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Focus Your Social Media Marketing

Ever find yourself in Facebook’s spine and wonder how the last 3 hours flew by and all you have to show for it are a couple of pokes and Funwall messages? It’s happened once or twice to me. Real estate professionals have a complex task when it comes to staying focused in the distracting world of social media. First and foremost, understand why you are there and develop a personalized strategy.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) is taking off as a standard soft sell approach to Internet Marketing. That doesn’t mean that some marketers don’t take advantage of networks and become annoying spammers. It’s the best social media marketing gurus that can effectively target, communicate, and appeal to a desired audience.

Social Media Marketing takes place at all your favorite social networking sites:? Facebook, ActiveRain, RealTown, LinkedIn, MyBlogLog, Flickr, Digg, Stumbleupon, Twitter, YouTube, etc. ?These social media sites usually incorporate some form or mashup of [Read more…]

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How to Redesign Your Active Rain Blog

active-rain-blog.pngI love bling! And not just to wear; I love it on all my blogs and networks.? In fact, I had Reggie hook up my ActiveRain sidebar to match the MyTechOpinion Blog v1. So naturally, I was excited when Brad Carroll informed me I could customize my Active Rain Blog layout. With so many sites to maintain on the Web, this is a great way to brand yourself and provide consistency among all your blogs and networks.??

To learn how to customize your ActiveRain blog, click here.

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Marketing Your Real Estate Blog

Recently I was invited to the Inman Connect in New York to speak on a panel about “Marketing Your Real Estate Blog”. As you may know this can be a tricky topic. Please enjoy this video:

Remember that marketing your real estate blog will come in many forms. Here are a few more ideas:

  1. Start with properly formatted HTML
  2. Create remarkable and link worthy content
  3. Syndicate original content: Ezine Articles, GoArticles
  4. Social Bookmarks: StumbleUpon, Digg and Del.icio.us
  5. Participate in communities: ActiveRain, Zolve, RealTown, Trulia Voices, etc
  6. Guest post on popular blogs
  7. Analytics Software: Google Analytics, Clicky, CrazyEgg
  8. Conduct interviews with opinion leaders
  9. Widgets: MyBlogLog, WidgetBox
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The Night Before Christmas Blogger Mad-Lib

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a Phoenix Real Estate Guy was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the Blog Fiesta with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The Incredible Agents were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of RSS Pieces danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the FoRUM there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to 4realz I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the MetroWest Homes
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature RE Tomato, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than Maxsell his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Ubertor and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Sellsius and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with 3 Oceans, mount to the sky,
So up to HomeGain the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of the Green Mortgage Group.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Transparent Pat came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Agent Solutions he had flung on his back,
And he looked like Jeff Turner just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it Revealed his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was an AgentGenius, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his Creative Agent and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his Rain City Guide aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to HelpMyAgent gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas from MyTechOpinion, and to all a good-night.”

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Sidebar "Bling" Cross Promotes Your Online Presence

These days real estate professionals are members of social sites, online communities, blogs and more. So how do we deliver a consistent brand and message over so many tools? Also how to we channel interested parties to our other communities? One way is to use a similar sidebar for each application.

Introducing the BLING Widget for Real Estate Agents

Since we have not seen the perfect sidebar bling application for you real estate agents, we developed one for you to use. You will notice inStep 7″ I instruct you to use the full path to the icons. This is so that you can use this code on real estate networks like Activerain, Facebook and more without making further changes.

Here is an example of the buttons I have created for your use.
(Buttons from left to right: LinkedIn, Facebook, RSS, Activerain, Zolve, MyBlogLog, Google MyMaps, Friendster, Trulia Voices, Zillow and RealTown Real Estate Network.)

DOWNLOAD ZIP FILE OF BUTTONS HERE.

IMPORTANT: If you are adding this to your blog, please make a backup of your template before beginning so you can easily restore things if you need too.

Step 1:
Create a new folder on the root directory of your website or blog and title it ?bling?

Step 2:
From the icons I?ve created, choose the specific icons you want to use on your sidebar widget and add them to your newly created folder titled ?bling?. (Note: Choose either the .jpg files or the .png files. PNG files have a transparent background.)

Step 3:
Start by opening notepad or your HTML editor. Now you will be adding the code from each step to the blank notepad document. Please add each snippet of code to notepad in the order below. If you are advanced, the complete code is avaliable here.

