#1 Facebook (first in a series)
Facebook allows anyone with a computer, an Internet connection, and an e-mail address to easily stay in touch with family, friends, classmates, co-workers, and previous customers who have become friends. If your family is far-flung – even in other countries – you can keep track of their comings and goings, and share news and pictures. If you have not been diligent in keeping in touch with past friends and classmates (and most of us have not), Facebook makes it easy to reconnect. You can also keep track of their birthdays, through Facebook.
Setting up a Facebook account is simple. Just go to the Facebook homepage, and follow the steps. Facebook guides you through the process, and helps you find your first Facebook friends! (For additional assistance, download the free step-by-step guide to “Setting Up Your Facebook Account,” on the Resources page of this website.)
As the owner of your Facebook account, you decide who sees each different kind of information you post: everyone, friends of friends, or just friends. There are extensive Account Settings and Privacy Settings that you can adjust, to ensure that your privacy is at a level with which you are comfortable. You can also specify what kinds of occurrences you’d like to be notified about by e-mail, such as a friend writing on your Wall or commenting on something you posted.
As you explore Facebook, you will be able to enjoy some of the entertaining features provided. These include interactive games, quizzes, and groups and affiliation pages that you can join.
Why would a real estate agent want to have a Facebook account? Naturally, doing so marks you as someone who is knowledgeable about current trends. More importantly, it gives people an opportunity to know more about you than is typically possible in a purely business setting. Why would they want to do that? Because consumers tend to do business – particularly financial business – with someone they trust. And they are more likely to trust a person who demonstrates that they are friendly, communicate well, and are involved in their community.
By sharing news items about your community – and about real estate trends in your community – you demonstrate your knowledge of the area. Post links to interesting stories and area pictures, too.
With Facebook, the focus is on friendship, not on business. In fact, it breaks Facebook rules to advertise your business in your basic Facebook account. To support your business, you may want to consider setting up a Facebook business page, which is the subject of the next post in this series.
Forthcoming post: #2 Facebook Business Page
#10 Take Photos of Your Marketplace (last in a series)
When considering moving to a new community, consumers also seek pictures. Oh, they will read the Chamber of Commerce descriptions and statistics, but it is the photos that will engage their interest in the community.
Similarly, consumers will be more inclined to select a real estate agent who really knows the community. How will they determine that? Based on the stories and photos on your website or in your blog.
Your website should have a special page devoted to each community in your marketplace. Showcase your marketplace through a narrated virtual tour, or add photos to a map of the community. Include links to the municipal website, the historical society’s website, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the school board.
In subsequent articles / blog posts,
- feature the information and resources to be found at the municipal center
- provide a tour of the educational facilities – public and private elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and training centers
- illustrate the variety of recreational facilities available
- focus on the business centers that serve the community
- highlight the medical centers and hospitals in the area
- do special features on nearby historical sites,
- and illustrate the many benefits of living in the community.
Be sure that you include appropriate tags in your posts. Always include the community name and your own name, so that the stories are indexed by Google and other search engines.
You will soon become known as a community expert, and will attract a lot of visitors to your website. And, you will have a lot of fun doing this!
P.S. As you’re setting up your website, do the same thing with a Facebook fan page for each community!
Previous post: #9 Be More Visible in Your Community
#5 Build Local Vendor Partnerships (fifth in a series)
I’m sure that you realize that developing cordial relationships with businesses and service providers in your real estate market is simply good business practice. You may already have several vendors listed on the Community page of your website. You may also have received occasional referrals from them.
But have you considered that these relationships could develop into an ongoing source of revenue, too? I offer two models – one simple (mutual support), one more complex (revenue generating) – for your consideration.
Mutual-Support Local Vendor Partnership Model
For the simple, win–win partnership model, you agree to promote each other’s services, in equivalent ways. For example, you would publish their advertisements and special offers in your newsletter; they would publish yours in their newsletter. You would list them as a preferred service provider on your website; they would list you on their website, in a similar manner.
This model requires no exchange of money, just a signed letter of agreement, in which the two of you agree to provide reciprocal marketing services for each other. It is advisable to also specify how frequently you will advertise each others’ services – weekly? monthly? quarterly?
Revenue-Generating Local Vendor Partnership Model
Some vendors cannot provide reciprocal marketing services for you. They may not have a website (still common, for small independent service providers) or publish a newsletter, relying solely on business cards and referrals. You can offer marketing services for these vendors, for which they would pay you a small monthly fee.
For example, in addition to the two marketing services mentioned for the mutual-support model, you might feature a particular vendor in each issue of your newsletter. You could also provide a link to a comparable, permanent feature page on your website. Such features could include
- a photo of the business (or vendor “in action”)
- a case study (description of common consumer problem solved by the vendor)
- your comments on the quality of the vendor’s services
- a discount coupon or discount code
- contact information, with your referral code.
This partnership model requires a signed contract, in which you specify the marketing services you will provide (including frequency), and the vendor agrees to pay you a specified amount, each month. The amount you charge will depend on the size of your marketplace and the number of “impressions” you are willing to provide. Your prices should be competitively affordable.
I strongly urge you to implement this model only with vendors that you can justifiably recommend – whether based on personal experience, or on testimonials that you trust.
Benefits of Partnering with Local Vendors
The benefits from your building partnerships with local vendors accrue to all:
- You will benefit from referrals generated through mutual advertising (simple model) and from the extra revenue received (complex model).
- The vendors will benefit from increased exposure, not only to consumers already in your marketplace, but also to consumers who are moving to your marketplace.
- Consumers will benefit from detailed information about high-quality service providers and from the discounts you are able to negotiate on their behalf.
Previous post #4 Get Some Training
Forthcoming post #6 Implement One New Technique, Every Month
 CAVEAT: We recommend that you consult a lawyer about all contracts, however simple. If you will receive a referral fee from any of your vendors, be sure to acknowledge that vested interest on your webpage.