Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

Crafting a brand is crucial for any real estate professional. Unfortunately, carving out a strategy to showcase your expertise can be challenging. Developing unique content for Facebook, Twitter and your blog can be a laborious process. Microblogging can be a powerful tool to build brand identity and cultivate your "lifestream," a shared online feed of your activities.

I’ve been a heavy WordPress user for some years and in seeking to optimize my blog and social media content I decided to put three of the more popular services to the test: WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous. All three applications have their advantages and disadvantages.

Please note that all three platforms support custom domain names and the ability to back up content/data to your computer. When discussing professional brand, utilizing both is imperative. Also, the three services offer many of the same features, including: publishing to other social media sites, analytics, mobile apps, additional pages and customization.

Let’s take a look at what each platform has to offer.

WordPress
WordPress is a wonderful, robust content management system that is perfect for building blogs or even powerful real estate sites. The platform has fantastic community and more than 13,000 plug-ins. The platform, now in its third version, was introduced in 2003. Some of the most popular sites on the Internet are powered by WordPress.

WordPress is offered as a service where hosting and management is taken care of, and as a download that can be self-hosted. (You can learn more here.)

Support: WordPress has a tremendous community and a wealth of support forums. The service recommends "Your first stop should be our documentation, where you’ll find information on everything from installing WordPress for the first time to creating your own themes and plug-ins."

Flexible: You are only limited by your imagination in what you can build with WordPress. You can develop blogs, property websites, Internet Data Exchange (IDX) powered websites, and more.

Self-hosted: You can host your own WordPress site, and there are many excellent hosting solutions available that specialize in WordPress. It can be advantageous to manage a self-hosted site, as it can provide for a larger amount of disk space and FTP (file transfer protocol) access.

Themes: WordPress offers a plethora of premium (paid) and free themes. They are easy to install and activate.

Plug-ins: You can extend WordPress with powerful plug-ins. Plug-ins allow you to easily install applications such as lifestreaming, maps, Facebook "like" buttons, sharing apps and more. Plug-ins can help you build a powerful site.

(You can learn more about WordPress here.)

Tumblr:
Tumblr incorporates an elegant design and intuitive layout. Mac users will naturally gravitate toward the service. Despite an extended outage back in December 2010, Tumblr has a strong community and considerable user base. Tumblr has some great features as well.

Themes: Tumblr also offers a variety of themes, both premium (paid) and free. The themes are well designed and quite sophisticated. Activating a theme takes seconds and can easily be enabled from the dashboard.

Customize appearance: Once your Tumblr theme is activated, customizing the appearance is super easy. Simply choose "appearance" from the customization module and modify such elements as background, side bar and link color.

Dashboard: Tumblr’s Dashboard is simple and user-friendly. It offers a clean design and intuitive navigation. Posting and adding media such as photos and audio is a breeze. Tumblr is certainly a polished product that features great design globally.

Mobile app: The Tumblr iPhone app is stylish and impressive. It utilizes the iPhone’s native elements including the camera and audio recorder. You can upload rich content in a matter of seconds and the user experience is second to none. This just might be my favorite app!

Tumblr Backup: Tumblr has launched a Backup app that is now in beta. Tumblr states, "Unlike other publishing sites’ approach to backups, our goal was to create a useful copy of your blog’s content that can be viewed on any computer, burned to a CD, or hosted as an archive of static HTML files." Currently there is only a Mac version for OSX 10.5 and higher. The Tumblr Backup app is a handy tool for securing all of your important data.

You can learn more about Tumblr here.

Posterous:
Posterous offers a number of cool features. As a matter of fact, the only downside that I have experienced with Posterous is the limited disk space. According to the service, "You get up to 1 GB (gigabyte) of total space for personal use. When you approach 1 GB, we’ll contact you to make sure you still need the space and, if so, increase your limit. We’ll be rolling out more space and unlimited premium accounts in the months ahead." Let’s take a look at look at a few of the more impressive components.

Importing: I have to say, importing my WordPress blog was surprisingly quick and easy. The Posterous import tool supports many popular services including WordPress, ActiveRain, Blogger, Tumblr and more.

Custom domain name: Posterous supports custom domain names and allows the option of either registering a new domain or utilizing an existing one. Purchasing a new domain name is hassle-free and can be registered directly from the control panel. For existing domains, a simple "A Record" needs to be created pointing to the Posterous Internet Protocol (IP) address. Domain Name System (DNS) records can take 12-24 hours to propagate.

Autopost: When you post to Posterous, all of the enabled social networking sites will be updated accordingly. Configuring "Autopost" in Posterous is pretty standard. Simply choose "add a service" and enter your credentials. Posterous supports all the major social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Posting is virtually instantaneous and eliminates the need for connecting apps. Facebook and Twitter are different audiences and I always recommend developing unique content for each site. However, when applicable the Autopost feature is pretty seamless.

Bookmarklet: According to the online description, "Select text, video, music or photos from any Web page and post it instantly to your Posterous, just by clicking a special bookmark." The bookmark is simple to install: Just drag the Posterous "share" button to your browser’s bookmark bar and you’re ready to go.

E-mail: The e-mail feature is what truly differentiates Posterous from other services, including Tumblr. Once your account is activated and configured, you can post to your Posterous blog directly from your mail client. E-mailing "post@posterous.com" creates a standard post and you can even send attachments. The e-mail service is extremely flexible, supporting various autopost configurations. I love this feature!

You can learn more about Posterous here.

After years of using WordPress, I decided to make the switch to Posterous. WordPress is a wonderful platform but development can be time-consuming. Despite the small amount of disk space offered, Posterous is quick, efficient and a fantastic tool to build a lifestream and showcase your brand.

Also, Google Analytics is easy to install and will allow you to measure your return on engagement. Tumblr is ultra-slick and I really wanted to embrace the application. However, Posterous outperformed Tumblr in functionality — specifically, on the import and Autopost features. You can check out my new Posterous site at: tflan.com.

Tom Flanagan is the director of information technology at Residential Properties Ltd. in Providence, R.I. You can contact him at tflanagan@residentialproperties.com or @tflan on Twitter.

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