It seems like I can't walk into a real estate agency without someone discussing social networking and web 2.0 for real estate. I've taken to referring to social networking as a marketing weapon of mass destruction, let me explain why.
The average real estate business outsources their property copywriting, their branding and their general marketing, yet due to the ease of access for Twitter
and blogs, many of the agents we work with are trying to bring the management of these functions in-house. This would be fine if agents had qualified marketers and content creators in-house, but in almost every case, the task of updating all of these new channels is being left to overworked advertising managers who already have 50-hour weeks managing vendor paid advertising.
This creates a few problems. Firstly, it treats web marketing as an afterthought--something that doesn't deserve the same level of strategic investment as other mediums. Secondly, it also means that the most trackable and searchable form of marketing that your business engages is also the least professional and polished. Finally, it also creates the very real problem in that you have given the Internet community an opportunity to criticise and engage with your brand in ways that are completely out of your control without the professional resources to make sure you are nourishing your brand rather than hurting it.
An example probably helps. I had a well meaning real estate principal call me a few months ago excited about his new blog. He was using the blog to talk about his view on the market and general trends. One of his competitors launched a "gorilla" attack on the blog and use the comment feature to question the author's ethics and business practises. Because the author had sent the link to his blow to his entire database, this battle played out very publicly and did very little to help him build his business.
You need to think about how you're going to handle this type of interaction and how it will affect your brand. I strongly suggest that social media should be avoided unless it is done properly and in conjunction with professional marketers--the web can be a dangerous place for your brand and you need to protect it aggressively.