Mathias Bergendahl's Marketing Blog


Blog Development for Next Year: What’s Your Wish for 2010?

We are only days away from a new year and I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask you a question as I’m planning ahead for what I’ll cover on this blog next year: what would you like to see covered here at my marketing blog?

I want to make sure each article I write is relevant to your business. My hope is to provide actionable tips for how you can increase exposure in the community you serve and grow your business through creative marketing strategies and tactics.

I am always open to suggestions for topics you’d like to know more about. Is there an area of marketing you’d like to have explored? Do you have a case study you’d like to share with readers of this blog? Have you implemented something already covered here and would like to share the outcome?

Please help me make this blog a useful tool for you.

Happy Holidays!

Mathias



20 Steps to Get Started with Social Media Marketing

I’ve been invited to speak at the annual installation of the Women’s Council of Realtors®, Pinellas County chapter, tomorrow Wednesday. As I prepared my presentation I created a list of twenty steps Realtors® can take to get started with social media marketing. I thought I’d share it here at my blog as well.

1. Write a description about your process and how it benefits consumers, and include your bio.

Consumers have expectations and they want to get a sense of what the experience of working with you will be like. I suggest you write a description that describes your process when working with buyers and sellers, outlines your particular service model, and briefly highlights your bio as it relates to the needs of the consumers you want to work with – in that order. Once you’ve completed the text you should use it in all the social media profiles you sign up for in order to give a consistent message no matter where consumers first find you.

2. Set up a blog at wordpress.com.

The value of providing insight and sharing your knowledge on a blog has been covered extensively at this blog. There are a few options available as to the choice of blog platform and two determining factors on which to choose should be price and simplicity. WordPress.com offers a free platform and with easy to use templates that don’t require knowledge of HTML programming your blog will be ready in a matter of minutes.

3. Sign up for profiles at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Sign up for free accounts at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Set up a profile that you’ll only use for business contacts for Facebook. If you already have a Facebook account with a mix of business and personal contacts, click here to read my recent article How to Avoid Mixing Business and Pleasure on Facebook.

4. Use the same username/vanity name for every profile.

Make it easy to sign in to the various platforms you’re on. And, make it easy to share the web addresses to the social media profiles you have. Both Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to have a vanity URL, such as www.facebook.com/mbergendahl and www.linkedin.com/in/mbergendahl. Additionally, my blog address is wordpress.com/mbergendahl and my Twitter profile is http://www.twitter.com/mbergendahl. As you can see my username is consistent across the board and I encourage you to do the same.

5. Put links to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter on your website.

Once you’re signed up for accounts and profiles at LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter it’s time to drive traffic to them. Make sure to put the logos of each social network at the front page of your website and link to each profile. You can download the logos at each respective network.

6. Put links from all social media platforms to your website.

It’s also important to drive traffic from each social network to your website. Similar to #5, add a link to your website at LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and any other network you’re on.

7. Put together a list of questions consumers never think to ask.

A common question is what to write about when you start blogging. Your blog gives you the opportunity to share answers to questions consumers don’t think to ask, or hesitate to ask. Additionally, you probably have a few topics that repeatedly come up in conversations with the consumers you work with. Most consumers are probably wondering whether this truly is a good time to buy a home – share marketplace statistics to back up your suggestion of buying a home right now. Sellers may wonder about the discrepancy between your suggested sales price and valuation levels provided at various websites – describe the process of how you arrive at an appropriate price level. First-time home buyers may not be familiar with the process of buying a home, including what’s expected from them and what their Realtor® will do for them – describe the home buying process. As industry professionals we often assume that consumers are as well-informed as we are and knowledgeable about buying and selling a home. For the most part they are not, and it gives you a great opportunity to educate. The more valuable information you provide the more likely it is that you’ll be the one they will want to work with.

8. Compose a list of top ten topics you anticipate you’ll cover on your blog.

Plan ahead. Decide what you’d like to share. Will you cover community events? Are you planning on sharing marketplace statistics once a month? By planning ahead you’ll be more structured and by knowing an upcoming subject you’ll cover you’ll be able to collect materials and data ahead of time.

9. Commit to a weekly update until you’re ready for more frequent content.

I’ve heard from many who seem to believe that as soon as you start writing for your own blog you’re expected to post daily updates. In my opinion, how you determine how often you should write a blog post should be based on your available time, and whether you truly have valuable information to share. With that said, I recommend posting at least weekly or bi-weekly to show visitors that the blog is active. With longer periods of no activity at your blog, visitors may get the feeling that you’ve abandoned it.

