When the internet first gained wide spread popularity it was mostly a collection of passive web pages and chat rooms. The most interactive thing you could do was type in some text, hit send and wait for a response.
But the internet has taken a new direction again, and this time the buzz is about interaction. Web 2.0, the new social network trend in web sites, has already established itself as a staple of the web community. And increasingly, small businesses are finding ways to capitalize on the social networking sites too.
Social networking sites attraction for small businesses use is cost. Setting up an account on any of the social networking sites is free, but the range of services they provide rival the abilities of full fledged media advertising campaign. With a low cost video camera and a lap top computer any Realtor can become a community reporter and post valuable content on the web.
YouTube, www.youtube.com , has long been a destination for savvy web surfers looking for entertaining video clips. You tubes format, which is easily accessible from most any modern computer, allows users to transfer a video performance from a computer to the YouTube site. Once uploaded, the video is searchable by the YouTube community. It's in this searching that Realtors can find a marketing benefit to YouTube and other Web 2.0 sites.
Realtors know that today's real estate prospects and customers are using the internet in ways that are revolutionizing the industry. By the time a prospect or customer contacts a Realtor, they have been looking at real estate on the web anywhere from 10 to 40 hours. In some cases the research has been so extensive that the customers are better informed about a particular community that the Realtor.
But savvy Realtors are getting ahead of the internet information curve. Rather than having the internet take advantage of Realtors knowledge, Realtors are using their knowledge to take advantage of the internet. They are using the power of the internet to attract qualified prospects to them.
Placing your knowledge of a particular area on a high visibility social networking site can lead prospects to your door. But in order to do it you need to be willing to set yourself apart from the pack. You need to establish yourself as an expert in a particular area. It takes commitment and desire from you.
You see, the internet is filled with garbage and half truths. Lack of information is the biggest frustration most internet users have. Except for a few major sites, most of the information on the internet is trash, or it's flat out advertising. People are growing tired of that. They want the internet to fill voids in their lives. So any content that actually fills a void makes an impact. If that content is yours they'll remember you.
For YouTube in example; that means you provide a video that highlights the lifestyle and quality of living in a given community. Why not create a series of videos that capture what's great about living in your community. Like the old time Sunday morning house hunter shows. Except that it's you doing the producing. If you do this, and post it people will find it, and when they do, they find you.
The basic marketing concept you're using is the same as it has always been in real estate. Think like the prospect and then show them what they want to see. Realtors have been doing business this way for over a hundred years. It's the basic premise of real estate marketing. The difference is how you're getting your message across.
If you don't think you can make an impact using social networking sites, do this. Go out to YouTube and search anything real estate related in your community. You'll probably notice that there is not a lot going on. It's a gap. It's a gap you can fill easily and cheaply.
Using any of the social networking sites provides you with an incredible opportunity to carve out a market niche for your business. When you consider what it actually cost you to take advantage of what's available, it's hard to consider not using the tools to build your business.