Welcome to Week One of the Expand Your Sphere with Social Media Self-Directed Learning

Developing a Social Media Plan

Developing a solid social media plan or strategy is an oft-overlooked first step in using social media to grow your business. Many Realtors create Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn profiles, and blogs. In developing a social media plan, the agent integrates online tools into their overall marketing strategy and ensures a consistent message is delivered to their prospects. With a social media plan in place, the agent can be confident knowing why and how to best use these communication tools.

Before you start using social media, you first must have a plan for what you want to achieve through your use of social networking tools. Setting a social media goal can also help you determine which social media sites are going to be most useful.

For example, if your goal is to network with other Realtors, you may wish to focus your efforts on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you enjoy sharing industry expertise, providing useful tips to the consumer, or developing a relationship with prospects, you might find blogging or Facebook better suited to your needs.

Putting first things first – you must consider these questions:

questionWhat are you trying to achieve with social media?

Are you trying to prove that you’re the local expert?
Are you hoping to network with like-minded individuals?
Do you wish to be a one-stop info shop for prospective clients?

Who is your audience?

Remember: don’t try to be everything to everyone. To be effective online, you should target a niche market. For example: consumers interested in waterfront homes, downtown condos, or families relocating to your area. Narrowing your focus to the neighbourhood level is sometimes all it takes to establish your niche market in social media – what part of town do you find the most success matching buyers and sellers?

What are you trying to communicate? How are you going to communicate it?

(See Below for common Social Media Tools)

How do I want to Brand myself on these Social Media Sites/ What common username do I want to use?

Your “user name” is often publicly visible when you work with online social media tools. Consider selecting a name that best represents the business image you want to project. It may be challenging to find a name that reflects your online persona and is also still available – you might have to write a list of potential names before deciding on one – try to be as original and descriptive as you can. Once you have selected a “brand name” to use for your online interactions, be sure to reserve that name in as many places as you can. Sign-up for as many social media sites/services and forums as possible, even if you have no immediate plans to interact with the public through the service. You want to keep your options open and wouldn’t want to discover someone else using the name you are working to establish as your online brand.

List of Common Social Media tools

socialmediaiconsThe term Social Media covers such a wide variety of tools – from Facebook and YouTube, to LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging – and that’s only a small sampling of what could be considered “social media.” The social media tools you elect to use will depend on your goal. The below list is a short description of the most common tools.

Facebook: A social networking website — a gathering spot, to connect with your friends and with your friends’ friends. Facebook allows you to make new connections who share a common interest, expanding your network and helping you build relationships.

Twitter: A social network that enables users to exchange news and opinions mostly concerning specific topics. Your post – called a “tweet” is a short message (140 character maximum) that is publicly broadcast. Anyone can subscribe to your “tweets” and be notified each time you make a post.

YouTube: A video sharing website on which users can upload and share videos, and post comments about the video.

Blogs: A website where individual(s) can post a variety of content from video and podcasts to traditional text and photos to inform or create discussions. Readers can submit comments to the individual’s post. The original poster is encouraged to respond to reader comments which helps develop the relationship further.
Common Blogging sites include Blogger.com, WordPress, Featured Blogs and Active Rain.

Flickr: Is an image and video hosting website and online community. The service can also be used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and other social media.

LinkedIn: Is a Business-oriented social networking site.

Creating the Plan:

Creating Your Plan Form

To assist you in developing your plan, print the planning form here: Social Media Plan Form.

Completing this worksheet will get you started on your social media strategy. In the following article you will learn how to implement your social media campaign to best effect.