10. Take pictures around your community for later use in your blog.

It’s Sunday night and you’ve just completed a blog post about a community within the area you mainly serve. But, you have no pictures to enhance your blog post and illustrate what you described. Bring your camera when you go out on appointments and make a point to stop and take pictures along the way. It will help you build a library of images that you can use when you’re writing your blog posts.

11. Include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn logos, with web addresses, on all printed materials.

“I have a blog, but how do I get people to read it?” It’s a common question I receive when I teach the subject of social media marketing. In short, you have to drive visitors to each platform and while I’ve previously suggested adding logos of each social network at your website, equally important is it to include addresses to your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter platforms and profiles.

12. Invite leads, prospects and clients to follow your blog.

It’s a common practice to send out postcards, newsletters, and emails as drip campaigns in order stay in touch with those we’d like to work with, and those we previously had helped. For your next campaign, add a note inviting recipients to visit your blog. Many agents report that quite often consumers may follow a blog for several months before making the first connection. Give those you stay in touch with a reason to learn more about what you can do for them – invite them to your blog.

13. Be personable, not too personal.

There’s a fine line between being personable and personal – and we’re seeing that rather vividly at especially Facebook and Twitter. While it’s important to be personable, responding to messages and interacting with contacts, refrain from sharing personal information such as religious beliefs, political views, and especially things you really only share with your spouse, family, and close friends. Comments that may be suitable for the latter are often not appropriate to share with prospective clients. Sure, they want to get to know you, but, I suggest you draw a clear line between what’s personal and what’s personable.

14. Write blog articles based on top questions and concerns consumers have.

Make a point to frequently ask readers of your blog and contacts at Facebook what their top questions and concerns may be. Asking blog visitors questions on what they’d like to read about will give them the impression that you care and the benefit for you is that you better get to know those who follow you.

15. Sign up for a free Feedburner account, allowing readers to subscribe to blog posts.

Many readers may come to your blog once and then never return. One way you can make sure they’ll continue to read what you have to share is to give them the option to subscribe to new blog posts. Consider signing up for a free Feedburner account, which is provided by Google. You’ll need to sign up for a Google account first and then add the Feedburner feature.

16. Syndicate new blog posts to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter as outlets for your new blog posts, and drive traffic to your blog, by syndicating all new posts automatically each time new content is added to the blog. For details on how to do that, click here to read my recent article Sharing Your Messages on all Social Media Platforms: How to Syndicate Your Blog Posts to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

17. Sign up for a profile at YouTube.

I encourage you to start mixing your content on your blog with both written articles and videos. If a picture tells 1,000 words, a video clip may say 1,000,000. First, let’s look at a presentation of yourself. While the written word certainly is effective, a video enables you to share not only your words, but viewers will also be able to see your body language and facial expression – both giving you the chance to expression your passion and compassion for helping those you work with.

18. Create frequent videos, upload to YouTube, and link from your blog.

Consider starting a monthly market update per video. Each month, gather market statistics and devise an analysis. Tape yourself using a camcorder and upload the video to YouTube. Once your video is uploaded, YouTube will give you codes you can use to either link to the video from your blog or embed it inside a blog post. Click here for an instruction on how you can link to a video or embed it. Click here to view how Nick Burrafato, broker/owner of Florida HomeGallery in Lake Mary has replaced email drip campaigns with a Florida HomeGallery Weekly Update using video as described in Lore Magazine.

19. Use your social media platforms as part of your response to leads.

Social media marketing is much more than sending messages through Facebook and Twitter. Consider the following. A consumer responds to a listing at Realtor.com with a request for more information. Consumers are looking for instant information and expect it to be delivered. Consider setting up an email auto-reply that goes out automatically with links to a virtual tour, lots of pictures, videos, and an introduction to the agent. Rather than having to wait for a reply email or phone call from an agent, a consumer can familiarize themselves with you and your business while you’re getting ready to respond to their request. For more information on this concept, click here to read How to Capture the Attention of a Prospect: Build Consumer-Centric Greeting and Response Platforms, an article I wrote earlier this year.

20. Have fun with your blog!

For many, writing a blog post may feel like a chore; one that may always come last in your list of priorities. View your blog as a great way to connect with people, invite their suggestions, and share your insight and knowledge. It may take a few blog posts until you find your own style and I encourage you to not give up.

