Why Pinterest?

Pinterest IconI LOVE Pinterest. It is such a great resource for everything from recipes to home improvement to architecture to design to whatever you can imagine. Most of my friends are on Pinterest and if they’re not I invite them to be on Pinterest. But I’ve yet to meet a REALTOR on Pinterest from my office. There are REALTORS on there, but I believe it to be a mostly untapped social media marketing opportunity.

Although I hate to admit it, I don’t use it to it’s potential. Now, I have a Real Estate Board, but I use it more as a humorous/educational tool for myself, because sometimes I need a good laugh or a reminder as to why I am in the profession. I also have a Home Decor Board and a board devoted entirely to Atomic Decor (we have a lot of mid-century homes here) and of course one devoted toGarden Pinterest Gardening.  (I have a lot more boards which you can view here). The point I’m trying to make is that all these boards have to do with real estate: homes, home buying, home maintenance, suggestions for your home and garden. There is so much potential here that I have not tapped. I should be able to drive people to my website, my blog, my contact page, and my email.

My most popular pin was repinned almost 7,000 times. Could you imagine if that had been related to my business? As it was, it happened to be a recipe for fried rice. fried riceI did try (twice only) to post homes for sale. One was my sister’s house in another state and one was a beautiful home here. NO ONE repinned. I felt as though my pin had, well for lack of a better term, “cooties”. So, I need a different strategy and I’ll keep you posted on how that works out. But I will be starting a business Pinterest account and I have a few ideas already on Boards to create. Hopefully the following infographic will help you see the value in marketing on Pinterest. And I encourage you to dip your toes in the water. Contact me if you need an invite to join (just send me your email address. I will only use it to invite you not spam you.) E.
Check out this wonderful infographic from Prestige Marketing, Inc. Click here to be taken to their post.

Pinterest Marketing Infographic

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Finding Images for Free or Cheap

I’ve been running into the issue of using and trying to find non-licensed pictures. This is an issue I’m sure others have as well. I must admit it gets tSpokane at Nighto be a challenge. In trying to be very careful I’m going a little crazy. I have purchased pictures (rather affordable, around $1) from photos.com. But free is almost always better. I came across another great resource from SociallyStacked.com You can click here to read the entire article and get links to the suggested sites. I found this image of Spokane using an advanced Google search.

Recently we’ve received a ton of questions about best practices for finding photos for Facebook posts and blog articles. One of the reasons is that there has been a lot of coverage about the fact that photos in the News Feed receive better engagement than a general status update. Facebook’s redesigned News Feed which emphasizes larger photos proves the point!

But how do you avoid violating copyright when using images? The general preference is to use a photo that you’ve taken yourself, but sometimes that’s not an option. With easy access to millions of photos it can be tempting to pull a photo from Google Images and use it to assist your blog or Facebook post. However, this is not a suggested or best practice. We recommend using images with defined licensing to save yourself a copyright-violations headache.

Use these tips for finding beautiful images for Facebook and blog posts:

1. Search under Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License are licenses that allow photographers to choose which rights they reserve and which rights they waive for their work. Some websites offer photos that fall under the Creative Commons License which have been approved by the original creator to be used by a third-party. The owners of the photos have chosen whether they want attribution or not when their photos are used, and these photos are available for use as long as you abide by the Creative Commons License. Flickr includes more than 17 million photos licensed under Creative Commons License. There are several other Creative Commons Licensed images than can be found from a simple Google search.

2. Search Google’s Publicly Reusable Images

In Google’s Advanced Image Search you can filter your image search by licensed for public reuse. When you open the Advanced Image Search an option appears at the bottom to choose Usage Rights. You can use the drop down menu to choose how you’d like to filter your Images. You can choose from “free” to use or “share,” “free to use or share, even commercially,” “free to use or share or modify,”and “free to use, share, or modify, even commercially.” You know exactly what you’re getting when you use Google’s Advanced Image Search and there are several million photos to choose from.

3. Search Free Stock Photo Sites

There are a variety of affordable sites where you can find quality (and legal) stock photography. One of our personal favorites is ShutterStock where we have a monthly subscription and are allotted a certain amount of photos to use each day. A recent blog post from TheMarketingAgents.com provides a detailed list of 13 free and cheap stock photos. You can read the article here. We’ve listed out the thirteen sites below, but for details on photo prices and types of photos offered reference the original article.

4. Create your own images

As mentioned earlier, our number one recommendation for photos is to create your own. Obviously this isn’t always an option, but self-created images hold several benefits. You don’t have to worry about copyright laws, they’re more personal to your business, and you won’t get stuck using the typical stock images that we see far too often across the web.

6 Tips to Getting Started on Social Media

From Socially Stacked March 15th, 2013

EARLIER THIS WEEK Forbes published a great piece about the hidden benefits of social media. It includes lots of important points, especially for business owners who are frustrated when they don’t see a significant return on their social investment, and it reminds them that it takes time to build momentum.

