Check it out. They haven’t set it up to be embeddable, so I just have to link to it. But it is worth hopping over there to take a look at it. They grabbed a bunch of the Social Media sites that pop straight into your mind… like FaceBook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest… and compared them in users, revenue and employees with some that you may NOT have thought of… like Club Penguin and Tagged.
The results might surprise you. It might not alter your social media strategy (you do have a strategy, right?), but might give you some food for thought.
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?
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.
A few days ago I posted that (in my humble opinion) real estate blogs should be about real estate… not movie reviews, restaurant reviews, not recipes… Real estate. That is what the audience is tuning in for, give them what they want. I gave a few examples of what I see from my traffic patterns, and generally tried to support my opinion.
But, real estate agents that are marketing online (should) have a LOT more channels aside from their real estate blog. And I DO believe that there is a place in some of those other channels for items with less focus. First, let’s run down a few options:
FaceBook (Business) Page
Delicious (Link sharing)
Flickr (Photo Sharing)
FourSquare (Location Sharing)
With the exception of the community websites, EVERY one of those items listed is FREE. Community websites might be free, might cost a few bucks a year, or might cost as much as $100 (if you have to have someone set it up). But there is something that they ALL have in common, too. They can all be support systems for your real estate website. And they can all send links to your real estate website… they are all outposts, providing information and hopefully send a few people trotting off to visit your cyber-office. A community website is the absolute toughest to get going… and has the most reward if you get it right.
Video is hot. You should have video of testimonials, communities, local events, YOU and likely a plethora of other things. Host them on YouTube, embed them on your site (the ones that belong) and let them pull in a little traffic. Flickr is much the same… but with pictures instead of video.
Posterous is COOL. It is a great way to get some of the content to the other sites… and also share news and tidbits about things that are happening in the community. Grab an RSS feed from your Posterous site and let it run on the sidebar of your blog. Pull in calendar entries from local events, interviews with local politicians or business-people, news items, reviews or local places, etc. Don’t make it the focus of your website… let it stand on its own, while contributing a little to your website. Better yet, make it community specific, and find people in the community that want to load THEIR content onto it. Be the publisher…
A great source of news is Twitter. I have come to see Twitter as “broadcast media” rather than as person to person social networking. Some will disagree, but I look at Twitter the same way as I look at the “newswire services”. Filter it down to what is important, and then share that in a news feed on your site. It isn’t terribly difficult in a geographic specialty… but a bit tougher with a lifestyle specialty.
Delicious is a link sharing site. Instead of having a giant blogroll of all of the people you might know, share the links through Delicious… they can be tagged and categorized to make finding resources easier for your reader. Again, publish a feed to your sidebar.
On FourSquare, do those reviews (in the “Tips” section of the location). Have a great profile and point it back to your website. If there is someone out there that will buy a house from you based on your incredible writing about an ice cream cone… they can still find you.
FaceBook could be 20 posts all by itself. But, the basic idea is to make a Page about a community and then get the community to give it life. You should be there to nurture it, cull out the junk (and competitors) and keep it moving along. Talk about the parks, restaurants, movies, local parades and a zillion other things. Let it be a virtual Town Square where people can gather at 4am in their underwear without being laughed at (nobody has to know).
The bottom line is that there IS a place for all of that other content we want to use to show everyone how connected we are to the community. It just might not be the main real estate website.
My Windows Live Gallery (and a few other Windows Live components) upgraded a couple of days ago.
I mean it has become REALLY cool to use this tool. When I got the new laptop, it had Windows 7 installed. One of the tools was the windows Live Gallery, and I spent a lot of time tagging people and adding descriptive tags for locations. It was nice to be able to pull out images based on tags.
But it really changed with the new update…
Now I can combine tags for searches. My wife is putting together a coffee table book of our boys as a present for the grandmothers. Tonight, I pulled up images from my gallery (a couple thousand pictures) that were of both boys together… then each boy individually. There were also a few events that she wanted pics from… and they were just as easy to pull up.
But the real surprise was when I found some pics that needed tagging. It was recognizing faces. At this point it is only suggesting… and not for every one… but I can only imagine that it will get better as I tag more people. This will be REALLY useful for tagging the other kids in my sons’ classes. I don’t know them all that well, so after a few tags, the computer can help me recognize them.
Of course, I have been loving the automatic filing by date. That means I can pull up pictures by date or subject… or both. That had been the drawback of having a couple thousand pictures, they were tough to search.
Windows Live Gallery is a cool tool. I’ll have to revisit some of the other tools to see if they have stepped up enough to regularly utilize.
I am proud to say that I attended the very first REbarcamp, which was a real estate industry specific technology “unconference”. Basically, the idea behind barcamp is that the conferees get together and create an agenda and then host the sessions. It is an amazing peer-to-peer discussion.
Right now there is a small core group looking at the feasibility of a real estate bar camp in the Atlanta area. If we can put it together, the event will be held this fall… September or October is the likely time frame.
Here are a couple of posts on Active Rain with more info about #rebcATL (that is the ‘official’ Twitter hashtag for the event).