Does Hyperlocalism Help or Hurt our Business?

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Hyperlocalism: a brilliant bit of marketing or the ultimate handcuff?

Over the last couple years those on the more innovative trend of the real estate industry spectrum have enjoyed using “Hyperlocalism”, touting it as a new frontier of doing business in the digital age of social media marketing. And why not? The results were proving to be dynamic.

From Search Engine Optimization results (better known as Google juice) to street credibility within a community (online or otherwise) REALTORS enjoyed returns from online leads based on their efforts to become a better resource to those searching online for more in-depth information.

For many it has worked beautifully.

REALTORS like Heather Elias, one of the first blogging hyperlocal agents, built her entire brand by creating a community blog focused strictly on her Northern Virginia County Loudoun County.

My own affiliated agent, the Potomac Secret Agent, has come from literally no where a couple years ago to having a tremendous impact based on his local blog — building an impressive client base since 2008 (a time when most agents have had a difficult time getting out of their own way).

Of course, many have followed, making a serious push to ensure an online territory as well, branding themselves with the town, neighborhood, street of their choice, believing the time spent doing so will give back in spades only to discover the gold rush isn’t what they hoped for, or had been promised.

Whether it is another “365 things to do” (yes, I was guilty of that) or another generic Facebook Community page, many of the late adopters are finding it difficult to make their way in the space.

Furthermore, there are challenges for the most adept of us, many finding consumers not only brutal when searching sites for information, but making their displeasure public when doing so.

So, my question is, what do we say?

What happens when a potential client wants to consider a home outside of your carefully branded area? The Potomac Secret Agent lists and sells all over the greater DC area, and he handles all questions with poise and ease; but what of the more inexperienced agent — have they practiced objections enough to know how to sway a consumers concern?

Indeed, self-pigeon holing ourselves as an expert in only one thing is a dilemma, and one that makes Hyperlocalism an aspect of marketing that may cause problems as more and more embrace it on Facebook Community pages, Google+, and the traditional blog.

Now, I’m not saying sophisticated marketers should not use Facebook, Blogs, YouTube, or any other tool they can to impress upon potential clients that they have serious market knowledge. However, sometimes, these venues expose those who need to learn to crawl before they sprint.

Social Media is the ultimate detective tool: making it easy for the public to dismiss agents as frauds before they even get a real chance to show their value.

What’s my point? Hyperlocalism takes experience and savvy to pull off successfully, and it can kill a person’s credibility faster than a almost anything else.

So, here is a short list of “musts” if you feel this is what you want to do:

1. If you say on a Facebook Community page that you know a neighborhood better than anyone else, you better be telling the truth. Don’t just throw up a page with some graphics and iPhone pictures and say you know what you don’t. Study. Research. Be the expert instead of saying so. Use linkable PDF documents that show real value. Be a reporter. Show that you care. It’s the only way to keep them coming back.

2. If you market yourself as being one very specific thing and someone says they went to another agent because they figured you only did that thing, you need to be able to answer that question credibly. Best example of this is I know an agent who marketed himself as the “Loft Guy”. Well what if a buyer is not buying a loft, would the agent turn away the business? My point is, have an answer. Practice credible ways to be able to do both.

3. Script practice is vital. Practice different objections regarding your online presence and never be embarrassed by it.

In the end Hyperlocalism does work for those who are committed to developing a strategy. Just remember, you can’t fake it — social media is just to unforgiving and has a very long memory.