Archive for the 'Social Networking' Category

Twitter – insights for real estate agents

I am sure by now you have heard of Twitter – you may not be using it now or understand it. To help I have shared some insight on the Unconditional blog. Additionally if you want a crash course in Twitter this YouTube video by Common Craft is excellent.

In my view, Twitter is worth considering as a means of raising your profile and demonstrating your subject matter expertise. Many people see Twitter as irrelevant ramblings about the minutiae of people’s lives, “I am going to work now”, “I am bored”, “I fed the cat”!! – but think of it differently for a minute as a way to share observations, information (as in great online stories) and also listings.

Twitter is a medium of communication – it is an email type short message that goes to people who follow you.

You can use Twitter to follow people who have useful things to share which may interest you – news service, both general and real estate specific, companies offering special deals. Here at realestate.co.nz we have our own Twitter account and we would encourage you to follow us.

Realestate.co.nz (realestateconz) on Twitter-1

We use Twitter to share insight, information, news stories, statistics and just about anything real estate – it is a single place, where a couple of times a day, we can share what we think is interesting and worth a read. The great thing about Twitter is you decide if you want to read – no spam email, no signing up, no pushing!

We have 115 followers after 1 week – I would like to get to 1,000 in the next 2 months, so come and follow us – and we will follow you back!

March 11 2010 | Online marketing and Social Networking | 6 Comments »

The importance of your online profile

It seems so obvious, but in real estate today you need to have an online profile – a webpage / a place on the web which people will go to when they Google your name. It does not need to be a flash website, it can be a single page, just as long as it can tell people about you – what you do, what your great at and how to contact you.

Here are some simple ways to get a profile:

1. We offer everybody in this industry a free web page for their profile – just check out any of your listings on realestate.co.nz and see the link to “My Profile” – that is your profile online – that page is very likely to be a page that Google will direct people to when they search on your name – try and see!

If you want to write some details to add to this page then login to the AgentPro part of the site and write up whatever you want – more details and background to where you work and how you can help. As a guide have a look at other people’s profiles.

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2. Facebook can be a great place to build your profile – it also allows you to connect with friends and colleagues and make new friends and acquaintances. I have noticed a significant rise in the use by real estate agents on recent months (masses of invites!) – the key with Facebook is presenting a professional impression and not mixing too much of your personal life with your business life.

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3. How about a simple website? – here is a brand new service I found last week Flavors.me offers you an instant page to which you can link your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – a place you can encourage people to go to to see what you have to say. I built this site as a test in less than 5 minutes!

Welcome _ Flavors.me

March 11 2010 | Online marketing and Social Networking | 3 Comments »

Social Media – Buzz Word of the Decade!!

Yes it is true! – social media is here to stay and personally I believe the impact on the real estate industry has only really begin to be felt.

Social media is not a technology matter it is entirely a social matter, it is abut what we all do everyday – communicate as we are social creatures. All social media does is allow through the application of technology the ability for us communicate with more people more efficiently and do it whilst leaving a very clear path and readable footprints which can assist us all in building credibility, respect and importantly referrals.

Don’t just take my word for it though – read the thoughts and ideas of Stefan Swanepoel. Stefan is a leading researcher, analyst and writer on all matters concerning real estate. He has just completed a new book aptly titled “Social media report 2010”.

The book is published in early October and whilst I have not as yet had the opportunity to read it, given Stefan’s pedigree of annual Trends reports I would have to heartily recommend this book.

I have got my order in – why don’t you take advantage of this earlybird offer. The retail price is US$79.95 + shipping and handling.

If you order online now and use the promo code: Friends you can get a 46% discount – you will pay just US$43.05 + shipping and handling.

Here is the synopsis of the book by Stefan:

Communication, collaboration, networking, marketing, sales – as we knew it a decade ago, heck even as we knew it last year, will never be the same again.

Our lives are being radically and exponentially changed by Social Media and Social Networking.

This shift is not happening like many of the business trends detailed in my annual Swanepoel TRENDS Report over a 5 to 10 year period, but rather in an accelerated time frame – probably two to three times as fast.

