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 [link is broken, so I removed it]… your real friends.
Most agents know this implicitly, but don’t necessarily make the connection to how they need to operate online.
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.