Online epiphany: Social media useful, just don’t go overboard

By Robert Frank

“Social media has matured into just another tool,” concludes its former most ardent evangelist, David Allison.

“A few years ago, I was telling real estate professionals that social media was going to change the world,” Braun/Allison’s principal recalled. “Since then, I’ve stopped waving my arms frantically.”

“My diminished excitement about social media is at a very practical and tactical level. I still think it will change the way we communicate as human beings, and the proof of that transformation is all around us” he says.

Now, the advertising and marketing executive counsels against becoming a social media lemming.

“I have changed my mind completely regarding how effective it is at generating real estate sales,” he said.

“Digital searches and research have been proven to be the number-one way that prospects begin the hunt for real estate,” he observed. “Very few people will be influenced by a real estate Facebook page or Twitter feed.”

“We tried,” he conceded. “Lord knows, we ran contests, befriended the world and waited for them to friend us back. Not much happened.”
Paradoxically, Allison observed, real estate’s rush to social media heightened the effectiveness of 20th century marketing techniques.

“It turns out that some of the tried-and-true tricks that many of us had written off as outdated are now the most effective tools out there,” he acknowledged, “partly because no one is using them any more.”

Allison sees a role for social media nonetheless.

“It’s just not the central role that we anticipated,” he explained. “There are specific tactical applications that make sense—as well ridiculous applications that make no sense at all.”

Note: This report appeared on page 54 of the Spring 2013 issue of Canadian Real Estate Magazine.

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