Anybody that knows me personally or reads my stuff regularly knows that I'm nothing if not honest when I see someone doing something so poorly that pains me. The inspiration for this article comes from the real estate industry and some of the realtors I follow and even do some work for.

There's almost nobody with a better product to market on social media than realtors, especially those in the high-end real estate market. To be honest though, I could write an entire book about real estate marketing in any market. There are so many creative ways to utilize social media to engage people with that product.

Even people who aren't looking to move are curious about other people's homes; how they live, how they decorate, what color they painted their walls, and what their kitchens and bathrooms look like - even if it's just to get ideas for their own homes. It's why Pinterest is such a monster in this space. Just about everybody out there has also thought about real estate as an investment opportunity, whether it's the potential of flipping a house, or the allure of steady rental income every month.

These are emotions you can easily work with to produce compelling stories for social media without a lot of effort. Unfortunately, I don't see many (if any) realtors coming close to this level of social media marketing. And while I focus on that industry as an example in this post, think about how you can apply this to your own business (or feel free to just ask me).

The primary triggers for this article are the constant "Open House" notifications I see on LinkedIn. Yes, you read that right, realtors marketing open houses on LinkedIn. There couldn't be a worse place to market your open house. People don't go on LinkedIn to shop for a new home, they go there to network, look for a new job, try to find potential new clients, or learn more about their industry or profession.

If you want to utilize LinkedIn as a realtor, go for it, it's a phenomenal tool (especially if you're a commercial agent). But posting open house notifications for homes is just flat out lazy and bad marketing.

The way to use LinkedIn for real estate is to establish yourself as an expert in an area or region. You're the one that knows everything that's happening. Who purchased what properties, what new businesses are coming to town, what that's going to mean to property values and job opportunities, how many potential customers exist within a 1, 5, and 10 mile radius of a retail property, and what the demographics of every little neighborhood are. That's what makes you valuable on LinkedIn.

Then, you can take that knowledge and apply it. Find business owners who could benefit from expanding into your area and reach out to them with helpful information. Find out who runs the business that just moved to town and network them with the editor of the local newspaper (whom you have a good relationship with because you advertise with them regularly, right?).

See somebody that just took a new job in your area? Let them know which restaurants have the best happy hour or live music. Build a name for yourself as the person everybody turns to when they want to know what's happening in your area. Do that and who do you think they'll turn to when it comes time to list or purchase a home? This is the long game that makes the difference between somebody that had a good year once and somebody who builds an empire.

This doesn't just go for LinkedIn, it goes for every social media network. Your message needs to be native to the platform to be valuable. On Instagram it means high quality (or at the very least interesting) pictures or short videos that are consistent in their message. On Twitter it means regularly providing useful resources for a category (maybe local news and events in our example), or being clever and funny in less that 140 characters. On Snapchat, it means highlighting the most interesting parts of your life (or business) on a daily basis, with a focus on appealing to individuals under the age of 35. On Pinterest, it means showcasing great design and/or utility in high-quality photos targeted predominantly towards women.

Facebook might be the only exception to this rule, in that just about everybody is on Facebook, and for a variety of reasons. It's become saturated with content from everybody, so you can get away with just about anything, as long as you're consistent in your messaging and you know how to get maximum value out of the platform (ahem, video and retargeting).

Be consistent and native, and the results will follow.

Chris Searles is President of Searles Media and specializes in helping small businesses maximize their available resources to market themselves effectively using a wide variety of media. Visit Website

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