Real Estate WordCamp is Coming to NARdiGras!

I’ve been working with the NAR team to put together a WordPress event at NARdiGras, and couldn’t be more excited that we’re ready to start announcing details!

In a nutshell, we’ve broken the half-day event into two tracks — one for beginners and one for more advanced WordPress users — and the folks we’ve agreed to present are some of the most knowledgeable WordPress people in real estate.  All the sessions will be be on the morning of Monday, November 8th.

Below is a summery of the schedule, although this page on the NARdiGras site will quickly become the definitive source of all session information soon!

Track 1: An Introduction to WordPress

Track 2: Maximizing WordPress

The idea is that if you’re relatively new to WordPress (and even if you don’t have a wordpress site yet!), you should be able to leave the first track with enough knowledge to feel comfortable setting up a site and have an idea for what a successful website marketing strategy would look like.

For those who are comfortable blogging, Todd Carpenter is going to be hosting the Maximizing WordPress track. With Kelley, Steve and Gahlord as presenters, you’re sure to get tons of tools and strategies to take your online marketing to the next level.

I couldn’t be more excited to be heading to New Orleans again and look forward to seeing you there!

And where have you been???

my workSo, I’ve been pretty silent over here lately, but that’s only because something had to give or I’d go nuts.  But since I’m so darn silent here, I thought it’d be appropriate to let you know where I am active!

My Facebook Page

This is one of the most active communities I have going right now.    This is where I start conversations by sharing links that I find interesting from around the web.  Become a fan of my page follow along!

Ventura County Star and Socially Wired
This is not only one of my favorite consulting projects I’m working on, but also where I’m starting to post all of my “social media” type posts. If you’re interested in talking social media strategy, then join me over at the Socially Wired blog where I not only talk about social media strategy, but I’m describing the progress of implementing a social media strategy at a regional newspaper. As I’m JUST starting to ramp things up there and expecting a lot of posts on using social media to drive business in the very near future!

Rain City Guide
Always my early love, the Seattle community on RCG is as strong as ever. But not only that, I recently teamed up with some folks from M Realty to add a rock’n home search tool to the site. If you haven’t checked out RCG lately, definitely head over there to see how we continue pushing the boundaries of what a local real estate community website can be.

Spinnio

This is my “entertainment” start-up where I’m hosting Facebook conversations with interesting people in the movie industry that’s gotten out of control lately. In the month or so since I launched the tool, I’ve hosted conversations with directors, writers, actors talking about movies like The Stoning of Soraya M, Food Inc and Humpday.

Our next conversation is with Ric O’Barry of The Cove on Tuesday!  Definitely consider joining us and become a fan of the Spinnio Facebook page to get updated about movie events, news and stories!

More?
For you following along at home, here’s a summary of the big projects I’m working on and where you can find me:

And of course, I love to banter on Twitter, but keep your expectations low for anything of value out of me over there!

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook
And I might as well make it easy for you… You can follow along with another of these projects right from this post!

Dustin Luther on Facebook

Rain City Guide on Facebook

Spinnio on Facebook

Small Biz Win for Dell!

I was pleasantly surprised to find an uptick in interest (including more than a few emails!) from people over the past day or so regarding my toolshed where I’ve summarized some of the best technology and marketing tools for real estate professionals.

Checking my stats, I noticed that most of the traffic was from Facebook, so I immediately assumed it was from my Facebook Page, which really has been growing at a ridiculous rate lately… (700+ fans in the last week alone!) However, looking a bit closer at the stats, I noticed the ToolShed was featured by Dell’s Small Business Facebook Page.
Dell Small Business Link to 4realz

How cool is that! Thanks Dell! I’ve put a lot of love into that page over the past year, so it’s much appreciated that you picked up on the work that’s gone into it!

And truth be told, almost all of the information on the page came from things learned from hosting 4realz Roundtable conversations last Summer… so I thought I’d take this chance to also share my appreciation with the real estate professionals who took part in that fun endeavor last year!

<shhh> don’t let the Dell folks know I run my small business off a mac… although I do have a Dell projector that rocks! </shhh>

This Week’s Roundtable: Tech Tools to Serve Sellers Better?

[UPDATE: This edition of the 4realz Roundtable is now live and you can listen to it at the bottom of this post!]

As part of my hunt for new marketing tools for agents, I’d love to take on a relevant topic similar to how we took on tracking and analytics for agents last week.

With that in mind, I’m planning for Thursday’s discussion to focus on tech tools that help agents serve sellers better…. And here’s where you come in.   What types of technologies and/or tools should we cover?

Some thoughts that come to my mind include single property websites and listing syndication services… But I know there is more? What about tools that help agents get sellers to price properties more appropriately like Altos Research Reports?

I’d love to hear from you about the technology tools available to agents that can help them serve sellers better!   In particular agents, if there is some tricks or tips you’d be willing to share, I’d love to hear from you and potentially get you on the show!

Also of interest, I’ve started summarizing the relevant websites taken from our previous Roundtables on social networking, home valutions and analytics for agents within the Tool Shed!

UPDATE:

What an awesome crew we had on the call today:

If you’re an agent looking to increase your knowledge on how to use simple technology tools to increase your business, here are just some of the tools that were mentioned in the podcast:

Some great stuff!   Thanks again to everyone who took part!  For everyone else, you can listen to this edition of the 4realz Roundtable here:

[podcast]http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-20339/TS-124626.mp3[/podcast]

4realz Roundtable today: Tracking and analytics for agents

NOTE:  You can listen to the podcast and read a brief summary of the show at the bottom of the post!

