Category Archives for "Social Media"

Why I Use Twitter [It’s for the Cocktails, Stupid!]

It was just a matter of time: I am finally on Twitter.

And I have to say–not sure why I waited so long.

But let’s get one thing straight: I don’t have any delusions on what Twitter can accomplish.

I don’t think it will change my life. Or make my business better. Or even lead to increased leads…

Some might call that cynical. I choose to say it’s realistic.

So why am I on Twitter? What do I hope to get out of posting on Twitter?

Great question. Here’s my answer: To create and nurture relationships. To give you something valuable. And, of course, to have a little fun.

See, I’m convinced that Twitter is nothing more than a non-stop cocktail party. Sure, the traffic slows at 3 AM…but it’s running with a full head of steam from 6 AM to 12 AM.

And just like a cocktail party, you don’t get to know people deeply. You simply mingle, swap hellos, share ideas, glean tips.

That’s the point.

Not to say a relationship over Twitter couldn’t lead to something bigger.

I’ve seen that happen plenty of times–with people picking up book deals, developing CRM models and scooping news stories.

Or someone’s Twitter flirting lead into some pretty lucrative partnership. It happens, folks.

And I’m hoping to enjoy a little bit of the fun that happens on Twitter.

But most importantly I hope to add large amounts of value to you…whether by sharing interesting articles I find, re-tweeting great links or quotes or unpacking my own ideas [in 140 characters or less].

So, if you’re not yet, follow me on Twitter. And I promise to follow you. I look forward to getting to know you.

8 Solutions to Keep 2009 from Going Down in Flames

First, thanks for reading. And responding. This blog would be nothing without you.

Second, thanks for your leadership. Your courage. Your honesty. Credibility. Tough love. Thanks for being a real estate agent who upholds the standard. Who excels at winning. And winning right. You inspire me.

Third, you’ve got a rough road ahead of you. But you don’t need me to point that out to you. I only want to give you solutions. My main motivation in writing this post is to give you an early Christmas present. An idea…a direction…that will hopefully guide you to success in 2009.

So, here’s a list of 8 solutions to your current economic, real estate woes. Hopefully these will keep you from pumping a ton of money into something that returns little to nothing. When you’re finished, let me know what you think.

1. Start from scratch.

Halt the progress, purge all your current baggage and re-evaluate what you are trying to accomplish. You need a clean slate for 2009.

Andy Grove said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” You’ve got to get the fundamentals down. But once you do that…tackle new opportunities.

2. Think like a king.

You probably haven’t been doing enough of this lately. But you need to think like a king. Or queen. Someone who is in charge. Who’s sovereign. Someone who’s responsible for results. Someone who won’t let the vision go dormant or accumulate complicated layers. Who rolls heads when there’s trouble. [Go ahead. You can do it.]

3. Create a dedicated team passionate about real estate.

Your career is so important that you dedicate your life to it. You depend upon it. Your family depends upon it. Charities depend upon it. All of your resources should place it at the same high priority. Otherwise, you dish out a half-baked product.

4. Create a unique selling proposition (USP).

The book Made to Stick demonstrated that an idea spreads when it is simple, unexpected, credible, concrete, emotional or a story. Or a combination of all the above. Southwest Airlines “exists to provide the lowest airfare.”

Why do you exist? What makes your business better than the other ones out there? Let’s spell it out: USP.

5. Filter and test every idea through the USP.

Every idea you come across must live or die based on how it sizes up to your USP. R&D suggested Southwest offer chicken Caesar salads on the flight. The CEO asked, “Will that help us provide the lowest airfare?” The answer was no.

6. Define metrics.

What will determine success or failure: Sales? Houses sold? Listed? Buzz? Penetration? Recall? Website visits? All of the above?

7. Determine an economic engine.

Low maintenance ideas require little to no funding. High maintenance ideas require more funding. You need to decide if you want any idea to be a low or high maintenance idea…and then build strategies and creative to match the revenue required.