The bottom line is that social media is a way to extend your influence among your current customers and to reach out to new ones. And it can be the ultimate brand-building tool, giving business owners the opportunity to build community, establish authority and, ultimately, increase web traffic.

No matter which social media platforms you use, or are thinking about using, there are some rules that always apply. Here are six of them:

1. Interact with enthusiasm. People who use social media are looking for authentic and positive interactions. Plenty of research shows that on the most popular social network, Facebook, positive posts generate more engagement and tend to be shared more than negative or critical ones.

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2. Know your boundaries. There is no rule that says just because you’re on social media you must divulge every thought you have and every detail — personal or otherwise — to your customers and fans. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms of social media is that too many people feel compelled to photograph every meal and share every other mundane moment of their lives. As a business owner you will have to walk a fine line between giving your customers insights about your business culture and employees and oversharing. But you might discover, after some experimentation, that you actually enjoy interacting with people who are fans of your business.

3. Show up on a regular basis. To have a rewarding presence on social media you must attend to it. You can’t tweet once a day, post one Facebook status update a week or blog once a month and expect to have any meaningful interactions.

4. Make connections. Social media is fundamentally about making connections. This means answering questions from fans and followers, sharing links to great content, leaving comments on blogs and answering questions that people ask you about your business via Twitter, Facebook, and on your blog. Social media isn’t an effective business tool if you ignore the people who reach out to you.

5. Don’t stress about numbers. Yes, there is something ego-boosting about having lots of friends and followers but what’s more important is having the right followers. One hundred quality customers who follow you on Twitter and regularly engage with you on Facebook is more valuable than 1000 who do nothing.  Work on cultivating a core group and chances are that you will find investing in social media is worth your time and energy.

6. Remember: it’s not all about you. Do you remember that time you went to a party and got stuck in a conversation with the person who talked on and on about herself and never asked you one thing about yourself? Don’t be that person or business on social media! Having a successful presence on social media depends on having two-sided conversations and creating communities of people who want to engage with you. People and brands who are successful on social networks have one thing in common: they give before they try to get (celebrities and the otherwise famous being exceptions to this rule).

Social Media Revolution

Weaving A Brand

Each time you post, tweet or make a comment on a blog, you are creating your personal brand. All these tiny pieces from around the web are woven together to create the impression that people make of you, they might see one tweet, your whole blog or your Facebook page but these should all match in tone and message.” Peg Fitzpatrick

 

5 Marketing Resources for REALTORS

I want to continue to emphasize the value of using various social media platforms as part of your marketing. The following are 5 different online marketing opportunities geared towards REALTORS that you can take advantage of AND the reasons WHY it is important to include them in your marketing campaigns. The article is written by Laura from Breezy Hill Marketing.

Five Tips on Social Media for Real Estatebrownstone steps

  1. Facebook. A Facebook page for your business can help you promote your properties and your business at the same time. Here are easy things that you can do to promote your business through Facebook: 1) Share your listings using photos, videos, and information. People love to see beautiful pictures and information about houses for sale in their neighborhood. Natural curiosity helps drive the activity on listing posts. And, listings posted on Facebook generate click through to your web site. 2) Create events in Facebook for all of your open houses. Make sure your open houses get the exposure that you want through the event feature in Facebook. You can even send invitations to specific people who you think might be interested in your open house. You can share the event on your personal account causing further engagement for the open house, the listing and your personal brand. 3) Help your search results in Google by having a Facebook page…as previously mentioned in this article, social media content is now searchable so everytime you post information about real estate for sale on your Facebook page, you are also adding Google search juice to your web site…. Nice benefit, isn’t it?!
  2. Twitter. Twitter is the fastest growing social media network and offers Realtors an opportunity to engage locally, nationally and internationally. Twitter can be a great way to promote properties to a broader audience and offers you the ability to get links and traffic to your site.When using Twitter, make sure to spend time listening to what people in your community and in your niche are talking about and what they are re-tweeting. This will help to guide your own communication so that you can comfortably engage in the conversation. Add a hashtag to your tweets so that they come up in searches performed by others. You can use hashtags for specific areas or for your specific niche, real estate. Most communities now have local hash tags (#btv = Burlington, Vermont) and this helps to focus your tweets locally and helps you to follow conversations.
  3. Blog. One of the best ways to be found online is to provide Internet users with rich content. A real estate blog provides you with an opportunity to develop rich content about your specialty and to continuously post the content to social media sites. Some topics than can be used on a real estate blog are: 1) Describe your real estate listings in further detail with information that is not available in an MLS form. 2) Provide further details about the different neighborhoods that you serve with your real estate firm. 3) Provide insight and direction on ways that buyers and sellers can improve their real estate experience.
  4. Craigslist. This is a wildly underused vehicle for creating great traffic to your web site and your listings. Craigslist is a constantly trolled web site where visitors are looking for the new and the interesting and always for the great opportunity so play to their instinct for a sweet deal or unique offering. Many web site companies offer Realtors an auto post to Craigslist function. Caution Weary Traveller!! People on Craigslist are not looking for your glossy ad, if they were they’d be on Realtor.com…. so make sure your posts LOOK like the raw, unformatted post of the for sale by owners etc.
  5. Realtor.com, Zillow, & Trulia. Real estate junkies like me troll these web sites for the latest listing and the best pictures. We are seeking the new offering, the thing we missed, the best investment, a vacation or retirement home. Make sure that your presence on the sites is fresh, up to date, and linked to all of your other profiles on the web. Each one of the sites offers the ability to build out your profile with additional information and links. Encourage your buyers and sellers to write references for you on one of the social media sites. The rule of thumb is to pick a site for references and direct your reference traffic there. Since Realtor.com is driving the most traffic, I recommend having your clients provide references for you on the Realtor.com page.

