April 26, 2011

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Real Estate Marketing in 2011: Part One

Today we’re taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of how real estate marketing has changed as more communication has moved online. For a long-range perspective on this, we went to John L. Heithaus, chief marketing officer for Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS), the largest multiple listing service in the US.

Do you think social media has changed the way real estate agents do business? If so, is this a change for the better?

Of course it has, in a very meaningful and structural way. I read in Fast Company that one in 11 people on the planet have a Facebook page! I’m a third generation real estate kid and I can remember all my grandfather or father needed to do business was a phone, the MLS book, a license, a book of business (clients and prospects) and a reputation.

Today, of course, the playing field is a lot more level and consumers have at their disposal all kinds of free (though many times inaccurate) property info, as well as all kinds of posts, tweets, comments and random things on the Internet about a specific real estate agent or the brand they represent. In addition, consumers have (potentially) millions of “friends” who can provide advice and insight on the real estate transaction.

The old NAR mantra was “keep the Realtor at the centre of the transaction” and, at MRIS, we have replaced that with “keep the Realtor at the centre of the conversation.” With this in mind, agents can be of service to their customers by using social media tools to provide true value within the context of what’s needed today. And as far as online reputation, we’re seeing some very prominent moves towards agent rating systems.

The Houston Board of Realtors (har.com), run by a very progressive thinker, Bob Hale, has a great system using social networking and media tools at the center of the agent directory. redfin.com has now added the ability for agents to rate other agents, and that is likely to turn some heads, so to speak. zillow.com is building a really great differentiator in their agent rating system. The same Fast Company article I referred to above (April 2011) also coins a new term, “Faceblocking”, when someone ruins a deal, a school acceptance, or a relationship because of something they did that was not so bright on Facebook. I thought that was brilliant!

So, one of the pervasive themes in social media is the fact that we cannot “hide” from our reputations on the Internet. MRIS already offers social media training programs and we have hired a full time social media coordinator to support this fast growing medium.

At MRIS we refer to the proliferation of information, much of it from social media, as TMBI (too much bad information). Consumers can get easily distracted and misdirected by social media on one hand, and on the other hand, the transparency and increased flow of information helps real estate agents perform better as they’re dealing with a more informed consumer.

However, it is essential that every real estate professional think long and hard about how they can leverage these new and emerging technologies to benefit their business. Facebook (at a US$70 billion valuation) is not going away any time soon. So it’s sink or swim time with social media. I think there’s a real business in helping real estate agents manage their social media platform and business in a turnkey sense. Because their time is so limited, we (and others) certainly can help. We want to help them avoid being “Faceblocked” in the eyes of their prospects, customers and the community.

Tune in tomorrow for part two of our interview, when John talks to agents who aren’t yet using social media, and gives us his predictions for the future of real estate marketing.


Related posts:

  1. Real Estate Marketing in 2011: Part Two
  2. Real Estate Marketing that Worked in 2010
  3. Real Estate Marketing on $0
  4. Agent Strategies: A Real Estate Marketing Mix
  5. Move Inc. Makes Real Estate Marketing More Social
  6. Agent Strategies: Real Estate Blogging that Works
  7. frogpond.com Launches Real Estate Social Network
  8. Real Estate Marketing Report Card
  9. How Facebook is Changing the Real Estate Industry
  10. Vlogs – the next big thing in real estate marketing?

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