Step 4
Copy the code below. Now paste into the notepad document we opened in Step 3. The code we just copied is for the header of our widget. The widget title is”Find Me Online” If you would like to use a different headline, replace those words with your own. You can also update the header and border color by replacing the hexadecimal (6 Digit) color with one from this chart.

Step 5
Copy the text below. Now paste this code after the code above. We will be editing it as follows:

Replace [Insert URL of Personal Photo] with absolute/full URL to photo. (i.e. http://www.mytechopinion.com/images/reggie.jpg) (Tip: Ideal width is 75 pixels or less)
Replace [Insert Name] with your name
Replace [Insert Company Name] with your company or blog name
Replace [Insert Your Blog or Website URL Here] with your actual URL

Step 6
Copy the code below. This is the DIV for the buttons. Please paste to our open notepade file after the previous code.

Ok, now you will start to add the buttons for your widget. 4 buttons will fit on each row. If you are using more than 4 buttons, you can add another DIV by preforming Step 6 again. This will create a 2nd row of icons.

Step 7
Earlier you added the buttons for your widget into a newly created folder. Now find the corresponding code from the options below. Then add each desired to your notepad or open editor. Look for “<!–Insert Buttons to the left of this block–>” and paste the button(s) code before it.

LinkedIn
Replace [Insert LinkedIn URL] with the link to your LinkedIn Profile.

Facebook
Replace [Insert Facebook URL] with the link to your Facebook Profile. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

ActiveRain
Replace [Insert Activerain URL] with the link to your Activerain Profile or blog. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

RSS
Replace [Insert RSS URL] with the link to your RSS feed URL. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Zolve
Replace [Insert Zolve URL] with the link to your Zolve profile or blog. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

MyBlogLog
Replace [Insert ByBlogLog URL] with the link to your MyBlogLog Community. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Friendster
Replace [Insert Friendster URL] with the link to your Friendster URL. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

MyMaps
Replace [Insert MyMaps URL] with the link to your custom Google MyMaps page. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Trulia Voices
Replace [Insert Trulia Voices URL] with the link to your Trulia Voices profile. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Zillow
Replace [Insert Zillow Profile URL] with a link to your profile on Zillow. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

RealTown Real Estate Network
Replace [Insert RealTown Profile URL] with a link to your profile on RealTown Real Estate Network. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Complete! If you have followed each step closely, you should have the complete code now. Simply copy and paste the code we created into your sidebar (keep in mind the widget is 210 pixels wide) and you will now be cross promoting yourself online. Keep in mind the same exact code can be used on your Activerain sidebar, Facebook and more.
View my profile on Zolve Join my community on MyBlogLog Friend me on Friendster View my location info on MyMaps Grab my RSS Feed Read my blog on Activerain Friend me on Facebook Join me on LinkedIn
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Ideas For Getting Readers For Your Real Estate Blog: Part 2

Besides writing thoughtful, innovative, resourceful and creative real estate blog posts that keep your visitors coming back for more, here are a few more ideas for gaining readership for your blog (view Part 1 of this Idea List) :

  1. Build your online networks: at ActiveRain, Facebook, MyBlogLog, LinkedIn and Zolve. Create and maintain a profile, add your weblog address, RSS feed, etc. Although these communities may have different features, all provide blog and blogger exposure by helping you reach out to your colleagues and client sphere?ultimately yielding a readership gain!
  2. Put a live link to your blog in your eStationery. Your blog address should be on all your real estate print marketing AND email marketing. So if you have eStationery or an email signature, be sure to make the most of it by including a live link to your blog. I favor custom eStationery headers like the one below. Suggestion: Don?t add more than 2 links as it may begin to trigger spam filters.

  1. Participate in blog writing contests: Step up your blog writing game and enter your recent posts in blog writing contests. The Carnival of Real Estate is a great place to start! You may not win but you?ll expose your crafty blog to readers who have not otherwise considered your ramblings a newsworthy source. Who knows if you raise your game enough, Lani Anglin may even award you the coveted Nacho Blogger Award! Note: Enter to win an Odysseus Medal or Black Pearl at your own risk. Apparently, my writing style is not up to par enough to be mentioned in the list of entries.
  2. Submit your weblog to online directories: Online directories take website/weblog links that are submitted by the author and categorize them. This strategy is easy because once you have submitted your site, there is little or no additional maintenance required. Usually directory submission is free, but a few do charge for their service or require a reciprocal link. Here are a few good ones to get you started: dmoz, Yahoo directory, Best of the Web.
  3. Talk about it! Whether I?m at the grocery store, a holiday party, presenting to clients, or stranded at the airport, my blog seems to work itself into the conversation every time. If you don?t already have a 3 minute elevator speech promoting your blog?work on one, and make sure you have business cards printed with your weblog address. Live it, Blog it, Promote it!