8. Meet a new person everyday.

Via social sites like Twitter or LinkedIn or flesh and blood events, get to know more people this year. At a minimum, make a goal to meet 365 new people in 2009.

Deep and wide relationships cultivates success. Especially if you get to a point in 2009 that you feel like you can’t make it, somebody will be there to lift you up.

Merry Christmas.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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The 3 Best Social Media Ideas for Improving Your Sales You’ll Ever Read

Leads are like molecules. They’re a billion of them, but all so small and insignificant you don’t even pay attention to them.

Leads are like molecules in another way, too. Without molecules, you wouldn’t exist. Same is true for leads.

But maybe you don’t have a billion leads coming in. Would you like a billion leads over a years time? If so, one way to get there is by doing lots of microprospecting.

What’s microprospecting? Just another way of saying “prospect small, and often.”

Microprospecting is sending a personal email to a satisfied client. Crossing the street to meet a stranger. Microprospecting works in the digital world to, like social media.

You can fill your macro funnel with leads by laying hundreds of small social media prospecting lines. And the cool part? Is doesn’t take a lot of time.

In the case of social media, here are the 3 best–and fastest–things you can do everyday that are guaranteed to grow your pipeline.

The Best Blogging Idea You’ll Ever Read

The most obvious choice here is to start a blog. If you haven’t a blog yet, it’s imperative you get one now.

What can you do daily on a blog that will improve your sales? Write short, meaningful posts on the state of your local market.

But I have a much better idea.

Write short, meaningful posts about people in your community. Become a local journalist.

Every time you are in the car, on the phone or in a meeting with someone, find out something interesting about them. And then ask them if you can blog about them. Keep a notepad and build up a pool of stories.

Once you start posting these stories, email the person to let them know. Then they tell all their friends and family. Pretty soon you’ll have a large swath of people eyeing your blog to see if they made it on there yet.

In fact, you do this good enough, and strangers will go out of their way to meet you, hoping you “interview” them.

Why is this effective? Because people like to see themselves in print.

I got this idea from the book Made to Stick, where Dan and Chris Heath tell the story of a city newspaper that had a readership rate over 100%.

What was the secret to the newspaper’s success? The editor summed it up in three words: names, names, names. He and his reporters focused on the people of the town–not the events.

You should do the same.

The Best Recommendation Idea You’ll Ever Read

The next best social media idea is to give people recommendations. But not just any old recommendation.

How can you do that? Join LinkedIn if you haven’t already and search out people you’ve worked with in some capacity. Then, recommend them.

But say something positive and unique about that person. Unique is key. Zero in on something about that person that makes them stand out. Give the recommendation teeth.

I’ve given several recommendations where people have returned with “wow…that really pops out of the page.”

You can learn how to write a good LinkedIn recommendation. It’s really easy and involves a 15 minute investment.

Give one recommendation a day for 30 days and you’ve made 30 people smile. Hopefully you’ll get 30 recommendations in return. That’s not always the case, but 20–even 10–is better than none.

The Best One Night Stand You’ll Ever Have–and the Only One You’ll Ever Have

This goes without saying, but to make the best use of social media, you have to be social. Like Dustin Wax at Stepcase Lifehack said:

Building relationships starts with a friend request or invite  — it doesn’t end there. Get to know the people you are connected with. Answer their questions, send them a link or piece of information now and again, and read their profiles.

But if you look at social media as a one-night stand–you’re doomed for failure.

You’ve got to love people. Everything about them. Like Leo at Zen Habits–who I swear doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. He is truly interested in everybody.

[Just follow him on Twitter to see what I mean.]

When you fall over yourself to get to know people–one person at a time–becoming popular is inevitable. And that means you have to spend more than one night with them.

The 90 Day Social Media Challenge

Social media is out there to help you. And it’s perfect for what you want to do–generate leads. Where else can you have access to millions of people in the matter of a few clicks?

So, my challenge to you is this: for the next 90 days try and do these three simple social media ideas everyday.

