Tag Archives: social media

Yelp for Apartments

A while back we introduced a cool social media integration feature on the ApartmentFinder.com site – any of our advertisers can have their Yelp reviews displayed on their property details pages. All they need to do is let us know and we have integration already built. VERY FEW of our advertisers have signed up for the service.

Geoff Donaker, the COO at Yelp, was speaking at a conference that I attended in December and I mentioned to him that many of our customers were still on the fence with how to deal with review sites. Specifically I told him that when it came to our two company’s integration, no-one seemed to want to be “First”. Both of us agreed that there needed to be more industry outreach in order to establish a comfort level in incorporating these unfiltered consumer sentiments in marketing materials.

To that end, NCI is scheduling for February 5th a joint webinar for anyone of our advertisers to hear directly from Geoff and the team at Yelp about how their product works and their understanding of how consumers use their site. It should be a great educational event, and I am thrilled that we can bring it to the industry.

In advance of that session, I thought that it made sense to describe the WHY behind our integration with Yelp.

1 – For the CONSUMER…

We look at the downstream sites for all of the ILS’s on services like ComScore and HitWise. The rating sites (Yelp, ApartmentRatings, etc.) are always in the top 10. The consumer is actively seeking this information and making them run around to get it does not make sense. Yelp, in particular, does a good job of screening out the bogus reviews so that the review content is particularly useful. We like the way that they can catch a competitor trying to seed bad sentiment and delete those posts. We also like that they can catch businesses that write “pretend’ reviews, promoting themselves. Here is more about the Yelp Automated Filter.

2 – For the ADVERTISER…

We looked at the reviews on Yelp, and they are remarkably positive. I think that it is a credit to the screening algorithms that overly negative, spammy reviews don’t seem to be a significant part of the content mix. According to Yelp, “Yelpers have written over 8 million local reviews, over 85% of them rating a business 3 stars or higher”.

I am very interested to see if we get a big turn-out for the event and most importantly to see what kind of questions our industry has for the guys at Yelp.


Personal Branding on Twitter

I have been reading a ton of advice on how to best utilize Twitter.  However, on Mashable today, there was a great post on how to use Twitter to effectively develop your personal brand.  The article is concise – it has  6 clear steps from claiming your Twitter handle to elements of a Twitter marketing plan – and actionable.  It is a great reference for agents who want to use techonogy to enhace their brand and relationships.  Article after the jump.

The ideas that are most important for agents are:

  • Establish a Twitter handle.
  • Use your Twitter handle in ALL of your printed material, your email signature, on your listings, on your print advertising, include it on your online profiles, make it a part of your website.
  • Form a Twitter mastermind group.

Great ideas!

An Open Invitation

Our company, Network Communications, is making a significant commitment to leveraging the social media ecosystem to grow our business.  Part of that commitment will manifest itself in the form of training for our entire staff.  We will be engaging in a series of webinars, led by Pat Kitano of the Domus Consulting Group (http://domusconsultinggroup.com) to train all of the sales, customer service, operations, interactive, technology and other staff at Apartment Finder, The Real Estate Book and all of our home design magazines .  Since the readers of this blog come from our customer base and other friends of our business, I would like to extend an invitation for you to attend as well.  Just pre-register at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/714129226 so that we can make sure we have enough ports for all of the trainees.  The list of scheduled dates and times can be found on the gotomeeting page.  I look forward to meeting you there!


Kutcher’s Twitter vs. Obama’s Blackberry

In a recent post I asked about segmenting by social relationship.  It seems that this theme is getting a lot of attention.  For example, check-out the Spectrum of Online Friendship that Mike Arauz has assembled – very cool concept for social marketing. 


Mike argues that the spectrum of relationships is fluid online and should give us some examples we can use in brand building.  His framework ranges from “Passive Interest” (repeat website visitors, blog readers, fans, followers, etc.) to “Investment” (your wins are my wins).  Brand development requires interaction at all of his seven levels. 


Some current examples:

While Ashton Kutcher’s 1mm followers/fans number is significant – it is likely 99.999% Passive Interest. 


When President Obama got to keep his Blackberry, very few people from the campaign were able to remain wirelessly connected.  My hunch is that those people had already demonstrated their Investment in their willingness to bend over backwards for his success. 


Cultivating a personal brand is just like cultivating a friendship.  If you read through Mike’s spectrum, it is clear that that Realtors have a series of tools available to them that move people from being strangers to passive interest and ultimately to clients and ultimately Invested influencers driving word of mouth promotion. 


I’ll spend the next couple of posts examining some messages and tool that savvy agents seem to be effectively using in all media to successfully grow relationships and brands.


