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

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).

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.

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.

Video Marketing Tips for Realtors

More People Going Online to Start Home Search

When I came across this News Release from the NAR I felt compelled (to say the least) to share this with you. Part of my mission with this site is to help REALTORS understand the VALUE in establishing an online presence. The more interconnected your online presence is, the more findable and accessible you will become to online buyers and sellers, and the more likely you are going to be the one they will reach out to. This will build your business!

Joint NAR/Google Study Shows More People Use Internet to Research Homes for Sale

WASHINGTON (January 7, 2013) – Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253 percent over the past four years, according to a joint study from the National Association of Realtors® and Google.

“These results parallel the trends shown in NAR’s economic research reports,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif. “As home sales and prices continue to trend up, more people are regaining confidence to invest in their future through homeownership.”

The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate is a joint report from NAR and Google that examines the connection between consumer Internet use and online home search and shopping patterns. The study leverages NAR’s custom research and Google’s proprietary and third-party research. Google collaborated with Compete in 2011 and 2012 to survey and analyze the behaviors of people in the market for new and existing homes. That research focused on people who had completed an online “conversion”– taking the next step of contacting an agent or requesting additional information from a real estate brand’s website.

According to the analysis, buyers used specific online tools at different points during their home search process. Buyers tend to rely on search engines and general websites when they begin their search, use maps more in the middle of the process, and engage mobile applications most toward the end of their search. READ FULL ARTICLE

5 Social Media Tips for REALTORS

Realtor blue logo I was doing some research about social media and real estate marketing. As you know these are two forces I love. I came across this wonderful article from blog.hootsuite.com by Katie Lance. She is the CEO/Owner of Katie Lance Consulting and Chief Strategist at Inman News. I hope you find her write up to be as valuable as I do. I have come across a number of Realtors who just don’t see the value or desire to make the time commitment to social media marketing. This wonderful, concise article spells out the “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” of social media for real estate professionals. Make the time and a plan to incorporate social media marketing into your business! You’ll ask yourself, “why didn’t I do this sooner?!”

5 Social Media Management Tips for the Real Estate Industry

1. Be Consistent

The key to being successful in social media is consistently posting content. You can’t Tweet or post to Facebook once in a blue moon and expect results. You need to be there everyday—just like you are with your phone calls, email and the rest of your marketing strategy. One of the best parts of using a tool like HootSuite is the ability to schedule your messages. You can spend just 15 minutes a day and schedule 3-5 new posts to “drip” out during the day. This is like drip marketing, but for social media.

2. Have a Content Strategy

You have to have a content strategy to be successful in the long haul with social. Ask yourself, ‘what type of content would be most relevant for my brand, for my audience and where am I going to get that content?’ Next, create a content grid or editorial calendar where you can map out topics you plan to post about over the next 30-60 days. Curate content by using Google Alerts or by creating specific lists on Twitter for specific types of content you’d like to re-tweet or re-post.

3. Never Forget: Real Estate is Local

When you are planning your content strategy make sure to include things that only locals know—like the best place to get a slice of pizza or the best place to get a cup of coffee. Buying or selling a home is so much more than the home—it’s the local parks, the school districts and so much more. Your audience and potential clients love that hyperlocal information—and as a real estate pro that is one area that will really set you apart.

4. Dip Your Toe Into More Than One Stream

Understand the conversation doesn’t just happen on your Facebook page or Twitter stream. Conversations about real estate are happening in Facebook groups, in personal chatter on social platforms, and throughout Twitter. It isn’t enough to just post to your social channels—be aware of conversations happening in your social circles about real estate and jump in. The conversations are there whether you are there or not—wouldn’t it be better if you were there? You can add several “Streams” in your HootSuite dashboard to listen in on the topics of your choice.

5. Find a Way to Measure the Success of Your Efforts

Do you know which Facebook posts or Tweets get the highest number of clicks or engagement? Do you know how much of your web traffic is coming from social networks? Do you know where your audience is? Make sure you are checking your HootSuite Analytics once a week to gauge your success. Also make sure you integrate your Facebook Insights and Google Analytics into your HootSuite account so you can really see the big picture.

Social Media Success – Getting Started

from turnitsocial.com October 30, 2012 By Sherri-Lee Pressman

So you have read and followed my advice from my first post 4 Steps to Social Media Success BEFORE you start on Social Media:

1) Know what you want to accomplish
2) How much time can you spend on your social media
3) Narrow down the networks you will participate in
4) Plan your content

wordpress, coffee, cup And now you are ready to get going with the next steps.
I know you are eager to get moving and to start seeing results, but don’t jump over these steps they are very important to reaching that success you so want and deserve. They are the foundation to everything in the future and believe me, it’s easier to do it right the first time than to have to go back and fix it later.

Am I suggesting you will never change these things once you have set them up? Not at all… in fact I recommend you review the previous 4 steps regularly as a way to evaluate the success of what you are doing and to review the upcoming steps often as well.

As your goals grow and change, as the social media world changes and as your business changes, you need to review these items regularly. That’s not the same as skipping steps now to get going and having to go back later to do them because skipping them shorted you on some success. So invest in yourself and go through the steps now!

