Got content?

Just like the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign that’s run for years, the question of ‘Got Content?’ is everywhere. And, it’s as good for your website’s health as milk is for your body.

Website content – not just well-composed web pages, but helpful articles, blog posts, photos, videos, and more – is a must for today’s businesses, and real estate’s no exception. Content marketing isn’t just a new buzz term, fad or idea, it’s a proven, viable tactic.

There are several reasons behind using a content marketing strategy: improved search engine rankings (SER’s), evergreen content, lead generation, consumer education, brand building and reinforcement – the list goes on. Largely, it’s about being (and staying) top-of-mind with consumers. If most resources and helpful articles they read have your name on them and establish you as a knowledgeable industry professional, it increases the chance that a prospect will call you rather than a competitor.

When it comes to a content strategy, you should ask yourself:

-       Why am I creating it?

-       What’s the desired outcome?

-       How will I use it?

Creating a successful content strategy isn’t rocket science, but sticking to an editorial schedule might be challenging, especially if sitting down to write doesn’t come naturally to you.

We here at RSP have already done a lot of it for you. While we can’t create your strategy or editorial calendar for you, we’ve included content like consumer tips and helpful articles to use on your website – all you have to do is include them in your menu. You can add to this library with content items of your own or someone else’s (just make sure you give them credit). And, with ready-to-go content at your fingertips, creating and sticking to an editorial calendar will be a snap.

But don’t stop there. Make your site even more robust by adding as much detail as possible to your listings, uploading other articles or photos, and adding video to your blogs or bio. There’s really no end to the possibilities, as long as you keep the content relevant and useful. And, don’t discount using social media to share your content and interact with people, especially now that social search is being included in results.

If you need help creating content or adding a little “oomph” to your RSP website, give us a call. We can help!

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

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Clearing the Clutter

Now that spring has finally arrived it’s time to de-clutter and get organized. The summer months are just around the corner and we all know how fast they blow by simply because it’s typically the time of year many of us enjoy the most. You don’t want to spend your time sifting through piles of junk on a sweltering hot sunny day when you could be wading in the pool with a cool pint of refreshment.

Time is of the essence if you want to make the most of the warmer weather. I have a principal rule I follow when it comes to thinning out the closet. If I haven’t worn it in the past year I try and find it a new home. I admit I can be somewhat of a pack rat, but fears of becoming a hoarder and infinite threats from my “Better Half” have forced me to depart with stuff I would’ve hung onto for decades. And, let’s face it, once you make the commitment to get rid of it you never give it a second thought anyway.

The 80’s & 90’s were great decades, but do I really want to go grunge again, unless, of course, fashion really is cyclical. Mind you, I don’t really want to be single again – especially at my age – and the kids wouldn’t be seen in public with me, so grunge is probably not a great idea.

De-cluttering other parts of the house can be equally as painful, especially when it comes to “Man’s Domain”: the garage. I mean, who knows when you might need that piece of twine or a few hundred odd sized nuts and bolts? I’m telling you, there have been times that I’ve tossed something I thought I would never use again, only to need it for a small handyman’s job around the house a week later.

Spring cleaning is a very stressful time of year for me, but in the end it always feels great to get rid of the stuff taking up precious space, and I’m all but guaranteed I won’t be single for at least another year when it’s time to do it all over again. Now to find my flippers and jump in the pool. . .oh wait, I threw them out!

If you want to de-clutter your real estate business, try using an all-in-one web solution like RealtySites PLUS™. Our members have access to an assortment of tools to help keep them organized and effortlessly on top of their game.

Whether it’s online document storage, communicating automatically with your prospects and clients, or keeping track of your stats, RealtySites PLUS™ will keep you organized and clutter-free.

Rob Matton RealtySites PLUS

Rob Matton, Director of Sales

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A few different blog posts I’ve read recently point to the same problem: way too much online information. With search engines and people gobbling up free stuff like e-books, webinars, tipsheets, special reports, and other forms of e-info out there, it seems that we’re facing a crisis of information overload.

By now, we know that content satisfies search engine appetites and helps drive SER’s, and we’ve all hopped on the bandwagon. I find myself agreeing with the bloggers saying that the content bandwagon’s beginning to look more and more like one of those clown cars at the circus. Everyone’s got content to read, download, print, or view on-demand – the internet’s bursting at the seams with information.

If you’d rather stick pins in your eyes than watch yet another webinar or have bamboo shoots shoved under your fingernails before downloading and half-reading another e-book, maybe the problem isn’t really too much information, but rather too much of the WRONG information.

