Social networking is all the rage these days, and in my opinion, it will never end. It will only get better. The more quality time you put into your social networking, the more you will get out of it, and the more relationships you will build. (Hint: more relationships means a larger sphere of influence!)
So, how do you build a strategy?
The first thing is to figure out your objective(s). What do you want to get out of your social networking? Our real estate team, for one, wants to build relationships with local folks so we can generate quality leads, and create a larger sphere of influence. I'm sure that is what most real estate agents want, right?
That is a good objective. Now what? Come up with a strategy for your networking.
Create profiles on several different sites and online directories, such as Google Profiles, Yahoo! Local, Facebook, LinkedIn, Trulia, Zillow, Twitter, and many more. This will get you found through search engine requests. The more folks are online searching for real estate or agents or businesses in your area, the more your name will pop up. The more your name pops up, ideally the more trust those people will have in you because you have taken the time to make your name and your brand known.
On Facebook, create groups and pages for yourself. Ask your existing Facebook friends to become fans of your page. This is an easy way to send messages to your local "fan-base." Feed your blog posts into your Facebook page, get involved in your Facebook group by asking questions, starting discussions, providing useful links, etc.
Fill in your profiles completely so people can get to know you before even speaking to you. The more they know, the more they trust you. Be real with your audience. And don't use social media as JUST a business source. You are a human being, who goes through ups and downs just like everyone else. Be tactful and respectful and diligent. Be professional, even in casual circumstances. People will notice!
Blog. A lot. Read lots of blogs, write lots of blog posts, and give people the information they are looking for. Market statistics, events going on in your area, changes in loan programs, information about your strategic partners, updates on your local market, news regarding real estate and mortgages, etc.
The important thing to remember in social networking is that you want to have a strategy, be professional and human at the same time, and really interact with those around you. Be smart in your networking, too, by automating your strategy. Feed your blogs to Twitter and Facebook and your LinkedIn profile, feed your Twitter status updates to Facebook, link to Trulia and Zillow and Twitter and Facebook from your blog. Everything is intertwined like a web. Show your fans, followers, and friends that you are a real estate expert with online presence who knows what he/she is doing.
Have you come up with a different strategy? I'd like to hear about it!