Getting more value out of your LinkedIn connections…

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how to get more value out of LinkedIn, but I really haven’t given enough love to the site since them…  And I have an idea for how to change that.  Starting this week, I’m going to start writing one recommendation each week.

I’m starting this “recommendation” project with Kris Berg because she’s one of my favorite people in the world of real estate…  (Plus she doesn’t have many recommendations on LinkedIn which is a true shame!   If you know and like her, you should stop reading this post and head over to her profile and write a recommendation for her as well!)

Why commit to writing a weekly recommendations?

I have two purposes:

  1. It’s fun.  I really do enjoy the process of complementing folks who I’ve enjoyed working with and wish I did more of it.
  2. I want to play more with LinkedIn as a sphere building tool, but don’t want to dedicate a ton of time to the project.  I’m guessing I can knock out a solid recommendation in less than 20 minutes a week.

With that said, there’s so much more to LinkedIn these days with groups, Q&A, job opportunities, etc. that I’m sure there’s much more I *could* be doing.     If you have a more effective way to use LinkedIn, please share!  😉

Seems like there’s a constant slew of g…

Seems like there’s a constant slew of great posts about what works (and what doesn’t) on Facebook and Facebook Pages (like this one: 5 Things That Don’t Work on Facebook Pages), but what’s missing is the analysis of “why”…

But the why is just not that hard… at least no harder than the why behind Search Engine Optimization, which is why I’m so intrigued by this concept of Networking Engine Optimization (NEO). And after presenting the idea of NEO to audiences in Atlanta and Portland in the last few days, as well as the numerous conversations whose opinions I respect, I’m more convinced than ever that savvy internet marketing people are already thinking this way, we’re just missing the appropriate language. As things settle down next week, I’m definitely hoping to explore this some more!

But in the meantime, would love your thoughts on how a better understanding of the algorithms being the major social networks (twitter, facebook, etc.) could help us improve the content we create…

Been a ridiculously great morning at the…

Been a ridiculously great morning at the HomeQuest Social Media Summit in Portland.

We had a packed house… Great audience. Wonderful crowd. Engaging speakers. So much fun!

And the speakers were unbeatable. There’s always so much to learn from:

And if you were at the event, we’d love your feedback… What did you think? How could we improve the event/presentations?

[Photo from Dale Chumbley!]

Do you need a foursquare social media st…

Do you need a foursquare social media strategy?

Someone landed on my site today with the keywords: [foursquare social media strategy], and it got me thinking… Do I have a foursquare social media strategy?

It’s all the rage to hate on foursquare (at least in the real estate space), but I’ve found the tool to be great for meeting up with folks, especially when I’m on the road. More times than I could count I can directly attribute a great meeting over coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks, etc. because I checked into foursquare at some nearby location. It’s so great at connecting me with others that one of the first things I do when I fly into a new city is to checkin at the airport because I can pretty much guarantee I will get one or two follow up messages (almost always texts for some reason), from locals asking when we can meet up.

FourSquare is actually a little bit *too* effective. If I’ve got a deadline on a project, I have to make sure *not* to check in to a place to make sure I get work done.

Does this mean I have a foursquare social media strategy? I wouldn’t call it a strategy as much as common sense. If I’m in the mood to connect with people, I checkin… If not, I don’t.

But more importantly, do you need a foursquare social media strategy?

It depends. Do you enjoy meeting up with other people? Are you the type of business person who could generate more deals if you could just get in front of more people? I know I am… I have a hard time meeting up with someone and *not* walking away with a plan to do business with them. For me, checking in on foursquare means I meet up with more people and meeting up with more people translates directly into more business opportunities. Very few of the business opportunities pan out, but enough of them do that I keep on check’n in!

UPDATE

Marc Davison has been hosting a related conversations (with a completely different take) on his blog where I’ve also been actively commenting.

Lov’n Real Estate Speaking Opportunities

If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations, you probably know that one of my passions is educating audiences. I simply love everything about a presentation…  and the bigger the audience, the more fun I have!   I’ve been pretty fortunate to land some amazing opportunities including speaking at all recent Annual NAR events, all recent Real Estate Connect events and more than a few regional and brokerage events.

speakers-pageProbably the only thing I haven’t done well with my speaking is spend time reaching out to regional and state REALTOR organizations to let them know about my experience speaking about social media and blogging activities that generates business. That’s where you come help!

If you know someone looking for an experienced speaker to engage an audience around social media and/or blogging topics, please don’t hesitate to send them my way.   If they want more information, you can send them directly to my speaker’s page or my speaker’s bio that summarizes my experience in a more print-friendly form.