You can read the article in its entirety HERE.

Webinar for Google+

Kim Garst is hosting a webinar tomorrow, February 6th, on building your brand with Google+. This is definitely worth your time and attention! See you there! 7PM EST
Google Plus Kim Garst webinar

Video How-To: Facebook Advertising

Building Your Brand on LinkedIn

I’ve never understood how LinkedIn can be useful for a real estate business. All my connections are in the real estate business. There are of course others that I know personally in other fields. So, I just couldn’t figure out why I would do anything more than complete my profile if it’s all just B2B. Well, it’s occurred to me that one of the reasons I have and post on my Facebook Page is to be a useful resource AND to remind everyone that I’m a Realtor. Because nothing is worse than someone you know forgetting you’re a Realtor. So, why should LinkedIn be any different? It also occurs to me while doing all of this research to help Realtors understand and use social media that social media should be part of your marketing not all of it. I’ll write more about that latter. Today, I want to focus on LinkedIn. Again, I went to DeDe Watson’s site to get you some helpful tips. The following article is from turnitsocial.com 7 Tips to Build Your Best Personal Brand on LinkedIn; August 31, 2012 By Katie Leimkuehler

LinkedIn image graphic coffee cupLinkedIn is no doubt the most credible of all social media networks making it essential to demonstrate your best personal brand online. Remember that before your business meeting, client presentation, or interview most people will have already scoped out your LinkedIn profile and you want it to highlight your extraordinary professional accomplishments, work-ethic and expert knowledge.

1. Write an Awesome Headline for Your Profile

How do you stand out? What is your best skill or asset you bring to your work? Put those words in your headline. Don’t just list your current company and position that will still show up below. You want to catch people’s attention, for example “Dynamite Social Media Expert Will Build Your Brand in One Month.” You can bet people will click on that LinkedIn profile.

2. Copy the Masters

If you’re wondering what your profile should look like find several people who have the jobs you want or work in the same field and mimic their profile. Notice the key words they use for their specialty skills, look at what applications they’re using and the number of recommendations they have. This will be a good point of reference for how you should design your profile.

3. Lead the Way as an Industry Expert

One of the goals of being on LinkedIn is to show that you’re an expert in your field.  This includes adding your blog, portfolio, and presentation applications to your profile; not just the links. This will show people the type of work you excel at and where you can help. Highlight your professional achievements and share press releases or articles written about you—it’s okay to brag. You’ve earned.

4. Get Recommendations

One of the best and most valuable ways to build up your profile is through recommendations. Whoever recommends you is giving you their personal endorsement. This is huge for your brand development. If you have more than 10 recommendations people will take notice and chances are they’ll want to work with someone so highly recommended.

5. Participate in Group Discussions

It’s important not to just join groups of interest, but to actively engage in them. Start off by introducing yourself to your fellow members. Give some background on yourself, what you do and what you hope to learn by joining the group. Next ask a question. What is a trend you’ve noticed in your office or company? What changes are taking place? Make sure the question is not something you could discover by Googling it. Ask a question that will get a discussion stirring and then comment on current conversations. If you’re vocal about your opinion people will regularly seek you out for it and it will build your credibility in the professional world.

6. Share Your Knowledge

The moment someone sees you as a resource your value on LinkedIn spikes. By posting great content articles in your status update or engaging with others by commenting on their posts you are strengthening your credibility. People will want your advice or knowledge if you constantly share good information.

7. Earn Recognition for Your Expertise

The best way to become an expert is to show you’re an expert. Answer questions posted by other people in the Ask a Question area and you will earn a profile badge that highlights your expertise. It will also show all of the questions and your answers. It’s best to answer questions in variety of different areas so people can see the extent of knowledge. Answering these questions will help build up your authority and again demonstrate that you’re an expert.