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There is buzz about “marketing automation”.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad.  automating social media marketing, if done right, is great.  If done poorly, it can take a toll on your brand.

On the plus side, getting the message out on a regular basis and measuring the impact in a consistent and repeatable manner, and then tuning the message, is a GREAT way to build a brand.

But, the dark side is that automated marketing, without monitoring and measuring, too easily becomes noise.  And because there is so much noise, it gets tuned out, and your brand gets turned off.

Real estate agents are some of the best… and worst.  I see agents posting up everything, everywhere, all of the time.  I see others, filtering their message based on the audience…

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Remember when FaceBook changed the format for personal profiles a few months ago?  A lot of people grumbled, and FaceBook did it anyway.  They gave us all plenty of warning, but a lot of us waited until the last minute…

They are at it again… and have been for a few weeks.  I’ve been ignoring it on my pages.  But the deadline is today (March 30th)… beginning on Saturday (March 31st) the pages are changing over to a similar Timeline to that of the profiles.

Luckily, all-around Good Guy, Hockey Fan and Biker, Mike Mueller put out a post just yesterday talking about the changes and how to get everything done on your FaceBook Page.  Go check it out.

For the record, I changed over my pages yesterday.  It also made me decide that they need more work…

 

facebook engancha
Image via Wikipedia

My pal Mike Mueller is a FaceBook Whiz.  He has been all over the new Timeline feature from FaceBook… even though most people don’t even have a clue what it is yet.

 

Whether you are a fan of it or not, the new Timeline is coming.  You might as well get used to it and use it to its best advantage.  Mike has a few tips on his blog, AreWeConnected.com, and I’m sure there will be more coming in the future as he delves deeper into its capabilities.

Mike has a lot of other great takes on the Social Media sphere… as well as a great portfolio of FaceBook Pages he has designed for clients.  He’s also a huge hockey fan and a great guy.

One of the things I whole-heartedly agree with agree with Mike about is the use (on non-use) of FaceBook Profiles as a sales tool.  FaceBook’s Terms of Service specifically address using profiles as a marketing tool.  In a word, don’t.  That is the reason that they offer FREE FaceBook Pages for businesses.  In surfing around through a few profiles, it didn’t take long for me to run across a few that were basically real estate agent billboards.

So, check out Mike’s post… check out the new Timeline Profile feature and dive into the future.

 

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Blogging Heroes
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Real Estate Professionals are becoming more and more convinced that blogging is a necessary marketing tactic.  So, the question is steadily shifting from “Should I be blogging?” to “Where should I be blogging?

 

For Real Estate Professionals, there are a variety of choices, ranging from real estate specific blogging channels to general blogging channels to self-hosted options.  And each of them has advantages and disadvantages.  Of course, for those that aren’t blogging, the first hurdle is to get started… and the actual location, while important, isn’t as important enough to stop the progress while working out the location…

 

Real Estate Specific Channels – Utilizing a network that is tweaked towards real estate blogging has some GREAT advantages for the new blogger.  From a technical standpoint, there is built in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) with the platform since there are multitudes of bloggers writing about real estate.  Search Engines see the content and make it a trusted source more quickly.  Also, some of the networks have great user communities, leading to opportunities to learn more about blogging and technology, as well as build referral relationships.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
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On the flip side, you don’t control the platform.  Management might be GREAT at the moment, but what it the platform is purchased by a company with poor practices, or worse… by a competing real estate empire? What if they introduce advertising on the blogs, and your competitors can by ad space on YOUR content?  The bottom line is that you don’t have control over what goes out to the consumer.  You only control your content.

 

But, on the balance, this might be a great place to start, discover your voice and stretch your blogging legs.  You might find yourself outgrowing it, though.

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General Blogging Channels – These carry most of the pitfalls and none of the benefits of Real Estate Specific Channels.  You still don’t have control of what may be presented to the consumer alongside your content.  Of course, it is much less likely that a real estate company will buy the platform, but not a lot less likely that a competitor could buy an ad or end up with a link on YOUR blog, without your permission.  And since the content is general, the SEO benefits are gone, as well.

But, in the case of WordPress.com, you will have the opportunity to learn the WP-Admin console.  And you actually can start writing.  You also might have al ittle more control over the theme (design) of your blogs graphic presentation.

 

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.
Image via Wikipedia

Blogging on a general site is probably the weakest option, in my opinion.  It has all of the weaknesses of blogging on a platform owned by someone else, but few of the advantages of being on a site tuned for real estate blogging.