So what do you do next?

1) Know and follow the rules of the networks you are joining: Most of these social networks are free so it’s their sandbox and you are getting to promote your business for free… the rules are there to make it fair for everyone so take the time to follow those rules so you aren’t penalized for breaking them. This could mean losing access to your accounts to having them shut down completely. It would be a shame to lose all your hard work because of a rule being overlooked.

2) Fill out your account info completely: This is a great opportunity to tell people who you are and what you do and it’s where people will make a judgement about you and your business. So take the time, fill it out completely and then review it at least quarterly to ensure all your details stay accurate.

3) Find the right people to follow to build your network: Use the search option on the network you using, try a variety of terms. Find a leader in your industry and follow them, then follow the people following them as well, these people are looking for your info, you just need to connect. Add your numbers, be selective about who you connect to, send a hello to them, start the conversation and connect.

4) Listen: Spend time on your social networks listening to other people’s conversations, contribute when you have something useful to say (not just “me too”). Use the search field to find conversations relevant to your industry to participate in.

5) Give before you receive: Start sharing and responding to other people’s posts. People notice this and usually then make an effort to do the same back for you. We all want people to engage with us, be the first to go and engage with them. It will be noticed.

6) Add value, be the go-to resource for information in your field to the people in your niche: Find useful information that the people in your niche need to hear and be the one to share it. Don’t worry about being the one to create the content; sharing content is a powerful way to position yourself as the go-to expert.

7) Ask for the action you want: When you post a thoughtful, useful or just fun item and you want people to engage with… don’t be shy to ask for what you want, sometimes people need to be guided. They are sitting at home nodding their head in agreement, but the thumbs up or retweet is the virtual head nod… ask them to do it!

These steps are the basics of any successful social media campaign on any channel. They will guide your interaction with the goal of growing your network, engaging with people in a caring way and building relationships. Don’t short change yourself or your business by not doing these steps; the results won’t be the same without them.

I’d love to hear how you are doing on your social journey!

About Author

Sherri-Lee Pressman is Your Social Media Minder, helping business owners use Facebook and Twitter to grow their businesses. She is a Social Media strategist, educator, speaker and coach. She lives near Vancouver BC, Canada with her two kids, one crazy cat and an even crazier puppy. You can visit Sherri’s site here.

4 Steps to Social Media Success Before You Begin

From turnitsocial.com October 5, 2012 By Sherri-Lee Pressman

4 Steps to Social Media Success BEFORE You Begin

You know you have to be using social media to achieve success, but you may not have a clue how to get started! It’s can be confusing to get started, but if you remember that it is just networking on steroids and follow these few simple steps you will be off to a great start!

Before you start on any social networks, you need to know a few things to do it properly, so answer these questions before getting started:

1) What do you hope to accomplish from your social media efforts?

Let’s face it, we all want to make more money, but with social media you have to be very patient to get to the money making part. It takes time and energy to get to that point. Until then, what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to build brand awareness? Connect with existing customers in a new way? Offer better customer service? Grow your network through meeting new people? Really take the time to figure out what else you can get from your time on social media while working on the money part.

2) How much time do you have to spend on your social media efforts in a week?

Are you prepared to make the commitment required to see this work for you? The more time you are able to put in, the quicker your results will come. You can accomplish a lot in 15 – 30 minutes a day. Do you have the time in your schedule to do this, or do you have a staff member who will take this over for you? And be really honest here, there is no point in saying you will work on it for an hour a day if you really can’t do that. Pick a reasonable amount of time and stick with it.

3) Figure out what networks you are going to focus on.

There are so many networks you could not possibly run all of them very well. And what’s the point if you aren’t going to do it well? So pick one to get started with and focus on building your connections and relationships there. You can’t just randomly pick a network though; you have to know where your current clients are spending their time so you can focus on the network that will get you the most traction quickly. How do you find out where your current clients are? Poll them, email them, send out a newsletter to ask them, have a questionnaire at your cash register for them to complete. There are lots of ways to find out Just do it. Once you know where your current clients are you’ll likely find new clients there as well.

4) Plan what content you want to share with your readers.

Know what you are going to say, at least roughly, before you start up your account. Get a sense of what information your clients – new and old – want to hear from you. Aim for sharing great content that expands their thoughts of you. So, if you are a printing company wanting to connect with clients on Facebook, don’t just post about your printing specials or your equipment or even just industry news, share tips on how to get the most out of the new batch of cards they just got, how to network effectively, how to write great copy for newsletters and more. You get the idea; really brainstorm all possible avenues you can access to offer a wide range of valuable information to your clients. This will make you very memorable in their minds and position you as a source of reliable, important information.

Now you might be expecting my #5 here to be, get out there and start your accounts and start posting! But hold your horses, it’s not quite that simple… yet! Bear with me. Watch for my second post here on your next steps to Social Media Success – Starting out!

About Author: Sherri-Lee Pressman is Your Social Media Minder, helping business owners use Facebook and Twitter to grow their businesses. She is a Social Media strategist, educator, speaker and coach. She lives near Vancouver BC, Canada with her two kids, one crazy cat and an even  crazier puppy. You can visit Sherri’s site here.