078: How to authentically use social media to promote your membership – with Maris Callahan

Maris Callahan is the founder of The Social Broker, a content membership that helps Real Estate agents to build great online brands. In this episode, she joins Ward to discuss how to be unique and authentic when creating a social media marketing strategy.

✍️ Show Notes

📄 Show Transcript

This transcript is computer generated, please excuse any errors 🙂

Ward Sandler: Welcome, everybody! Today I’m talking with Maris Callahan, the CEO and founder of The Social Broker, a content membership empowering real estate agents to build polished and thriving online brands. She’s a long time believer in social media with 15 years of experience in public relations and social media for big brands, innovative entrepreneurs, and some of the largest national real estate companies. Maris is a returning guest. So welcome back to the Membership Maker Podcast. 

Maris Callahan:  Thank you for having me back. It’s good to chat again!

Ward Sandler: Yeah, for sure. You’ve got years of experience helping clients run successful social media campaigns, and you’ve seen a lot of what works and what doesn’t, what are the most creative ways to market a membership on social?

Maris Callahan: So this answer might sound like a cop out, but it’s really to be unique and to be authentic and to think about ways to share your messages and ways to promote your service or your product offering in a way that will, again, resonate with that target audience that you’re trying to reach. So, you know, if you’re looking at other memberships and saying, ‘Oh, I want to do what that person’s doing’, you’re probably going to end up not looking very unique or maybe people will say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t seem very on brand’. So always really thinking about what is yours. What is your purpose, and what is your brand stand for? And really clearly, and directly communicating those messages through social media.

And these days, there are so many different, fun things you can do. You can create Instagram reels and short videos, and there are a lot of podcasts opportunities to do. I think a lot of entrepreneurs often suffer from what I call the bright, shiny object syndrome and that we want to do everything and we want to be everywhere. But I think the most productive marketing strategies are usually when you start small. And really be present there. So if you decide that you’re going to use Instagram to get in front of new clients, show up every day, post engaging content that adds value to the community, position yourself as a resource before you do any kind of selling. And really get to know and build relationships with your potential clientele online. And of course, like I said, there’s lots of tactics. You could look at doing videos and guides and podcasts and PR, and there’s so many different ways you can do that. But what’s really most important is to show up, to be consistent and to be authentic to your brand.

Ward Sandler: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. In terms of finding which of the many options to promote yourself on, it sounds like especially if you’re newer to it, maybe it makes sense to experiment a bit, right? Maybe get out there and try different forms, whether that’s posting a daily video or getting on podcasts or writing a blog or participating heavily in Facebook groups, what would you say? It makes sense to kind of dabble in all of them and maybe see what do you enjoy doing, right? Because if it’s something you hate doing, maybe you’ll get to like it eventually, but it’s probably more likely that you’re going to be running up hill. But there might be other forms of social media or marketing that you do enjoy doing, and be better to kind of lean into those. Would you agree? 

Maris Callahan:  I do. I think it’s good idea to pick two or three things to start with, to your point, it’s important to diversify. I’ll tell a personal story. My Instagram account was hacked. I sell Instagram, education and tips for a living, and my Instagram account was recently hacked and I was locked out for a few days and during that time I realized, well, wow! It really is a good thing that I have other social networks that I can use to communicate with my audience and with my clientele. So it’s really important not to put all your eggs in one basket, because let’s say you are using Instagram. You don’t own that content.mInstagram owns that content. So if I was to recommend three things for anybody starting out, I would say, do Facebook and Instagram together, and have an Email, some sort of email list because you can, you own the email addresses that people give you email signups are a form of currency. They’re saying in exchange for the ability to market, to me, here’s my email address. And in return, you know, they’re probably getting an offer or a freebie, or maybe just the great content that you’re sending to your email list each week. But in general, what you can expect is, you know, that social networks will kind of phase in and out the way we get information is here to stay. But who knows if you know, five years, 10 years from now, we’ll still be on Instagram, or if we’ll be active on a different platform that we haven’t even heard of yet.

