Posts in Blog (page 40)

Infographic: The Growth of Social Media

Earlier this week, we looked at an awesome infographic about social media timing. Today, I’ve gone back to a killer Search Engine Journal (SEJ) infographic from December 2013 to talk about the growth of social media. Social media platforms continue to grow, and you really can leverage social media to help your real estate business.

Organizations large and small are using social media on a daily basis to connect with consumers. As a real estate professional, social media can serve as an incredible tool in your tool kit. Don’t believe me? Just check out last year’s growth. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

Click on the infographic for a larger view. If you have trouble seeing it, you can visit SEJ’s originally posting HERE.

growth-of-social-media-2013

Where Should You Focus Your Social Media Attention?

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr … the list goes on. But there are only so many hours in the day, and the home buyers and sellers you want to target may not be everywhere. How do you determine the best social media approach? Where should you focus your social media attention?

You want to be where your target audience is, first and foremost. Your goal should be to build a community around your business, while you work to expand awareness of what you do, how you do it and the properties you’re selling.

Here are five social media sites you should look into when planning your social media strategy:

Facebook, as we’ve discussed in earlier posts, has a HUGE reach, of over 1 billion global users. The social networking site makes it easy to present yourself as an individual AND as a business, and is working continually to release features that keep it competitive in the social media market. Facebook is used by marketers to reach consumers in just about every industry imaginable, and it is very applicable to real estate professionals marketing properties.

Twitter may not be the ideal place to market a listing (think Facebook and Craigslist for that), but it is a great way to make connections online, boost your SEO, generate conversations, and learn more about your industry, market or potential clients. Twitter has more than half a billion users, and it’s a great site for monitoring trends.

LinkedIn provides good professional networking opportunities, thought leadership, business promotion options. The majority of LinkedIn users are college educated, and involve themselves in the social network for professional advancement, rather than personal socialization. Professionals earning more than $150,000 annually make up the largest bracket of LinkedIn users.

Google+ has been booming, and its user numbers rival Twitter. With its connection to YouTube, the introduction of Google Authorship and the popularity of Google Hangouts, Google+ has a lot of potential for reach, for SEO benefits and brand building. Google+ has a higher than average number of well-educated professional males in its demographic.

Pinterest has exploded in the last couple of years. While it originally caused a lot of people to scratch their heads, its relevance grows more and more clear every day, and it holds a lot of potential for real estate professionals. It’s a great way to showcase images, build links and drive traffic to your site. Remember: pin from your own site if that’s where you want people to end up! Nearly three-quarters of Pinterest users are female, and the majority are college educated. Home décor and home design are two of the most popular topics – this is great if you can showcase beautiful properties (linking back to your single property websites), home staging tips and more.

4 Things Every Real Estate Agent Should Know About SEO

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by SEO (search engine optimization). Good SEO is what helps a website rank on the first page of Google, for instance. You want good SEO. High quality content, good, easy to navigate design – these things are in your control, and they are crucial to the SEO of your real estate websites. So today, I’ve pulled together four things that every real estate agent should know about SEO.

1. Content is the cream that rises to the top. Content should answer a need. It should tell a story. It should solve a problem. Content should be applicable, usable, shareable. It should resonate with your users. As a real estate professional, you know your market. You know the buyers and sellers you want to attract as clients. What do they need? How can you give it to them? This applies to your agent and single property websites and to your social media efforts. Before you throw up your hands in defeat, know this: none of this means you have to have tons of content or writing on your sites. But it does mean that what you do say and post needs to be relevant. This is one area where using a dedicated service like RealEsateSites.com or Listings Unlimited can be a huge help – your website will start with tested, high quality content, keywords and built-in SEO. You can build on a solid foundation put together by experts.

2. SEO is steadiest on a tripod. To have a solid SEO strategy, you need to focus on three separate areas – content, links and social media. They are separate, but also incredibly interconnected. And they’re all important. Link exchange is a great way to get legitimate links from other websites pointing to your site. Links increase your site’s authority and, therefore, its visibility in the search engines. Link building can be arduous to the inexperienced, but is often built in to quality website services. Social media is the vehicle that can take your site to the next level, by giving it the exposure it needs to appear valuable to search engines. At the end of the day, link building and social media connectedness and moot, without great content. Your content is incredibly important and must focus with precision on your visitors’ needs and your call to action.

3. Social media puts the ‘S’ in SEO (well, not literally). Google, in particular, gives more and more credit to social media when it comes to ranking. Likes, shares, comments, @mentions, etc. have become an incredibly important part of strong SEO. You want to make it easy for people to share and like your content. This, in turn, makes it easy for other people to find your content. Built-in social networking tools will save you time and money when it comes to this critical aspect of your real estate site or single property website’s SEO.

