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Archive for the ‘Online marketing’ Category

5

The smartest agents recognise the power of technology – how we are helping

fore-logo-homeLater this week Realestate.co.nz will host its first ever conference focused on the role that technology in all its forms is having on the real estate industry. Titled the “Future of Real Estate” the conference to be held on Friday 3rd September at Waipuna conference centre in Auckland and will feature both domestic and international speakers as well as workshop sessions focused to the key business tools of the web – Facebook, blogs and Twitter.

The conference is very much influenced by the experiences I have encountered in attending the Inman Connect conferences in the states each year. Coupled with the style and richness of the Inman conference the NZ conference echos a quotation which I first heard at least 3 years ago and still to this day rings so true:

“Traditional agents will not be replaced by technology.. they will be replaced by agents with technology”

The quote comes from an Australian real estate conference and every time I use it; it reinforces to me the critical requirement of real estate professionals to recognise that technology is not the threat, but rather it is the means to take a giant step forward and surpass all those in the industry who believe technology is the threat. Over these past years I have been keen to get together an event in which we can help those in this industry who want to move ahead and who are keen to meet like minded individuals and listen and collaborate with the best in the business. This conference is the realisation of this ambition.

The event features some great contributors:

From the US we have invited Joel Burslem. Joel is a respected expert within the real estate industry. He is a blogger, real estate marketer and consultant. He founded the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog whilst working at Inman  News and now is a key part of the consultancy firm of 1000 Consulting. Joel will be providing an overview of the trends in digital marketing around the world with detail around the role of social media in this industry.

From closer to home we have Nicholas O’Flaherty who is MD of Bullet PR, a respected specialist media consultancy company whose clients value the skills and innovation Nicholas’ company brings to the implementation of social media. Bullet recently hosted the enormously popular Social Media Junction conference with outline plans for a further event later in the year. Nicholas will be picking up on Joel’s presentation and bringing the local perspective as well as the practical examples of the best in the marketplace today in NZ using all forms of social media.

Addressing the ever present question in relation to the web – that of search we are very pleased to have Charles Coxhead joining the conference. Charles has a long and distinguished career specialising in search. As an online search and marketing consultant he has worked with clients such as Air New Zealand, Expedia as well as Realestate.co.nz. He will bring some focus to the ever evolving search landscape that nowadays transends beyond just Google into real time search as well as hyper local search and in so doing will apply the test as to the relevance for the real estate industry.

Our final keynote speaker is Simon Baker. Simon is well known and highly regarded within the real estate industry primarily in Australia where for 7 years he lead the stellar growth of realestate.com.au into the substantial ASX listed company with revenues exceeding A$160m. Since leaving the REA group, Simon has persued a strategy as an investor and consultant, his focus in online classified businesses with international scale and within that area he has investments in a number of Asian real estate portals. He brings to the conference a reflection on the criticality of the real estate portals and the heart of the business which is exposure to real estate listings through online marketing. He will also provide some interesting insight into the comparison of development between Australasia, Europe, US and Asia when it comes to real estate online.

The event promises to be a fast paced, rich content experience which in addition to the keynote presentations will feature workshop sessions on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and online etiquette. The day culminates with a panel discussion on the topic of the future of real estate and its implications for all involved in the industry.

The event is for the real estate industry and anyone involved in the industry at whatever level or in whatever capacity is welcome to register. There is a limited number of spaces still available so if you are interested please register before the event as registrations need to be made online prior to the event.

2

Where to advertise your property? – be aware of the small print!

Posted on: August 30th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Online marketing

Just last week Nielsen Research Company released its annual study on the real estate market borne of an online intercept survey. It detailed very clearly the trend of the polarisation of media preference amongst property buyers and sellers. The ascendancy of the web versus the demise of printed publications – specifically specialist real estate magazines and metropolitan newspapers.

