JUNE 2011 ISSUE HYPER-LOCAL IS THE BUZZ PHRASE
Social Blog Pays Off
If your traditional real estate website yields disappointing results, try making it a social blogging site.
"A lady from Germany [emailed] saying, "ines, I love what I read [on your blog]. I've been reading this stuff for six months, and I'm going to be there on March 31, "
says Ines Hegedus-Garcia. "We've been communicating two to three times a day, just put a house under contract and they're not even here yet." Sight unseen sales from her miamism.com readers have become common for this sales associate with Majestic Properties' Design District office in Miami. Five years ago, Ines and her husband-partner, Rick Garcia, rebuilt their website around a social blog focused on Ine's passion for all things Miami, miamism.com, and now three out of four customers come from it. "We keep our marketing budget under 25% of our gross income, and social media makes it a lot easier to [do that]." Here's how they do it:
Pursue your passions.
"Don't copy," says Hegedus-Garcia. "Find that individuality that's going to make you stand out." Then, she says, post articles about your topic on your blog, tweets on Twitter, videos on YouTube and comments on Facebook. People who share your passion will find you. Because Hegedus-Garcia loves Miami's lifestyle, her hyper-local posts range from city night scenes to descriptions of the character of particular neighborhoods. She says the secret is consistency, not quantity, so she posts several times a week but not daily. The most recent post is always front and center on the home page, every post gets tagged for multiple topics and a list of topics runs down the left side for easy access.
Write to your best customer.
"Anytime I'm writing, I envision the perfect client [reading this]," says Hegedus-Garcia. Finding that voice should come naturally, she says. "If you're an attorney, your voice is going to be more formal when you write, and you're going to attract people who are just as formal and appreciate that aspect of you."
Add social objects.
Hegedus-Garcia's favorite fun topic - next to Miami lifestyle - is Mojito, a traditional Cuban drink. She gets several tweets every day about her Mojito 411 section. On her iPhone, she takes fun videos of Mojitos and restaurants and posts them to her YouTube account. "It's a little crazy to think Mojito reviews benefit a real estate agent, but it's my social object and the beginning of the conversation. It's finding something you have in common with other people." Now people from all over the world send their Mojito reviews to her, and she pinpoints both good and bad Mojitos on a world map. "What's funny is that restaurants actually call me [and ask], "Ines, When are you coming over and doing a review?""
Add a photo blog.
Hegedus-Garcia invites local photographers to submit photos of Miami, and every Friday she features a favorite. "The social media purists say that you have to give love to receive, so I give a link to [the photographers'] sites, and I talk about them," she says. Of course, Hegedus-Garcia posts her own photos on Flickr (free) and then simultaneously posts them on miamism.com, her Facebook and/or her Twitter accounts, using the free Posterous app. Be careful though. Flickr's terms of service prohibit commercial activity so don't put prices or say "for sale" in descriptions or keywords. Hegedus-Garcia is an advocate of social blogging for marketing and has success doing it. "It's one of the strongest tools you can use today."