Efficient Social Networking

The agents that I speak with think of their marketing both in terms of ROI (return on investment) and ROE (return on effort).  The ROE measure is more and more often being assigned to the “free” services that require a lot of time and attention in order to drive success.  In thinking about efficiency, Social Networking can be a bottomless pit.  There are many, many places an agent can participate, more content than a person can read in a lifetime and more opportunity to blog, status or tweet than anyone could keep up with.

I found a post by Mario Sundar, “Evangalist and Chief Blogger” at LinkedIn.  He proposes some guidelines to being efficient with your social networking.  While there is a shameless plug for LinkedIn (expected), the general advice seems really sound. 

“Select between 1 and 3 social networks you must absolutely be a part of.

Check these social networks (if your job depends on it) ONLY at select time intervals during the weekday, everyday.”

You can read more at his Blog.

Social Networking and Brand Building

I really want to understand how real estate agents are thinking about social networking sites and brand building. How do you think about your interactions on the tool and what do you think are your lead generation and brand building goals? What tools do you use within these sites to achieve your goals and how much time do you spend working the network?

Let me take a minute to start the conversation by sharing my perspective. Social Networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn have taken off, mostly, I believe, because they are so closely similar to how we live in the “real world”. Essentially, social relationships can be broken into three major categories – Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers. When I think about Social Networking and brand building, these three categories become the critical construct.

Friends – When I think about the core of my referral network I think about my friends. In a work sense, these are the people who know me and know my style the best. I trust them and they trust me. When I seek a recommendation, I turn to my friends. I have many ways to communicate with my friends, including email, telephone and text – but I use the social networking sites as an easy way to stay up-to-date on their activities. By using these technology tools, I can stay closer to my friends with less total effort than ever before.

In a brand sense, my closest friends embody my personal brand message. They are truly my best voice into the market, they send me the best leads, and when they praise me it is heartfelt and sincere. With my integrated marketing programs, this core set of influencers receive all of my brand building communications both offline and online with the understanding that given a chance to promote me to their friends in need of my services they will do just that. When I think about our products, this is a perfect group to receive Home by Design (https://www.homebydesign.com/index_content.html) or Your Home and Lifestyle (https://www.yourhomeandlifestyle.com/home.html).

Acquaintances – These are my broader contacts in my network. I rarely directly call, text or email them, but I am curious to know about what they are doing. We run into each other at industry functions and ask about each others kids. The social networking technology has let me participate in their lives in an effortless way. Professionally, they are a great referral network, generating business for me and visa-versa. For integrated marketing, some acquaintances get my offline brand-building products and some only get my online messages. These decisions are based on the relative strength of their networks. For influencers in the community, I include them in all of my communications including the magazines listed above.

Strangers – While I do not personally know the people in this group, there is a good chance that my friends and acquaintances do. This is where communicating to the network has so much benefit. Your offline and online listing marketing helps you to develop a brand and generate leads primarily from strangers – people you have yet to meet. Your social networking and integrated marketing activities help when strangers are looking to be referred to a top-notch agent.

There is nothing new to any this schema, nor to this approach other than the tools themselves. Don’t think of these sites like cheap lead sources or even farming – but rather opportunities to develop and expand your brand with friends and acquaintances.



Be like Coke

Treat your personal brand like Coca Cola – with global consistency.  Coke is one of the best recognized brands in the world and for a good reason.  The brand is consistent everywhere.  The bottle is universally recognizable.  When you open a bottle (glass or plastic, 12oz or 2 liter) anywhere you may be, you get exactly what you expect.  I have had Coke on 5 continents and it always tastes the same (mostly).  When Coke tried to change – remember “New Coke” – its customers revolted.

Establishing your personal brand requires authenticity and consistency just like Coke.  Wherever anyone encounters your brand; you, your friends, your marketing materials, your prior customers or other agents the message needs to be consistent and authentic.  People need to know that wherever they encounter you, in every possible setting, you are consistent with your brand.

There are many tools that agents use to develop their personal brand.  They use their website, their blogs, their Facebook pages, Twitter, print ads, emails and an array of other marketing techniques.  One of our products, Home by Design magazine gives agents the opportunities to enhance their personal brand by associating your message with award winning home and lifestyle content (take a look at our current issue at https://www.homebydesign.com/currentissue.html).  Agents who use this product customize the cover pages (2 front and 2 back cover pages) with their own images and messages.


Some of the best agents are using this tool to consistently convey their brand message and remind their core sphere of influence what they stand for.  Their messages are authentic and their own and are enhanced by the magazine with which they are delivered.


Here are some examples:


Kristie Smith uses one of her pages to encourage her readers to join her on Facebook, the environment that she uses to cultivate her brand.  https://tdnyc.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/facebook.pdf



Sharon Grimes has evoked a sense of Southern California that makes an emotional connection to the place.  How she has connected herself and her business to her region is totally consistent with who she is and her own brand.



I will post more of these pages over the next days demonstrate how savvy marketers are making the most of our products to grow their business.