Many self-proclaimed experts tout the importance of social media in real estate marketing as if it were a nitroglycerin prescription for someone with a heart ailment. Without it you will die.

And they get away with this B.S.

We have to remember that social media are communication channels; and, yes, their power, their ability to engage and cause immediate action indeed can be daunting. But they are still just channels and they are not the only channels you can use to reach, engage and cause your target audiences to respond.
In fact, if you use social media incorrectly it will become that other kind of nitroglycerin: It can blow up in your face, quite literally.
Social media done correctly is as challenging and daunting today as Search Engine Optimization or SEO: Forever changing, requiring constant adjustments and what worked yesterday is no longer valid today.

Step one: Only commit to what you are able to do well, even if it is only a single social media channel and stay committed.
Step two: Know the social media channel well before you make the commitment and keep tabs on how it is changing.
Look no farther than Facebook to understand the importance of Step two.

Facebook follies

There is nearly universal frustration with Facebook these days. I am frustrated by the fact I have to go to my wife’s timeline to see most of her posts because Facebook’s algorithm doesn’t think I’m interested. It’s makes zero sense.

And it’s not just me. Two studies showed that 93.85 percent of the people we want to reach on Facebook might never see our posts, according to EdgeRank and Social@Olgilvy.

Both studies showed that on Facebook, an unpaid post – called an “organic post” – will only reach 6.15% of the number of people who have liked your business page.

Couple that with the endless “improvements” Facebook makes (yes, I too get red-faced every time this happens and find myself Googling to locate the “most recent” versus “top stories” setting that FB has moved for the umpteenth time), it’s no wonder teenagers are fleeing Facebook for Tumblr.

Still, Facebook still rules in social media. I’ve used “boost your posts” with incredible success. We simply have to realize that today’s strategy is moving away from organic to paid posts and follow-me advertising on the side.

The result: Facebook may be frustrating the majority of us, but it continues to reel in the cash

However, I would suggest that no one remains on top forever. Just ask Stuart Wolf.

Where there is a weak link, there is an opportunity for the chain to break. The question is, will Facebook fix it, or will something new, like Ello, the latest candidate to be dubbed “Facebook killer,” fill the void?

Loving LinkedIn

In the interim, one social media channel that is trying to fill the void and I would argue needs more attention from real estate marketers is LinkedIn

Countering Facebook’s organic post plunge, LinkedIn is far more generous in sharing and more effective in delivering one of the most important metrics to real estate marketing: Corporate website traffic.

Econsultancy picked LinkedIn as the clear winner when it comes to social referrals to your corporate homepage, after a two-year study.

How much more effective is LinkedIn than Facebook?

  • A single LinkedIn status update reaches 20% of your followers, while FB can deliver fewer than 7 percent.
  • LinkedIn sent 64% of social referrals to corporate homepages, while Facebook only sent 17%.
  • Twitter was a close second to FB with a 14% referral to homepage rate.
  • YouTube delivers a measly .01% share of referrals to corporate websites, the same as SlideShare and Google+
  • 60% of LinkedIn users are looking for industry insight
  • Over half are looking for your Company news
  • 43% are looking for your products and services

But again, LinkedIn is a social media channel, albeit one of the fast growing ones, and is likely to change – and by that I mean charge – more and more for what is currently free.
That means more advertising and paid promotional postings on LinkedIn in the future, which brings us back to taking a look at Ello.

Hello, Ello

The buzz today is around a new Facebook alternative, Ello.

Now in Beta and wait-listing future users, Ello’s major differentiator is that it’s ad free. It’s beautifully designed: Lots of white space, use of today’s trendy circle photos and images, and void of the crass and clutter that has become Facebook.

Founded by two graphic designers, it has a very Apple-esque feel: Inviting and elegant.

That’s not a temporary proposition: Ello is promising to stay ad-free forever.

Ello founders and investors signed a charter prohibiting Ello from selling user data or ads and, get this, the charter also includes language that prohibits future owners or investors from doing the same, even if the firm is acquired or its assets are transferred.

That’s a bold approach, but how the heck are they going to make money, you ask?

Early word is Ello believes users will pay for the privilege to use an ad-free social platform, much as they pay HBO for content without commercials, using a “Freemium” model selling more advanced features to users.

The VC crowd is buying that pitch: They just received a Series A funding of $5.5 million.

The buzz is huge: Every hour, as many as 30,000 people are entering their email to be on the invite list. Not bad considering they don’t even have an app.

Ello clearly is enjoying the “FOMO” or fear of missing out phase that uber-cool and disruptive products seem to garner.

Time will tell if Ello is a fad that will flame out, or a trend worth watching.

What Ello underscores for me is the love-hate relationship many of us are having with Facebook. For some, it has become hate-hate relationship with Facebook and a growing desire for something better, like a news feed that actually feeds us things we are actually interested in.