Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. – Old West Proverb


There is some good ‘ol advice in that there proverb.  Somethin’ worth a good chewin’ on.  Now let’s quit beatin’ the devil around the stump and get to talkin’ some social media.


That old proverb makes a lot of sense.  As Realtors, business owners and individuals alike we are drawn to social media and the romantic story that it presents.  Adopting Facebook and Twitter means our world is more connected and our reach is far greater than it has ever been.  However, in some ways we are being forced to adopt a strategy and a set of rules put in place by a couple of very successful businesses.  Much like the barber and the haircut, Facebook and Twitter are telling you how to advertise and promote your business.


We are barely a decade into what has come to be known as Social Media.  Friendster, launched in 2002,  was the first social site to surpass the 1 million user mark.  Myspace launched in 2003 and temporarily surpassed Google as the most visited U.S. site.  The two sites most use today, Facebook and Twitter, launched in 2004 and 2006 respectively.  We’re not talking a very long time ago.  If you compare this to another form of media we are all familiar with, television, Social Media is just a baby with a lot of learning and growing still to do.


There were a lot of milestones in the invention of Television.  Many creative and curious minds pushed the limits of reality.  There were many different technologies that worked together in bringing moving images into everyone’s home.  From the discovery of photoconductivity to the invention of the cathode ray tube, there were many discoveries that lead up to the first real demonstration of a working television system in 1926.  By my calculation that was 86 years ago.  Television has evolved and grown as new technologies have improved quality and creative ability.  That is 86 years of learning and growing.


By comparison, Social Media is still in the 1930s.  Now simple math doesn’t paint the full picture.  Technology is growing at a faster pace than ever and Social Media has effected change on popular culture and the way we market our businesses like nothing before it.  That doesn’t change the fact that Twitter and Facebook still have a lot of learning to do, not to mention knowledge that businesses need to acquire to effectively leverage the benefits of social media.  While these platforms are evolving this can be quite the challenge for small businesses.


There are many examples of juvenile behaviour by these social titans.  Facebook is a shining example.  No one can deny the success this platform has achieved.  Facebook has obviously done something right in connecting the largest network of people the world has ever seen.  However, as has been documented numerous times, Facebook was not some masterful plan.  It was a simple idea that resonated with so many people in such a short amount of time that it caught even its founders by surprise.  This means the platform has been developing in front of our eyes.  A platform that was originally a spin off of Hot or Not now approaches a billion subscribers and hosts pages for the biggest brands in the world.  It has dragged us through Privacy Policy controversies and numerous revamps to its interface.  Now as a public company its ultimate responsibility is to its investors and the financial bottom line.  We witnessed their attempts at monetizing mobile while their stock performed far below expectations.  The process of turning a profit often conflicts with the founders’ original vision for the platform.  Such is business.


Social Media sites have been feuding with each other.  Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected.  Though by connected they seem to mean more connected through Facebook.  There have been public feuds with Twitter and revocation of some sharing privileges.  Facebook blocked the sharing of instagram images directly to Twitter.  Twitter countered with the launch of its own photo filtering app, Vine.  Google jumped into the fray with Google+ and continues to integrate more and more of it’s core email and chat functions with its social platform forcing you onto their social network whether you want to or not.  It truly is high noon in the good ol’ wild west.


What does this all mean for your business?  We’re being told we need to invest our time into social media but where do we focus our efforts?  Myspace was massive at one point.  Is it possible Twitter and Facebook will experience the same decline that Myspace did?  These questions are impossible to answer.  Digital history, as short as it is, has taught us that things can change very quickly in the online world.  Facebook may grow and evolve over decades.  50 years from now people may read the history of Social Media in amazement and praise their founders as pioneers.  Or something new and better will take its place.  Only time will tell.


When we started to build HOMEADNET we looked very seriously at the social aspect of our platform.  Our goal from the outset was not to create a Social Media site.  The idea was to create a flexible and dynamic online marketing experience for Realtors.  This included web and mobile tools that work within and outside a social framework.  This included a content management system that was powerful and easy to use.  The social side of HOMEADNET is something we looked long and hard at.  We came to the conclusion that Realtors needed help with their digital strategies.  This means web and social, two very different things that could co-exist in perfect harmony.  When we say web we mean a Realtors website, a platform where individuals and businesses maintain control of content, layout and branding.  By social we are referring to a niche Real Estate focused network in addition to connectivity to today’s popular social media sites.  The one constant in this equation is the content.


As a Realtor, the core of your content is your listings, whether your own or properties of interest you have found for your clients.  Your content is also the messaging you choose to associate with your services and your branding.  This could be blogs, articles, links and status updates.  All of this content is important since it represents you to your current and prospective clients.  What is of equal importance is getting people to see your content.   Managing this content really is the true challenge.  It’s not choosing the right host company for your website.  It’s not spending a lot of time on Facebook.  It’s defining and managing a good content management strategy that assists your web and social goals.  A strategy that complements your day to day workflow by not consuming the valuable time needed to run your business.  This is what HOMEADNET provides to Realtors, a comprehensive system that lets users manage their content while maintaining focus on their core business activities.  This content flows seamlessly from a customized website to a niche social network.  It  connects to Facebook, Twitter, LInkedIn and in real time.  It provides tools to minimize redundancies and repetitive online tasks.  This is simply why we can’t call HOMEADNET just a social network.  We are aiming to make Realtors more social and we are constantly studying trends and techniques that will keep our platform connected to the mainstream.  We are not looking to reinvent the wheel.  We are helping to build roads and highways for our users to travel by developing better tools and services so we can grow with our users’ needs.


By choosing to focus on a niche industry we can remain laser focused on what Realtors need.  We can watch other social networks duke it out at the OK corral and adapt our social connectivity tools as things evolve and change.  However, what is most important for us is being able to supply useful tools to Realtors that make their online lives better and easier to manage.


Now before I start talkin' a donkey’s hind leg off I’ll just leave ya with this:

As a current or prospective HOMEADNET subscriber there are a ton of powerful marketing tools ready to help you market your business.  The most important of which is the ability to own your content.  Owning your content means owning your brand and ultimately your message to your customers and prospects.  Take the time to empower yourself by embracing an online strategy that you can control yourself.  Your business will thank you.


Thanks for reading.