The Magic Formula For Online Success

struggling
Despite the internet being around for over 20 years many real estate agents are filled with misconceptions on how to best use it for their business.
This is in part due to their lack of fully embracing the technology as well as a ton of general misinformation online from an abundant number of “online gurus”, coupled with the fact that online marketing itself is a fast paced and constantly changing industry. Believe it or not there are a number of very simple things one can do to increase their online visibility and success – with the understanding that simple does not mean easy, neither does it mean the results will come over night.

We’re often asked what the secret is to getting more leads; we’re sorry to say there is no one silver bullet. Just because something is working for your competition doesn’t mean it will work for you; what works now may be obsolete in a few months. A very basic formula for figuring what kind of leads might look like Traffic X Conversions = Leads. Now, what you want to look at there is that more traffic itself doesn’t mean more leads, but it is a big part of the equation. So how do you get more traffic? Here’s a few ideas:

Social Media
Having your own website is still key to legitimizing yourself and establishing a brand presence, but without a means to reach out beyond your personal sphere you can find yourself doing little more than shouting in the closet; this is where social media comes in. Unfortunately, even the real estate professionals who are using social media are often using it poorly. Most social experts will tell you post post post post post…and that’s fine…posting is definitely a big part of what you’re there to do, but it’s only half the puzzle when it comes to social success. If you’re just starting out it’s perfectly fine to focus just on posting until you get your legs under you, so be sure to:

Post consistently on your business page – no this doesn’t mean posting an endless stream of houses, it means creating quality content.

Post in Facebook Groups – these are great, generally local or niche focused groups where you can touch a (hopefully) already interested audience.

Post on Instagram or Pinterest – if you’ve got a knack for images either of these platforms can be huge. Be sure your images are compelling and interesting.

Publish on LinkedIn – the new Publish feature is one of the few things that keep this platform relevant. Post in-depth content here to let people know your a real authority.

Use Craigslist – the quality of leads can be questioned but fact of the matter is posting here with a focused effort can lead to more traffic on your site.

You can get some more good REALTOR® Social Media Tips here >>

Niche Market Sites
Have a specific market you are focused on? Equestrian properties, or a specific part of town? Having a niche market to aim for can be a great way to stand apart from the general noise and also gain good search engine position. If you have extra domains you’ve purchased that are simply forwarding somewhere, or not being used at all, consider a simple one or two page “splash” site that caters to a specific market; drive the leads to your main web presence from there.

Just Do What Works – What Has Always Worked
Create relevant engaging content, publish it regularly and promote it adequately. This means putting in the time – or paying someone else to – to blog consistently about subjects that your audience actually cares about. Beyond just writing the blog make sure you’re sharing it on social media so that as many people can potentially see it as possible. Get out there in the real world and network – shake hands, put out door hangers, and attend community events to get your name out there. Drive traffic to your site by always including a link to your main website – not zillow, not trulia, not wherever your virtual tour is – to insure that you are channeling as much traffic to your main point of contact.

Trust the Process
That’s what your trainer tells you, what your life coach tells you, and even if all the rest of what they tell you is bunk they are right on this point. If you are doing all of these things and struggling to see results don’t quit! These things take time! Social media especially can take months of regular work before it begins to show any signs of return – so be patient. Do the things you know will bring results and stick with them, after all it’s the last key in the ring that most often fits the lock.

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Make Your Listing Photos Count!

idaho real estate tours

The internet is a very visual medium; it should come as no surprise then that images play a very important role in online visibility — this is even more true in real estate where potential buyers may be viewing the property from out of town. A picture is literally worth a thousand words – that’s like almost 8 tweets!

Because of the importance in quality images when presenting a listing it always surprises us to see agents almost consider this part of their strategy as an after thought. Blurry, dark photos taken from a phone in haste, these are all telling signs of an inexperienced agent. We understand, professional photos cost money, and so it’s important to make sure you’re getting your monies worth! With over a decade in the virtual tour industry we’ve put together some quick tips to help you make your listing shoot as good as it can be — even if you DO decide to shoot them yourself.

De-Clutter
Tuck those laundry baskets in the closet, or around the corner. Clear out the floor space. If you have to move things around during the photo shoot do so, it’s better to take the few seconds to move the kids toys out of the room and back then to look like you’re running a clandestine day care.