No surprise that my presentations have evolved over the years (anyone else remember the bloginars I used to give with Russ Cofano in the summer of ’06???).   My current favorite to give is a three-part presentation that discusses how agents can  (part 1) engage on social networks, (part 2) create a local website or “hub”, and (part 3) use their social networking activity to drive traffic to conversion points within their hub…

By the way, just a few of the speaking gigs lined up in my near future include:

If you’re going to be at any of these, I’d love to connect!

4 Levels of Social Media Connections

dale-chumbleyI was chatting with Dale Chumbley about Facebook Pages and how we’re both using them to reach out to our respective communities when he touched on an interesting topic… He said about 1/3 of the folks who became “fans” of his page were not his “friends” yet on Facebook.

I’ve had a few conversations on this topic lately and I’ve boiled down the different types of social media relationships into the four most common types and given a bit of an explanation about the implicate meanings behind each type:

1) No connection. This one seems to be obvious… but there could be a number of reasons you don’t connect with folks. Most of the time it’s because you simply don’t know them, but maybe it’s because you don’t like them, don’t think they’ll add value to your network or, even worse, view them as spam.

2) Follow. This is the Twitter model and the connection is probably one of the “weakest” ones out there.   You could have any number of reason to follow someone and it’s completely one-way.  There’s no reason to expect that just because you follow someone that they’re going to follow you back, be interested in you, or even take time to learn anything about you.

3) Fan. This is the model used by Facebook Pages.   While functionally it is identical to a “follow” connection (i.e. a one-way connection with no reverse interest implied whatsoever), there’s a value judgement implied when you become a fan of someone.  Whereas it often only takes one interesting tweet to get me to “follow” someone, it takes a bit more before I’ll become a “fan” of someone.

4) Friend. This is the model used by Facebook Profiles, Digg and many other social networking sites… and clearly implies (and most likely requires) a two-way relationship.  However, the term is so often abused (I’m just as guilty as anyone else of becoming “friends” with people I’ve never met and am likely never to meet) because I thought I might find some value to having them in my “network” in the long run.

Similar to Dale, a little over 1/3 (30 out of 85) of the people who have become “fans” of my Page are not “friends” with my personal Profile. This tells me that based on their actions, a fair number of folks feel more comfortable becoming “fans” than “friends” with someone they don’t know.

Almost all of these people are professionals I *would* have connected with on Facebook (via a “friendship”) in the past, but I’m so much happier to have them separated on my business page so I can begin to do a better job separating my work life from my personal life.

Also interesting is that from a marketing perspective these relationships imply different levels of business outreach. When someone becomes a “fan” of my business page that definitely implies an “opt in” to a certain level of marketing that is not necessarily part of being a “friend”… or even a “follower”.

If you’re ready to explore how different professionals are using Facebook Pages, start following (i.e. become a fan!) of these pages:

And while you’re exploring, you should probably also check out the page I created for my listing syndication tool.

Why bother with Facebook Pages?

Call me crazy (you won’t be the first), but I think Facebook nailed it with their updated news feeds and new functionality of their Facebook Pages. But before I can explain why, I need to give some background on the difference between a Facebook Page (also called a Public Profile) and the standard Facebook Profile.

A Facebook Page is geared toward giving businesses, brands, public figures, etc. a way to engage an audience on Facebook. With a Standard Facebook Profile, you make “friends” and engage with people on a very one-to-one level. With a Facebook Page, people become “fans” of your page, which doesn’t require you to connect with them at all… In many ways, it becomes a “broadcast” tool similar to twitter, but like twitter, you’ll need to engage with others, be interesting, etc. in order to get any real value out of the tool…

And here’s where it gets interesting…

Like a Standard Profile, Facebook Pages allow you to give status updates, share links, create videos, host discussion boards, and generally interact with other people (your “fans” in this case) in much the same way you might interact with them if you were friends. To get an idea of how you might use features like this, check out my Facebook Page:

fb-pageIf you check out my “wall”, you should notice that since I created the page a few days ago, I’ve left status updates, recorded videos, shared links and generally interacted with people in much the same way I might interact with people using my “personal” profile… (note: you’ll need to be logged into Facebook to see all of the updates)

However, this begs an obvious question… if these Facebook Pages are just like your personal profiles, why bother?

I can think of three reasons:

  • Unlike a standard profile, Facebook Pages are public and get indexed by the search engines
  • With a Page, you *can* send updates to an unlimited number of fans, whereas (I’m pretty sure) Facebook limits you to sending messages to 20 friends at a time
  • Because people become “fans” of a page, you won’t need to follow them back in order to have them follow you

This last point is extremely important to me because as I hit up near 1000 friends, my news feed is getting pretty polluted with updates from people I have no connection to other than we both travel in online real estate circles.