4. You must know your brand before you can optimize it. SEO is step two, after good branding. And the connection between good branding and SEO has been made easier and stronger since Google release Google Authorship. Google Authorship connects your content to your Google author profile, and the search engine gives more credit to recognized authors’ content. This is by no means an overnight fix, but it is a very worthy recipient of your time and strategy, with regard to SEO.

How Facebook is Cornering the Property Market

Facebook has more than 1.31 billion active users. According to NAR (the National Association of Realtors), 90.5% of real estate agents and brokers use social media to some extent. In a study of traffic sources conducted by Properties Online, using Google Analytics, single property websites received the most referrals (50%!) from Facebook.

Changes to Craigslist in late 2013 mean that referral traffic from the site can no longer be measured. This gives Facebook a boost in ratings, so to speak. And the social networking giant is doing all it can to maintain its place at the top.

Twitter has been growing, but hasn’t had the impact on real estate professionals that Facebook has. Still, at more than 645 million users, the social media site is a significant force, with a lot of potential. One problem for real estate listings is that Twitter is home to A LOT of information. Tweets can easily get lost and end up unseen. But there is something to the platform – something that has had Facebook on alert for a long time.

You may have noticed the subtle integration of some of Twitter’s features into Facebook this year. Actually, just before the New Year, Facebook began by renaming its ‘subscribe’ and ‘hide all’ options with ‘follow’ and ‘unfollow.’ Facebook is using an algorithm—based on your usage—that then controls the content that appears in your newsfeed.

Another Twitter-ish update was the move to ranking link posts from publishers higher in the newsfeed. This seemingly small change led to big things for Facebook, with publisher content referral traffic from Facebook rising 50%, to account for over 15% of all social referrals. At the same time, mind you, Twitter referrals decreased four percent.

Now, as we know, Facebook is great for sharing photos and videos (and this is great for real estate professionals). But Facebook saw Twitter’s edge when it came to user-generated content and changed its algorithm to rank text-only status updates from users higher in the newsfeed. Their research showed them that users respond positively to these types of updates, and that they prompt more of the same. So, that that and run with it – share your thoughts about a listing, the market, anything of interest, with your Facebook followers.

Facebook may never replace Twitter when it comes to real-time news, but it doesn’t need to. And while a full-blown social media presence is great, if you can pull it off, you don’t need that, either. Facebook is a fantastic option for busy real estate professionals, and it’s gotten even better in 2014.

 

3 Ways You Can Invest in Real Estate

Almost 30 percent of U.S. home sales were all-cash purchases during 2013, according to Realty Trac. That means many would-be landlords hoping to buy a property to rent out for income lost out on sales to those who made cash offers. Having that much cash may seem like a roadblock, but there are creative ways to invest in real estate without becoming a landlord or raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here are my recommendations on 3 ways you can invest in real estate today.

Invest in REITS

Reap the financial rewards of being a landlord without dealing with tenant issues with a real estate investment trust (REIT). Sold like stocks, REITs are trusts that earn a rental income by buying and developing property. However, a REIT does not develop properties to turn around and resell them. Instead, they’re developed as part of an investment portfolio.

Unlike many forms of real estate investing, REITs must legally pay out 90 percent of their taxable income if they meet certain criteria. This means investors ultimately receive regular payments. REITs develop everything from apartment buildings to malls to cell towers to prisons and beyond.

REITs also level the playing field for those who want to get into real estate, but don’t have a ton of cash lying around. There’s no need to compete with wealthy investors or corporations buying up properties. REITs give you the opportunity to make small investments you can afford and still enjoy the perks.

Become a Private Lender

While REITs act more like a diverse portfolio of property investments, there are ways to invest directly into handpicked projects. Private lending allows individuals or companies to loan out money without the help of a bank . This technique usually works with a note and deed of trust to fund a real estate transaction. Investors typically earn up to 10 percent interest without ever dealing with rehabbing and reselling properties.

Private lenders get the benefit of earning income on their investment without the red tape and middleman of a bank. You can, however, find a third-party platform to help the process. A peer-lending site like Lending Club can connect you with those who need money for property or other assets. The site helps organize and facilitate the process and deal instead of trying to do it on your own.

Flip a House

House flipping was all the rage during the height of the last real estate bubble. It was relatively easy to get loans with little money down, enabling investors to come in and fix up properties to resell for a tidy profit. But despite the bursting real estate bubble, it’s still possible to flip a home and earn an income. According to a Realty Trac report, in the third quarter of 2013, house flipping actually increased 34 percent for homes worth $750,000 and more, 42 percent for homes priced between $1 and $2 million and 350 percent for those worth $2 to $5 million (over Q3 2012).

Need ideas on coming up with cash to support your private lending dreams? Look into creative funding techniques. If you’re entitled to a structured settlement, you could sell your future payments and use the money to reinvest in REITs, private lending or flipping a house.