The following contribution is by Warren Sumner, Sales Associate with the Triangle Specialist Team out of our Fonville Morisey Brier Creek sales office and is reprinted with permission by the publisher, Circa Magazine. Warren recently wrote an article about the very real problem of social media addiction that included not only tips about how to avoid it, but also how to use social media successfully as a real estate agent. The article also quotes Lisa Sullivan, Digital Media Marketing Director and Laura Pedersen, Sales Associate out of our Fonville Morisey Wake Forest sales office as well. Thanks to all for sharing your insights and expertise on this topic!
You see it in every park, every movie theater, at every concert or sporting event. The soft glow of the face of a smartphone; the frantic typing of thumbs sending the latest text, the latest tweet. These devices dominate our society, our cars while they head down the highway, our dinner tables at night. The worlds of real estate and social media are naturally intertwined, with promotion and client communication through Facebook, Google Plus, Linked-In and Twitter proving as the lifeblood of some new agents. As ‘plugged in’ as we all are, however, there are those who would believe that we’ve never been more disconnected from one another.
Boost Mobile recently conducted a survey of 500 Australian young adults and 60% admitted an addiction to social media. The Mobile Youth Report for 2012 found that 20-29 year olds spend a full two hours interacting socially online. Per BrandonGaille.com, a small business entrepreneurs blog, the average American spends 24% of their workday “cyber loafing.” and an estimated 350 million social media users suffer from Facebook Addiction Syndrome. There is an official term for the world’s growing addiction to social media: Social Media Addiction Disorder.
A local Life Coach, Unpack Your Life’s Danica Trebel, said she has seen this phenomenon often in her counseling work with Triangle families –
“The introduction of and dependence on social media in today’s society has all but eliminated the need for “real life” conversations in families and other personal relationships. With the busy schedules everyone keeps these days, I agree it’s much better to send a quick text or post a “thinking of you” on a person’s wall. The flip side of that, however, is more important topics are often sent electronically, and since “tone” can rarely be translated in texts or FB posts, many times the meanings of these correspondences end up in miscommunications and misunderstandings. Our society is geared toward instant gratification, and smart phones play perfectly into the deconstruction of life skills and relationships…. it’s nearly impossible to foster a healthy relationship of any kind without in-person connections being the main form of communication.”
Time Management is Key!
Lisa Sullivan, the Digital/Social Media Marketing Director at Fonville Morisey Realty, doesn’t disagree with the negative impact social media can have on personal relationships; but just isn’t as quick to paint Facebook, Twitter and the like as the “Great Satan” others make them out to be. Sullivan spends much of her day online, as her professional responsibility of managing the company’s online presence, and educating its agents on using social media in their careers, gives her a unique perspective.
“I’m on social platforms in some capacity eight hours a day for what I do for Fonville Morisey so professionally, I’m more of the exception than the rule,” she said. “What it really boils down to is time management. Whether personally or professionally, you have to decide how you want to spend your time online as well as offline in order to maintain balance – work-life, online marketing versus offline marketing, personal vs. professional, etc. Professionally, you can’t ignore digital media now that search and social are so intertwined. You have to be where your customers are. Personally, you create a different set of parameters of where you want to be and for how long you wish to engage on whichever platform you have chosen. I don’t always feel the need to check into Foursquare whenever I go somewhere.”
So what does the social media addict do to change their ways?
According to Trebel, there is a pathway out, but it takes a lot of work.
“I would recommend a person make a list of his or her priorities and then pay attention to where the majority of his time is being focused. If the person is filling a void of some sort with FB or texting while driving, I would help that person set guidelines and goals (using baby steps) as a way to curb their dependence on their smartphone. For instances, rather than keeping the phone next to them while driving and hearing its subtle yet endearing pleas ‘ to only have eyes for it’, I suggest leaving it in a place it can’t be reached until after the car is safely parked at its destination. Awareness is key in this process, so take one step at a time, do your best to repair relationships through one-on-one conversations and forgive yourself when it doesn’t happen “perfectly” after just one day. Your self talk is just as important as any other conversation you have, and so turn off the smartphone and call a friend who cares…for real!”
Know your client
Unfortunately for Fonville Morisey Wake Forest agent, Laura Pedersen, that wasn’t an option last year, during the destruction surrounding Hurricane Sandy. With lines of other communication down, Pedersen was forced to activate and a Twitter account just to stay in contact with family members in the affected areas. “ I had only used social media a little before that experience; some light usage on Linked In, not much to speak of. I joined Twitter (during Hurricane Sandy) because it was the only way I could stay connected to my family members up there.”
Pedersen said through that experience and trainings in Fonville Morisey Realty classes, she has adopted more of a social media presence…to a point.
“I employ social media on a limited basis in my day. I think a good general rule is to know your client; know how they want to be communicated with. My Baby Boomer clients want to be seen in person, whereas my Millennials would be perfectly content if they could handle the entire transaction through text message. It’s just a matter of knowing what works best for every group.”
Pedersen quotes motivational speaker Patricia Fripp to sum up her online communications philosophy: ‘Technology doesn’t run an enterprise, relationships do.’ You really have to get to know someone,” Pedersen says. “Social media is only a tool.”
A previous version of this blog ran in Circa Magazine a lifestyle magazine based in North Raleigh and Wake Forest.
Image of mobile apps credit to Fonville Morisey.
Image of individual using a social media application courtesy of Raleigh-based House of Matador Photography and Art. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.