What to do BEFORE you make your Facebook Timeline Public

Earlier today, I gave a talk to DandB employees where I shared what they should know about Facebook Timeline.

I got some great questions (and feedback) from the folks who showed up and the talk inspired my latest blog post on the Credibility Insights:  5 Things to Check Before Making Your Facebook Timeline Public.

(and thanks to Jess for taking the photo!)

How important is creativity in your SEO campaign?

A few months ago, the Council of Residential Specialists asked if I’d be interested in giving a webinar presentation on SEO.  Of course I was interested (It’s scheduled for tomorrow!) and in putting the presentation together, it forced me to reexamine the state of SEO… and how to really get value out of an SEO campaign.

If I could summarize my point of view it’s that creativity is key to a successful SEO campaign… at least if you want to have any impact whatsoever.

When looking at SEO factors, there are three main levers you can pull… They are to

  • Improve the on-site factors like titles, URLs, keywords, etc.
  • Improve user-interaction factors like bounce rate
  • Improve off-site factors like quality of inbound links and anchor text

If you’re creating interesting content on a decent blog platform like wordpress then you’ve got the first two areas because there’s only so much that can be done on your site to improve your SEO…  and you’re more likely to end up spinning your wheels than get real benefits if you spend too much time there.

The real SEO benefits come from improving off-site factors like inbound links to your site… (Honestly, I’ve been saying this for years, and it’s one thing that never has and likely never will change in terms of SEO value!).   One way to understand this better is that without quality inbound links, a site will never rank.  However, a site with a horrible on-site SEO (title, URL structure, bad use of keywords, etc.) can rank just fine if it’s got enough quality inbound links!

So anyway, the point I really want to make in the presentation is there are some proven strategies for generating lots of quality inbound links… and ALL of them involve a bit of creativity and some time.   If this is a topic you’re interested in, consider joining us tomorrow when I’ll dive deep into using social networks, social bookmarketing, social news and social group sites to generate great inbound links.

Other resources you might find interesting/helpful:

Also, if you know of any other great SEO resources, let me know so I  can share them with others!

Blogworld, emails, hotlist and more…

I’ve been enjoying the ease of posting over on the 4realz Hotlist, so if things have been light here, it’s only because it’s so fast and fun over there.  Definitely check it out and consider signing up to write your own microposts.

Also, the first day of BlogWorld (the REBlogWorld portion) has been a blast  (Jeff has a great writeup on my presentation) and a bunch of others blasted the twitter world with updates and photos.

And finally, I sent out another weekly email this morning.  Of course, the bulk of this week’s links and stories were from the credit crunch (ouch).    If you want to get an update that summarizes the most interesting happenings around the online real estate space from the past week, it’s as easy as signing up!

REBlogWorld Presentation: With a Little Help from my Friends

I spent the better part of today completing the first draft of my presentation for next week’s REBlogWorld in Las Vegas!  (If you haven’t registered yet, it’s getting late, but there is still time to sign up: afflilate link.)

For my presentation I wanted to create something a bit more advanced than I usual cover,  so I decided to focus on the lessons I’ve learned from running Rain City Guide over the past three and a half years, as well as give tips to real estate professionals on how they can run their own group sites.   Truth is, I’ve seen so many people try to intimate Rain City Guide over the years, but almost all of them have failed to catch fire…  and rarely am I surprised since so few people do it right.

I’m calling the presentation “With a Little Help from my Friends” for reasons that will be obvious to most and especially those that attend.

And now I want your help.  I’ve been talking about the Rain City Guide for so long that I feel like I must be missing some obvious stuff and would love your feedback.  

Profile on BlogWorld Wiki
Profile on BlogWorld Wiki

Are there any questions you have about how Rain City Guide works?   Are there any group blog topics or etiquette that you’d like to see me cover? And, obviously, if you ask a great question, I’ll make sure to answer it in the comments so you can benefit even if you don’t make it out to Vegas.  🙂

Bonus head’s up to other speakers: The BlogWorld folks put up a wiki page for each speaker that seems to be ranking pretty well on many of your names.   I’d highly recommend taking a few minutes to complete your page.  Here’s mine, Dustin Luther at Blogworld, as an example.

Joe describes how to embed YouTube videos in a PowerPoint, but…

…I’d hate to rely on a working internet connection when in front of an audience!

When I embed an internet videos in a presentation, I always make sure to be running off a copy that has been saved to my hard-drive.

Here is one way to make this happen:

  1. Install the Firefox extension DownloadHelper
  2. Download & install Riva FLV Encoder (freeware – PC-only)

Using the DownloadHelper, you can now download video from just about any online site to your hard-drive. Assuming you want to embed a YouTube video, you’ll need to convert the resulting flash video to an MPEG format before you can embed it in your presentation.

Using the Riva software you can convert your file to MPEG format, but one step is a bit counter-intuitive since the software is “designed” to go from MPEG to flash.  (Detail on the steps can be found here)

Once you have the video in an MPEG format, you can use the standard tools within PowerPoint to embed the video into your presentation and you won’t have to worry about loosing an internet connection during your presentation!