I get several emails every day urging me to sign up for webinar after webinar on seemingly every e-marketing tool and technique going. The reality is that there’s only so much time in the day, and I’ve probably actually attended only 2 out of the 20+ webinars I’ve signed up for in the last few months. Chances are good that I’ve missed a few usable morsels of information. For the most part, though, the unfortunate reality is: probably not. Most of the tips and tactics shared by these companies are things I’ve already learned on my own or picked up through research and reading, and practice in my own businesses.

So how do we, as busy professionals, separate the good stuff from the crap? What ‘free’ information warrants an investment of our time to read, view or engage in, and what doesn’t? Ultimately, it’s up to us and our experience level or interest with the subject matter. For example, I likely won’t attend a webinar on successful email campaigns, given my past experience and expertise on the subject, unless it appears that the session will impart something new. On the flipside, I read a lot of blogs and other information on social media and emerging practices because that’s one of my specialties.

However, if a software company that I just created an account with were encouraging me to participate in a webinar that would provide tips for using their software and improving my results with great insider tips and information, chances are I’d invest the time, whether live or on-demand.

There’s a lot of free information floating around in cyber space these days – it’s up to you to figure out what’s going to be worth your time. Even if you learn just one new thing, I’d say that’s time well spent.

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

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Note: This post was also published on www.lisamayhuby.com

As more and more businesses gravitate to the high reach-low investment medium of social media, I find there are far too many jumping in with both feet that really don’t have any business even dabbling their toes in it.

MLMers, real estate agents posting “another hot listing” or endless Facebook fan pages of nothing but listings, get-rich-quick gurus, and newbies that expect instant results after 2 Tweets about how great their product or service is: none of these have any place in social networking, and all will have a negative experience using it.

You want a good – no, great – experience? As in, a ‘pretty-darn-good-results-for-not-a-whole-lotta-time-invested’ type experience? Follow these tips:

  1. Stop whatever social media stuff it is you’re doing RIGHT NOW. Just stop everything. Halt. Arrêt. Now, think of what you want to get out of your efforts. Better yet, write it down. The list should be point-form, one goal per line, a singular idea. If you’ve got the word “and” in one of the goals, that’s two ideas. Separate them. Next, review your list and remove the unicorns and rainbows. That includes any idea that makes you gaze wistfully into the distance, like the ‘generate X leads’ goals, ‘get X followers’, connections goals, and so on. Hopefully what you’re left with is real, measurable, and attainable.
  2. Social networking is about just that – networking. And it works great when it complements your other marketing efforts. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until people finally get it: social media is a tool. A tactic. Something you use in conjunction with something else. Your teeth are tools with which you chew food and begin the digestive process. Social media is the tool with which you share bite-sized bits of information to help begin the lead generation process.
  3. Stop being part of the “hey, look at me!” crowd, mindlessly echoing others’ thoughts and ideas to try and position yourself as an ‘expert’, and really engage with people. Stand out. Be selective with whom you engage. Don’t choose only the people that might be able to promote whatever it is you’re selling. Go on, be different from the millions of online minions fighting for attention.
  4. Be consistent with your engagement. Whether it’s once a day or once a week, be consistent and reliable.
  5. Evolve. Figure out how to move social media to the next level. As Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media says, “We have to grow up because not only does the same old crap not work anymore, but now it (and you) is just annoying.” (Incidentally, it’s just a coincidence that my post has 5 tips and hers has 5 tips. Really. Besides, they’re different tips.)

I always advise clients that you’ll discover what works best for you, and that’s absolutely true if you put some thought and planning behind it. Social media doesn’t and probably never will work for everyone in every business. If you’ve taken the plunge and are trying to use it for your business, help make it a more enjoyable (and hopefully profitable) experience for everyone.

It’s your web, keep it beautiful.

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

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On his blog, WebInkNow, David Meerman Scott wrote about the U.S. Department of Defense’s social media strategy, engaging in heavy-duty SM activities, from blogging and Facebook, to videos and photo sharing. Essentially, the DoD’s putting a human face on the military.

Numerous methods are being implemented in a multi-channel effort, each with their own focus on the different areas of the military. From The Pentagon Channel’s website, Facebook and Twitter streams, the U.S. Army’s ArmyLive blog and You Tube channel, to the U.S. Air Force’s “Counter-Blog” strategy.

What can you take away from the U.S. military’s strategy for developing a simple social media campaign for your business, and become a “social media rockstar” in your own right? Take a look:

Social Media Potential for Realtors

This just gives you an idea of the potential. As you can see, it’s pretty simple, and you can tailor your strategy to fit your life, making it as complex as you like. Start small to get your feet wet, and work from there.

