April 2009

Betty Melkon on Facebook: It’s not just for kids anymore

Author: Ann DeMart | Photographer: photography by anne

Betty Melkon isn’t one to take the challenging economy and real estate market at face value. Instead, the successful and enterprising realtor is using Facebook and other Internet networking and marketing tools to adapt to the changing real estate environment. A licensed Realtor for Charter I Realty and Marketing, Melkon specializes in luxury homes, beach-oriented property and investment property on Hilton Head Island. Before taking an online approach to her marketing efforts, she only used the Internet to check e-mail and listings. Then, she hired Brian Tierney as her marketing director. He set up a Facebook page, a website and a blog. “Betty now has more than 600 friends, has joined 200 groups, nearly 90 percent related to real estate,” Tierney said.
“I have a whole new way of working,” Melkon said. “Facebook is absolutely free and an amazing way to network with other realtors. I can find out what’s working for them and share my listings with them,” Melkon explained. “They’re not just in the Lowcountry, but also in other parts of the United States and Canada. I have even ‘friended’ a realtor in South Africa. After all, you never know who might want to purchase property on our beautiful island.” When she posts new properties on her Web site, www.hhiluxuryaddresses.com, she’s getting faster responses from the marketplace than ever before. She also posts her column, On The House, which she wrote for the Island Packet, on her website, and updates information regularly in her blog, www.onthehouse.ning.com. “Betty is increasing her overall online footprint,” Tierney explained. “She currently advertises on numerous local and regional Web sites, including localehiltonhead.com, localebeaufort.com and locallowcountry.com, as well as such national high-traffic sites as homefinder.com and hotpads.com, and uses Web video to connect with potential clients before she speaks with them in person.” Tierney said that Melkon now uses print advertising more effectively for branding and to reach specific niche markets. “She’s using Facebook, LinkedIN and other social networks to create relationships with out-of-area realtors and potential buyers.”
“Betty was one of the first realtors on Hilton Head Island who integrated all of the MLS listings into her Web site, which presents the information people need in a pleasing and use-friendly way,” Tierney said. “The goal of joining groups is to merge the online community with the real community, and create meaningful personal and business relationships. Facebook represents the ultimate ‘word-of-mouth’ and relationship opportunity. People want to know, do and relate to the same things as their friends. Betty is also using a bulk e-mail system to not only send many e-mails at once, but to track and analyze results.” Her marketing strategies are too numerous to name, but here’s an example of their success. She recently published a new listing on her site with the tools that Tierney has taught her to use, and within a matter of days, she had five inquiries, all serious potential buyers. As she said, “In this market, that is definitely unique.”
Melkon has spent her life adapting to new ideas and changing times. She started out as a teacher and lobbied for state and national changes in education. She became an investment consultant and managed pension funds, trusts and estates for such financial institutions as First Union Bank and what is now Wachovia Securities. She owned and managed At Your Service, which provided contract services for attorneys, physicians and other professionals, and sold the business in 1993. And since moving to Hilton Head, she married John Melkon, the developer of Singleton Beach, and has merged her family with his. So for this real estate professional, dealing with a changing market hasn’t been as daunting as the gloomy television news might indicate. For one thing, Melkon’s attitude is not just positive, it’s absolutely sunny, much like our fair island.
“People are buying again,” she said. “I truly believe that we have already hit bottom in the real estate market and are on the way up—especially here on Hilton Head, which of course, is different from other areas. People want to move here and buy here. And now, with the prices lower, they’re finding it an exceptional opportunity to do just that.” She has a good point. It’s not as if she’s selling real estate in Detroit.
“When I moved here in 1993, my goal was to get out of the city [Columbia, South Carolina] and live near the ocean. I’m a very active person, so Hilton Head was the perfect place for me to change my lifestyle. I play tennis, and walk or ride my bike on the beach. I have never before lived in a place where I like everything about it. In fact, I like it so much here, that it’s difficult to go on vacation. How many places are better than the island? That’s one of the most unique things about Hilton Head…everyone lives here because they want to.”
In terms of real estate advice, Melkon’s recommends not focusing on the news 24/7. “Smart, savvy people know that this is the time to buy; they’re entering the market before the ‘herd’ and are getting the best prices. Now is the time to move. Because we live on an island where supply is limited, when the demand returns—and of course it will—we will again be in an up market. So, my advice is to begin the loan approval process, if necessary, and start looking at those great buys!”
Melkon speaks from experience. A million-dollar producer, she’s earned many awards and accolades in her field, including the Distinguished Sales Award and the Realtor Service Award. She was featured in the 2005 edition of Unique Homes ELITE magazine, and is active in the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors. She also believes in sharing her success—and energy—with others, and is very involved with her church and the community. She’s a member of Women in Philanthropy, the Van Landingham Rotary Club and the Friends of the Children at MUSC Children’s Hospital. “I feel that giving back to our community is the least we can do. We’re so very lucky to have such a wonderful place to live!” She and her husband, John, also thoroughly enjoy their five grandchildren, which brings up another advantage of Internet groups. Melkon has joined a grandmothers’ group! Who says social networking is just for kids?
It’s now easier than ever to learn more about Betty Melkon. Visit her website, hhiluxuryaddresses.com, or her blog, www.onthehouse.ning.com. Or you can take the traditional approach by calling her at (843) 298-0688. Her Charter I Realty and Marketing Office is located at 11 Park Lane, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

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