Interestingly, I reached the point on Twitter where there was too much noise a few months ago when I was following around 1000 people. At that point, I would see so many automated tweets (i.e. “just posted on ActiveRain…”, “view my latest blog post at …” and “view my latest listing at…”) that reading my twitter feed felt like a chore.

At one point, I unfollowed a ton of people (over 700), and now that I much more cautious about how I follow, my twitter experience has improved 10-fold as it’s now much easier for me to follow and engage in interesting and (sometimes) meaningful conversations…

Returning to Facebook

Going forward, I’m going to be using my Facebook Page to give online marketing and online real estate tips, links, videos, etc, and my Personal Facebook Profile to connect with family and close friends. While it might seem a bit mean, over the next few weeks, I’m going to “unfriend” a bunch of folks (probably hundreds) whom I simply do not have a personal connection to…

Obviously, I highly encourage anyone reading this post (that means YOU!) to become a fan of my page… and order to give you some encouragement, I can tell you that my plan is to keep the page interesting and worthy of your attention by posting a steady stream of social media links, commentary and videos in a similar (but cleaner!) way that that I was using the 4realz Hotlist.

In the big picture, I’m going to continue to reserve 4realz.net for my “big” ideas, and share my little insights over on my FB Page.

One more thing…

If you made it this far on this long post, I figure you must be a glutton for punishment, so I thought I’d indulge you with a video I posted yesterday on my Facebook page. This video highlights 6 ways Facebook Pages excite me in a similar way that business blogging did nearly 4 years ago when I started Rain City Guide:

n20186119572_5897jpgP.S. Did I mention that Scotty Brown and I both published our pages around the same time (over a cup of coffee the other day)? He thinks that just because he’s a Reality TV star he’s gonna end up with more fans than me. We can’t let that happen, can we? Go become a fan!

P.P.S. I also want to thank some of the folks who first signed up to be my “fans” like Alex Scoble, Scotty Brown, Cecilia Camps, Bob Maiocco, Susie Blackmon, Ines Hegedus-Garcia and Victor Lund. Each and every one of you rock! 😉

7 Tips to Getting SEO Value Out of Your Social Media Efforts

Recently, I was asked by the folks at MOTM to give a talk on Social Media.  I typically present to real estate audiences, so I decided to rethink my usual approach for this tech-audience.  More than anything, I wanted to present something that was worthy of the group.

After more than a few conversations, I decided to explore the “gray” areas of social media, and especially how you can use social media engagement to improve search engine rankings.  It feels like I’ve been living in this gray area for quite a while now, but I don’t often blog about it because most SEO works best when it is not widely shared. 😉

In terms of SEO strategies, the stuff I presented last night was relatively tame (i.e. on the black hat to white hat scale, the ideas trended toward the lighter side of gray). And at the request of more than a few of the people who attended, I’ve decided to publish (most of) the slides I used in the presentation.

As with most of my presentations, the slides don’t begin to tell the whole story.  That’s especially true with this presentation since the conversation that came out of the slides was by far the most informative part of the evening.

Nonetheless, the 7 tips listed below offer some insight into how you can start to improve your website rankings (SEO) by taking part in various social media sites.

SMM for SEO Assumptions
Assumptions Going Into the Presentation

The four assumptions I start out with are:

  • Off-site SEO is where you can get the most bang for your SMM buck
  • You should focus on anchor text of inbound links whenever possible
  • Social media sites can often pass along ridiculously great SEO value
  • You should focus on DoFollow sites whenever possible
White Hat SMM:  Corporate Blog
Tip #1: Create Value on Your Own Site (URL)

The typical corporate blog is about as white hat as they get in the SMM world. Here the company is trying to outreach to consumers and/or clients by providing useful, interesting or otherwise valuable content and thereby earn inbound links and other positive word-of-mouth from their blogging.