Many traditional forms of media we have been using for decades are being eclipsed with growth, membership numbers and adoption rates that we have never experienced before.

Consumers no longer want or trust advertising to the same levels as a decade ago. Today they want to talk to other consumers directly, create a discussion and validate for themselves what they want or believe.

If you feel confused as to what this means for real estate agents, don’t worry you’re not alone. I have literally received hundreds and hundreds of emails, posts, facebook comments and tweets about Social Media and what it could mean to the Real Estate Industry.

Therefore I have decided to write another report (similar to my annual Swanepoel TRENDS Report) but to dedicate the entire 120 pages of this report to only addressing Social Media and Social Networking.

Here are some of the items the Report covers:
• Where to Start with Social Media?
• Finding your Target Market Online
• Social Media Rules of Engagement
• Best Practices and Tactics
• Finding Social Balance Online
• Top 25 Social Media Networks
• How to Manage your Time?
• Finding Social Media ROI

We have even added a special 10 Day step-by-step Action Plan for Realtors®.

Mel (my co-author) and I have finished our research and writing and the Report has gone to print. It will be ready for distribution on Monday October 5th, 2009.

September 01 2009 | Social Networking and Special offers | No Comments »

The critical importance of your online profile

The age of the internet is typified by a whole new vocabulary – Twitter, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, podcasts, YouTube. How many of these words are now in everyday use, whereas barely a couple of years ago they were unknown?

The online world is transforming our lives and in the context of real estate has already transformed the lives of buyers / investors – remember that those starting out on the property ladder today can’t really understand the need for a fax machine. They also had an email address and mobile number long before they were allowed out at night on their own!

Into this new brave world every real estate professional needs to tread – carefully, methodically and with due caution, but also with a sense of Carpe Diem!

Let me strip down some of the components and look specifically at this fairly new phenomenon of social media – the world of blogs, profiles and social networking.

The important thing to keep in mind in terms of social media is that it is just a form of conversation. Conversations are an everyday part of the real estate process and that is why social media is so natural for this industry to embrace.

Every person in the real estate business relies upon and sets out to build a network – a group of people through whom they can seek new business opportunities to secure the chance to act on behalf of a client to sell a property. The judgement people make of your ability will be based on your experience, your expertise and your personality – matched naturally to the professional reputation of your company. All of these 3 facets are something that you build and develop over time. The big challenge is how to share with potential clients your experience, your expertise and your personality as sadly in today’s world, attention spans and free time is a scarce resource. How can you, as people become more and more cynical of traditional advertising communicate with the right audience to make an impression and convey your message with sincerity and honesty?

The first rule is going to come as a shock to some – don’t get “in their face”! Today, people trust people who they find and who they are referred to. They tend to trust less those people who try and get “in their face”. This is not to say that face-to-face contact is not relevant – far from it, in this industry it is critical, but only when you have been “invited” to meet.

So how can the web and the power of social media help you to establish trust and get referred?

First of all the greatest power of the web is that everyone and every business on the web is effectively treated equally – that is because your single web page can be read as easily as any single web page from IBM or Britney Spears! The only thing that actually differentiates you from IBM and Britney is how easy is it to find your page and whether you have something worth reading?

I believe every person in real estate has something worth reading about – local knowledge of the property market, local knowledge of the community, local insight into who is doing what and where. Local information about developments and improvements to your community – schools, parks, shops, transport; as well as valuable facts about what is selling, who is buying. This is the kind of information that you will in past have shared – maybe in a weekly printed newsletter sent to your database, a piece in the local community paper or a regular email newsletter. The weakness of this form of communication; or thinking about it another way, the missed opportunity, is that these communications only reach a limited number of people and end up disappearing within a week as a deleted emails or that newspaper in the bin. How much better it would be to have those words, that insight stored, accessible, read and reviewed by people everyday anywhere in the world.

Imagine for a minute how more credible you would be seen by a prospective client if they could read and review a series of articles on the local community, rather than just this week’s one. They would certainly form a stronger appreciation of your experience, knowledge and credibility and most importantly of all a sense of your true personality.