Ward Sandler: And then my other quick question was around being authentic, right? So that’s another one of those things that I’ve definitely heard people say, and I agree, but I think it’s a bit of a squishy word that gets kind of hard to wrap your head around. What does that actually mean? I think most of us can tell it when we see in others like, ‘Oh, they’re definitely being authentic’, and we can tell the flip side of like, ‘Oh, they’re definitely being fake right now’. But you know, personally, I do find it hard sometimes to be fully authentic when you’re doing anything online, because we all want to put our best foot forward. We all want to present a good image of ourselves. And I think it’s maybe hard to sometimes show the not so great stuff. So do you have any kind of tips in terms of how do you define being authentic, and how do you kind of know if you are being authentic or if you’re not? I would imagine it might be easy to sort of trick yourself into thinking you’re being authentic and you’re not? 

Maris Callahan: I’ll answer this the way I answer it for my agents when they come to me and say, do I need to do X? And I think there is a lot of we live in this world where Instagram influencers aresort of everywhere, and people see what they’re doing and think, Oh, I need to do that too if I want to be successful on this platform. But I always tell my agents, you need to use social media to amplify what you’re already doing that took recreate the wheel. And if you’re not somebody who likes to kind of, how do I phrase this? If you’re not somebody who gets dressed up every day and who is always like dressed to the nines with hair and makeup done, then you know, it will look weird if all of your professional branding photos are like, really stylized and super glam. And then you’re presenting kind of a different image than is the experience clients have when they meet you. I’m a pretty casual person. But, is it good to have those professional branding photos? Yes, but I always tell my agents, like you want the persona that you put out in the world to be aligned with what people will experience when they meet you and when they work with you. And you know, my favorite thing to say is you are a real estate agent and not a reality TV star. If you want it to be a reality TV star, you probably would have gone to journalism school instead of getting your real estate license. So, you know, making sure that you are staying true to like the brand that feels comfortable and thinking about what is that experience that I provide to my clients.

And how do I show that online? I just came off of a call, all with a new person who is new to my membership. And she said, I’m having a heck of a time learning this, you know, learning how to sort of work this program. A design program that works in concert with the content that I provide, and I did a half-hour call with her, and it was super casual, and she was just thrilled to have that experience, to have that access to me. So, you know, in exchange for maybe I don’t provide the most formal, we were in our sweatshirts and super casual. Maybe I don’t provide a formal experience, but I do provide access and education and information where somebody else might not like get on the, you know, get on the screen until they’d, you know, kind of tell they felt like they were sort of had that perfect image, but for my brand, yeah, sure.

I’ll hop on the phone with you feels authentic, and that’s the kind of experience that I want people to feel like they’re going to get if they pop over to my social media. 

Ward Sandler: Yeah, I think that’s a good way to kind of think about it and what popped into my head too, was like, if a friend of yours or even a coworker, but friends, probably a better way to think of it, of a friend of yours were to look at what you’re posting and from your business perspective and be like, that is not Maris like that is some creation of a persona that that’s probably a good red flag that you’re doing something that’s not authentic. And maybe that’s a good way to kind of test. Is this actually authentic, and ask your friends. 

Maris Callahan: Exactly. And, you know, if you feel comfortable while you’re doing it, like nobody feels totally comfortable when they’re getting the professional headshot taken. And it is important to have some professional branding photos don’t get me wrong.

But if your goal is to sell more real estate, You’re not going to accomplish that by every other week, doing a professional photo shoot, where you have to sit in a chair and get your hair and makeup done for two hours. So, it’s thinking, what are my goals and how am I getting there and how do I show people that version?

I use the term a lot, I like to think I coined it, but I’m sure it’s been around. And that’s what is your brand personality? Everyone has a brand, whether you know it or not, and everyone has a personality, but to your earlier point where you said people want to put their best foot forward, and that’s okay if you have a professional social media presence. Well, of course, you don’t want to post maybe once in a while, you’ll post the photo where you’re in your pajamas or something like that, but you’re not going to want to do that every day. You do want to put that polished professional image of yourself out there. So it’s how do I bread? My personality and the experience people have when they work with me with a little bit of, you know, a little kind of sprinkling in some of that sort of professional best foot forward. 

Ward Sandler: Maris, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We really appreciate it. Would you like to share any resource or recommendations for folks trying to learn more about The Social Broker? 

Maris Callahan: Thank you. Yeah, my website is Thesocialbroker.com, and over on Instagram, I’m @the.social.broker 

Feel free to drop me a DM and say hi. I always love to talk about memberships. 

Ward Sandler: Sounds good. Thanks, Maris. 

Maris Callahan: Thanks, Ward.