BONUS TIP

If you’d like to learn more about any of the above tips, and how to technically make it happen, consider attending the free Social Media Marketing program offered in January and February to members of the Pinellas Realtor® Organization.

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Analyzing Social Media: Whose Value is the Driving Force?

Everywhere you turn there’s probably someone advocating that Realtors® and other professionals simply must get started with social media. “You’ll be left behind and your business will suffer unless you get on Facebook and Twitter,” I recently overheard a speaker tell his audience.

It seems similar messages are heard just about everywhere I go these days. I recently attended a social media forum for communications professionals where just about every speaker was marveling over the latest phone with which you instantly, and with less effort than by using a computer, can keep all your contacts updated with what you’re doing at any given time during the day. New platforms come out literally on a daily basis that will enable us to have everyone in our sphere of influence aware of our daily routine.

A common discussion topic regarding the use of social media is its value. While many simply regard value based on the number of contacts that conceivably will see their messages, others use mathematical formulas by which they determine the return on their investment. Others go into great length analyzing the benefits of broadcasting their messages through Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of other social media platforms – all considering the value their efforts will bring to their business. A common belief seems to be that any message will do as long as it’s giving you presence in front of those you’re connected with.

Few, though, address the most crucial aspect of social media: is there enough value for the recipients of all those messages?

First, let me share my philosophy on social media as it relates to its use in businesses building relationships with other businesses as well as consumers.

For almost a year I’ve taught real estate professionals how to use social media as part of their marketing mix. Because that’s really what social media is – one component among a mix of various marketing vehicles. I strongly encourage professionals to build a presence on social networks such as Facebook and especially LinkedIn. In my classes I walk attendees through the process of building a blog, and I share how to syndicate blog posts automatically on other platforms. I also teach how to make the most of online videos and photo albums, and of course the value of asking past customers for testimonials that you can showcase.

In short, I definitely believe in the use of social media as part of a carefully developed strategic marketing plan, with a diverse marketing mix and an integrated approach between all on and offline marketing activities.

When I monitor the use of social media for business use in our industry, I’m often surprised how little attention is paid to the value each and every Facebook update and Tweet (as Twitter messages are called) brings to the recipient. Most messages, in my opinion, tend to be agent-centric rather than consumer-centric, and in many cases they are more likely to turn off a consumer than bring the relationship closer.

Consider the following example. A couple hires a Realtor® to sell their home, and they expect their agent to put all their efforts into their particular sale. Their expectation is that the Realtor will go all out in marketing their home and they will most likely monitor all those efforts to make sure they’re done effectively. A Facebook profile I came across stated on a Monday morning at 11 a.m.: “I’m too tired to work today.” Imagine the impact such a message will have on a customer eagerly awaiting word on the sale of their home. Hardly a positive one, I’m sure. Similarly, I often notice how the vast majority of messages on Facebook and Twitter describe personal details, opinions, and various points of view rather than give thoughtful insight into their business and process as a real estate professional.

It seems these platforms have become little more than our own personal billboards through which we share messages that focus only on ourselves. On top of it, we’ve lost our inner monologue, now sharing things from our personal lives we would never share in person. Being personable is certainly important, but being too personal may simply be too much information.

I thought I’d share a suggestion on how you can turn an agent-centric message into a rather consumer-centric one. Let’s say you have a listing presentation on any given day. That’s certainly good news, but a brief note online with the text “I have a listing presentation today” will offer nothing more than a promotional line.

Let’s take a look at what you’d like to accomplish with such a statement. Essentially, you’d like to show that you in fact are active with sellers.

Rather than providing a Rodney Dangerfield style one-liner, consider adding a bit more information. Here’s a sample text you could instead share at your blog and then link to from your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts:

Are Homes Selling?

Earlier this week a person next in line at Publix asked me if the market is improving. I shared with her the same information I just presented to a couple looking to sell their condo in Gulfport. It’s a common question given today’s much-discussed housing market. I thought I’d share some information about current sales, media price level, and other statistics you hopefully will find helpful.”

Such a brief article will show that you serve the Gulfport area, that you service the condo market, that you met prospective sellers, and that you are knowledgeable about your immediate marketplace. And, most importantly, the message provides value to the reader.

While you certainly should be engaged in social media marketing to benefit your business, make sure your driving force is the value you provide those you’re connected with. In return, I promise you’ll establish yourself as the knowledgeable professional they’ll think of when they need someone to assist them with a sale or purchase of a home.

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