Columbia Realtor uses profile to find prospective clientele

Web sites reach young buyers
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When David Ursery began working as a buyer’s agent for Reece and Nichols Realtors eight months ago, he wanted to find a way to meet people and find potential clients. He found that solution through, a social networking Web site.

“I needed to find a way to network that wasn’t intrusive,” Ursery said. He said he found asking people to add him as a friend on MySpace less intrusive than knocking on doors or making cold calls.

When a friend request is made, a message is sent to the potential friend and must be approved before MySpace will recognize the connection.

John Bennett, a marketing professor at MU’s College of Business, said that using social networks to market a product or service is a growing trend.

“Several companies are starting their own social networks to take advantage of the social-networking craze,” Bennett wrote in an e-mail. “The primary purpose of these networks is to build brand loyalty.”

On his MySpace profile, Ursery now has more than 1,500 online friends, which he got by requesting friendships with all users registered within 10 miles of the 65201 ZIP code.

He works with about 20 clients, and 75 percent of them came from MySpace friendships, he said. A buyer’s agent represents the person purchasing the home rather than the seller.

One such client is Mark Tatum, an assistant scientist at ABC Laboratories.

“First (Ursery) sent me a request to be his friend, and I didn’t have any reason to contact him,” Tatum said. “Then later my wife and I were looking

to rent a different place or maybe buy a home, and I thought ‘Who the heck do I know in real estate?’”

Tatum contacted Ursery, and now Tatum and his wife want to close on a house this month.

Marketing on social networks also works well for reaching younger consumers, Bennett said.

“Advertisers wanting to reach these consumers are wise to use the media they use, which now includes social networks,” he said.

But using social networking to market to other demographics might not be successful, Bennett said.

Ursery said that he has found many MySpace users in the Columbia area to be older, and he thinks MySpace is effective for finding clients of many ages because it’s basically just “a large group of people wanting to network.”

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