Industry divided over social media use

Stacey Moseley

A recent call for agents to replace social media with more face-to-face time with customers has sparked a robust response from various industry professionals.

“Social media is going to transform nearly all industries including real estate,” Paul Tonich, director of Melbourne-based Altitude Real Estate, told Real Estate Business.

“To neglect [social media] now, as a leader of an organisation, you will pay a price in five to ten years," Mr Tonich said on the sidelines of AREL 2012 late last week.

Mr Tonich’s comments came in response to remarks made by high performance industry trainer Josh Phegan. Mr Phegan told Real Estate Business at AREC 2012 that some of Australia's top agents had put aside social media and were instead reverting back to traditional means of communicating with customers.

“I totally disagree," he said. "Josh is a great guy and everyone has got their opinion. And what Josh says is not wrong, but this is the thing that confuses me, social media is such a powerful tool,” Mr Tonich said.

“But if you take social media on you don’t stop doing the traditional stuff either. There is no reason to make a choice between the two.

"We still hand cards out, we do letterbox drops, and we help grandmas cross the street. We do everything we’ve ever done for the last 40 years but we plug social media in as well.”

Mr Tonich is a specialist in using social media to create listings and sales. He spoke at AREL 2012 on the topic.

“We are only an agency of five sales people and we’ve got 25,000 followers on Facebook,” he continued.

“We are drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars into our business from social media.

“That doesn’t mean that it is for everyone. But if we are doing that, and we are an independent, single agency and we are not exactly computer gurus, then why can’t you do it?

“The fear of trust, fear of branding or what could go wrong is really minor compared to the benefits you could have if you actually just get it right.”

There was mixed opinion on the topic from the industry according to comment on rebonline.com.au. Gill Vivian, sales manager from ACTON Real Estate in WA, said she agreed with Mr Phegan.

“This is by far the best advice I have heard anyone say. Social Media is a fad, time consuming and the best place to do business is face to face or phone connect with that person,” she continued.

“Go back to the basics. Why do people try to fix something that has always worked is beyond me?”

Yet social media expert Greg Vincent wasn’t as convinced.

“I have the upmost respect for Josh Phegan and I agree that agents shouldn't be hiding behind technology but since the internet works 168 hours a week either for or against an agent, it's important to leverage the web and social media to your advantage,” he said.

“I have agents who now get called into listing presentations unopposed because of what they do via Facebook.”

Ted Pankhurst, principal and licensee with Mandurah First National in Western Australia, added that social media was a great way to connect with your target audience.

“There is no doubt that the best form of prospecting is meeting and talking to people, but to ignore social media is to deny yourself the opportunity to grow even more,” he said.

“Especially when you consider that the fastest growing demographic on social media is middle aged women.

“Embrace all types of marketing and give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.”

Stacey Moseley

A recent call for agents to replace social media with more face-to-face time with customers has sparked a robust response from various industry professionals.

“Social media is going to transform nearly all industries including real estate,” Paul Tonich, director of Melbourne-based Altitude Real Estate, told Real Estate Business.

“To neglect [social media] now, as a leader of an organisation, you will pay a price in five to ten years," Mr Tonich said on the sidelines of AREL 2012 late last week.

Mr Tonich’s comments came in response to remarks made by high performance industry trainer Josh Phegan. Mr Phegan told Real Estate Business at AREC 2012 that some of Australia's top agents had put aside social media and were instead reverting back to traditional means of communicating with customers.

“I totally disagree," he said. "Josh is a great guy and everyone has got their opinion. And what Josh says is not wrong, but this is the thing that confuses me, social media is such a powerful tool,” Mr Tonich said.

“But if you take social media on you don’t stop doing the traditional stuff either. There is no reason to make a choice between the two.

"We still hand cards out, we do letterbox drops, and we help grandmas cross the street. We do everything we’ve ever done for the last 40 years but we plug social media in as well.”

Mr Tonich is a specialist in using social media to create listings and sales. He spoke at AREL 2012 on the topic.

“We are only an agency of five sales people and we’ve got 25,000 followers on Facebook,” he continued.

“We are drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars into our business from social media.

“That doesn’t mean that it is for everyone. But if we are doing that, and we are an independent, single agency and we are not exactly computer gurus, then why can’t you do it?

“The fear of trust, fear of branding or what could go wrong is really minor compared to the benefits you could have if you actually just get it right.”

There was mixed opinion on the topic from the industry according to comment on rebonline.com.au. Gill Vivian, sales manager from ACTON Real Estate in WA, said she agreed with Mr Phegan.

“This is by far the best advice I have heard anyone say. Social Media is a fad, time consuming and the best place to do business is face to face or phone connect with that person,” she continued.

“Go back to the basics. Why do people try to fix something that has always worked is beyond me?”

Yet social media expert Greg Vincent wasn’t as convinced.

“I have the upmost respect for Josh Phegan and I agree that agents shouldn't be hiding behind technology but since the internet works 168 hours a week either for or against an agent, it's important to leverage the web and social media to your advantage,” he said.

“I have agents who now get called into listing presentations unopposed because of what they do via Facebook.”

Ted Pankhurst, principal and licensee with Mandurah First National in Western Australia, added that social media was a great way to connect with your target audience.

“There is no doubt that the best form of prospecting is meeting and talking to people, but to ignore social media is to deny yourself the opportunity to grow even more,” he said.

“Especially when you consider that the fastest growing demographic on social media is middle aged women.

“Embrace all types of marketing and give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.”

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