Social media and social marketing offer us an opportunity that is so much more powerful than most people realize. As Allan Dalton, chief marketing officer for RISMedia and co-founder and president of the “Top 5 in Real Estate Network®,” often says, social media represents the “democratization of information” and offers all of us the chance to become “citizen journalists.” In other words, through the effective use of social media, we can position ourselves as thought leaders. We can connect with people on a deeper, more meaningful level through this wonderful medium.

Truly becoming a thought leader, however, takes more than 140 characters and a few clever posts. To become a thought leader, blogging is an indispensable tool. Blogging not only allows you to share your information, but to facilitate, exchange and gather even more information. Through blogging, you are creating leverage by not only coming off as a thought leader, but, in turn, listening and learning from others who respond to your posts.

While I believe that we can all intellectually see the importance of sharing information, my instincts tell me that less than 10% of real estate professionals are currently blogging. And that comes from the misunderstanding that blogging is complicated and takes a long time. So while we know that it would be a really good thing to do, we convince ourselves that we just don’t have the time to blog. There are so many simple ways, however, to harvest information and, of equal importance, provoke more thought (i.e., pose questions, conduct contests), so that you are clearly positioned as a knowledgeable expert.

Dale Chumbley, for example, a REALTOR® in Vancouver, Washington, chose to express his passion about Vancouver by creating “365 Things to Do in Vancouver, Washington.” With this simple, yet effective, idea, Chumbley was catapulted to number two in Google search results and went from 50 to 5,000 to 50,000 followers.

One of the best definitions of marketing is “determining the unmet needs of your consumers.” In other words, the most critical part of marketing is deciding who you want to market to. Your social media marketing, therefore, must be based on understanding what your services are, what you offer and what segments of the market they best fit. You’ll create a bigger, more loyal network by attracting like-minded people to you with specific information instead of trying to be 31 flavors.

Once you’ve narrowed down your field and created your social media marketing plan, you must then balance your blogging to be a combination of planting seeds and expressing your thoughts and views while, at the same time, getting others to contribute. That’s how your blog—and your business—will grow exponentially. The best information you can put forth comes from harvesting what your audience wants to hear about—whether it’s real estate related or not—and allowing yourself to be guided and directed by their needs.

Lex Abbot, a REALTOR® in Salisbury, Maryland, for example, took it upon himself to become the local reporter for one of Ocean City’s most talked about annual events, the White Marlin Tournament where about $2 million in prize money is awarded to the winning fishermen. Abbot’s reporting created such a following that he instantly gained more than 400 new followers.

Your social media and blogging strategy boils down to this: “Who do I want to follow me?”; “What type of content can I offer that’s relevant to this group?”; and, “What are the most appropriate methods for delivering this content?”

George “Gee” Dunsten, president of Gee Dunsten Seminars, Inc., has been a real estate agent and broker/owner for almost 40 years. While not a university professor, Dunsten has been a senior instructor with the Council of Residential Specialists for more than 20 years. To reach Gee, please e-mail,

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