At the most it should take you an hour and a half.  But that hour and a half maybe your best time investment as your social network grows exponentially.


By the end of that 90 days you won’t have a billion leads. Probably not a million. Or even a thousand. But a hundred isn’t far-fetched.

And if you have one hundred new leads, and got just one lead from each person, your leads just doubled without you having to do anything.

That’s the beauty of compound marketing.

Social Media Does Matter: Selling Houses During Hard Times

Everyone knows that in today’s market, it’s not enough just to get the listing—you need to have an aggressive marketing plan.

While printed flyers, signage and the basics will always have their place, we all know that over 80% of home buyers begin their search for a new home online.

In fact, second only to over-priced home, no internet marketing strategy is the biggest reason homes don’t sell.

That’s why you need advanced online marketing strategies–social media strategies–to help you create a compelling online presence.

Yet, marketing real estate has never been a hip business.

The people in it might be cool–but the advertising venues that work best for real estate have long been traditional vehicles like postcards, print newspaper ads and signage. Real estate is nothing if not a local business, after all (note the real estate mantra of “location, location, location”)–you don’t buy a house off of the Internet, right?

Maybe not yet.

Tech-savvy real estate agents and developers quickly turned to online and social media tools like video, blogs, and other new media to sell their properties. However, the adoption is so slow for the early majority [or pragmatists], and, of course, painful for the late majority [or conservatives].

Which brings me to my point.

The first step in successful and aggressive listing promotion is to make sure your property is featured where home buyers are looking.

And because offline marketing tools cost money, and money is hard to come by in tough times, its really no surprise that real estate agents to reduce their newspaper print budgets, if not eliminating them altogether.

My belief is that perhaps financial hard times might drive some normally timid, pragmatic and conservative people to finally get online and get with it, crossing that chasm faster than they normally would.

Otherwise they may have to be happy with failing. After call, necessity is the mother of experimentation.

To get us started, here are some basic suggestions to help you get the most out of your web site’s listings:

  • Promote listings on your home page—make a featured property listing highlighting a particular property, and make sure there’s an easy-to-access slide show at the ready.
  • Keep your hot news hot—announce your newest and most-desirable listings.
  • Update your open house page—drive traffic from the web into your open houses.
  • Use a hotline number with your listings. This allows you to capture contact information when they call to listen to an audio tour of the home or updated price information.
  • Add a summary to your home page—with a dedicated link to your listing page.

Once you’ve secured the listing and published it to your website–the minimum–it’s time to capture other agents and potential buyers. Let’s move on to more advanced online marketing strategies–social media strategies–to help you create a compelling online presence.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Create a single-property blog. Is this the most potent listing tool? Teresa Boardman talked about Keeping Local Real Estate, Well…Local, and how blogging can support and express your local knowledge and expertise within the microcosm of your community; establishing relationships with site-visitors and clients. [With Local, I’m speaking in-terms of relationships–referral business, repeat business, becoming known in your community for the all-inclusive services you provide consumers.]
  • Add YouTube videos along with other content such as business details, photos, and descriptions to their listings. To do so, simply upload your videos to YouTube and ensure that the ‘embed’ option is turned on. Then, associate your video to your business listing through the Local Business Center.
  • Promote Google Map as the new real estate search page. Once you’ve got your videos in Google Maps, then you got to make sure people actually use it.
  • Dominate your local search. Back in November I wrote about local search and why you should care and gave you 7 steps to improve your local rankings. The best part: it’s bootstrapalicious [read: doesn’t cost any money except your sweat].
  • Advertise your business and listings using Facebook. Putting your brand on Facebook is actually a pretty easy process. Just click on the Advertisers link in Facebook’s footer and then Create a Page.
  • Brand your listings with Trulia. Quoting from the Trulia blog: “Agents will have access to a self-service tool to highlight up to 10 listings per month for a monthly subscription fee of $50.” So, for less than the price of a typical newspaper classified ad, you can now highlight your listings and connect directly to more than 2 million unique users per month, including a highly affluent group of home buyers, 81% of who are looking to purchase a home in the next 12 months.