Not Planning
Find out when the photographer is coming or set aside a time to shoot your own photos. The key element here is to plan. Make sure it’s a good time of day for light and to minimize traffic through the home.

Sequester Them In The West Wing
Speaking of traffic, kick the kids out. Don’t invite friends over to have coffee during the middle of the shoot. It will be a lot easier for your photographer, or yourself, to get in and get the photos they need without people wandering through their shots.

Do Some Light Staging
We realize you may not have fresh chrysanthemums delivered to your parlor daily, but even just adding a vase of fresh flowers in the kitchen, or doing some other light staging can really make your photos better. Take time to really show case your home, polish up those counter tops, lay out a few magazines in a tasteful arrangement. A little light home staging can help make your home photos feel more personable.

Have questions?
Just don’t have the time to take your own listing photos?
Our professional photographers are experienced in the industry and ready to help! We providing real estate photography services for all of Southern Idaho and also create a virtual tour link and upload photos to the MLS as part of our services.

Real Estate Social Media Myths: BUSTED!

Although slow on the take up the real estate industry is finally catching on to the fact that social media is not only a viable means of marketing but also one of growing importance. This has lead to an influx of agents and offices who “absolutely have to be on such-and-such book”, which has in turn lead to an absolute flood of abandoned profiles and page owners frustrated by a lack of results for their efforts.

We’ll make some enemies here, but: Don’t Blame The Network. Like the old adage says you can’t expect results from work you didn’t do.

To help combat some of this frustration we want to offer a quick dose of reality in order to dispel some of the most common pitfalls and aggravations most real estate professionals run into when they do decide to put in the effort to run their own social media profiles.

All I have to do is post listings.
No. There is rarely a more poor way to run your social media presence. Your audience is exposed to thousands of pieces of “buy my stuff” marketing every single day; when they are on Facebook they very likely aren’t there looking to be spammed.

If you’ve branded your page correctly visitors will already be able to tell you are in real estate, and while it is fine to feature your listings having an endless stream of house pictures on your page not only does nothing to encourage fans to visit your website (where you hopefully have those listings in more detail) but it also discourages fans from caring what is on your page in general.  Solution: Post content relevant to your area, your fan base, or to showcase who you are.

Everyone I Follow Will Follow Me Back.
No. While it is good to like others pages and to interact with posts as your own business page as frequently as possible it is no guaranteed win. People sometimes will follow you back just because you followed them ( especially on twitter ), sometimes they won’t. Don’t rely on this happening. This is like showing up at a party where you don’t know a single person and expecting everyone to stop what they are doing in order to come over and talk to just you. Solution: Interact with other pages beyond just liking their page once. Frequent interaction can increase engagement.

I Shouldn’t Share Other Peoples Stuff.
No. Isn’t this SOCIAL media? Isn’t it supposed to be all about being social and sharing the great things you find? More than just a like or a plus one, sharing other peoples posts can drop the spotlight on you as someone who might be an online ally. It also allows you to more easily diversify your own content; after all, what’s more boring than someone who only talks about themselves all the time? Solution: Share! Share often!

Automation Is the Best!
Definitely NO. While automation can save you time your quality will suffer. There are even any number of services that you can pay to post content on your behalf – the drawback? It’s the same content spewed out on a thousand other pages. It’s not effective. It doesn’t show that you care about what you are providing your fans and even if that wasn’t true, particularly on Facebook, posts that are auto-generated from third parties can receive as much as 60% less visibility. Solution: Schedule your posts if need be, even hire someone to post for you, but make sure quality is maintained.

Pass Me My Blanket, I’m a Guru.
And it only took two weeks!
Yeah. About that. Not going to happen.
The internet is full of self-proclaimed gurus who know all the right buzzwords ,and even what some of them mean, but nothing worthwhile ever came easy or over night. Consistent effort will bring results, but don’t expect to have a thousand fans in just a few days without buying them. Beyond knowing how to use the tools within the systems effectively, and being able to create great content, there really are no deep dark secrets to mind blowing success in social media. Solution: It takes time; you’ve got to put in the effort – or pay someone else to – in order to see real results.

book1The good news?
None of this has to be hard! We’re glad to talk shop and offer great free tips and training to our real estate website clients. If you’re just getting started, or aren’t even sure where to begin, you may enjoy our Social Media Primer: Seizing Your Digital Destiny. We’d love to send you a copy at no cost or obligation, just send us an email and let us know you’d like a copy.

realtor social management

Facebook as a Real Estate Tool?

realtor social managementMany real estate professionals are finally catching on that social media is not a trend, but even those who use it regularly may not understand it’s potential as a real marketing tool. Knowing how to use the platform – or hiring someone that does – will soon become even more important as recently Facebook announced progress on it’s graph search. This is just one signal that the social media giant is turning it’s head and beginning to listen to what a growing portion of it’s user base – business owners – are asking for.

