Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

Jamie Biesiada is on leave. This insight originally appeared in the Home-based Agent eNewsletter Jan. 23, 2017.

Agents might find it tempting to forgo owning their own website, whether it's because they're active on social media sites or for another reason entirely, but that would be a mistake, according to Margie Jordan, vice president of membership services at CCRA. 

CCRA recently released the results of a survey its agents took, and the results revealed some interesting findings regarding agents' online presence.

For starters, more than one quarter of respondents (27%) said they don't have a website.

Among agents who do have a website, 24% of respondents said they don't use their site at all, while 14% "barely send people there." Conversely, 39% said they found their website "somewhat important," while the remaining 23% called it "critical" to their business.

The survey also revealed that 71% of respondents use social media to sell travel. Facebook was ranked the No. 1 social channel, followed by LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Despite the popularity of social media, Jordan said a website remains an important part of an agent's online presence and business plan.

"This question has been debated for a little while, especially with the onslaught of social media," she said. "You get agents wondering, you know, 'Do I really need to have a website because I'm so active and present on social media sites?' But yeah, the answer is always going to be yes for a number of reasons."

First, she said, agents have no control over social media and how their posts appear to others.

"Social media is nothing that you own. It changes without your permission. The rules on how you market change without your permission," she said. A website, however, gives agents their own real estate online.

Additionally, social media doesn't give agents much brand control, Jordan said. On Facebook, users can upload a cover photo and a profile picture, but outside of that branding opportunities are limited.

Social media and business websites can exist in harmony, though.

Jordan suggested agents view their website like their home office.

"That's the place where you transact business, where you make sales, where you close the deal. That's where you do it," she said. "That's where you sit down behind the desk and you have that real conversation with a potential traveler, and you close the deal. That's tough to do on Facebook."

Facebook and other social sites should be looked at like networking events, she said: They're good places to meet people, tell them about what you do and start to develop a relationship. 

Once that relationship is formed, Jordan said agents can try to close a deal and sell that person travel, but that usually happens off social media.

"Agents just have to keep in mind while [social media] is a crazy effective tool for generating new leads, it also comes with restrictions," she said. "There's only so much you can do and there's only so many ways you can do it, and some of the ways are going to cost you money."

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