Great article on Blogging. Intersting that at first, I used the same excuse as Ryan pointed out that I am a poor writer. I still struggle with this, but one has to make themselves do what they don't like to do or have trouble doing.
BLOGGING AS AN INTERNET MARKETING STRATEGY
When it comes to building an internet marketing presence, real estate agents should have a mult-prong strategy that includes a brokerage website, an agent website, a blog, listing feeds to search portal sites, participation in forums, and social networking sites. Despite the growing popularity of blogging as a marketing tool by businesses generally, real estate agents still appear to be reluctant to embrace blogging as a marketing strategy to build their internet presence. In the 2009 NAR Technology Survey, 8% of Realtors viewed "blogging" as "important" for generating leads whereas 20% of Realtors viewed "blogging" as "unimportant".
WHY BLOGGING DOESN'T GENERATE LEADS (FOR SOME)?
So, why are Realtors so reluctant to embrace blogging as an internet marketing strategy? In speaking at sales meetings at brokerages in the St. Louis area, I often receive two common responses to this question:
- Category 1: I often get comments that seem to indicate that real estate agents are intimidated by blogging. The comments range from "I don't write well..." to "I don't have any great insights to offer" to "I don't have time to write articles" to "I don't know where to start" to "My broker doesn't provide us with a blogging platform."
- Category 2: I often get comments that bluntly claim that "blogging" simply doesn't work. Often, these comments start with "I tried it for a month..." and end with "it didn't generate any leads or income."
There is often a common thread to these discussions. In both cases, the failure to start blogging and the failure to continue blogging often is directly related to the failure to develop a blogging strategy, the failure to identify your target audience, and the failure to write dynamic posts. Add into the mix the use of an inferor blog platform, the failure to understand keywords and the basics of search engine optimiazation, the failure to integrate your blog into your other marketing plans, lack of commitment, and poor execution - and you have a pretty good recipe for a disasterous, time wasting experience with blogging.
WHAT BLOG POSTS GENERATE LEADS?
Now, after my first 12 months of blogging, I decided to look back upon my 400 blog posts in an attempt to determine what topics seemed to generate views and comments, what topics seemed to elicit a comment or inquiry, and what topics seemed to generate traffic to my website, active leads and even commission income. In conducting this unscientific review, there seemed to be certain categories that generated more interest. However, interest in the form of comments and business generated from the post often were not mutually exclusive or even related. Some of my posts that received few or even no comments often were the posts that generated substantial or meaningful traffic to my website, active leads and even commission.
So, after reviewing my posts, I found that almost all of my posts could be placed in one or more of the following categories:
- #1 - HyperLocal Neighborhood Posts: These posts focussed on a single city, neighborhood or even street and ranged from market reports and available properties to neighborhood news and events. Often, these posts received the fewest number of comments. However, these posts generated the most inquiries, leads and income.
- #2 - Market Reports - These posts focus on market statistics ranging from single year reports to ten year summaries on existing home sales, housing starts, and more. These posts generated the least number of comments but delivered the most traffic to our website.
- #3 - Legislative/Regulatory Update Posts: These posts focused on regulatory and legislative issues on national, state and local levels and ranged from annual legislative updates to commentary on pending legislative proposals to summaries of current regulatory changes - particularly related to FannieMae and FHA lending guidelines. Often, these posts had the largest number of comments which developed into a healthy debate on the issues at hand. Although these posts didn't seem to interest consumers in general, the posts did generate interest from other real estate professionals - particularly on LinkedIn Groups.
- #4 - Business Profile Posts: These posts focus on restaurant reviews, profiles of neighborhood businesses and an occasional interview with a neighborhood leader. These posts provided some of greatest exposure for our brokerage. More importantly, these posts developed relationships resulting in some joint marketing and referral business and enhanced our reputation as neighborhood specialists. Also, these posts served as good content for customers who were relocating to the neighborhoods that we serve.
- #5 - "How to" Instructional Posts: These posts focused on sales training, technology, and social networking sites. Often, these were multi-part series. These posts were the most highly read by my own agents, assisted in the recruitment of new agents, and resulted in a number of speaking engagements with professional associations, civic groups, and other real estate brokerages, title companies, and other real estate professionals. These posts served as great introductions to other real estate professionals in the area.
- #6 - Research Posts: These posts were based on real estate related research studies conducted on a range of issues. Often, these posts were related to current events or trends and included commentary that often generated widely divergent opinions on the validity of the studies, missing data, etc. These posts generated interviews and inquiries from journalists.
- #7 - Either/Or Posts: These posts were generally designed to compare and contrast particular services, loan programs, etc. These posts didn't seem generate too many inquires but were well received by existing customers and clients.
- #8 - Reblog or Link Posts: These posts were often used because of time constraints, involved a specialized field, or were just so well-written that they needed to be disseminated to my readers in their original form.
- #9 - Lists/Best Of Posts: These posts focussed on top or best of lists prepared by national news magazines, foundations, etc. It is difficult to determine the impact of these posts had - except that they promoted the areas that we serve.
- #10 - Best Practice Posts: These posts generally started as "rants" and were often toned down after further reflection. Occasionally, these were direct or indirect responses to other posts read on a specific issue. Although these posts weren't intended to generate direct business, these posts were extremely effective in explaining our business philosophy and practices.
- #11 - Motivational Posts: These posts were often focussed on staying motivated in a down market. Again, they didn't seem to generate much business. However, often they were the most enjoyable to write and were often used in connection with sales meetings.
- #12 - Satire Posts: These posts were intended to highlight specific positions and to tell a story using a combination of humor and sarcasm.
- #13 - Informational Posts: These posts generated a good deal of non-real estate related business and often suffered from being too technical or too long. However, these posts used hypothetical situations to describe how such situations and issues could or should be addressed. The posts often explained our approach and problem solving skills.
- #14 - Video/Photo Posts: These posts generated occasional requests for re-use of the photos. If we were grading these posts, we would probably give it an incomplete. Too few posts to truly get a good read on the impact that they could have.
- #15 - Listings Posts: These posts were difficult to track when using Html from other sources. When the posts were based on direct content as opposed to html code, the posts impoved our placement for select keywords on Google search results.
- #16 - Public Service Announcements: These posts were intended solely to show support for a particular issue. Often, they were only tangentially related to real estate. However, they were intended and received as "we care about you" statements.
So, before you say blogging doesn't work, first answer this question: Did you post original content for a clearly defined audience with a good value proposition and a concise call to action that offered a personal insight, a tangible benefit for the reader, or an interesting, unusual or controversial slant on a current event or issue? If you can't answer "yes", then the blogging experiment may have failed because of poor execution or planning and not because blogging is "unimportant" as a marketing tool.
If you are a real estate professional and are new to blogging, the time is now to sign-up for an ActiveRain blog. There is no better real estate community or more supportive blog platform to learn the basics of blogging and discover some great tips on how to make blogging work for you and your business.
Need a speaker to discuss the blogging and lead generation for real estate professionals? Contact Ryan Shaughnessy at PREA Signature Realty at 314-971-4381 or send an e-mail to Ryan@PREASignatureRealty.com.