Editor’s note: Guest Blogger, Mike Bowler, Sr. has been in the real estate business in Lansing, Mich. for the past 32 years. Bowler is a former broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Bowler Real Estate and is currently an associate broker for Coldwell Banker Hubbell Briarwood, which bought his company in 2001. He also owns his own company Professional Resources, E-Business, Technology, Education, & Consulting (PRETEC) and is an avid fan of social media in the workplace.
By MIKE BOWLER, SR.
This may appear to be basic for some who read this blog — however, my experience has been that most real estate agents have not yet designed a plan to make sure they are being found online. Some agents have good intentions, set up a few sites and forget them. This is worse than not having any profiles at all.
The guidelines below can be expanded over time. It’s just a plan to get you started in the right direction, however. Remember that your goal is to drive traffic to your listings and services, and to develop relationships that will result in face-to-face contact. This is still a "people business."
Nearly everything below is free or very affordable. However, you must be willing to invest the time for setup and a certain amount of time every day to work your plan. If you’re not willing to do that, then hire someone to set you up and assist you to get started, or don’t do it at all. This is by no means an overnight success for getting found online. If you don’t think you need it, just go "Google yourself" (search Google for your name inside quotation marks) and do some soul-searching about your future.
So, here’s my proposed plan:
1. Have a blog that is geared toward your real estate marketplace, community, real estate laws, and homeownership. I recommend WordPress, self-hosted. There are many other FREE Blogs you can get started with: Google Blogger, WordPress.com, ActiveRain, RealTown. My personal opinion is WordPress.org may worth the small investment. Once you are set up, zero in on the following:
- Write to your audience with good, interesting content
- Use good keywords that relate to your business and community
- Include links to resources, sites, points of interest, and a photo on each blog post
- Use widgets for e-mail sign-up, RSS, older posts, and links
- Use key plugins and widgets for social, optimization, and other time-saving goodies
2. Use a second blog platform (Amplify or Posterous) to share interesting business and real estate events from Inman News, Realtor.org, etc. (keeping in mind that you can share your own thoughts on news items posted on other sites, but that simply cutting-and-pasting stories from them into your own blog is a violation of copyright law).
- Ping your blog
- Share your posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
- Bookmark your blog posts and others in categories to share
- Use the Add This button for sharing on Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon and others
3. Google Tools
- Google Profile: Make it complete with links to all your other sites, blogs, and social media profiles.
- Google Reader: Wonderful for research and staying abreast of industry news, innovations, and community. My favorites include Mashable, Inman News, and RISMedia.
- Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts on yourself, your company, your competition, your community and real estate in general. This will alert you on timely matters and news.
- Merchant Center/Google Base: Excellent place to promote and advertise your business, featured listings, coupons for free market evaluations, etc.
- Profile: Use a photo and complete your profile with keywords that will relate to you, your business, and interests. Brand your page with your name. Example: www.facebook.com/mbowlersr. This is better than having all those numbers connected to your address.
- Business page: You can get this page branded and customized to match your website or blog (there’s a fee involved), or use some of the applications included with Facebook.
- Focus on community: Places to see, things to do, events, festivals, meetings, points of interest, and other relevant facts.
- Use RSS and share blog posts to your business page
- Have a tab set up to your LinkedIn, videos, business page
- Marketplace: Another avenue for promoting and advertising your listings and services.
- Make sure your profile is complete.
- Participate in the Questions and Answers section.
- Applications: Forward Twitter streams to your LinkedIn; set up your blog to RSS into LinkedIn; post your recommended books.
- Build your recommendations up to 12+ from key local community business people and centers of influence.
- Complete a resume for your LinkedIn profile geared toward real estate. Remember you wake up unemployed every day. Your resume should highlight your career successes, education, and accomplishments.
- Set up a profile and YouTube channel for your business.
- Use YouTube to do quick real estate market updates for your community, discuss community events, grand openings, and other items of interest that can be shared. Keep these videos to under two minutes.
- Share your updated videos on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
- Upload appropriate videos to your blog.
- This profile can only be 140 characters or less, so focus on your community, real estate, homes, services, and a link to your website or blog.
- A photo or avatar is a must.
- Share, thank, compliment often (3 to 1 rule).
- RT (retweet) others’ Tweets that are interesting and informative.
- Don’t sell — provide links to further information.
Notice that I sent you to the Help section on some of the sites above. That’s where you learn one bite at a time, plus watch the videos on those sites. Some of the tools I mentioned above can also be searched and you’ll find great information to help you get started. All the above is subject to change due to the fast-paced innovation in our industry, but that’s what is so exciting about this business, don’t you agree?
Are you doing anything using the media above that I didn’t mention? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Future of Real Estate Marketing is a part of Inman News.