How strange then to be the recipient of this tweet from Matthew Harman:

Latest issue of Property Press says there’s 56% ‘future intention’ to advertise in this mag. Ahead of online. Course it is 2007 research

I was fairly staggered that this could be the case, so I went to search the local Property Press. I found the Central Property Press for Auckland and on page 32a I found this advert.

Property Press Central Akl p 32a 26 Aug 2010

In the small font below the headline of NRB: Future Advertising Intentions I found the reference of “National Research Bureau 2007” – so yes the Property Press is trying to encourage advertisers using research data that is 3 years out of date.

Still in shock from this attempt by the Property Press to persuade the buyers and sellers of the merits of Property Press over “internet websites” (as opposed to ‘other’ websites!!), I was knocked off my chair on Saturday when reviewing the NZ Herald weekly supplement “Herald Homes” – on page G47 was this advert.

Heraldf Homes 28 Aug 2010

So the NZ Herald recommends that you use their publication based on readership survey from July 2007 to June 2008 – another 3 year old research survey!

Clearly the property market was a lot healthier 3 years ago – however people are still buying and selling homes and are using all forms of media to advertise – the fact is that in 2010, 8 out of 10 people indicated in the latest Nielsen survey that they had used a specialist real estate website in the past week, compared to less than 1 in 2 using a specialist magazine and less than 1 in 4 using a metropolitan newspaper – this data is right up to date – undertaken in May 2010.

4

Property buyers continue to favour the web over print when searching

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Online marketing

Family viewing laptopThere is a fundamental disconnect in the real estate industry today between where the industry advertises and where the audience of buyers are researching.

The latest data from this Nielsen survey highlights this in stark relief. Currently around 90% of the dollars spent by the industry (somewhere over $2,000,000 per week) is spent on traditional print media – specialist magazines as well as national and local newspapers.

That spend though is not relevant to where buyers are researching the property market. The Nielsen survey asked respondents to select which of 15 different mediums (print, online, signs, magazines etc) they had used in the past week to assist in researching real estate. Respondents were able to tick as many forms of media as they liked.

The results this year are staggering as is the trend of the 4 years that the survey has been undertaken – this point is made as whilst some may judge that as the survey is undertaken online there may be a bias. However you judge the methodology, the trends are not to be ignored or dismissed.

National newspapers have now fallen to a level where just 1 in 4 of people surveyed had used them to research in the past week. Back in 2007 it was just half of all people surveyed, in 2008 it fell to 43% and last year it was down to less than 1 in 3. So in the space of just 3 years the proportion of people in the survey relying on national newspapers to research real estate has halved.

Newspapers source of content

Specialist real estate magazines have equally suffered a decline over the years. In 2007 they were judged by 6 out of 10 respondents as being a part of property researching in the past week. By 2008 they had fallen to 55%, 2009 saw a further fall to below half of all those surveyed and finally this year they have fallen again to just 45%.

decline of specialist magazines

Over the same period the web has been in the ascendancy. Even back in 2006 with the first survey, the web was judged by 7 out of 10 to be a valuable source of research in the past week. In 2010 that ascendancy and supremacy has grown. Heading the pack are specialist real estate websites of which Realestate.co.nz and Trade me property are the two dominant sites, this category is now judged by 8 out of 10 respondents as a valuable source of research in the past week. Closely behind are company websites (64%) and search engines (42%).

ascendancy of specialist websites

Not only are real estate websites chosen more often as a source of property research the amount of time that people are spending on them continues to grow. For specialist real estate websites the weekly total is now over 3 hours (197 minutes) up from 172 minutes last year. Company websites and search engines are both up and both exceed 2 hours per week. The print publications in the real estate arena on the other hand are falling – national newspapers now account for less than an hour per week and specialist real estate magazines just over an hour a week (down from 77 to 76 minutes).

The trends presented in this Nielsen survey truly reflect usage by property buyers. More and more these days real estate professionals rely heavily on lead generation and online marketing of their clients’ properties from the web – on specialist real estate websites as well as their own company websites.