So given you have this local knowledge and insight what should you do to establish through it trust and credibility? – the ultimate way is to write a blog. Now some people run a mile when a blog is mentioned – fears about what to write, fears of technology, fears of being attacked (verbally)! The fact is that when writing a blog on the web, whilst potentially it could be read by hundreds of millions of people – it won’t be, after all how many people want to read about your local community? Not many; but every one of them could be future client that is the key thing.

Just for clarification a blog is a webpage. It is just a type of webpage that allows you easily (with no great computer skills) to add articles and stories and allow anyone to write a reply or comment to you about what you wrote which can be read by anyone as part of a conversation. To help real estate professionals realestate.co.nz offers a free blog service. It is called “Voices” – real estate voices, you will find the logo for it on the home page of the website – click on it and start to read how to set up a blog – it is free and you can join over 130 other agents from around the country who sense an opportunity to build their profile and generate new business.

There are some key pieces of advice in relation to blogging – be regular and be open. It is best to write something on your blog each week, it does not need to be an essay, more it can be a point of interest or more commonly an answer to a question posed to you over the past few days. The answer you gave at the time was valuable and therefore will be of value to others. Being open speaks to answering comments and also open to commenting on other people’s blogs – these comments are great for getting people back to your blog to read more about you.

Now blogging may not be for everyone – if you feel that you have neither the written skills or your don’t have the time then there is one thing every person in this industry must have. They must have a web page that can very simply provide a “picture” of what they do and who they are. That page needs to be “indexed” or put another way need to be seen on a Google search page. So imagine the situation – someone this week will search your name – they will search on Google looking to find out about you; because they will be meeting you this week for that appraisal meeting. You need to have a page that they find that provides them with a clear, open and professional view of who you, what skills you have and why they should be considering you in helping them sell their house.

That page could be your blog, it could be a page on your company website, it could be on Facebook. The only issue with your Facebook page is that it probably is more likely to be about your family and friends – what this person wants to find out about if the real estate professional. Again in an effort to help this industry build online profiles we have built on the realestate.co.nz website a place where you can have your own profile page – a place where you can write about who you are, what you do and what your expertise is. Because this new profile page is on the realestate.co.nz website it is then clear that this profile is about you and your role in real estate – it is also right next to your listings as well.

To build this page – just sign in to the Agent Pro page – you will find a link at the foot of every page on the website. All of course for free to help you build your profile.

The key message is to think of the web as a vital means for you to be advertising your skills 24 hours a day to as wide an audience as possible with a clear message that you are the most experienced, authoritative local expert – good luck and get online now to build your profile.

August 16 2009 | Blogs and Online marketing and Social Networking | No Comments »

Profile – how can make sure you are going to get that phone call to appraise a new listing?

At this very moment someone may be Googling your name – checking out your details before they meet you next week for an appraisal you organised – you need to be on that shortlist and you want to make sure that what they read about you is the best representation of your skills and experience.

You have to make sure you have at least a page on the web which you can use to profile yourself – it may be your own website or blog, it may be a page on your company website. It could be a free profile page we have introduced for everyone in this industry to profile themselves to prospective clients. We launched this service 2 weeks ago and the take up has been excellent – take a look at what some of your colleagues are doing – then ask yourself – how would like to be seen by prospective clients:

Another opportunity that these agents and many other have cottoned onto is the Featured Agent advertising on individual suburbs – these cost effective advert which are priced from just $15 per month (more popular and larger suburbs are charged at $75 and $150 per month). We all ready have many hundreds of committed agents who see this as the tool to ensure that they get the enquiry call to come and do an appraisal.

To access both of these great services log on now to our new Agent Pro website and build you client base and business ready for the spring.

July 20 2009 | New feature and Online marketing and Social Networking | No Comments »

Promote yourself as a local expert

We are introducing in the next month a new focus on the website towards more local information to help buyers better understand the local community. This will provide you with a great opportunity to “profile yourself” as the local real estate expert in your local market.

