Just about all Internet marketers (that would be anyone that markets on the internet, not just internet based companies) want to create a “Viral Ad Campaign.”  The dream is that for almost no money, they will create an ad or campaign that everyone just HAS to share with all of their friends.  It will end up getting more views that a Super Bowl ad, and more click-throughs than tabloid pics of Brittany Spears with a shaved head.

Humor, shock and amazement are the ingredients… but the exact recipe is pretty tough to figure out.

Click the pic to go to Voltier Digital's post on Going Viral.

I don’t have a relationship with Voltier Digital… I just saw the graphic and thought it would be a cool share.

map of Treasure Island, from the first German ...
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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
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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
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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. 

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You aren’t done.

But you never really were…

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But what about social networking?

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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:

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  • YouTube
  • Posterous
  • Twitter
  • FaceBook (Business) Page
  • Delicious (Link sharing)
  • Flickr (Photo Sharing)
  • FourSquare (Location Sharing)
  • Community Websites
  • More…

 

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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.

Posterous Logo
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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…

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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.

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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.

Foursquare (social networking)
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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.

 

What do YOU think?

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I have a thing about ‘To Do Lists’…  I don’t know why.  But, I do.  At least on my computer.

I use WP Editorial Calendar to schedule posts, and ToodleDo to keep track of what posts should be upcoming, along with other tasks.  Without these tools I would be completely lost.  Even with as bad as I am at updating this blog on time, I still produce around 20 blog posts a week.  It needs to be closer to 25.

At any given time, I have 15 or 20 tabs open in my FireFox browser.  The tabs have a variety of things, ranging from website where I am tracking things on a daily basis to articles or posts that I want to blog about.  I also have source articles for things I am researching for blog posts.

And I have a new one that I am really liking…  SpringPad.

 

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I picked up a Tablet computer a few weeks ago (Toshiba Thrive).  This is in addition to my laptop and my smartphone (T-Mobile G2).  I work on all of them.  And one of the things I was missing was a way to keep information (not just files) synchronized between all of my devices.  There are tools like DropBox, which I love, but it required that I have a way to edit the same filetype on all of my devices… or the devices of others I might share an item with.

 

SpringPad is a bit different.  There is a website (SpringPadIt.com) as well as device apps for my Tablet and SmartPhone (both are Android).  They also have a suite of apps available through the iTunes Store for Apple devices.

One of the nice things with SpringPad is that it has a built in editor to write notes, build out To Do Lists and even surf.  There is a plug-in for FireFox so that I can clip items while surfing and send them to notes in SpringPad.  I can email items (forwards, especially) to a notebook.  I can also add resources to a note like links, videos or photos.

 

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Like DropBox, users can share their content with other users… unlike DropBox, notebooks can be sent via email to others that are NOT users of SpringPad.  And while DropBox is better for some file types, especially those that involve a lot of editing (manuscripts, images, etc.), I find that SpringPad is a little better geared towards sharing information.  In fact, I can even share things on FaceBook, Twitter and through RSS via SpringPad.  Content can be organized and tagged, as well. Sync’d content is also available when you are not online (except for the website… but if you don’t have a data connection on your phone or tablet, you can still access and edit notebooks for syncing later).

 

Right Now…

At this moment I am working on a Winter Pack Trip for our Cub Scout Pack.  In order to do this, I have to keep the input of all of the Pack Leaders in mind… and keep them abreast of what is happening.  I also need to keep track of which resources belong with which venue.  I’m tracking costs, things to do, amenities and timelines.  And I can share as much or as little as I want with as many or as few people as needed.  And there is a Social component to the SpringPad network.  You can share items with your SpringPad friends and use it for collaboration.

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It is the new shiny object… Google+.  If you are on it, it is really obvious.  Most of the posts still seem to be about how cool it is to be there.  It seems like the majority of the links that are posted or “+1’d” are about using Google+.

And that is fine…

But it leaves me thinking something…  That since Google+ is the shiny new object in the room… the new kid that all the girls think is “mysterious”… is it getting a pass? 

Or, am I just the stodgy old dude that doesn’t like change?

Frankly, I think I do like change, but I also don’t dive on every new toy.  And I like FaceBook.  I never warmed up to TwitterFourSquare took me a little while, and it isn’t on the top of my mind.  There are probably 20 social networking options that I have discarded in the last few years because they didn’t thrill me.  In fact, Google Wave and Google Buzz would be two of the platforms I dropped well before they went away.

And don’t think for a minute that I think Google+ is going to go the way of Buzz and Wave.  Google+ is too good for that.

But, personally I don’t think it is the coolest thing ever…  I think we have a case of Social Media Bias.  Right now, Google+ is made up of early adopters.  And early adopters, in general, are people that like the shiny new objects.  And because early adopter love the new stuff, Google+ is in a Honeymoon phase…  it is getting the love and it doesn’t have to prove itself.

The question is this…  What do YOU think?  Is Google+ all that and a bag of chips, or does it need to bake a little longer?  Is it easier to work with that FaceBook, or is it that the users are those that are generally quickest to adapt?

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