Last week’s column looked at two major real estate trends for 2009: going global and using video for both personal and business communication. Here are eight additional tips from Real Estate Connect to build your business in 2009.

1. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to reduce spam and build your referral network
Using social media is one of the best ways to eliminate spam. Only people you approve can send you messages. Furthermore, when you meet a potential buyer or seller, invite them to join …

(This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1.)

Last week’s column looked at two major real estate trends for 2009: going global and using video for both personal and business communication. Here are eight additional tips from Real Estate Connect to build your business in 2009.

1. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to reduce spam and build your referral network
Using social media is one of the best ways to eliminate spam. Only people you approve can send you messages. Furthermore, when you meet a potential buyer or seller, invite them to join your LinkedIn network where they can see testimonials from past clients, access your list of preferred vendors, and contact other helpful resources in your community.

2. Social media — the best way to reach your consumers?
According to keynoter Gary Vaynerchuk, the best way to succeed online today using social media is to "embrace your DNA." This means being honest about who you are and being transparent (i.e. being as open as possible about all aspects of the real estate transaction). Vaynerchuk also shared what he did to sell wines from his store. Here are his stats: billboards yielded 170 orders; direct mail 302 orders; radio 240 orders; Twitter 1,700 orders. The first three advertising media cost considerable amounts of money, while Twitter costs nothing. The key is to engage in the conversation and to avoid doing infomercials about you.

3. Reach your "peeps" in a single "tweet"
Recently there was a story about a teenager who was sending thousands of text messages daily. Texting is a better alternative than e-mail because a text message finds the recipient and appears the moment the person turns on their cell phone. A more efficient approach is to use Twitter. You can reach anyone who is following you with a single Twitter post. Twitter also allows you to build your search-engine ranking by creating separate URLs that link back to your blog or Web site as well. Use budurl.com to shorten long Web addresses and track the number of clicks you receive on each link, as well as to monitor what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, much of what is on Twitter merely shares the routine things people do daily. A better use of this platform is to share interesting resources or to engage in an online conversation about topics linked to your business and/or living in your community.

4. Best tip for handling a seller when they give you a "Zestimate"
Zillow’s online evaluation tool allows homeowners to receive an estimate of their property’s value, called a "Zestimate." On average, these prices vary by +/- 7.5 percent. A great strategy for countering the seller’s use of a Zestimate is to tell them that you give "exactimates" based on knowledge of each home you used in your pricing model. Zillow relies on static data in computer databases without any means of comparing the hundreds of factors that influence price.

5. Realtor.com and Google.com don’t work as well outside the U.S.
To reach international buyers, don’t rely exclusively on Realtor.com or Google.com. Most people outside the U.S. have never heard of Realtor.com. Instead, if you want to reach buyers in France, use Google.fr; use Google.au to reach Australians; and Google.uk to reach people who live in the United Kingdom. If you’re marketing to countries where they speak a language other than English, make sure that any information that you post is in that country’s native language. Add a button to the front page of your Web site that says, "I speak your language." Provide links to key pages that you have had translated into another language. Also, you can do podcasts or videos in other languages. Use your print advertising to drive consumers who speak your language to your Web site and/or blog. Also, it’s smart to include measurements in meters, a section that explains how financing works in the U.S., as well as a currency converter that lets Web visitors see how much a property costs in their own currency.

7. Reduce your phone bills and have video conversations using Skype
Skype is a great way to connect with friends and family, especially if you’re working with an international relocation client. The basic program is free. Although the sound and video quality can be challenging, Skype is still an excellent way to cut costs and keep in touch using a virtual face-to-face environment.

8. Xobni.com (which is "inbox" spelled backward)
Xobni is a plug-in for your Microsoft Outlook e-mail program that lets you see all of the conversations you have had with a single individual, similar to the format on Facebook.

To prosper in 2009, be transparent, give clients what they want, and stay connected using video and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com.

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