At it’s most basic Graph Search is a new search feature that makes it possible to perform specific searches based on what your friends are posting, including their likes, shares, and comments. It also allows you to find references to threads you may have long lost or stopped following, making it a potentially amazing tool for not only seeing what possible friend-clients may be interested in but also for searching the archives of the net for important past campaigns.

Here are a few of the benefits of Facebook’s Graph Search:

  • Target Your Niche – Graph Search allows you to research and connect with people who may be in your niche (i.e., people living in a specific community or town).
  • Search by City – Location location location. Local based searches will be the future of seo and being able to direct your marketing effectively towards a specific geographic region on social media is powerful.
  • Discover Local Favorites – Use the Graph Search to find local favorites like restaurants, bars, entertainment venues. Connect with those places and explore partnership opportunities there. After all you’ve got to go where the clients are.

It’s interesting to see Facebook let a wider audience sip some of the magical big data juice that the platform has plugged into it. As Facebook begins to see the greater resale value of the information it gathers expect to see more and more of this kool-aid to trickle down to the thirsty masses of marketers!

Want to try it out now?
http://search.fb.com/

Mobile Responsive REALTOR® Websites

realtors, go mobile!
With more and more internet users logging in to social networks and the web via mobile devices it’s more important than ever to be online and to have a website that performs well. Some surveys suggest that as much as 40% of all web traffic is now created via a phone, tablet, or other mobile device.

While all of our websites function well on a variety of devices we’ve shifted our focus with industry trends and are now proud to offer a fully mobile responsive website template for our customers. In addition, if you’re looking to go custom we can provide some of the very best, most affordable, custom real estate web design in the industry.

Understand, this is not some cheap redirect, or forward to a mobile.yourwebsite trick – this is true 100% natively mobile fluid design.

Did you know that you could have a fully functional resource for your potential clients online 24/7, 365 days a year working for YOU — all for less than you’d pay each day for your morning cup of high-test coffee? IT’S TRUE!

Take a look at our latest designs, check out our Realtor websites, and be sure to visit our Facebook Fan Page to stay up on the latest developments and tips for seizing your digital destiny!

REALTORS: Reasons Why Your Social Media Falls Flat

tools

Social media social media social media – boy it sure it a hot topic these days isn’t it?! Guru’s and mavens popping up left and right, all experts – as of this month – in the great unquantifiable thing that is the silver bullet to kill your marketing monster.

We apologize for all of them. Fact is though social media is one of the most cost effective ways for you to get the word out about your services – especially if you’re bold enough to take it on yourself. To help you towards your goals we’ve put together  a quick list of common mistakes for the medium; feel free to pass them along to your page manager, guru, samurai, jedi WHATEVER they call themselves as they are likely making the same mistakes.

Not having a goal.
It’s hard to hit the mark if you don’t even have a target. Make sure before you begin your journey in social networking, or hire a ‘professional’, that you have an actual goal in mind. Whether it be simply getting more visibility, getting more sales, or increasing traffic to your website. It’s a lot easier to know if you’re getting there if you have an idea where there is.

Not using social media.
Kind of mind blowing isn’t it?! But if you’re not actually USING the platform how can you expect it to DO anything? Go to the store, buy some eggs, take them home and put them on the counter – now sit there and stare them and berate them for not becoming an omelet. Let us know how that turns out – same thing in social media.

Not understanding likes don’t equal sales.
Visibility is GREAT! People liking your stuff makes you feel happy and fuzzy warm that you’re LIKED….but it doesn’t sell a single unit. And if you’re expecting it to, you may want to refocus your overall marketing plan. Social media advertising is NOT like the advertising agencies of old. Marketing here doesn’t always equal sales, but it can build the relationships that drive sales and improve customer service.

