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Social Media—To Use or Ignore?

It is hard to believe that some of us can visualize a world without television. I remember that our farm family drove to a neighbor’s farm to see their new TV set. It was about 1958; there was only one black-and-white channel and we watched professional wrestling!

When I first got into the real estate business in 1974, my broker gave me a pad of Purchase Contracts and Lease Forms and two sheets of carbon paper to do business. No copiers were available, yet somehow we did business daily without many problems.

I remember when I bought my first computer, an IBM XT for $10,000, in mid-1983. I thought I was probably stupid for spending that much money (and I sort of forgot to tell my wife about it). Fortunately, I immediately sold a farm because I could show the benefit to a client, using a Lotus spreadsheet, of accepting a lower interest on a carryback loan by exchanging the note for a Beginning Farmer tax free bond. That paid for the computer so that I could at least show my new office decoration to my wife.

In the past 35 years, we have been introduced to copiers, fax machines, car phones, the World Wide Web, laptops, cell phones, smart phones, apps, YouTube, and iPads. Our communication possibilities have exploded, and we have learned that timeliness is paramount to success. Our clients soon expected us to have fax machines, Internet, and websites plus use FEDEX, email, and texting—and to be more available to them. Family communications also benefited.

Along the way, some brokers in our industry, clients or family, vowed to not participate. Some took pride in claiming they didn’t have email or a smart phone! Most were failed attempts or just excluded themselves from our circle of business or acquaintances.

As a personal example, I was slow to venture into social media. I had a Facebook account but wasn’t using Twitter, thinking it was unnecessary. I thought Twitter was only for quick notes between friends, even though the media seemed to embrace this technology completely.

However, over Christmas, my son told me that much of his daily news and industry information starts with Twitter.

I couldn’t believe that, but now that my sons have helped set up my Twitter account, I am finding the same thing. I now start my day with Twitter feeds that follow news outlets, commentators, sports, and our real estate industry. The best Twitter feeds give tidbits of info that include a link to a news article, blog, or study attached for the details. I have become quite interested in the potential of social media, and I recommend the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Still, some try to be indifferent by telling people they are not on Facebook or don’t have a Twitter account, or they say “What the hell is Pinterest or Snapchat? Young and older family members are missing fantastic opportunities to stay more connected with their grandchildren using email, text messages, Facebook postings, or FaceTime.

Many of us still believe that print media, network, and cable TV are the primary sources of information. However, I have recently learned that many young professionals ignore print, don’t subscribe to cable, and are gaining most of their info from their smart phone, starting with things like Twitter and cell phone app links to the Internet.

Now clients want to see your website, video, or brochure immediately via some electronic source and are impressed with your social media usage. If social media is not necessary, why are banks and businesses all introducing their new online mobile apps?

Whether we are an individual practitioner, a business, or an organization, we had better pay attention! Communication channels are changing as rapidly as technology, and we can ignore it to our own peril! Our kids are growing up highly tech savvy, and the best younger brokers and future clients in our industry will not go back to a previous time.

We must embrace these new communication innovations or be left behind! Social media ignorance is not an option!

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who survive but those who are quickest to adapt.”—Charles Darwin.

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