Web 2.0 Real Estate Marketing – It’s Social!

The visionaries behind The Cluetrain Manifesto prophetically summed up our current market opportunity in the first of 95 theses–“Markets are conversations.” The folks you want as customers are increasingly expecting conversations with their real estate or mortgage broker. Your challenge? Figure out how to make an introduction. And I am going to give you the secrets–step-by-step…Listen FirstSince markets are conversations, the nice thing is people (generally) don’t mind you joining the discussion. This gives you an enormous free classroom. Take advantage of it.Listen to other experts, competitors, and practitioners. But, most importantly listen to your customers.The interesting thing about listening to your colleagues and competitors is that you can see how they are talking to their customers and then benchmark their success. Nowhere is it easier to do competitive intelligence than on the Web. If they are marketing on the Web, all the easier.Looking for the smartest and best in the business at Web 2.0 real estate marketing? They are the folks watching their prospective customers. Here are the key questions want to know about my customers in the social Web?
Who are they?
Who do they talk to?
What do they talk about?
What words they use?
I highlighted a very important concept above, but let’s not get too far ahead.Obviously, from the title–Real Estate Marketing–we are all in the real estate or mortgage business. Don’t forget your customers are not. They don’t talk to real estate people. They don’t talk about home inspections, escrows, seller concession, and mortgages, unless forced to. And they don’t know what FHA, subprime, and Fannie Mae are.Search is your friend, especially the blog search engines. Remember you are looking for conversations. Conversations about homes, buying homes, refinancing homes, mortgages, mortgage brokers, mortgage scams, real estate rip offs (yes, look for hateful conversations too). Here are some good places to start for conversations:
Technorati
Google Blogsearch
IceRocket
Twitter
FriendFeed
Back to words! This is the number one failure in marketing and a death sentence in Internet real estate marketing. Words are how customers find us on the Web. If you use words that they don’t–you guessed it: No conversation!These conversations, from blogs, discussion groups, and Twitter, are short and candid. Write them down and use them.Identify a NicheYou know where they are, who they talk to, and the funny words they use. The next order of business is to find out what they want (not what they need)–another common marketing blunder.Their conversations will tell you this valuable information. It will reveal their pain, like their monthly payments going up unexpectedly, a job loss, or may be a divorce that is going to force them to reconsider their current home or loan. Maybe they are just concerned about getting a bargain on a foreclosure, short sell, or distressed spec home.Once you know what they want and how they ask for it, time to start building your Web 2.0 mortgage marketing platform.Building a Web 2.0 Social PlatformWeb 2.0 real estate marketing is all about directly engaging your potential customers in conversation, but you need an identity. This is what your website or blog needs to be. Almost every social service or application on the Internet associates you with a website. If you don’t have a URL for people to learn more about you your efforts are already dashed.How you design and build you home base is critical to your success. Did I mention it is your identity? This is how people are going to decide if they want your expert real estate counsel.I typically suggest a blog. It is simple and versatile. Plus, it is a conversation.Here are a few suggestions on where to get a blog:
Wordpress.com
Blogger.com
Typepad.com
The other consideration to this platform is your name (identity), which in the Web world is a domain name. Take some time in figuring out the right name. It doesn’t have to be your company name, and probably shouldn’t be.Here are some creative guidelines:
Consider your list of words your customers use
Consider the niche you have selected
Short is better
Register only .com, .org, .net
With your social identity and home in place it is time to fill it with credibility.Content in KingWeb copy is the current king of Internet marketing and lead generation. You need to not only know how to write, but what to write. Again, go back to your list of words your customers use. Take each one and design your Web site to talk about each of these key words.A good resources on writing good copy for your website or blog is Copyblogger.com.Your written words are critical because they are the language of Google and other search engines. However, don’t miss the growing importance of other media types, like audio and video. These richer media types help to make a more personal conversation. Consider adding in podcast, short audio messages, as well as video into your social platform.Here are some resources for developing out your audio and video content:
TalkShoe.com
BlogTalkRadio.com
YouTube.com
Revver.com
Content builds credibility and trust, the two critical components in any sales. Make sure your real estate marketing plan understands the impact of content to a simpler sale.Develop Amplifier RelationshipsOkay, we have a platform and lots of valuable content. But, who knows about it? The Internet is a big place. You, alone, screaming into an already buzzing conference hall filled with good conversations is not going to get you noticed.You need amplifiers. People who find you interesting and are willing to tell others. Hopefully, some of these already have a big audience.This, like the conventional offline Rolodex, is the role of social networks. Connecting with people who have audiences is the quickest way to get into the conversation.Great places to build a social network of amplifiers:
LinkedIN
Twitter
Digg
Stumbleupon
These are all great tools and people on the Web love to share, but no one likes someone how takes advantage of a relationship. Be respectful and add value first. Even in little ways.Distribution Makes a KingdomBeing a king is only interesting if you command a kingdom.In the Internet world that is an audience of potential buyers that respond to your recommendations and/or you have a networks of amplifiers that brings this ability.Creating that real estate marketing kingdom is a process of distributing your name, your value, and your content.The most effective way of executing that distribution is built into a lot of the principles I have already introduced:
Blogs (RSS)
Twitter (140 character ads)
Delicious (Bookmarking content)
Digg (Voting up content)
Stumbleupon (Voting up content)
Add to these inherent distribution channels some well placed personal emails and you will be a real estate marketing tycoon in no time.Assembling the Web 2.0 ToolboxYou have the road map. A real estate marketing plan that should have you flowing leads in no time, but what are some tools you should have on hand to run your new real estate marketing empire?Here are some of the basics:
Google Analytics (website analytics)
Twhirl (Twitter client)
Camtasia Studio (Windows) or SnapZ Pro (Mac)
Webcam
Microphone
The key to building your real estate marketing platform is trying, testing, tweaking and re-testing. These tools allow you to produce and try a variety of approaches to your social market, which is the quickest way to real estate lead generation success.