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I just watched Jason Fried, the Co-Founder and President of 37Signals, speak with Bruce Upbin of Forbes on the Forbes Video Network; the full video can be found here. I’d urge everyone to watch the entire 9 minute clip. It hits home on an important point related to social media marketing — that many people have no idea where they stand, what they want to say, what their point of view is, or what they believe before they start blabbing away on social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. The problem with that approach is that, particularly in today’s world where it’s easy to reach thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of people in a relatively short time period — that means a LOT of people potentially can see that you have no idea what you’re talking about. And that’s damaging to your personal brand, which for real estate agents, could prove devastating to your credibility and long term business.
I can say from personal experience that those with a point of view are much more interesting to follow, and hence more likely to generate business via social media, than those without a point of view or opinion. So spend some time thinking through who you are and what you stand for before engaging with social media tools.
I have to disagree with Jason Edwards on FourSquare’s usefulness (or lack thereof). I’ve become a FourSquare addict over the past couple months — I think my addiction really kicked into high gear starting with my trip to NYC for Inman Connect in January; it’s probably no coincidence that I’ve essentially been traveling non stop since then. One question I get quite often, particularly from my friends who don’t use social media, is WHY I use Foursquare. This topic came up at RE BarCamp in Austin in a session called “Stop Puking all Over the Internet” that I helped Andy Kaufman (MyEastBayAgent) with, and I thought I’d address the question here as well.
First of all, I’m not a real estate agent, but think I have very similar goals as agents do with my social media activity — relationship building. As someone who wants to succeed in the business world, my long term goal is to build a large and valuable network of relationships over time. Social media, and Foursquare, is part of that process for me just as it should be for a real estate agent trying to build their sphere.
That said, here are the 2 primary reasons I use Foursquare:
1. Long term relationship building. I think of the content created via Foursquare as nuggets of information for others to relate to. Over the past few weeks, I’ve exchanged numerous tweets and engaged in a few offline email conversations as a result of my Foursquare checkins. Surprisingly, the offline emails mostly came from contacts who saw my Twitter status updates on LinkedIn — who would have thought? They were mostly people who had been to the place I checked in at, or saw the city I was in and sent me a recommendation for something to do or eat. I used to think that integrating Twitter updates into LinkedIn was an incredibly stupid idea, but no longer. Whether it be on the phone or email, building strong relationships require offline conversations — and Foursquare helps facilitate more offline conversations with my network than if I didn’t use Foursquare.
2. Finding out where my network is (while traveling). While on the road, it’s extremely valuable to me to find out where my network is currently hanging out. At South By Southwest (which ROCKED by the way), Foursquare was a vital component for meeting up with others at the conference for drinks or food or to just talk. And again, this goes back to helping facilitate more offline conversations in an effort to build stronger relationships. But it’s also FUN to hang out with people I know, so it’s a win-win all the way around in my book.
So that’s why I use Foursquare, and why you should too. Why aren’t you onboard yet?
The mantra from Broker to Agent is, “you’ve got to create an on-line brand…”
I think that maybe the Brokers just got frustrated or ran out of ideas,. Maybe they didn’t have the time during the “boom” to give better counsel… or perhaps they SIMPLY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE INTERNET. But frankly, this is really low-grade advice… Imagine yourself looking for a new shiny car.. A Prius, or even a Benz. You go to your favorite search engine, pause and breathe, and type in your search, p-r-i-u-s. You eagerly await the results and ta-da, there it is… three pages filled with sites advertising Prius…..salesman.
“Please choose me to buy your Prius, I have been in the industry for 23 years. I was number one in Talooga County in 2004. I have 15 initials after my name, Phd, BS, Md, Esq, l-m-n-o-p… Look at my picture, don’t I look trustworthy? Oh, and here is my dog!
Is this the actual results you were looking for? You are probably clicking through these sites faster than a 14 year old playing a video game. I want to see a car, I want see deals on a car, I want to see information about the car. I want to find the right car. I want see prices on this car. Convince me to buy THIS car and then I will THINK about who I want to buy from.
But that is exactly what Realtors are offering the Real Estate Searcher… *repeat* REAL ESTATE searcher. When was the last time you searched for a REALTOR on the Internet? Seldom? Never? Most Real Estate based Searches are just that…. Real Estate. Notice on the (hard to read) adwords chart below that Seattle Realtor is number 8 and not even close to the search term MOST searchers are using… which is REAL ESTATE. Realtor doesn’t show up again until number 23…
Enter Web 2.0… How about giving your searchers what they are looking for? They are not looking for you… They don’t care about you! They want your product. Real Estate Searcher come to the Internet to learn about houses. Check out houses, look at the prices of house. They come to get information (from you) about neighborhoods, architecture, market trends. They even come for advice…. about houses, housing and all things Real Estate.
Build it and they will come.
So, now you know what they want… Is your site offering it? Do you have the best IDX in your market. Can they see inventory with 2 clicks, one click, NO clicks. Do you have pertinent market information. Pertinent = timely and Original. Do you have community information. Not canned, regurgitated HOA information, but meaningful, valuable, original information. What would YOU want to see in a site… Make a list. If you were moving to Talooga county in six months, what would the site look like that YOU WOULD WANT TO USE….
Build it and they will come.
Sometimes a post comes along that I just couldn’t agree more. Every paragraph, sentence and syllable. Jim Cronin of the Tomato posted this article entitled “is you website working against your Real Estate career. It is on spot and brilliant. My client/readers will feel this is an “echo.”
A couple of other “expireds” are:
How about a couple of extra”wireds”
Jim’s article is a breath of fresh air. He gets it.. Do you?
1) It makes you think- It becomes really easy, as a Realtor to become an information “lemming.” You hear something about the market at a meeting and next thing you know, you are parroting it to your clients. Investing the time to actually WRITE about the market encourages new thought. You gather the data, and You create the information.
2) It makes you different, and different = better- One of the marketing theories I have been espousing over many years is how important differentiation is to Realtors. Realtors do what Realtors do. Do you? Don’t. Create your own marketing that is different than other Realtors and writing your own original blog sets you apart as well. YOu need to stand out in a crowd. Blogging will help.
3) Blogs get Read by other Realtors- and they comment. This gives you feedback, often valuable constructive feed back on your ideas. It allows you to wash your ideas through others so by the time you give your VALUED opinion to your clients. it is well thought out, and VALUABLE.
4) Traffic is good….for traffic.- A well read blog will bring more traffic to a Realtor than any “business card” type web site. You know the one. This is who I am (or was when the site was written) and this is why I am the greatest. A well written blog will receive traffic from competitors, clients, co-workers, and prospects. Traffic creates Traffic.
5) It PROVES you are an authority- What is a Realtor? An authority on Real Estate. How do I (as a prospect) know you are an authority? Well, pages and pages of posts and comments on the current market and what is going on in my neighborhood certainly helps show you are an authority… A canned listing presentation that is pretty much the same as other Realtors? Not so much.
6) It provides third party validation- Prospects are constantly faced with Realtors telling them how good THEY are. But how often does a prospect hear from a third-party how good you are as a Realtor? I well thought out, well written blog post will receive positive comments. These comments give your prospect the “right” to decide you are a great Realtor and he/she should choose you…. because others before him have agreed.
7) It is INSTANT, when your Prospects need it- Real Estate Buyers and Sellers (read: prospects) Love up to the minute information. This type of information is not available on most Realtor (business card) type websites. A blog allows them to subscribe and receive your up to the minute, valuable information. This makes you a valuable resource to your prospects and clients.