With close to 90% of all NZ’ers now accessing the web and broadband penetration exceeding half of the population, not to mention the projected rise in mobile internet, the future for the real estate industry will ever more be online – the question is clearly going to be – for how much longer can the industry afford to keep pumping all that money into print media?

Note: The Nielsen Real Estate Market Report is based on a website-intercept survey on New Zealand real estate websites conducted during May and June 2010 with a sample size of 1,225 respondents and a margin of error of 2.86%.
5

Sellers turn to trusted agents to facilitate sale – results of a new survey

Posted on: August 20th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Online marketing

house for sale Jan 2010The emergence of the web seemed to transform the landscape for buying and selling everything, including real estate; and certainly the principles of the democratic web have had a dramatic and permanent effect on the real estate market.

Most noticeable among this has been the richer and more comprehensive information available on the web – thankfully long gone are the days that an agent posted a single photo and a brief description for the property – nowadays listings are often comprehensive summaries with 20+ photos, videos, neighbourhood profiles and every facet of information as well as a clear price indication; all valuable for prospective buyers.

However as with this change have come the challenge to the real estate industry of private sellers leveraging the reach and cost effective advertising of the web to seek to secure a transaction and thereby save the commission fees charged by agents. Certainly the stories abound of the perceived benefits of DIY real estate. Just last month Fair Go featured a piece on private sales and only in the past week a business writer from the NZ Herald highlighted great success.

Whilst there is no doubt that private sellers are actively promoting their properties seeking to find buyers the latest findings of the annual Nielsen Real Estate Market Report shows that private selling may well be loosing some of its lustre.

As part of the Nielsen survey which is undertaken through an online questionnaire respondents are asked about their intentions when it comes to selling a property. In this latest survey the respondents who said that they would definitely sell privately totaled just 11%, a further one third of people stated that they would probably list with a real estate agent, but would give a private sale a go first. The balance of 47% – close to half of all respondents stated that they would definitely list with a licensed real estate agent.

preference_for_selling

The 11% of those surveyed indicating that they would definitely sell privately can be compared to each of the past 3 years when the question has been asked in the survey. Each year the intention has declined from the starting point in 2007 at 17% a steady decline totaling 35% has been witnessed to the current level of 11%.

At the same time over the same time period the proportion of respondents who have stated that they intend to definitely list with a real estate agent has grown from 35% in 2007 to now represent close to half of all respondents at 47%. Over viewing the results of the survey for the past 4 years shows that back in 2007 the sellers in the market were evenly split 3 ways – one third clearly judging that an agent is the route to sell, a third made up of definitely sell privately combined with the “don’t knows” and a final third uncertain as to an agent or doing it themselves. Today 3 years later nearly half of the respondents are recognising that agents can be trusted in such uncertain times; with another third still unsure, but probably going to rely on an agent.

Clearly the pendulum has continued swinging back towards agents as the complexity, litigation exposure and the ever present challenges of today’s buyer’s market environment leave people questioning why they would want to take on the role of self employed agent as well as their current day job.

private_sell_vs_agent_2007_2010

It is interesting to note how coincidental it is that in an earlier analysis of the property listings market undertaken earlier this year 11.4% of all listings on the market were identified as private listings and similarly an often quoted statistic is is the estimate of total private sales (no corroborative data available) at c. 10%.

Note: The Nielsen Real Estate Market Report is based on a website-intercept survey on New Zealand real estate websites conducted during May and June 2010 with a sample size of 1,225 respondents and a margin of error of around 2.86%.
0

How best to promote your property to attract buyers?

Posted on: August 6th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Online marketing

Question marks croppedThere would not be many days go by when this question is not asked of me by friends and more importantly real estate agents. I am also sure it is a key question asked of almost all agents by vendors.