Got a helpful idea you?d like to share?tell me about.

[display_podcast]

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Interview: Brian Wilson of the Zolve Real Estate Network

Many real estate agents understand establishing an online presence is more important than ever. But not only an online presence?you want to generate some business! That?s why the social network(s) you choose for your real estate business should have strong referral tools built in. One such system is Zolve.com. Recently I cornered Brian Wilson, founder of Zolve, and asked him some questions. Read the interview below.

Q. In your words, what is Zolve?

A. Zolve is a business exchange platform for industry professionals built to simplify the inefficient, time consuming process of referral tracking, its paperwork and locating like minded professionals to work with. It is a marketplace of real estate professionals where people can objectively evaluate and select a local expert in their market.


Q. How do you see Zolve benefiting real estate professionals?

A. Several ways. First and foremost, Zolve?s platform completely systematizes the entire referral process so it can be executed and tracked online. Secondly, the Zolve network will be comprised of members with online profiles and consumer ratings that simplify the process of choosing referral partners. Of high importance, it helps real estate professional to ?be found online? which is no small challenge. There needs to be some reasonable alternatives to every web-based real estate professional in a market all competing for the first 10 search results on the search engine. Zolve provides a technology economy of scales that allows members to be found in an objective marketplace.

Q. How do you see Zolve streamlining the referral process?

A. Zolve provides binding referral contracts in an easy to use ?referral wizard.? I can send a digital referral agreement in a few minutes and the member on the other end will get an email alert which will allow him/her to accept, decline or discuss it. Once a referral in place, the receiving member is automatically prompted for regular progress reports and all communications between the cooperating members are stored in a permanent transaction log. Zolve also provides members with a host of exclusive online social and marketing tools to handle inbound and outbound referrals and interview requests.

Q. How will Zolve differ from ActiveRain and other social networks?

A. Zolve is a platform built to process referral transactions. That?s its primary function – to serve as a business tool. All of its social features are designed to support the business center within the platform. Active Rain and other social networks work completely the other way. Their business tools are designed to support the social network. We have designed this network so the time spent on it results in business and is thus productive time. Every decision we make in continuing to evolve Zolve and add features answers the question, ?How can we directly help the agent on the street grow his/her business??

Q. What social tools does Zolve provide real estate professionals?

A. They are considerable. To begin with, Zolve is also an online community ? a group of like-minded professionals gathered for mutual benefit. Zolve members create a virtual sphere of influence comprised of other members with whom they have or would like to do business. Each receives a personal blog that allows them to leverage their expertise and local market knowledge. We have built this blog and are continuing to improve this blog so that it can be used as a truly consumer-facing tool. In fact, we are currently developing an option that members can have their profile look one way to non-logged in viewers and differently to fellow members. Thus, the agent who has a static website that is not producing business for them could use their Zolve profile both as a network profile page to interact with other professionals and as their consumer facing website/blog. This will enable them to focus their marketing investment and time into one online brand rather than managing several. Zolve also provides a rating and feedback system that will serve to police the activities as it does on eBay, creating an accountability system that helps ensure that the customer willg et the best possible service.

Q. How can a real estate professional expand their sphere through Zolve?

A. They very same way professionals expand their sphere through a network like LinkedIn. At its core, Zolve provides its members with a new source of business by granting members access to inbound referrals from across the country and globe and connecting them with a community of reliable practitioners to whom they can confidently refer business. A big difference in Zolve is that our members grow their sphere visually. We created a Google Map mashup for each of our members that shows visually where they are connected. With one click of a mouse, they can look beyond their own sphere of influence and view their ?sphere network? which shows their network?s sphere of influence as well. Thus, a member with 15 members in his/her sphere can now be connected within one degree of association to thousands of people worldwide, graphically.

Q. Is Zolve only for Real Estate agents? Who else should join?

A. Zolve is absolutely not just for agents. We have members who practice in many real estate service areas and actively encourage them to participate in the platform.

If I am real estate professional like a lender or inspector and I generate most of my business by building relationships with REALTORS?, I want to be on a referral network where top professionals from markets across the country are building out their networks.