Black Hat SMM:  Automation
Background on Black Hat SMM
  • Automation is not all that effective in social media and often pretty easy to detect
  • While there are examples of useful automation (think: google news), most is spam and does not add value
  • [Note: this slide generated a fascinating conversation at the presentation with an active discussion on the role of automation within social networks.]
Gray Hat SMM:  How Hard You Promote
TIP #2: Promote your Posts... HARD!
  • Level of “gray” really depends on how hard you promote.
  • It’s trivial to join/create a group that attempts to “game” the social news/bookmarketing sites.  Is this “black hat” or just using your social network effectively?
  • [Note: I do have a group for online real estate professionals where we help each other promote posts. It’s in invite-only thing, so as long as I know who you are and you run a quality blog, then feel free to let me know if you’re interested in joining.]
Create Active Profiles
Tip #3: Create Active Profiles... lots of them
Get Creative With Your Profiles
Tip #4: Get Creative With Your Profiles
  • One example is that you can use delicious to push “topics” to mybloglog to get SEO value from a “nofollow” site
Play Hard on One Social Network
Tip #5: Play Especially Hard on One Social Network
Develop an Exclusive Database
Tip #6: Develop an Exclusive Database
  • If you can develop something that media outlets want to pick up, then it’s quite possible to drive a ton of traffic and great inbound links by feeding them exclusives
  • In the real estate space, this is celebrity listings, but most industries have their exclusive stuff you can mine from databases
HomeSyn:  Real Estate Listing Syndication
Tip #7: Think SEO When Syndicating
  • While this example is specific to real estate, most industry could benefit from thinking of SEO when they push their content around the web.
  • In this case, I work with agents all the time to create listing detail pages on their sites and then make sure that they link back to those listing detail pages in a savvy way to ensure SEO value is getting past to their site whenever possible.
  • It’s worth noting that I created a syndication tool for my real estate clients called HomeSyn that syndicates listings in a savvy way  (i.e. links back to the listing detail page of an agent’s choice whenever possible).   However, it’s an invite-only tool.   If you have some listings and are interested in testing out the tool, let me know and I consider throwing an invite your way.

If you think I’m wrong or have something to add, let’s continue the conversation in the comments… and if you found this information helpful, then help spread the luv by returning to the top of this post and giving it a digg, save, bookmark, stumble, or whatever it is that  you do!

The trouble with Marc’s approach to Twitter

Like many real estate professionals who are using the internet to market themselves, Marc seems to be overlooking the fact that the best clients come from your friends… your real friends.

Most agents know this implicitly, but don’t necessarily make the connection to how they need to operate online.

For example…

A good friend of mine, who conveniently happens to be a real estate agent, hates internet leads. Doesn’t want to deal with them.   For years (he actually attended one of my bloginars in July ’06) , I’ve been telling him about the importance of SEO, “owning” his own domain, link structure, quality content, relevant traffic, etc, and while he humors me (he’s become a good friend after all), his heart has never been in it.  As he likes to remind me, internet leads are crap and he just passes them off to others when he gets them anyway.

However, on a recent conversation, we were talking about where he’s getting his business and he mentioned Facebook (he’s very active on Facebook and MySpace having uploaded thousands of photos and shared countless stories).  Says his friends on Facebook have been treating him well lately sending him great clients and he’d love to get more.  But he doesn’t consider those “internet” leads since the clients typically come to him on a recommendation from a friend.

I think it’s worth reiterating.  People who find him on the internet aren’t worth his time. People who get recommended to him from his Facebook friends help pay his bills.

So, now to bring this back to Marc’s post on twitter…  Marc says:

“You can either post gibberish or you can choose instead to post content about what’s happening in your marketplace right now that does or could have consequences for your reader.”

I can guarantee that if my friend had spent the past two years limiting his online participation to writing content that had consequences for his marketplace, he’d not only have a small fraction of friends on the site, but Facebook would not be providing him any meaningful business.  Worse, his most common “friend” would probably be other real estate professionals who accept this boring banter on social networks.

With that said, I’m a HUGE fan of agents creating a place where they can share their knowledge and expertise by creating content that has consequences for their marketplace… And my other website, Rain City Guide, does a great job generating business by creating this type of content (and I’d argue generates more business for our agents, mortgage brokers, title reps, lawyers, etc. than any other real estate blog).

But to compare the value of Twitter banter (or banter on Facebook or any other “social” network) to the content created on a site like Rain City Guide is to completely confuse the value of unknown internet clients with clients recommended to you by your friends.

If you don’t mind dealing with internet leads, then by all means focus on building out a website like Rain City Guide that will drive relevant traffic.

However, if you want your real friends to start sending you clients, then you better start interacting with them in a “real” way.  Maybe that means throwing ridiculously cool parties, joining the local PTA, coaching a little league team, or sharing inside jokes and other gibberish on Twitter.  Either way, your real friends expect you to be a real person.

If I were NAR’s Social Media Manager, I’d…

… listen to the needs of NAR executives and execute on their ideas.

It’s pretty clear from the job description, that that’s all they are looking for.  Anything more sounds fun, but probably isn’t realistic for NAR at the moment… and there’s nothing wrong with this.  It sounds like Hilary is swamped with work, so the right person could make a difference.

Most importantly, Rob is right that title’s matter, especially at an organization like NAR… and a “manager” position is meant to implement a strategy, not develop one.

I had a manager who worked for me at Move with a similar title and if I thought it would help, I’d happily recommend Todd for this position.  However, if I was in Todd’s shoes, I’d only give it passing interest until they added some real decision making authority and bumped up the title considerably.