These steps will get you to a place where you can offer your visitors the most information-rich experience, and will help them to remember you, and thus to return to your site again and again.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the real estate marketing blog.

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8 Guidelines for Writing Meaningful Links That Woo Potential Clients

Links play a huge part in online content.

When people scan web pages they automatically look at headlines, sub-headlines and links to judge whether the page holds any interest for them. Based on what they see in the headlines, sub-headlines and links will determine whether they stay or leave. [See, you are doing it now.]

This is called information foraging.

And it doesn’t help this evaluation usually occurs under 27 seconds.

This means that web visitors’ ruthless, critical eye can sometimes overlook important information if it’s not clearly articulated in headlines, sub-headlines, and especially links.

Also, links tell search engines what your web page is all about. Links rank high as one of the factors for good search engine results. And when you have less than 30 seconds to woo a potential client, I think you do what ever you can to make your page stick out from the million others.

As you already know, links can be:

  • Sentences: Are you too busy to spend money on advertising?
  • Fragments: In Pursuit of Leads: 21 Ideas That Really Work
  • Phrases: Red-Handed with a Glamour Magazine
  • Call to Actions: Subscribe Now
  • Navigation Labels: Homes, Sellers, Buyers, News, About Us

With that in mind, let’s take a look at 8 easy guidelines for writing meaningful and compelling links that please both people and search engines.

1. Don’t Make New Program and Product Names into Links Themselves

For example: Instead of “Every Kid Deserves a Yard” as a link to your new campaign to help families move out of apartments and into a home, create the link on your website into something that both people and search engines will recognize immediately: “Ditch the Apartment” or “Buy a Home”.

The trick is to write links that your visitors—especially your first time visitors—will recognize and understand immediately.

Notice how the British Museum writes their navigation links.

For the most part, the navigation links make sense. But what does “The Museum” link mean?

I’m guessing it’s about the museum—which it turns out to be only partially true. Hitting The Museum link takes you to a page about the history and architecture of the museum.

Better if it was named “History of Museum” or “Museum History” or “Museum Architecture.” [Can you think of something better?]

If it was an About Us page, then “About Us” would work great.

2. Rethink Document Titles and Headings That Turn into Links

When turning print articles into web pages, sometimes you may need to rethink the title of the article. Things don’t transfer smoothly from print to web.

First of all, avoid cute, clever or generic headline titles like The Power of Online Technology. They don’t clearly communicate the content of the article, sales letter or flier. Neither is the title really compelling or enticing to the reader.

What’s bad in print becomes only worse online.

On the web, when visitors are fierce and fast in their judgment, titles, headlines and links need to stand out. Boldly.

Your web document titles, headlines and links need to offer the thing people want most. And the links needs to satisfy a need they have.

High-Tech Cowboys in Real Estate: The Race to Dominate Web Space is one way to rewrite the above link to give people a fullness of the articles meaning. It would work equally well as a page title.

3. Match Links and Page Titles

This is a biggie. So pay attention.

As people move through websites, the first question they ask on each new page is “Did I get where I thought I was going?” They expect the page title to match the link.

When you have links and page titles that match, you reassure your web visitors that they are on a good pathway and have landed on the page they expected.

To write successful matching links and page titles, plan them in both directions:

  • As you write the page title, think of how the same link will work on all the pages where the link will appear.
  • As you write links, think of how the same words will work as a page title.

For example, if I wanted to patch you through to an article on Realty Times about the current real estate market outlook and how it’s not that bad, best I use the actual title of the article as the link like this: Real Estate Outlook: Housing Better Than Some Reports Indicate.

And when writing page titles, always imagine how they’ll look as a link. See point 2.

4. Be as Explicit as You Can in the Space You Have

And make more space if you need it. The longer the link, the better. See point 6 below.

5. Use Action Phrases for Action Links

“View My Profile” beats “Profile” any day.

“Buy a Home” dominates “Homes to Buy.”