Not shutting up.
B-But…you…you said I needed to post a lot in one of those other blog entries! Actually, I said you need to post consistently; there is a difference, but that’s not the point to this item. The one most common mistake users of social media make is only talking about themselves or their product. People are hit with thousands of pieces of advertising every day. I can assure you not one single potential customer wakes up in the morning looking forward to being spammed or advertised to.

Be sure to diversify your content, don’t just make it about you or your product. Mix in other inspirational, humorous, or interesting information. Be absolutely certain you answer and interact with every single fan that takes THEIR time to engage with your digital presence. There are a billion faceless companies they can look up if they are wanting anything less.

Not being consistent.
Mentioned this above, so this point will be quick. Setting it and forgetting it only works if you’re using one of those rotating ovens. When you post consistently you not only can more easily target your audience but you also are creating momentum for better exposure.

Not focusing.
Trying to do it all is the best way to fail at everything. Pick the social media platforms that best fit your marketing plans and your ability to manage. There is no value to being on 100 social platforms if you are only actively updating two of them. Nothing is more embarrassing to a page owner or disappointing to a visitor than getting to a page or profile and seeing ” Last Updated June 2011″.

You guys are big meanies!
Well…I guess you might think that, but really we just want to help you build real success through social media. Nay-sayers and smoke blowers are killing the industry; many professionals are beginning to simply opt out of it all together. We think that’s a real missed opportunity! Have questions about social media, your real estate website, or how to best use them altogether? We’re glad to help!

Real Estate Social Media: Selling Versus Serving

vacuum_cleaner_sales

If you’ve been using social media for a while now ( with any success) you’ve likely already noticed that as an advertising platform it doesn’t quite work the same way as traditional mediums have in the past. Call it information overload, call it saturated with sales, call it what you will: your social media audience doesn’t want to be sold to.

…but how are we supposed to SELL anything?!

A wizened social media sage once said:

“Social media isn’t about selling to the people you’re connected with, it’s about connecting with the people you’re selling to.”

The secret, like in many things in life, is finding the balance. Your marketing efforts must serve your success, but to be effective online they must also serve your clients.

Chances are the people in your sphere of influence, your fans, already know you are in real estate . Those who are newly exposed to your digital presence likely won’t have a hard time figuring it out, especially if your social media portals are properly branded.

So why are you selling selling selling so hard? And if social media marketing isn’t for selling what GOOD is it?!

Increase Awareness
With so many major national portals out there, and most agents, offering basically the same search capability on their websites the content you create on your website and social media portals may be the only chance you get to stand out from the crowd.

Shouldn’t you then do your best to show them who you really are and why they should choose you over one of the other nameless thousands?

If you specialize in a particular niche market this is especially important to focus on as even if your audience knows you are in real estate generally they may not know you have a special expertise they could benefit from.

Establish Trust and Become an Authority
People trust others that they know and interact with more often. By creating a page that is interesting, informative, and relevant to your audience you are establishing yourself as a source for quality information and as an authority in your field. Encourage fans to ask you questions; use them as status updates or blog posts.

It’s never bad to look like you know what you are talking about.

Both of these things together can boost overall brand recognition and keep your name in the fore-front of past clients minds – who as we know in real estate can become return clients! – as well as in the periphery of new fans as well.

BUT HOW DO I SELL STUFF?!
Patience grasshopper. The path to enlightenment is wrought with dangers and distractions on all sides. It is good to feature your services or product from time to time, especially if you have something worth tooting your horn about.

For best results follow the hamburger rule of social media: 80/20. You want 80% of everything you post to be interesting, relevant, humorous, or related to your audience or your community – the 20% that’s left?  That’s for your harder marketing. Give this technique a try and see how it works for you!

Working in this industry we see the best and the worst of what’s being put out there on the web by real estate professionals. We’ve got to tell you, there is no surer way to cause your fans to become non-fans or  even worse to have them just zone out of your efforts altogether by creating a stream of posts that is nothing but pictures of your listings. Face it, it makes for REAL uninteresting reading. Every once in a while take a look at your own page from an objective viewpoint.

Keep these things in mind when evaluating your impact:

Would YOU want to read the things you post there?

Does your content feature local area events or interests?

Are you establishing yourself as a SOURCE for what your audience needs?…or just adding to the noise?

When you DO market are you be sure to drive traffic to your main hub?

We’d love to hear the things YOU are doing on social media to be different and to better serve your clients rather than just trying to SELL to them.