SAN FRANCISCO — Jim Cronin, the owner of the Real Estate Tomato blog site, said there is a lot of "Realtor-on-Realtor action" going on in the industry blogosphere.
And it’s not what you may think.
Cronin, who writes about real estate marketing, said that there is a high volume of comments at real estate agents’ blog sites coming from other agents in the industry, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
"It seems people leaving comments in most cases are Realtors from across the country patting you on the back," he said. There should be less of that inter-agent back-patting and banter — and more engagement with real estate consumers: "Mr. and Mrs. Home buyer," according to Cronin.
He spoke during a "Growing Pains: Take Your Blog to the Next Level" session during a blogging workshop Wednesday at the Real Estate Connect conference.
Jeff Turner, president for Real Estate Shows, a company that allows agents to create property ads with a sequence of panning digital images and audio tracks, has coined a term for this connection with consumers: You Engaging Others, or YEO.
It’s a play on search-engine optimization, also known as SEO, which refers to Web sites’ designs that are intended to maximize the ranking in search engines and the volume of online traffic they attract.
"The goal is about getting out into the community and engaging the community … instead of waiting for the community to engage you," Turner said. He noted that successful bloggers likely already have decent content that is driving their SEO, and the next step is to better connect with consumes and build up YEO.
"YEO can drive SEO," said Daniel Rothamel, a Realtor who blogs at the Real Estate Zebra site. Rothamel also serves as the Inman Community manager for Inman News.
While panelists suggested that school communities can be a great place to connect with residents and promote your business, there are also some online venues that can be useful in establishing a community presence.
Dustin Luther, an industry consultant who created Seattle’s Rain City Guide blog and blogs at 4Realz.net, said that there are many online communities not affiliated with the real estate industry that can be a great place to establish a presence.
And real estate professionals can find them and find out about them using sites like Twitter, Outside.In, blog search engines, Flickr and YouTube, he said.
"How do you go out and how do you reach the influential people in your community? Start to engage the community that’s already out there online," he said.
Web analytics could help real estate professionals to gauge how consumes are finding your blog site, Luther said, and this tracking could be useful in drawing more traffic to the site. "There’s nothing wrong with getting more analytical." He also suggested that real estate bloggers can put a property-search tool on their blog sites.
Rothamel noted that the hard sell may not be effective when connecting with consumer offline. "You don’t have to say, ‘Hey, I’m a Realtor, use me.’ Build that relationship and other things will flow from there," he said.
Nicole Nicolay, who contributes to the real estate technology blog MyTechOpinion, recommended talking to parents at local schools and getting to know the people at the park with their kids.
Cronin agreed, "By engaging the community and opening up the conversation … you’re going to make them feel like they can trust you more. You’re going to be virally engaging the community."
Cronin’s father worked as a real estate agent, and he said he used to think all his father did was talk to people and take pictures all day. "I remember just tagging along with him as a kid … trying to figure out what he did as a career," he said.
Then he understood. "My dad was a human Rolodex — he just knew how to connect people. He made sure the deals got done and they were connected properly."
"Real estate is a business of content. You don’t really have a product," Cronin said. "Essentially the entire transaction has to do with your opinions, your expertise, your ability to answer questions." And that, he said, is a key to connecting with consumers — whether it’s online or offline.
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