 

Self-Hosted Options – For the long term, this should be where it’s at, in my opinion.  You control almost everything about the platform and the content.  There are no worries about who may be advertising on your blog, nor about who might have their hand in the background.  You get the final say.

However, you also get to control things like SEO… and if you create regular and compelling content, you will be noticed by the search engines.  If you guest post on well known blogs, you will get important links back to your blog, and bring up your blogs SEO.

 

Screenshot of the blogging system WordPress.
Image via Wikipedia

The bottom line here is that YOU are in control…  For some, that is great.  For others, it is terrifying.  It might mean that your blog languishes with a lack of attention, or it might mean that you have to hire someone to make it rock.  Or, it might mean that you have a platform that is unique and compelling and that costs VERY little money and pulls in a tremendous number of leads.

 

 

In each case, there are exceptions.  And there are sites that don’t really seem to fit in their mold.  Posterous, YouTube and FaceBook Pages are all examples of sites that can be useful tools, regardless of where your other efforts are focused.  Using them as part of a network of your own can build your blog into something greater.

Here is a (non-real estate) network I am building…

CoolCaroftheDay.com (self-hosted WordPress site)

CCotD on YouTube (YouTube Channel)

CCotD on FaceBook (FaceBook Page)

CCotD Quick Hits (Posterous Blog, primarily populated via web links)

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map of Treasure Island, from the first German ...
Image via Wikipedia

You can’t get there without a map.  And even a poor map is often better than no map at all.  The map DOES need to be accurate enough to show you where things are in relation to one another… but the scale can be off.

Maybe you can think of your blogging/social media map as a kind of treasure map.  At the end, you will get the desired outcome from your efforts.

There are a few steps that you have to go through to get there.

  • Figure out what you want.  And “money” is not the right answer.  That is a byproduct.  Some examples might be finding new business or expanding market share.
  • What is the best path to take to get there… work the path backwards.
  • If we are looking for new clients, maybe we would get them from marketing to an expanded email newsletter list.
  • In order to expand the email list, we need people to opt in
  • To get the opt-ins, we need to have compelling content with a clear call to action.
  • Since we have compelling content, we need to make sure that we are getting it in front of people that have an interest.  That would likely be through SEO and Social Media.

That is a pretty broad, unfocused view…  And several of those steps might actually involve a map of their own… or several steps.  The important part is to take a little time to think about it, and maybe even draw a map.  Mind-Mapping software is a pretty cool option.  I often use FreeMind, which is an Open Source option.  But a sheet of graph paper and a pencil might be just the set of tools to capture what you need (you can concentrate on WHAT you are doing rather than on HOW to do it).

The important thing is to actually do it…

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Turbo Beetle
Image by kenjonbro via Flickr

Back in the mid 1990s, people started to say that you HAD to have a website.  So, you hired someone to code up a few pages and it was good…  You were done. 

Ten years later, those same people were telling you that you HAD to have a blog.  The cool thing was that you didn’t necessarily have to hire anyone, you could just toss one up.  So you did it… and then it kind of languished after the first couple of months because you didn’t get any direct business from it.  You were done.

A couple of years later, you finally started hearing from some of your peers that that blogging thing actually worked… so you dusted it off and started posting.  You were done. 

Seemingly, 30 minutes later, the consensus was that you needed a Twitter account.  But before you could call it done, you needed a FaceBook Fan Page… then you needed a YouTube Channel… and a Yelp presence…

 

Now, if you aren’t on Google+, you are just wasting time with the rest of your internet program… or so say “the people”.

When does it end?

Does it end?

Vector C6
Image by TheMBG via Flickr

Nope.  It doesn’t.  Technology and “what’s cool” keep marching on.  There is always a new site and there is always a new way to engage consumers.  There are always new channels and there always will be.

What’s worse… or better… is that they are unfolding faster than EVER before.  Newspaper dominated for centuries.  Radio dominated for generations.  TV dominated for decades.  Websites dominated for years.  Now we are down to weeks…  Maybe days.

 

But that doesn’t mean that you have to try to ride EVERY wave that breaks on the shore.  In fact, it means that you shouldn’t.  A hundred years ago, you couldn’t go big if you weren’t in the newspaper.  It would take a while before the next wave came in.  Now we have waves breaking constantly.

Pick your battles.  Figure out what you are going to be able to do… alone or with your team.  Learn ways to automate without destroying engagement.  Aggregation and Syndication can be your friends.  Link and leverage your networks.  Pick your battles. 

Vector Twin Turbo W8 at Auto- und Technikmuseu...
Image via Wikipedia

You aren’t done.

But you never really were…

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