BarCamp Fairytales – Debunking Common Real Estate Marketing Myths

In mid-June, Union Street Media had the pleasure of attending and participating in Boston Real Estate BarCamp 2012. This “meeting of the minds” was a great opportunity for real estate agents, social media consultants, and web developers to present, discuss, and debate current trends and developments in technology and how to best apply that technology to the real estate marketing.

We were excited to see a few of our clients at BarCamp and hope to see many others at coming events. We’ll have Union Street Media folks at the Annual NHAR Convention, MAR Conference & Tradeshow, VAR’s 2012 Conference & Expo and Maine Association of Realtors Annual Convention & Tradeshow this fall. These and other conferences are great opportunities to listen to and participate in discussions about the changing real estate marketing landscape as well as hear from industry partners like Union Street Media.

BarCamp and other conferences are valuable for us and our clients because they offer a great venue for sharing ideas and building on knowledge and skills that are already in place. We always come away with some great insights from clients and realtors in general, but in most instances we find ourselves already ahead of the newest trends and technologies. That said if you hear something that excites, confuses, or concerns you – please let us know! Your Account Manager is happy to help you make sense of the wide variety of tips and “musts” floating around. Below you’ll find a few of our key takeaway’s from Barcamp – those thoughts that were most compelling as well as explanations or reinterpretations of those messages from presentations that seemed to miss the mark a little.

  • Social media as a necessary evil 
    The application of social media to real estate marketing is, and we assume will continue to be, hotly debated for a while to come. What most people can’t seem to agree upon is how many forums agents should be on, how much time should be dedicated to these, and how your message should be presented on each. During one session agents were advised to maintain a Twitter presence by tweeting 5 hours each week, at least 5 times a day, and covering no less than 4 topics during a single 24-hour period! We realize that most agents are spending that valuable time with their clients and while there are benefits to being active on social media, the point of each is to drive visitors back to your site where they can view all of your listings and engage with your conversion tools. One agent may benefit from an active Facebook account while another sees a better ROI from their blog. The main takeaway should be this: whatever you do, do it well. A Facebook profile or Twitter account offers little or even negative value if it is not maintained. A blog without posts in the last three months can tell your visitors that the information on your site is outdated or that you’re too busy for new clients.
  • Catering to mobile device users
    There seemed to be a bit of confusion as to the importance of a mobile app in place of a full mobile site. Smart phone users navigating to a real estate website are looking for a quick and easy way to search for listings. A smart phone user can set up your website as a bookmark on their home screen just as easy as they can download an app that pulls them into your mobile site. What’s really important is that when a user gets to the mobile version of your site, they can easily search through properties and navigate through the listings. Our recently updated mobile platform allows nearby properties to feed right into the homepage of your site and provides driving directions to each listing at thetap of a finger. Also, QR codes are trendy and while the jury’s out on whether or not these will stick around a while, it doesn’t hurt to add them to appropriate marketing materials. However, a QR code shouldn’t simply direct visitors to the homepage of your site. If someone is taking the time to scan a QR code they’re looking for added value from that action – we suggest you direct your users to specific listings or relevant property search results. You’ll notice that in the recent updates made to our detail view print templates, QR codes specific to each listing have been added. Keep in mind that for most mobile devices, there’s a 10:1 scan distance to optimal QR code size ration.Also, it’s easy and FREE to generate QR codes yourself – try out Google’s QR Code tool.
  • Google’s inside man
    We’ve heard from a few clients, that they’ve learned Google is going to be discounting the use of keywords in the coming months. In the words of Tom Cull, a Union Street Media Internet Marketer, “To say Google is doing away with keywords is like saying books are doing away with words.” While we can’t predict what Google has in store for the future, currently the keywords field and the general use of keywords is very different and the knowledgeable placement and use of keywords is paramount to the success of site in attracting qualified traffic. Google’s web search algorithm has ignored keyword meta tags field for years now. About 10 years ago, untrustworthy web developers were cramming key terms and phrases (that often had nothing to do with the page or site content) into the keywords meta tag.To clarify, the use of keywords and phrases in title tags and page content do still carry weight and the algorithm has gotten smarter in ensuring that those terms in the title tags are true to the content provided on each page/site. Meta descriptions, while not carrying any weight in terms of ranking, are mostly used as snippets on search results pages. Hear it straight from the horses mouth in this video with Matt Cutts from the Search Quality Team.

While no question is a bad question, some answers can be misleading or easy to misinterpret.  We’re always interested in hearing what our clients are learning at conferences or “un-conferences” (like Barcamp) and are happy to help you weed through the information you’re receiving.