Editor’s note: Meet Gahlord Dewald at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7, 2009. He will be available to meet with conference attendees from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6, in the Palace Hotel’s Ralston Room. Click here to send him a message.

This week, as we all get into REBarcamp and Inman’s Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, I want to run some charts and graphs — a little data to help put various marketing ideas and technologies in perspective. Individual technology use is always better when you understand how your own audience uses it, but it’s also great to look at the broader context to get thoughts and ideas.

The two charts I’ll be talking about are from Nielsen. One deals with online engagement: what kinds of sites and tools are people using online? The other is the result of asking people how much they trust various information sources.

More popular than e-mail

This first chart (click here to view) shows the usage of various categories of Web sites from 2003-09. In February of this year, time spent using social networks exceeded time spent using online e-mail, according to the data.

In many ways this probably isn’t that surprising. Many social networking sites have built-in messaging capabilities. So perhaps people are checking their Facebook messaging systems before or more often than their regular e-mail. Anecdotally, many people are more reachable via Facebook or LinkedIn than they are via their e-mail inbox. Here’s some data to back up those stories:

For real estate, where many systems promote e-mail-based listings promotion, I would expect to see increased automation to leverage social networks. Then again, maybe it’s all those daily e-mail-blasts that moved the audience to the social networks in the first place.

And no, I don’t think you should abandon your e-mail activities for a Facebook fan page. But this is data that’s worth thinking about and seeing where it fits into your company’s social business strategy.

Also worth noting is that video has been running neck-and-neck with search for time spent by visitors since last year. Combine this information with the increase of blended search results that display video on search-engine results pages. I know a lot of real estate professionals are very aggressive and engaged with their search-engine optimization and marketing plans. Is there similar focus on leveraging the audience’s interest in video?

Next up: trust. The audience is bombarded with messages all day. Which ones survive the trust filter and had a chance of being acted upon? This next chart (click here to view) works on that question.

Again, no giant surprises: People trust other people they know. However, there’s some interesting things going on in there as well. A branded Web site is trusted about the same as newspaper editorial content. Those e-mail blasts they signed up for on your Web site? Not as perfect as we might hope for.

The bottom segment of the chart is also interesting: One-third of people trusted banner advertising, and that went up if there was video involved. Sure, these are way down the list, but one-third is still a decent percentage. …CONTINUED

Boiling it down to bullet points

Interesting is nice, but let’s try to make something useful.

Here’s what the numbers are telling us about social networking:

  • The audience trusts other people they know.
  • The audience is spending as much time using these systems as they do their online e-mail systems.


  • The audience is spending about the same amount of time with video as they do with searching.
  • Including video in banner advertising increases trust in the advertising.

If you haven’t already begun to think about your social business strategy and how you might incorporate video into your marketing, now would be a good time to start. No, having your intern set up a Twitter account probably isn’t going to be enough. Developing some core internal-staff skills with these technologies is going to be important.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all at Real Estate Connect this week. I’m always on the lookout for new column ideas and feedback, and to be generally helpful. If you want some more individual attention, make sure to hit the Live Lab where I and a bunch of other great people will be doing some one-on-one sessions to help you get more out of your efforts.

Gahlord Dewald is the president and janitor of Thoughtfaucet, a strategic creative services company in Burlington, Vt. He’s a frequent speaker on applying analytics and data to creative marketing endeavors. He will speak during a Bloggers Connect workshop at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor.

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