The reason why I believe that this issue is gaining greater focus is a convergence of market and media.

The property market is alive.. but not as yet firing on all cylinders – this year is beginning to look like a 65,000 sale year – as compared to last year which was a 69,000 sale year (but of course a long way away from 2003 which was a 120,000 sale year). This slow pace of sales is resulting in a high inventory of unsold houses on the market – today some 56,844 listings for properties for sale are featured on the website, equating to over 11 months of equivalent sales. The market therefore is tough for sellers – raising a property’s profile when there are so many others on the market is a challenge.

The other factor is media – the facts are clear and the trend is undeniable – more people, more of the time search online for property for sale. There will come a time when everyone will use online – today it is close to 80%. That does not mean that print advertising is dead, it just means it is not so relevant anymore and is no longer a necessity. The web is therefore the prime media for searching and finding property. However there is an interesting aspect of the web that is its greatest benefit and and at the same time its greatest challenge.

Tall poppies smallAs companies and individuals have found over the years the democratisation of the web means the advantages of scale are removed and everyone can promote themselves and their products and services to the 1.3 billion people connected online in our world. So the issue is no longer one of being online, it is about being visible and being found online. In the context of real estate listings online it is the question of how to stand out from the crowd – to be the “Tall Poppy’.

Everyone of the 1,800+ suburbs across NZ has an average 31 properties on the market – all such properties have anxious vendors keen to see how capable real estate agents address the issue of creating standout in this online world. The answer is that the smartest agents are already preempting this question from vendors and add into the marketing proposal a Premium Featured Listing on Realestate.co.nz and similar offerings on other websites. These standout adverts ensure your property is seen by prospective buyers who can’t fail to see the impact these premium spots offer.

Residential Flyer Vendor RE image fileOn Realestate.co.nz Premium Featured Adverts are restricted to just 3 per suburb and appear at the top of each suburb page. In this way the listing sequence of the results is not disturbed which from research we know is a serious no-no! As well as this exclusive featuring on the chosen suburb page the property is also featured in the district and region pages as well as one of 6 properties featured on the home page in rotation.

The results of this scale of advertising are significant – on average this type of advertising raises daily viewings of a listing by 10 times – so a normal 12 views a day turns into 120 a day. The adverts are featured for 14 days and clearly in that time the property is likely to be seen well over 2,000 times. To see the actual impact try clicking on the home page and review the daily traffic for any listing by checking out the viewing stats through the link marked “Property viewed xx times”.

The cost of this Premium Featured Advert is just $250 (inc GST) for 2 full weeks – compare that to the typical print advert which barely lasts for a day or so before falling victim to the recycling bin whilst the online advert is working hard 24 hrs a day for 14 days – added to which you know exactly what you get in the true number of viewings from online – facts impossible to glean from a print advert of a property.

Fancy trying this impactful advertising for your property – tell your agent what you want and he can arrange with us, or if you like, contact us and we will arrange through your agent.

6

Architecturally designed or designed by an architect

Posted on: June 11th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Architecture & Construction, Featured, Online marketing

Warren_&_Mahoney_House_of_lightIn the world of real estate marketing, as with any form of marketing creating standout is critical so as to generate awareness and interest. When it comes to homes, the design style is so important and this is often what is highlighted by real estate agents in the marketing description.

However as is ever the case with all marketing – accuracy is key and this is why I am happy to post this open letter from the Chief Executive of the NZ Registered Architects Board – Paul Jackman who naturally has a concern to ensure that in describing homes for sale as “architecturally designed” or “designed by an architect”, that they are just that.

I took the time to review some of the over 600 listings on the site today that include the keyword “architect” in the description – the vast majority do reference the name of the architect in question or in some cases use the word in contextual description, ie “bring along your architect” or “sits amongst architectural homes in the area”. That having been said the important note of Paul’s letter which was published recently in the Real Estate Institutes monthly member magazine is key – an architect is a professionally qualified individual who is bound by professional standards and this is at the heart of the professional industry, to have the term “architect” misused is of concern to the profession.

