Social media provides an opportunity for small businesses and individuals such as realtors and appraisers to market themselves in a unique way. One Sacramento real estate appraiser who has taken advantage of the benefits of social media is Ryan Lundquist of Lundquist Appraisal Company. Lundquist Appraisal Company provides residential real estate appraisals within the Sacramento area and works for brokers, banks, investors, governmental agencies, real estate agents, attorneys, homeowners and insurance agents. Lundquist began using social media in 2008 and started his blog in 2009. He was kind enough to join us for a Q&A.
Why did you decide to use social media?
I began to see everyone spending more time online, so it seemed like an obvious choice to jump in as a business. Also, there were some big changes in my industry that altered my book of business. I could no longer receive appraisal orders directly from loan officers beginning in 2009, so it made sense to further diversify my business out of lender work. If I was going to reach other types of clients, it was important to position myself as an authority online by beginning to answer questions and open up conversation on my blog.
What had you been doing before?
I would visit offices on occasion and bring people coffee. I also did some mailers and dropped off marketing packets. I actually used to use my fax machine to send Starbucks coffee orders too (I called this my “Starbucks Fax Marketing” system). Once the company faxed me back with their drink orders, I would then bring in five or so drinks of their choice. It worked really well to convert complete strangers into clients. It was a minimal investment, but a very personal one. After all, we all know how particular people get over their coffees.
Now that you have been at it a while, what would you say to an appraiser who isn’t using social media right now?
What are you waiting for? Social media can be a great tool to connect with clients as well as share your expertise. Too many appraisers complain about changes in the industry instead of doing something proactive about earning new types of business. Be tenacious and intentional about finding the right clients – ones you actually like. There is too much toxicity in the appraisal industry, so do your best to steer clear of that by having a compelling proactive vision for your business.
It’s hard to say. I think there are benefits to each platform, and I’m really glad to be on each of them. However, Facebook probably helps me connect with people the most. I do have a business Facebook page with 550+ likes. I tend to post there maybe two to three times per week to illicit conversation. I share photos, posts I’ve written and other thoughts. But other than that on my personal Facebook account I have hundreds of Facebook friends that work in the real estate community, so it’s nice to simply log in to Facebook and get to know people through commenting on their statuses or “liking” their photos.
Is it difficult for you to juggle all of these accounts?
Yes. At times I spend way too much time online. The issue though is not that there are too many accounts though. It’s more a matter that it’s hard to turn off the smart phone and to log off of Facebook. It’s very easy to waste time online (I know I’m not alone when I say that). Sometimes social media makes life feel too noisy, so I have to deliberately shut things down to get some peace. I don’t pretend to have the secret to a balanced life, but I will say my phone and computer will be off after work tonight.
You do a lot of videos. How valuable can videos be for a small business?
People are watching more and more videos these days, so having videos online to help answer questions or highlight aspects of business can definitely be relevant for consumers. I’ve found videos to be perfect in that consumers can get a feel for the business first by watching videos. If they like the videos and appreciate the information, they just might take it to the next level to call or email. Videos are great for sharing in blog posts or Facebook and Twitter. Videos also show up in search results, so having a presence on YouTube is actually really important for search results. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4JJzPqesYc&w=700&h=415]
How is it different for you using social media as an appraiser as it would be for, say, a real estate agent?
I don’t think it is much different at all because social media is about building connections. Yes, agents and appraisers may be connecting with different groups of people at times, but the methodology is likely similar. I will say for the real estate community it is important to remember the “social” part of social media – that it’s all about relationship. Let’s be honest, the “sins” of the real estate community are often self-promotion and overselling. This just doesn’t work well in social media though where people value helpful information and the opportunity to connect instead of being bombarded with houses for sale or marketing snippets to try to close the deal. All of us at some point have to realize that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and anywhere else is not about sales, but about relationships. We need to remove our Yellow Pages advertising mentality and instead approach these platforms with the idea of building relationships.
Your blog is a central part of your social media efforts, how important would you say fresh content is?
My blog is my main hub. I’d say it is the heart of my marketing and the voice of my business. Having a regular blogging rhythm is so important not only so readers can know what to expect, but also so search engines are getting fresh content to sift and index. I write two to three posts a week – all original content. I mention that because sometimes it’s easy to think of blogging as cutting and pasting someone else’s real estate articles into a blog page, but that’s not really a good practice. It’s best to provide original content because that shows personality and can deliver more credibility. For someone starting out I might suggest beginning with one post per month, bumping it up to twice a month and then maybe once a week. Ultimately, if you want to be dominant in your niche online, you simply have to find the time to create fresh content and do that with some sort of frequency – even when you feel too busy.
How passionate you are about your line of work tends to come through on your website and in your social media presence, how important is it for someone to channel the love they have for their work through their social media efforts?
I don’t know about you, but I like to do business with people who make a great product and seem to be sincere. I like it when people are passionate about what they are doing, but mostly I want people to be real, relatable and to see that they know what they’re talking about. Ultimately, I want to be able to trust people. That’s what matters most to me.
Do you use any type of traditional marketing (direct mail, print ads, etc.)?
No. But I do make it a point to teach classes and give presentations in real estate offices on a monthly basis. This is one way I get “face time,” which is important because social media definitely needs to be complimented by in-person interactions too.
I know you follow trends in the Sacramento housing market pretty closely, what are you seeing out there right now?
That’s right. I follow trends very closely. Let me give you a brief update. After the market bottomed out in the first quarter of 2012 after years of decline, we saw an exponential appreciation from the second quarter of 2012 through the end of the summer in 2013. Over the past few months, the market has really flattened out as inventory has increased, interest rates are up and cash investors have been pulling back a bit. For instance, most areas right now are currently being priced closer to July-ish 2013 right now. Of course, it’s important to realize that it is typical for the market to slow down during colder months too. Ultimately, the recent value increase was really aggressive, so it’s good to see things presumably slowing down a bit. Since there have been less cash investors lately too, this has given more space for FHA and conventional buyers to get their offers accepted.