The main thing is that you open yourself to new ways of communicating with clients and colleagues, for both outgoing and incoming messages, and use these tools to your advantage.

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

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Tweet this, Realtors!

By now most everyone is aware of Twitter (unless you’re my parents), but you may not know or understand how it works, and just how powerful it can be.

For those of you that have been living a somewhat sheltered life (or with my parents), Twitter is a micro-blogging social networking site. Each post is limited to 140 characters, hence the ‘micro-blogging’ label. At first glance, for most of you Twitter probably seems like so much pointless, mindless drivel, spewing out what people ate for lunch, what their dog ate for lunch, or that their car broke down. And, if you follow people that write about such mindless crap, then yes, it’s completely pointless.

A word of caution (and I’ve said this before, often): don’t underestimate the power of Twitter. It’s real-time, high-speed information sharing like we’ve never seen before. Take the plight of US Airways Flight 1549 that crashed on the Hudson River – news of the crash broke on Twitter before any of the major networks had even heard about it.

What you get out of Twitter has everything to do with who you follow and what you share. Who you follow brings you the news and information you find useful and valuable. What you share gives others, your followers, information they find useful and valuable, and will hopefully want to re-share (ie. retweet) with their followers.

Businesses of all types have grasped Twitter as another marketing channel, promoting free and paid content, sales messages, surveys, promotions, and support updates. One industry that seems to be divided about Twitter is real estate – some use it to their great advantage, while others struggle to comprehend it and the purpose behind it.

The reality is, there’s nothing to figure out – it’s not rocket science, and it’s certainly not hard to understand. It’s simply an ongoing stream of information and randomness. The tough part about Twitter isn’t understanding it, it’s controlling and managing the streams so that what comes into your consciousness is relevant to you.

Some great tools for managing Twitter are Twitter Lists (accessed through Twitter and a number of external apps), HootSuite (my personal fave), ping.fm and TweetDeck. There are a ton of others out there, it’s simply a matter of trying them out and finding one that works best for you.

Incorporating Twitter in your real estate business is more than just Tweeting out links to new listings, virtual tours and open houses. You’ve heard, “Build it, and they will come”. Have something useful to share, and they’ll read it.

Twitter – and other social networking sites – are simply another way for you to communicate with others, and them with you. You wouldn’t call a prospect and tell them you just ate a grilled cheese with pickles; they’d probably think you were nuts and never have anything more to do with you. So please don’t be compelled to share that same sort of thing over other communication channels. Blog posts, the latest industry stats, market trends and changes, proposed construction, and so on – that’s something useful that people will want to read and share.

Keep the grilled cheese and pickles to yourself.

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

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Got Feedback?

I’m often asked by new recruits, “What’s the one thing takes up the most time for a Realtor?” Or, I hear Realtors complain about the dreaded time-waster: showing feedback.

Back in the day, it was just plain courteous to give an agent good quality feedback on a property they had listed and I had shown. But, as the saying goes, that was then – this is now.

Now, the sellers’ agent seems to think that providing feedback is passé; or worse, too demanding of their time. And, sometimes trying to track down and get feedback from the showing agent by phone is a greulling experience. This is a dilemma that has numerous drawbacks and implications. First, feedback sheds some light on possible objections buyers are experiencing while seeing the property. This information could help us eliminate that objection(s) and create a more saleable listing, and assist in a short days on market sale. Providing feedback to the seller also increases our value proposition and helps justify our commissions. The bottom line is, just do it!

Having a quality feedback system is crucial in developing a good value proposition and creating great time-management. RealtySites PLUS™ has taken the pain away for you, with a state-of-the-art automated feedback system. When you have a showing, you click 4 buttons; listing, feedback form, office and agent then submit. The showing agent then receives an auto-generated feedback form with multiple questions, and room for comments. When submitted, the form goes out every day for the next 3 days. Once the agent responds, you’re notified by email, and all you have to do is approve the feedback. It’s then automatically added to a secure area that the seller accesses online from any computer, called “Client Corner”. The seller reads the feedback, and voila! You’ve done your job efficiently and effectively. The great thing about RealtySites PLUS™’ Feedback Manager is that you can also customize and edit the feedback form or create your own in seconds.

To find out more about this and many other great time-saving features, go to www.RealtySitesPLUS.com and sign up for one of our free webinars. It will be the best 1 hour you’ve spent online in a long time.

TLC, President & CEO

TLC, President & CEO

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Real Estate 2.0: Information

Previous Real Estate 2.0 posts discussed conversation, communication, and transparency. This final instalment will cover information. Instant information, that is.