Was the architect an architect?

Every profession lives or dies by its reputation. If the public perceives a profession to be honest, they assume its members can be trusted. This confers huge benefits when doing business. But if a profession is perceived as dishonest, every member of that profession pays a price in lost business.

For a long time now architects have been deeply frustrated by real estate advertisements claiming that properties for sale were designed by a named architect when actually the person named is not an architect at all. These advertisements potentially deceive buyers, given that a house designed by an architect may carry a price premium. Typically puffery is used like, to quote a real case, “Immaculately detailed, the house was designed by renowned Christchurch architect Ray Hawthorne.” Mr Hawthorne may be renowned, but he is not an architect.

Only about 5 per cent of New Zealand’s residential properties are designed by architects. The rest are designed by others, sometimes called architectural designers, who either are trained in drafting or self taught.

In some cases the vendor is deluded about his or her house. The vendor thinks the house must have been designed by an architect because it has some unusual features or looks funky. The real estate agent is told this and blithely places the advertisement. In some other cases the real estate agent may be just trying to talk up the price.

Either way, this will not do. The Real Estate Agents Professional Conduct and Client Care says (6.4) A licensee must not mislead a customer or client, nor provide false information.

Also, under the Registered Architects Act 2005 it is an offence for anyone to claim to be an architect who designs buildings unless he or she is registered. Only architects are entitled to use that title. A person pretending to be an architect can be fined up to $10,000.

Real estate agents need to check before placing advertising claiming that a named person is an architect. This can be done in seconds via the online New Zealand Architects Register at www.nzrab.org.nz. A search facility allows you to enter any name and then find out if that person is registered in New Zealand. There’s also a listing of former architects, incase the person who designed the house is retired or deceased.

Real estate agents should take this seriously. The NZRAB has laid complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority and the Commerce Commission. At the time of writing, the Real Estate Agents Authority was also investigating a breach and further complaints will be laid whenever more breaches are detected.

Architects work hard to gain their professional recognition, and so naturally they get grumpy when others try to cash in on that. Also, they fret when houses of, as they see it, dubious merit are falsely credited to their profession. Architects are asking real estate agents to show the same care as one would expect from any professional group.

Paul Jackman

CE New Zealand Registered Architects Board

8

Online advertising continues to grow – well ahead of other media

Posted on: May 26th, 2010 | Filed in Online marketing

The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) has just released the first quarter results for 2010 and they show that despite the somewhat pessimistic view of traditional media, online is powering ahead.

In the first 3 months of this year $55.3m was spent on NZ websites advertising services and products, this was up 12.3% on the same period last year. In the full year 2009 a total of $213.9m was spent advertising online; this represented over 10% of all media spend, this is slightly behind global trends were in aggregate across the 26 countries tracked online media in 2009 represented 12.6% of all media expenditure.

The charts below track the total spends by media over the past decade showing the decline in newspapers and the rise in online.

NZ media 2000 onward

The pie chart breaks down the 2009 data as published by the Advertising Standards Authority to show where the marketing dollar in NZ is being spent.

Ad spend by media 2009

Returning to the data for the first quarter of 2009, the total expenditure was split amongst 3 main areas of online: display media (banner advertising) representing 27% of the total, classified advertising representing 37%, with the balancing 36% represented by search and directory advertising.

It is very interesting to look specifically at the real estate category of expenditure as it moves more and more from print to online.

The classified advertising section which in the case of online real estate comprises the fees for listings charged by websites (as well as monthly subscriptions) as well as any feature premium property advertising is not broken down by industry sector so within the $20.49m classified spend in the first quarter (up 16%) would be job adverts, property adverts as well as the myriad of other classified second hand items advertised online.