Head’s up: I honestly have no idea about the legality of using YouTube video in your presentation, but my guess is that depending on who owns the video, this could be against YouTube rules and could be illegal.   Nonetheless, in the past, I’ve had a lot of luck by simply asking the permission of the person who posted the video if I could use it in one of my presentations…

My Speaking Tour Goes International!

Realtor Quest

Canada counts as international, right?   🙂

I really do enjoy speaking to real estate audiences about online marketing and technologies…  And my talk last fall at NAR was a wonderful event where I felt like I hit a great groove with the audience.

Thanks to the alignment of a few stars (including the fact that a Director from the Toronto Real Estate Board was in the audience for that presentation) I just received confirmation today that I’ll be the featured technical speaker at the largest real estate conference and tradeshow in Canada: Realtor Quest!

For all my Canadian readers (yeah, Brendan, I’m talking to you), the event is in Toronto on May 12 and 13… and I’ll be speaking on both days.    My two topics are:

  1. Understanding Your Online Competition and
  2. Using Blogs to Build Communities

And as a special bonus, it looks like all attendees will get 2 hours of continuing education credit for each presentation.

Hope to see you in Toronto!

(Coincidentally, I also found out today that people are still listening to my NAR presentation and you can even buy it online!)

I just confirmed with Brad Nix that I’ll be speaking…

 …at REtech South later this month!  (Brad moves fast!)

Check out the homepage for the full list, but it goes without saying that the list of speakers is top-notch and at $100 for a full day, I suspect they are going to get some great attendance!  I’m excited already!

The 1st 4RealzEd event was yesterday and…

4ealzEdI think I’ve recovered enough now to actually post about it! 🙂

Despite our best efforts to be prepared, the day started off a bit rough with a nearby mudslide taking out power in our building in the morning (meaning no hot coffee and no projector) and a 9-car pileup on a nearby freeway slowed me down tremendously. AHHH

So, to say it started rough would be an understatement… But once it started, things seem to get on a roll quickly.

I started with an overview of consumers expectations in a web2.0 world to set expectations for the day… Jim followed up with presentation on optimal features and design for a real estate website. Then it turned back to me for a presentation on social networking… lunch… then another presentation by me on creating value through blogging about communities. And we returned for the day’s finally with Jim giving a engaging presentation on measuring and tracking marketing results to ensure a positive ROI.

All around, it was a wonderful day! And, maybe they were just being nice, but the attendees who talked with me said only good things about the education.

Because I promised attendees I would give them a list of all the sites I mentioned in my presentations (so that they wouldn’t have to ask me to spell out each URL), here is the list for everyone’s benefit.

Consumer Expectations in a Web2.0 World:

Engaging in Social Networking to Earn Clients

Using Blogs to Build Communities

I wasn’t tracking the sites that Jim mentioned, but there were not nearly as many of them in his presentations…

And thanks again to all the bloggers who have helped spread the word about the event, the sponsors who helped us keep the price low and all the attendees who made the day possible!

I received some incredible feedback from all three groups, which is going to lead me to make some changes to the upcoming events (I’ll announce those early next week!). Great stuff all around. Thanks again to everyone!

Business and Money!

Who can argue with that?

For background, Brian said he would hold no punches before he proceeded to praise me, rip into technology providers and celebrate inefficient markets!

As far as I’m concerned, Brian is the #1 mortgage broker on the internet and I’m honored, downright honored, to share the stage with him at NYCConnect.   The guy is everywhere and his advice for agents on things like picking up the telephone and using technology to build up your business is top-notch. I also know he has thick skin, so I feel comfortable giving him hell knowing he’ll return the favor.   😉

The danger with Brian’s message is that he is a mortgage broker who has found success reaching out to realtors and you (assuming you’re a real estate agent) will find a hell-of-a-lot more success if you reach out to consumers!   Put another way, if you’re a real estate agent, then you won’t necessarily find success by emulating a successful mortgage broker! (Or put yet another way by the Bloodhound: do was we say, not as we do.)

My take is that real estate agents will be seduced by Brian’s message that the internet provides the ultimate mechanism for in-your-face marketing.   On the internet it is possible to be almost EVERYWHERE that consumers congregate!   You can be on all the social networks (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)… You can cover ALL the relevant keywords on your blog to make sure you show up on long-tail google searches… You can blog for lots and lots of site!

However, this only works for Brian because his target market is realtors who like the idea of forming a relationship with a mortgage broker.   I hope this doesn’t surprise people, but most consumers of real estate services have NO DESIRE to form a deep relationship with a real estate agent.   If you want to successfully engage consumers, you’ll need to get much more savvy.

To be successful online into the future, you MUST move way beyond keyword stuffing, plastering your name in comment fields, repeating your farming area name in every title, or sending “market updates” to all of your “friends” on Facebook.    In general you must resist the temptation to do anything and everything that manages to annoy people.

To be successful online into the future, you will need to become an “internet” person.   You’ll need to live and breathe permission marketing. You’ll need to have a message so compelling that consumers choose to receive your message. You’ll need to give up control over being the sole expert in your niche and that quite likely will mean giving up control over your community!   Rather than THE expert, you’ll need to become a real estate guide… and a damn good one.

I’ve got more than a few ideas for agents on how to engage consumers by becoming the ultimate local guide, but this post is getting too long, so I’ll hit publish and save the ideas for another day.