Providing instant information should be a priority when you’ve got a captive audience on your website. You need to give your online visitors easy access to information they want, without making them meander thru your site viewing page after page.

You literally have just seconds to captivate online consumers before they bolt from your site, so this MUST be a priority. Adding something simple, like pdf downloads of moving checklists or tips for adding curb appeal provides helpful information for visitors quickly and easily. To make it easier to search your listings, try creating unique ID numbers for each listing, and add a search function on every page of your website so visitors can get to the exact property listing they’re looking for.

With RealtySites PLUS™, you have lots of options that will get information in your online visitors’ hands instantly (or, in some cases, almost instantly). Customize your menu items to include pdf downloads or articles visitors can read online, and don’t forget about automating notices. You’ll blow your clients’ minds when they receive a note or instant message (IM) from you advising them of an upcoming open house for a property they viewed online.

Terry LeClair, Founder & CEO

TLC

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Real Estate 2.0: Transparency

So far we’ve covered communication and conversation in my discussion about Web 2.0. The next point I’d like to cover is transparency.

Transparency is a term that’s been loosely thrown around for some time now in the real estate tech world. Basically, what it means is you’re not hiding anything from anyone, especially consumers. When you engage in social media and networking, you’re adding a transparent element to your business. You’re letting people see a bit of the “real” you, including your business practices, how you deal with consumers, and your personal life.

It’s this new element that fills many with trepidation, and keeps them from committing to social media. If you’ve got nothing to hide and are ethically conducting business and personal dealings, then what’s the problem? You have nothing to lose and lots to gain.

Another way of looking at transparency could be eliminating barriers to information, like having to supply a name and email address before accessing a special report – a point that’s currently hotly debated by marketers in every industry.

Being the gatekeepers to all of your Sellers’ listing information is not what Web 2.0 is all about. It’s about creating deep, rich, robust content and giving the online user the ability and flexibility to sift thru the information and use or absorb what they feel is pertinent.

That said, most Realtors® make the huge mistake of giving too much away without capturing any information, making it impossible to communicate with and incubate leads. There’s a fine line between transparency and gatekeeping, but by taking the time to find that balance you’ll realize there’s a wonderful, abundant world of quality leads just waiting for your nurturing.

To experience how lead generation and transparency have collided, attend an online webinar hosted by yours truly. Sign up now at www.RealtySitesPLUS.com/webinar. You’ll be glad you did!

Terry LeClair, Founder & CEOTLC

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Get your Geek on

Geekdom has finally come into its own. No, I’m not referring to donning a set of Spock ears, Klingon forehead, or light-saber and attending the nearest Star Whatever convention. What I’m talking about here is embracing technology.

Remember the ‘80’s Nerds movies? I never thought it would ever be cool to be a geek or a nerd, but it is. To a point (you thirty-or-forty-something virgins living in your mom’s basement: this post isn’t for you. You’re way past Geekdom).

In fact, I’ve become a geek of sorts myself. I’ve become a ‘net ninja, mistress of the dark arts of the web. An internet dominatrix, if you will.

How does one ‘become one’ with the web? That’s easy: you use it for more than just Google searches. The ‘net is more than just search engines and online encyclopedias. It can be harnessed for more than shopping at Amazon, Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. You can actually use it to make your job – and your life – easier.

How’s that for a concept?

“Wow”, you ask, “just how the heck do I do that?” And, probably more importantly, you’re wondering just where the heck you find the time to become master of your domain (domain name, that is). If you’re a one-person show, like a real estate agent or other self-employed professional, you wear LOTS of different hats. You’re webmaster, marketing manager, business development manager, assistant and more all rolled into one big, giant, jumbled mess.

It doesn’t have to be that way. A mess, I mean. Not when you have the power of one of the best tools the world’s ever seen at your fingertips. Look, if spammers can master the art of hacking their way into your inbox while legit emails are locked out forever, YOU can certainly figure out a few ways to use this tool to your advantage.

You don’t have to be a web design expert to build a kick-butt, lead-generating website with today’s technology. According to the National Association of Realtors, most people (over 80%, in fact) start their new home search online. Are you there? Are you being found? If you answered ‘yes’, then here’s the clincher: are you capturing your visitors’ information when they land on your website to nurture and convert them into an honest-to-goodness lead?

If you’re a real estate professional and not making use of the internet to grow your business and make more money, then it’s time to crawl out from below that rock you’ve been hiding under and get out your pocket protector.

It’s time to channel your inner geek and get the ‘net working for you.

Lisa-May Huby

Lisa-May Huby


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