In the case of display advertising the category of real estate is detailed in full. This expenditure (just over $480,000 in 2009)  comprises the advertising by companies providing real estate services as well property developers. The chart below shows the fact that the industry at large has been cutting back on online display advertising probably as a function of the state of the market. There is clearly a sign of an increase over the past two quarters.

online_re_spend

Given the lack of detail surrounding both classified and search expenditure by the real estate industry, it is difficult to estimate what percentage of the total expenditure each year is invested by the real estate industry in advertising real estate companies or vendor’s properties online. Using the data of this report coupled with some market estimation I would judge that around $14m per annum is spent online by the real estate industry out of a total spend of somewhere around $150m per annum across all media. This would seem to indicate that the real estate industry is slightly behind the market trend of 10% of media expenditure being targeted to online.

1

Annual real estate survey

Posted on: May 24th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Online marketing, Website searching

cropped Image of research chart online iStock_000006227392SmallYou may well have experienced over the past week a pop up on the website of Realestate.co.nz or Zoodle. This pop-up requests your participation in an online survey on consumer attitudes and usage of real estate media.

Nielsen survey

This annual survey is in its 5th year and in so doing provides not only a professional and comprehensive insight into consumer activity around searching for property, but also with 4 prior years of consistent data provides a highly robust tracking of key trends over time.

There are a number of very important statistics that we closely monitor each year, and in August when the results of this year’s survey are published we will share the results on this site.

These are a few of the key points from the 2009 survey.

  • The web and specifically specialist real estate websites dominate searching for property – 78% of respondents said that in the past week had used a specialist real estate website, compared to just 46% consulting a property magazine or 31% consulting a metropolitan newspaper
  • On average the respondent spent 172 minutes (c. 3 hours) per week reviewing property on specialist real estate websites as compared to only 1 hour on main newspapers
  • Overwhelmingly buyers want comprehensive data on all listings – the address, a clear indication of price, large comprehensive selection of images all scored a requirement by over 95% of respondents
  • Nearly half of all respondents have purchased a property report online at some stage

If you would like to have a good read the full report is now accessible to review online courtesy of Slideshare – please review and most important of all complete the survey if you get a pop-up on your screen.

Nielsen online real estate report 2009

Update 26th May – the full presentation of the research is unfortunately not available to view as it is copyrighted to Nielsen. My apologies for posting this in error. If there is any specific aspects of the data that you would like to better understand then I would be happy to share this on a specific subject area.

2

Blogging tips – PRAISE yourself

Posted on: May 19th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Online marketing

Photo at SMJ May 2010I was invited to be a panelist at this week’s Social Media Junction conference. The topic required the panelists of bloggers to provide a brief perspective of 5 top tips to manage the content challenge of blogs – how to keep them compelling and relevant.

My answer was to reach for an acronym – “Praise” – not 5 tips, I know, but I thought stretching to 6 might not be out of order. I have posted the summary slide to Slideshare and presented it here below, I did however become acutely aware that I needed to add more clarity around the acronym.

Social media junction - Alistair Helm blogging tips

P is for Predictable

I firmly believe that an appeal of a blog lies in the consistency and frequency of posting. To have a post every couple of weeks is not really a blog – its more of a personal notice board. I feel that if you believe your business can benefit from the value of search engine optimisation and open communication of a direct dialogue with your audience of customers or consumers then you need to be active in blogging, and see it as an active part of marketing. There are those that blog numerous times a day – that is a challenge for anyone who is trying to run a business, in my view and again my perspective is I try and post around 3 articles a week.

R is for Real

This is about content and context. My view is write (talk) about real things that concern your business. I am fortunate that the real estate industry of which I write, is rich in content topics from NZ and around the world. There are regular statistics and reports which provide ample fodder for views, commentary and opinions.

