Do Not Follow This Social Media Advice

Filed in Featured, MY BEST POSTS, Social Media by Matt McGee on February 10, 2011 22 Comments

I actually feel bad for real estate agents these days. They get bombarded with crap from companies that sell pre-written Facebook status updates and ignorant SEO services. They get bad SEO advice from official channels. And they see something like this on the floor of the National Association of REALTORs conference and expo last year:


I love and recommend social media as much as the next guy, but your social network should NEVER be your #1 business asset. Why?

Remember AOL in the 1990s?

Remember MySpace in the 2000s?

They owned the online landscape. And now where are they? Shells of what they were before. And they’re not on anyone’s “must utilize” list of social/online networks. (Not even bands are finding MySpace as necessary as it used to be; they’re moving to Facebook.) Facebook and Twitter could disappear a year from now. It doesn’t seem likely, but neither did the fall of AOL and MySpace.

Better Advice: Own Your Own Digital Assets

Yes, you can and probably should be visible on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. But those should never be your #1 business asset — they should promote your primary business assets.

1.) Invest your time, energy, and money in something you own and control, not something that can disappear a year or two from now.

2.) Build your own business assets, not someone else’s.

3.) And, by all means, real estate agent or not, if you see a sign like the above, do not follow that social media advice.

(photo courtesy Phil Sexton/John Hall & Associates via Creative Commons)

Comments (22)

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  1. Aura says:

    …especially since the guidelines for human ‘quality raters’ for a search engine named Google says that a social media page is never the ‘top’ result for a restaurant, place, or service provider. Ever.

  2. Ryan Beale says:

    Great Post, Matt!

    Out of sheer frustration and hearing poor advice given to small business owners (some real estate agents), I wrote a few similar posts a few months back. I’m glad to see an industry leader like yourself preaching the good word on building your own digital assets.


  3. Carrie Grove says:

    Great point and very good advice.
    I also believe that it is important for a business to have a social media presence but the social media outlets should ultimately be driving traffic back to the business, it’s website and its offerings.

  4. Jeff says:

    I am actually not following that advice right now! I would even be hesitant to use a free hosting platform (wordpress, blogger) for my business hub. Violate their conservative terms of service and you could be out of business.

    • Matt McGee says:

      I’d also avoid the free blog hosting, too, Jeff. Grab your own domain, host it somewhere (but not GoDaddy, please), use WordPress software, and build out your own property online. You can take it with you from host to host, you can change domains if needed, you can export and import your blog content, etc. Nice flexibility.

      Thx for the other comments, too, guys. Appreciate it.

  5. Tom Jones says:

    I don’t think I’ve read an article that was as clear and concise as this.

    The person that owns forum has the control.

  6. Sylvia says:

    A-ha! I thought this page looked WordPressy! That’s a compliment, I just started using it myself, and I love it. Just tweak some PhP for customization and voila, a site that even a client can update themselves (I’m a newbie freelance web developer.)

    Anyway great advice, I’m also working to help an organization market themselves online and this site is a valuable resource.

  7. Dan Connolly says:

    The same people who believe this tell real estate agents to call everyone they know every couple of weeks and ask for business. They would have you pushing for business at every little league game, birthday party or while standing in line at the grocery store. The sad thing is how many desperate souls believe this hype and actually pay for the advice.

  8. Stephen Shearin says:

    Great article. I have been saying for a couple years now companies should be advertising rather than for the very same reason. Why any brand would spend their money branding someone else is folly that stuns me.
    Thanks for this piece. It will be shared.

  9. Kirill Storch says:

    OMG YES. This totally happened to me. It is so retarded. Also dumb when companies tell you to take one fb message and blast it to all your groups and connections. Retarded. Quick question, my office wants to do a branded real estate app iframed in Facebook? We found something we liked

    which has real estate elements, but we need something totally geared for us. Anything you can recommend that we can afford on a budget?

  10. Just yesterday, a large Christian radio website had their Facebook fan page taken down, by accident. They filed a DCMA, and Facebook promptly responded by taking down their fan page with close to 700K fans rather than that of the infringer. It was restored today after some inside help, but this is a good example of “poof,” and it can be gone.

    Good reminder!

  11. Clarification: The radio station had filed the DCMA for someone else using their name & logo in Facebook ads. Facebook erred and took the wrong site down.

    Bottom line, don’t put your eggs primarily in the Facebook or Twitter baskets.

  12. I think this advice applies well beyond real estate. I see my accountant now has a FB fan page and I can’t help but count the reasons why he has plenty of other options to grow his business.

    And let’s not forget the time drain. Keeping up with the Facebook Fan page changes is like chasing the wind. Time = money. And, the space isn’t ours…a point well taken.

    Agreed – put your time (hence your money) into your own digital assets! It’s like buying classic clothing – never goes out of style.

  13. Interesting… it’s certainly different advice than you get from many of the current crop of marketing books. They would have you using Facebook, etc., in a big way. Aside from keeping up your own web page, what other advice do you have for owning your digital assets? Doing your own email alerts rather than Twitter?

    • Matt McGee says:

      I’m not suggesting NOT using Facebook in a big way, Winthrop. I’m suggesting that it should never be the focus or hub of your social media efforts. It could disappear tomorrow, and then what are you left with? A lot of wasted time. By all means, small biz owners should be using Facebook and Twitter and whichever social network helps them connect best with customers. But these should be used as a way to promote assets that the small business owns, like its web site or blog. It’s not an either/or thing — you can do Twitter AND email, as long as you’re promoting that which you own.

  14. Jeff Oxley says:

    I find that a lot of real estate agents don’t want to invest the time and money in something that’s sustainable. They want quick results and to pay as little as possible.

  15. Rick says:

    Former Realtor here and this article is good advice. Not owning your content has tragedy written all over it. And the SEO bit? You’re right on, the framed websites agents get sold for $40/month is almost criminal.

    It’s okay to publish your content to FB and Twitter but be sure it resides on a domain you own.

    Definitely foot the bill and avoid the free services that use a subdomain. What happens when you want to migrate that content to another platform? While you can move the content, you cannot move the domain and will disappear in the search results.

    This article isn’t just true for real estate agents though, it applies to all businesses.

    • Matt McGee says:

      That’s true, Rick – it does apply to all businesses beyond real estate agents. Just ironic that such a sign would show up on the floor of the NAR convention considering all the other bad advice agents get sold.

  16. Adam says:

    First of all, just discovered this site and am enjoying it! This is my second comment.

    I agree with Matt, that Facebook, Twitter, (and whatever the new hot thing is next month) are marketing vehicles for your business, and your business (blog, website, etc.) should be something you own. I come from brick-and-mortar, so I think of Facebook and Twitter like billboards or magazine ads. They promote your brand and hopefully drive business to your doors.

    While monetization of social media is possible, if your business model is centered on someone else’s legal property, it can be destroyed by the flick of a switch.

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