As I mentioned last week, I’m putting together a list of resources for agents for a presentation at RE Connect…  and at the end of the process, I’ll end up with a list of the top 50 marketing tools for agents.   However, over the next month or so, I’m hoping to really dive into some specific areas and so I thought I’d start with tracking and analytical tools for agents by bringing the conversation to the 4realz Roundtable.

Today’s Roundtable will be at 4PM PST! And, as always, we’d love to have you take part!

If you’re an agent who’s eye’s glace over at this subject, I’m hoping you’ll try to stick with it a bit because I think there is no better way to find value in your internet marketing then measuring, tracking and adjusting your online marketing and I hope to get into some strategies with the participants of the roundtable today!

With that in mind, here’s a great list of tools from an email that was sent to me last week by Gahlord Dewald of Union Street Media last week (and reprinted with his permission!):

Survive the downturn by using analytics to listen to and observe your customers
  • Google Analytics. Survive the downturn by knowing more about your customers. More reports than you’ll ever have time to read. Free.
  • SiteScan GA. To save a few bucks you installed Google Analytics yourself. Did you install it correctly? Use SiteScan to find out. Free
  • CrazyEgg. Know exactly where on a page people are clicking and how soon after arriving they click. Ruthlessly prune links that don’t improve your conversions. Free.
  • 4q. Listening to your customers is important no matter if the market is good or bad. 4Q mashes analytics expert Avinash Kaushik’s brain with qualitative experts iPerceptions into a simple, easy to use 4 question survey to capture the voice of the customer. Free (this is the absolute best free “qualitative analytics” tool on the market).
  • FeedBurner. Sure it’s also great for simplifying your blog’s RSS feed. But it also lets you know what content your audience is reading and clicking on. Use this to help you write stuff your audience wants. Free
  • ClickTale. Ever want to observe exactly how visitors browse through your site including cursor placement, clicks and time? Clicktale is the next best thing to looking over their shoulder while they browse your site. WARNING: Time consuming and addictive. Free
  • GetClicky.  Where your visitors come from, what content they view, what links they followed, how they got there and more: in Real Time. Free
Survive the downturn by dominating your competition
  • Keyword Envy. You’re good enough to know which specific keywords matter to you. You can track your site’s performance over time at Keyword Envy. Free
  • Compete.com.  Competitive research on the web is notoriously fuzzy. But people still want it. If you want to do competitive research, use Compete.com for its combination of data sources. Free
  • SEOQuake. What is so great about the sites ahead of yours in the Search Engine Results Page? Install SEOQuake on your browser and find out things like latest cachedate, google page rank, number of backlinks, did they submit a sitemap and more right at the SERP. Free.
Survive the downturn by getting smarter
  • Web Analytics Wednesday. Once a week, in your town (or one near you) web analysts get together to drink beer, give a short presentation and talk shop. They love talking to real people with real business problems. Attend a Web Analytics Wednesday.
I found this list from Gahlord to be extremely helpful… and a GREAT jumping point into the world of analytics.  With today’s participants, I hope to get people talking about the tools they use and/or recommend… and why!

Are you an analytically-minded agent or someone who wants to get more technical in your online marketing? Join us at 4pm to let us know what tools you’re using and get some feedback from others from the roundtable on what you could do better in the future!

Note about the Roundtable

I’ve had more than a few questions about what it takes to get involved… Essentially, the answer is not much.   If you want to listen into the conversation, then you need only log in from the talk shoe site.   If you want to ask questions live (as oppose to the chat), then you’ll need to call in using any phone.   ALL the information needed to get involved is on the TalkShoe site!

UPDATE:

What an awesome show!

There was a great group of people on the call including Andy Kaufman, Kevin Tomlinson, Mark Eckenrode, Grant Freer, Jeff Turner, Todd Carpenter, Gabe Hoggarth, and Jim Marks.

We covered all kinds of topics including a few websites not mentioned above like Have a Mint and Woopra.  However, I think the real value for most agents will come from our discussion on how much agents should know (and need to know) about SEO.

If you’re an agent interested in understanding what you need to know about SEO, tracking and analytics in order to improve your business, I can only imagine that you’ll find this roundtable discussion very enlightening:

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…

The first step in identity management is just knowing what people are saying about you, which is why…

…I subscribe to more than a few Google Alerts.  These ping me (via email) any time my name or blogs are mentioned on the web.

My only complaint is that I wish Google offered to give up their “comprehensive” alert as an RSS feed, but for the time being they don’t, so I’m stuck using email for this particular application.

By the way, the nice part about their comprehensive alert is that it not only includes news and or blog results (which ARE available via RSS), but other google searches such as when your name appears in message boards, blog comments and more generic websites.

(in response to Ines question!)

Michael is thinking about agent review sites…

…which is particularly timely because I had two conversations with people running agent review sites in the past 24 hours, where they showed me new stuff they are going to be releasing in the next few days/weeks.

I found these quotes from Michael’s post most interesting:

“Perhaps more importantly, is it possible to synthesize this data into a “score” or “rank” in order to provide the consumer with a recommendation? This is what I’ll refer to as the tyranny of the ordered list.

…the reality is that matching a specific consumer’s needs to a specific agent’s qualifications remains ridiculously complex.”

After getting a demo of one of the review sites today, I came away impressed because the people behind the site might, *just might*, have hit upon a way to get at specific consumer needs while using a “score” or “rank” (without necessarily making a recommendation).

Nonetheless, despite a recent burst of activity in this space, Michael makes the case that these types of agent review sites may actually be a disservice to consumers:

“The power of a ranked list is daunting, because it provides an easy short-cut.  Why look at agent two or three when there is a number one?”

Consumer-friendly or not, there clearly appears to be a market for consumers to research an agent online (and in particular for people moving long distances), so it will be interesting to watch if people can get traction (both within the industry and among consumers) with a more compelling agent-review product.