I have a lasting memory of my induction into blogging and serious social media back in 2007. A US Realtor shared her experience of a year of blogging in which she had earned over US$100k of which close to 80% came from referral leads as a direct result of her blog – no need for door knocking or leaflet drops. When asked the question from a delegate as to dealing with the inevitable “dry spot” – that is when she ran out of things to write about; she shared this valuable observation which in my judgment applies to any industry, and is a principle I apply myself. She said when she has a dry post, she just reflects on the past day and recounts the questions she has been asked – they all were asked by someone who needed assistance or advice and she was able to provide it; surely there will be others out there who equally will be interested to hear the answer so writing a blog post on the subject is bound to be of value – logical!

A is for Analytical

A blog in my perspective is a business tool, it provides valuable SEO (search engine optimisation) for the website of realestate.co.nz and therefore tracking the analytics of a blog is key. The tools are numerous and in the main free – WordPress has a plug-in of “Shortstats” that provide insight into the inbound links and driving referral domains which helps to see what is attracting people to your blog and where your blog is being referred to by other bloggers and websites.

Google Analytics coded to your blog can equally provide a richer data set to see what articles are attracting most attention as well as measures of engagement and repeat audience usage. Another key strategy of analytics is to do keyword tracking to ascertain the search terms that people are interested in that comprise your business. This should be used as a guide to influence content. It is important to keep content honest and relevant and avoid the tactic of writing for keyword search. Remember that a blog is for people not just for Google tracking. Having said that I was amused by Bernard Hickey’s comments at the conference

“There is only one deity online, it is Google, he/she knows everything, he/she is all powerful, and on the whole he/she is all good … particularly once they got the hell outta China!”

I is for Image rich

I love adding images to blog posts, they add warmth and break up the mass of words (I tend to write a lot). Images can add a visual reference to anchor the post. Images also help when presenting facts – charts are always more interesting than tables of data, colour warmer than black and white.

S is for Single Voice

A blog in my view has to have a single voice, a personality that provides consistency and authenticity, that goes for writing a post and to responding to comments. As I shared with the audience, in the nervous anticipation of starting Unconditional in November 2007 I discussed with our then PR consultant the idea of having them writing or at least edit my articles. The idea lasted one post – ever since then and after more than 350 posts I have never thought about the idea again. I write all my own posts and enjoy it. Blogs are a dynamic and often spontaneous tool. They have a degree of a life all to themselves and as such they need to be seen as human, complete with human foibles. The odd spelling mistake or grammatical error in some ways makes them more authentic and honest. Having said that it is better to spell check and proof read before hitting the publish button.

E is for Engagement

Engagement is such a core component of a blog – the interchange of comments that speak to the principle of it being a conversation. Certainly you need to moderate the blog with approvals for first time posters (to keep out unwanted spam and link parasites), but you do not want to over filter. In my experience it is always more valuable to allow all comments as long as they are relevant and contributory. A number of times accepting criticism and responding, adds so much to the subject and leaves a valuable trail that builds credibility and authenticity for future readers to follow. I favour acknowledging almost all comments – this shows an actively monitored blog and a sense of personal and passionate oversight by the owner of the blog.

10

Social media – powerhouse marketing for real estate

Posted on: May 19th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Online marketing

Social mediaThis week I have attended two significant conferences, the annual Harcourts conference in Christchurch and the Social Media Junction conference organised by Bullet PR in Auckland.

Both conferences featured guest speakers from the US and Australia and both provided rich and compelling content for their respective audiences and in my view were spot on for relevancy and value. I am not about to compare the two from a perspective of which might have been better, but just wanted to share some observations in the context of social media as the new platform for marketing; as both conferences embraced this paradigm at their core.

The Social Media Junction event was impressive as a representation of the eagerness of so many NZ companies to better understand the role of social media in business as well as the deployment of key tactics of social media. A common theme I heard from the participants, was the feeling that there was so much opportunity, but so much they felt they needed to learn.

