E-mail Ping-Pong and Inappropriate Content
For the last couple of days, I've been playing 'email ping-pong' with one of our valued members over the issue of what constitutes 'acceptable' or 'inappropriate' content being published on Localism.
Trust me when I say that if you asked 10 ActiveRain members their opinion on this issue, you'd probably get close to 10 different views or responses. The definition of good, relevant local 'consumer-oriented' content can be different for many of us.
But surely there must be obvious instances where certain types of content are clearly out of place for Localism?
I thought I would first retrace my steps over the past year or so, and pull a few statements I've made prior about Localism, just to give us some context:
What is Localism?
Localism is the valued point of connection, a place of meaningful interaction. It's where neighbors and local merchants share what's happening in their community. It's people collectively communicating the unique flavor and nuances of where they live, work, eat, and play.
Localism is 'Old-School' in a New World portal. It's reminiscent of an earlier day when people shopped where they lived, and everyone knew their butcher. Localism makes the world smaller and more personal. It reacquaints and re-establishes the lost bonds between neighbors. It revives and restores the relational elements of what neighborhoods used to be, and should be.
Localism provides the environment where residents and business owners can create a micro-social network uniquely attuned to their individual communities. Together, they use multi-media to paint a canvas of local color and texture. Their Localism 'Neighborpedia' becomes an extension of who and what they are.
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The New Localism in private BETA
Back when we launched the new look Localism in private BETA form, we asked our members to populate their community pages with content that wasn't specifically 'real estate related.' Our intention was to attract consumer readership/participation (neighbors & residents of our communities). And, in order to achieve this goal, we felt that our community pages needed to have a wider variety of topics. Once Localism was officially launched to the general public, you could return to posting more content that was 'real estate specific.' We also had plans to create links or tabs on each community page that would direct visitors to a separate pages(s) for Listing, Market Reports, etc..
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That was Then, this is Now
The advice I dispensed back then is still applicable today, and will hopefully serve to guide our collective understanding on what we should be contributing to Localism. And rather than focus on the negatives (what is inappropriate), let's focus more on what is meaningful and suitable instead.
Technical Writing 101
Let's take care of some of the technical aspects of writing for Localism first:
1) Spell Korecklee: Use the Spell Check function. If we claim to be professionals, we need to convey ourselves as such.
2) A Blog is NOT a BILLBOARD: A blog post is not an ad. While some aspects of your post will naturally be self-promotional in nature, that doesn't mean that your entire article should read like one massive billboard touting how awesome you are, and plastered with every conceivable means of contacting you, along with a link to every website and web-page you own. Less is more. Don't interrupt good content with annoying self-promotion.
3) People Like Pictures: It's a proven fact - good relevant graphics/pictures improve/enhance blog readership. Take your digital camera with you wherever you go. Take your own good local photos and you'll never have to be concerned about copyright infringement.
4) Aim for the Bullseye: Be as specific or niche-oriented with your subject matter and geo-targeting as possible. By that, I mean, post your article to the most narrow and specific interest and location, as applicable. Think Longtail.
5) Use Your Own Voice: Don't 'Copy & Paste.' There are no 'quick' & 'easy' shortcuts to effective blogging.
Creative Writing 101
Now for the more 'creative' aspects of effective Local Content Blogging (think 'Romper Room 'Do-Be's'):
1) BE YOURSELF: It's not rocket science. Sometimes we have a tendency to over-think these things. Most importantly, be yourself. That is one of the foundational aspects of conversational blogging - to convey your own unique personality, perspective, and passions. Your readers want to know who and what you are; what makes you tick; how you conduct your business. Allow 'YOU' to always come through in your writing.
2) BE 'CONSUMER-CENTRIC:' Don't talk all about yourself. Share information/resources that consumers will find helpful, interesting, and valuable. Put yourself in the consumer's shoes. What would attract them to your post? What would they find most engaging?
3) BE 'LOCAL MINDED:' Remember to stay focused on relevant local information, news, events, points/places of interest, etc. Think Little League, church happenings, interview local leaders, fund raising events, profiles of everyday people, neighborhood merchants & business owners, garage sales, local politics, school activities/sports, local neighborhood flavor & ambiance.
4) BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR: Find meaningful ways of giving back to the community, i.e. volunteer work, charity functions, fund-raising, etc., and then blog about it
5) BE BALANCED: To some degree, try to strike a balance in your writing. Publishing a wider variety of topics will help to keep your blogging muse from getting writer's block, and your readers will appreciate the occasional departure from real estate articles.
Localism Content in a Nutshell
In a nutshell, good, quality content for Localism will:
- capture and engage the consumer's interests
- be aesthetic (well constructed & formatted)
- read well (convey thoughts intelligently)
- reveal the writer's personality, perspectives, and passions
- provide practical advice/value to the reader
By incorporating these aspects into your hyper-local blogging efforts, you'll generate good local content, attract greater readership to your blog, and hopefully convert some of those readers into clients!
Coming Soon to a Community Nearest You!
P.S. Just so you know, our talented development/graphics staff has been working tirelessly, working their mojo magic on finishing up on Localism to the point where we will finally be able to launch it publicly. Stay Tuned!
For Your further reading enjoyment, check out ALL THINGS LOCALISM