We want to help you gain enquiries from prospective vendors looking for an agent to help them sell their home and through this build new business.

So how will it work? – Firstly we are creating a special “featured agent” profile on each search page as this screen shot shows. So if someone is looking at the suburb of Dallington in Christchurch (the most actively viewed suburb!) – there will be a profile for a single agent visible on every search page – a great way to get yourself seen by interested vendors! Every suburb will just have one agent – an exclusive opportunity.

At the same time we want to build a lot more information about each suburb in the country and this is where we need your help – and there is a reward for you.

We want you to help us by writing a brief summary of the suburb or suburbs you work in. We have set up a simple page here for you to write this description. The things we are looking for are:

  1. The attributes of the suburb that make it a great place to live
  2. What is unique about the suburb
  3. What are the key points of interest
  4. What are the schools like and the community facilities – parks, sports and beaches

We are looking for the personal feel and experience from someone who knows the suburb well – politely not a promotion of you. You can complete profiles for more than one suburb if you like.

In return for your help in completing the suburb profile we will make you the featured agent for that suburb for free for the first 3 months of 2009!! – not a big ask – you write some local information – we credit you with that information and we make you the featured agent of that suburb for 3 months!
This service will be launched during January and I will send out an email before hand with more details. So take a few minutes to write down those wonderful facts and information that you all know about your suburb and in doing so you can enhance your profile and gain potential new clients. Get in early so you can be the local expert!

November 27 2008 | New feature and Social Networking | 16 Comments »

Connect SF08 – Bloggers Connect

Inman Connect SF08Bloggers Connect forms the first day of the Inman Conference as one of the threads of activity available to participants, the others being Foreclosure Programme and Internet Marketing.

As a starting comment there were 2 really powerful messages today from the sessions which I want to share at the outset.

1. I get Twitter! – I first heard about Twitter last year and thought that is a bit geeky and kind of ignored it. Well 12 months later, I can see a value that is beyond the banal voyeuristic world of “following others”. I sat today next to a lady who was twittering throughout the sessions – she would almost verbatim capture the content just like a stenographer in a court room – the only difference being that the messages are limited to 140 characters and perfect English is not obligatory!
Twittering at the Connect conference The point being was with her and others the Twitter world was being exposed to the “ramblings” of the Inman Conference which means in NZ you could be following the twitter conversations live – such was the “noise” of twittering at the conference that the conference tagged twitterings (called tweets) reached a ranking of #4 in the world for some of the day!

2. Blogging and online is now firmly a part of the toolkit of a smart realtor – it is not the whole toolkit, as a slight shift from a year or 6 months ago when you would have thought that blogging was everything there seems to be a return to a balance of online and offline connections and networks which each supporting each other to build an agents business.

Anyway back to the sessions.

Here is a note form digest of comments and thoughts shared in the sessions:

  • The best source of articles for blogs comes from your audience – listen to what they talk about and then provide them with this content or information. Spend time listening.
  • When it comes to blogging as a local agent – don’t regurgitate the market stats which are available from other sources give buyers and sellers reasons to buy and sell, help them better understand the market through interpretation rather than share data.
  • Blogs will fail if they become too ego driven, in some ways they are not about you but more about your community and your audience.
  • Try and spell check – whilst there is a tolerance for occasion grammatical errors, be conscious that too many errors or bad grammar can lead people to get frustrated in reading articles.
  • Be patient – it may be many months of starting to blog before you ever get a call that has come from your blog, equally once you have a well established history of blogging this counts hugely for you for the future in terms of leads.
  • It is very unusual that the leads that you secure from a blog come from people who comment, it almost is never these people, however people who comment are important they are the value referencers who add credibility to what you say and who you are.
  • You will attract an audience related to what you write about, if you write about foreclosure sales (mortgagee sales) then you will likely attract an audience of people looking to buy these type of properties or distressed sellers, you will not get people looking for lifestyle properties – this is the facts of life of search engines.
  • If you want to drive traffic to your blog you need to go out into the online community – to sites / blogs that are read by your audience (non real estate blogs) and post comments on those blogs – that way you extend your circle of influence and people will link back to you.
  • The old adage of the web that “Content is king” still rules, however without links content is lost in hyperspace – so create links to your content on your blog on other peoples blogs.
  • Use your blog actively as a marketing reference tool for your own website and social networking sites – your profile pages. Add links to your “best” or most popular posts so others can see what your expertise or opinions are.
  • Engage with your community; for example your school – your blog is a media and the principle of the school may well appreciate for you to interview them to tease out local issues where you can leverage your blog to engage a wider audience – kind of a social service. In addition the likelihood is that when published your article will be circulated within the school community opening up your blog and therefore by inference you to a wider audience, in effect you become a local newspaper.