“Subscribe Now” is better than “Mailing List”.

6. Use Longer, More Descriptive Links

Single nouns or short noun phrases can work as labels or as links for general categories and overall topics, but only if your site visitors recognize the nouns you use and give them the same meaning.

[Think back to the British Museum page and “The Museum” link. It probably made sense to everyone involved in building the website, so nobody questioned it. Not so to those who actually use it.]

Descriptive links that lead to specific information are just like headings. Fox News creates compelling, descriptive links that are hard to ignore. Couple it with a powerful image and you have an irresistible message.

Furthermore, in the report Designing for the Scent of Information, usability engineer Jared Spool and his colleagues discovered that links of 7 to 12 words achieved the highest success in getting people to the information they are seeking.

Why is that?

Longer links are likely to have the words your visitors have in minds.

Remember, people scan web pages looking for headings, sub-headlines and links. That’s about it. If they just see The Power of Online Technology in the body copy they’re likely to overlook it. It’s just too general.

On the other hand, if they want answers on how to use social media to generate leads, they’ll quickly gravitate to Learn how to deploy Social Media Marketing to put your business Beyond Competition. That’s more likely to satisfy their quest. [Disclaimer: I do not work for Greg. I just like what he is doing, hence I share link love.]

That link is actually 13 words. Ghastly, you say. Too long. Will muss up your pretty web page? Think about this: people will likely only read your links, because they stand out. Wouldn’t you want them to read the most important and compelling piece to draw them in?

7. Add a Short Description if People Need It

Or rewrite the link.

If you can’t get enough information into the link to create a meaningful link, then you can add a short description about what’s behind the link. Again, I lean to FoxNews to demonstrate short descriptions that follow vague link titles.

8. Avoid Click Here or More at All Costs

I hate these links the most. Why? They add zero value to the people who mean the most to you.

The other day I spent about twenty minutes unsubscribing from email newsletters I no longer read. Of course the the link to unsubscribe was buried at the bottom of every email, but worse yet, nine out of ten publishers created links like this:

To unsubscribe, click here. [This actual link will take you to a Google search results page for the term “click here.” These are the people who rank for “click here.” Interesting. See point below.]

There are two good reasons why you want to avoid these terms.

First, when someone is looking for something specific on a page—like how to sell a home—and all they see is Click Here, they’re likely to miss the all important Learn How to Sell Your Home that proceeds the Click Here.

The second reason you want to avoid Click Here and More links is because they are meaningless to search engines. Unless you are searching for “click here” or “more.” I guess to some people that’s a legitimate hunt.

Finally, never, ever write links like this: I’m a little late to the party on this one. [Each link goes to Joel Burslem’s excellent website simply because I saw him do this but couldn’t actually find the page he didn’t own.]

I see this a lot on blogs. Here’s why it’s a bad idea: it just plain ticks people off. When I first saw Joel do it, I shared the page with several people and invariably–without my persuasion–they pointed out how annoying that link set up was.

What do you want me to do? Really click all of them to find out what party you were late to? Why, how and when? No thanks.

And what is a search engine to make of it?

This is a subtle ill will builder that costs against you. And all that eventually adds up. [Joel is usually spot on with descriptive links. This one just stood out to me.]


Not only people, but search engines deem descriptive, keyword links to be of high value in telling them what a page is about. And so with less than 30 seconds to win over potential leads and clients, I believe it’s in your best interest to do your best in getting people to not only find your page and stay on your page, but actually convert on your page to a lead or client.

Web 2.0 in Plain English | 4 Short Videos

Still don’t have a clue what Web 2.0 is all about?

Or perhaps you want to demonstrate to your broker or spouse [whoever holds the purse stings] in a simple, shoot-from-the-hip way what Web 2.0 is…but don’t have the time to create such a demonstration. Or even know how to go about doing it.

If that’s you, then watch and then share these four short videos.

Social Bookmarking in Plain English

RSS in Plain English

Wikis in Plain English

Social Networking in Plain English