Between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, Youtube, Tumblr, blogs, Flickr and the virtually endless barrage of new online tools coming out every day, it’s hard to figure out how you can maximize your online presence without devoting your life to social media. We asked three home inspectors to discuss what social media tools work best for their business and how they use the internet to draw in real-life clients.
Peter Walker, owner of A1 Property Inspections in Orange County, California, knows that when it comes to social media, you’ve got to give to receive. After posting on Facebook did not yield the type of clients he was looking for, Walker turned to LinkedIN and has quickly build a following of 800 to 900 real estate pros. Walker credits his online success (and all the additional business that came from it) to posting his thoughts about the industry on a regular basis and by connecting real estate professionals across the country. “If someone says ‘Hey! I need an inspector in Florida,’ I’ll look at my connections and see if any of them are there,” says Walker. “Once I’ve found someone, I’ll look at their [professional] memberships and look up one of their reports to make sure ‘yes, this guy is quality.'” Walker banks big when it comes time to return the favor. “First you reach out to people and then they’ll refer you,” he says. “Everyone knows someone who’s buying a building.”
Brandon Diggs of DHI Home Inspections in the Washington DC area can turn real estate agents into repeat business in 140 characters or less. In addition to regularly tweeting out tips aimed at home buyers, sellers and realtors, Digg saysthat Twitter works because allows him to search local agents, see what they’re talking about and reach out them in a direct, but unobtrusive way. “I also send out cold call e-mails that introduce myself to [area] realtors and I’ll send them my brochure,” Diggs says. “That’s very effective.”
Banking on Blogs
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, founder of Your Houston Home Inspector, credits his blog for landing both clients and speaking gigs. Starting his blog in 2008, Shulte-Ladbeck gained followers by providing solid articles on this own site and by writing on other sites including Homefinder.com and Houstonrealestate.com. “I also started answering [home and housing-related] questions on sites like Yahoo! Answers and Answers.com,” Schulte-Ladbeck says. “I started to gain a little bit of authority that way.” Of course other social media tools helped too. Every time Frank posted a blog entry or answered a question, he used Facebook and Twitter to promote the post and drive traffic back to his blog. With approximately 6,000 monthly viewers, Schulte-Ladbeck’s blog has not only garnered clients and speaking gigs, but also interviews with national reporters. “If you’re going to be on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIN, you find a niche that works for you and you become known as a person who’s offering a solution. In my case, that’s talking about making a more energy and water efficient home,” he says. “You have to establish yourself as an authority and keep a consistent message.”
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