All of these great thoughts and ideas follow a similar path and neatly fit within a new 3 letter acronym! – wouldn’t you know it – YEO, it replaces or complements SEO (search engine optimisation) and stands for You Engaging Others.

This concept and phrase was coined by one of the speakers today Jeff Turner, however I would recommend you reading the wisdom of another of today’s great speakers Nicole Nicolay who has written a great post – The secret to blog sucess: YEO, You Engaging Others

July 24 2008 | Blogs and Social Networking | 4 Comments »

Connect SF08 – Social Networking: the top sites

One of the best sessions of today’s RE Barcamp was held on the top social networking groups to leverage to build profile.

The key point here is profile in the context of SEO (search engine optimisation) – whilst everyone wants to seek a return on investment of time or cost vs. income the plain fact is that if your rankings on Google searches are high and are getting higher this is how you will be found and therefore secure a ROI on the investment you make in online marketing. Your ranking wants to naturally be on your own name, but more importantly the key words people will use in Google searches when looking to search property or an agent – those words that define subject matter expertise that you hold and what to be recognised for.

So the debate was to come up with a top 5 list of the social networking sites where people should focus their resources, especially now as there are new sites opening up every day and you could very well subscribe to 20 in the next 30 minutes if you were so inclined.

The collective wisdom of the group in someways was predictable and in someway surprising – in fact we only came up with 4 – better to focus on fewer, so here they are:

1. Facebook – universally recognised as the place to be, to establish a profile and demonstrate your community of contacts. It is so popular, far surpassing MySpace as the place to meet network and connect. It is not a teenagers site – it is an everybody’s site. To prove it – here’s me! – I am not an avid user, but I find it useful to keep in touch with people overseas and also for people to find me – that is a great value.

2. LinkedIn – this is the professional social networking site, whereas Facebook has a relaxed, light hearted perspective this is about credability and profile. Here you can establish the business connections that can demonstrate to your prospective clients that you have the experience, credibility and standing to be a professional. People browsing your profile can investigate the referrals you have and the career you have pursued. Again proving that I practice what I preach – my profile on LinkedIn.

3. Twitter – now this I must say, I have not quite got into. Twitter is a social network through which you can keep in touch with a group of people you define and the context is around immediacy and short SMS format – you can twitter from your mobile device or PC. The consensus is that it is a constantly moving view of what people are doing, unlike the other 2 Twitter is not about profiles and referrals as a fairly static view, Twitter is about you today and how you might share connections today. I can see the appeal, but am not a convert.

4. Flickr – now this one surprised me. I always thought of Flickr as a photo storage and showcase sight, but I was wrong, it is a community and for real estate I can now see why – why simply because without images real estate marketing is nothing.

The experience of realtors here is the fact that being a very powerful social networking site Flickr has excellent SEO capability so uploading photos of current listings as well as photos of your neighbourhood is a powerful way to influence that all important page ranking on Google. The key is to tag all photos you upload with the right keywords so you will be found (your photos will be found). The fact is more and more Google searches are done on image search after all we all know our brain interprets images far faster than words.

So the way to play this is to ensure you set up a Facebook profile as ever don’t set it up as a listings’ advertising page, but a page about you – share the photos you love and the ones you have which reflect the neighbourhood you work in and through that add listing photos and then link them to the listings on your site.

July 24 2008 | Social Networking | 1 Comment »