The two keynote speakers Julien Smith and Andy Beal that I wanted to showcase (not to the exclusion of the others) provided respectively a rich sense of the landscape of social interaction and marketing from Julien, matched to the real practical advice session from Andy. I was unfortunately not able to attend the 2nd day workshop which provided valuable hands-on sessions to provide that valuable advice, but from all accounts it was as exactly as anticipated. I reflected on the first day session with these assessments:

  • We have some great examples of social media practitioners in NZ – Air New Zealand certainly comes to mind as does Bernard Hickey at Interest.co.nz, with equally Fairfax embracing it more actively in recent months with Greer McDonald at Stuff managing social media. Additionally many of our telco operators are very customer-centric online, through platforms such as Twitter.
  • We have a keen marketing community who are keen to learn. Witness the more than 200 attendees who with consent of their companies, or as small business owners or entrepreneurs  took 2 days out of their schedule to focus on this opportunity.
  • We are in my subjective judgement very well skilled on a comparable basis to other leading countries – our use and development of the main platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and blogging platforms is extensive and actively used.
  • An interesting observation I made (via a tweet on the day) was the greater representation of women in the audience, to which someone smartly observed that women are much better at communications!
  • As a rule I would judge that we are open and transparent in our online interactions, blogs in the main are completely open for comments and feedback with good moderation and contribution. This I believe is a function of cultural heritage.

Turning to the Harcourts conference held in Christchurch this week; an eager audience of some 700 real estate agents listened intently to Matthew Ferrara in his keynote address. His focus was to the usage and comprehension of social media. This I see as a clear demonstration that Harcourts are aligning themselves squarely with social media as a key platform of their marketing, and in so doing encouraging their agents to follow.

Whilst my initial reaction was to question the appropriateness of such a detailed focus on social media usage within such a diverse audience for the opening keynote session of the conference. However my apprehension was quickly dissipated as Matthew gave an excellent presentation not so much focused on the tools of social media – more to the criticality of the adoption of social media.

In an excellent presentation he smartly used the metaphor of Star Trek to guide the audience of mostly baby boomer generation real estate agents through the behaviour and expectations of Gen X and Gen Y as representing the growing majority of home buyer’s and sellers, and their adoption of social interaction online as a key part of the digital-natives generation.

The examples he showed of the technology and behaviour of the then very young Captain James T. Kirk mirrored the attitude of the younger generation to the baby boomer generation. In a wonderful example he painted the picture of Captain Kirk being advised of the risks and danger of “boldly going where no one had gone before” from wiser superiors to whom he should have been more respectful, and yet he challenged authority and blasted out into unknown territory. The message to the audience was clear, accept that the younger generation feel in control; they will seek to challenge and they want to use technology for communication that is at the core of their lives – social interaction, not social intrusion.

I was very amused (and I am not sure at this time if I was the only one) when Mathew coined the phrase in this presentation of “WWCKD” – the acronym for “What Would Captain Kirk Do?” – which I saw as a play on the excellent and in my view benchmark work on the new online world, the book by Jeff Jarvis “WWGD” – What Would Google Do?”

Reflecting now on these two conferences I am drawn to the confident belief that traditional media in the form of communications and advertising as key platforms of traditional marketing are finally taking their dying breathes. The far more open, transparent and interactive conversations between real people in the many and varied forms of social media are very much alive and thriving in NZ.

Clearly though, whilst being optimistic about social media’s growth and relevance I am also acutely aware that this has yet to become mainstream and universally adopted, although it is approaching that level. I for one am very grateful for the opportunity afforded me in my role to be an active and passionate advocate and participant in this new marketing order of social interaction.

Whilst on the subject of social media for real estate professionals, I would also like to plant a flag in the sand to say that we are currently organising a conference for the real estate industry to be hosted later in the year with a key leaning to social media in the delivery of real estate marketing. More news will follow shortly.

The Social Media Junction conference has spawned some great online reviews and content, a few examples are showcased below – not an exhaustive list but I hope of value:

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