If I am selling vacation property in St. Thomas, I want to be on a network where real estate professionals who have clients with 1031 funds or 2nd home aspirations can find me as a trusted, proven professional off-shore.

If I am a real estate technology provider, I want to be on a network where real estate professionals who are willing to pay for an online service are actively trying to build their online brand. I could probably fill a need that they are experiencing.

I want Zolve to become the answer to this problem? if my mom in Bloomington, Indiana wants to refinance her home and asks me for help, I would love to be able to go to Zolve and screen the 5-6 lenders on the network for that market and be able to read 3-5 customer and real estate professional feedbacks on each of them to determine who would be the best fit and take the best care of my mom. I would like the fact that the person that we choose for the job would know that when the refinance closes, my mom as the customer and me as the referring member will both rate him/her on objective criteria that will ?stick? to him forever. This is a layer of accountability that does not currently exist. As it is now, if this lender takes advantage of mom or does a terrible job, he has lost nothing in terms of future business since I am an out of state REALTOR? who never sends referrals to his market anyway. Zolve solves that problem.

Q. How should an interested party get started?

A. Go right to Zolve.com and sign up for a 30-day free trial. If you like it, then on day 31, you will be charged $34.95 for the whole year. At this membership you can do everything on Zolve to include sending referrals, except receiving referrals. To accept a referral on Zolve, you must upgrade to our regular membership rate of $40 per month or save 20% by prepaying the year.

Q. Why join now?

A. I think for those early adapters who understand the need to use systems to save time, save money, and expose themselves to new opportunities during a slow market, then Zolve can be an important component of their business. Zolve is a solution that enables its users to take part in a global real estate market that they would otherwise never get exposed to. For the cost of one business lunch, you can be found online by real estate professionals across the country looking to do business with someone in your market.

For those who tend to procrastinate, I say put off your procrastinations. Get started now. Build your profile and send some referrals whether they be customers across state lines or to the lender you are already using in your market. The advantage is that you and your network can begin earning valuable ratings & feedback that will translate into business you would have not otherwise have in the future. Take advantage of our offers to elevate your current network online and to build a new book of business.

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RSS and Pipes are the Future of Real Estate Content

Lately I have been hearing a lot of talk about a technology called Yahoo Pipes, and what it can do to streamline RSS feeds. So today we are going to demystify RSS and Pipes for your benefit!

Let’s Talk RSS
To start, you must be noticing it gets harder and harder each day to keep up on all the great content accross the web. You likely know that Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an easy way to keep up with this ever changing content. Rather than going out to each of your favorite sites one by one to see if they have new and appealing content for you, RSS is designed to bring the content of the sites you subscribe to right to your desktop via a Feed Reader. So rather than individually visiting 25 blogs in a row?simply open your reader and browse all content from one location. Your content comes to you!

Yahoo Pipes Technology Explained
Ok, now that you understand RSS let?s talk about Pipes. The term originally comes from UNIX and means roughly the output from each process is chained together creating a new output. Think of aggregation. You can say that pipes are the natural evolution of the RSS feed. Think about the current state of the blogosphere. Today you write a post on ActiveRain, tomorrow on Zolve, then Trulia and of course there is that guest post you recently did on another blog favorite. Plus this whole time you have been posting on your own blog. So how do you take all this content and mash it up into one feed for your readers? Introducing Yahoo Pipes.

Yahoo Pipes will aggregate and mashup content from around the web using RSS, data sorts, filters and translation. (Did I mention that no programming is required?) So in the example I mentioned above, the pipe you create could be a mashup of all your posts in one place?filtered by your name.

Let’s Build a Pipe
To get started, go to Yahoo Pipes and register for your free account. Once you have logged in, click the ?Create a Pipe? button. You?ll notice the canvas appears. Start by simply dragging the module titled ?Fetch Feed? from the library pane on the left side onto your working canvas. One by one enter the feeds that you would like to combine. Click the ?+? sign to the left of URL to add another feed. Repeat the steps as necessary. Now drag out modules from the library such as ?Sort? and ?Filter?. Make sure you connect each module by its connecters. Once you have customized your pipe, click the save button and name the feed. Now click properties and give your feed a description and tags. Congratulations! Now save and publish your feed.


See an example of a pipe here. This is a combination of NikNik?s posts here at MyTechOpinion and the HelpMyAgent blog. See tutorials here.