world, so it bears repeating. If you have a personal Facebook page, you may invite your friends who are interested in area real estate to "like" your business page. That's great. On your business page, share your listings, your awards and your open houses, as well as industry news tailored to your community and your target market. On your personal Facebook page, continue to share your passions: photos of your beautiful garden, images of your kids, a great magazine article about your favorite new exercise and maybe the best new restaurant in town. Engage with your friends and celebrate their posts. And then, on your business page, celebrate business. Ask for business. Invite people to sign up for your e-newsletter.
Be bold. Be you. Be brave about your business. Just don't spam your friends – educate your business page followers.

Today your marketing initiatives need to include both online and offline components. You need to decide the right mix for your business. Be methodical. Have a strategy behind wherever you choose to spend your money – or, more importantly – your time. Be true. Be real. And have a great year.

Kaira RoudaKaira Sturdivant Rouda is the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, based on her 25-year marketing career and specifically her experience creating the Real Living brand and working with 5,000 women agent entrepreneurs. She's also the author of the novels Here, Home, Hope and All the Difference. Kaira is the mother four children and also a past speaker for national Women's Council events.

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