Larry BraunerReal estate brokers are facing very stiff competition, in part as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis and in part as a result of commoditization.

Real estate itself isn’t a commodity, but many of the brokers who sell real estate, especially residential real estate, have been losing their competitive differentiation in the market, as they are no longer the principal sources of listings and property information. Buyers can more easily obtain listings and detailed property information from online services.

What is Hyper Local Real Estate Marketing?

Real Estate MarketingReal estate brokers have long recognized the importance of keeping a high profile in the neighborhoods they serve and of conveying their neighborhood expertise to prospective buyers.

This approach to real estate marketing, with its neighborhood hyper focus, is frequently referred to as hyper local real estate marketing.

Orchestrating a hyper-local marketing campaign is extremely challenging. However, social media, such as social networking sites, blogs and mobile are making hyper local marketing more feasible and more effective, as well.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the hyper-local real estate marketing concept and have sought ways to help brokers streamline their marketing, overcome technical obstacles and create value for both hyper-local businesses and their customers.

Real Estate and Small Business Marketing Program

I’ve developed an affordable hyper-local real estate and small business marketing program that satisfies all three objectives and creates a win for brokers, hyper local businesses and consumers. The program uses search and social marketing within a supervised online environment and includes marketing and technical support.

Real estate brokers can “own” their neighborhoods in that I will only license the program to one broker or salesperson per hyper local area.

If you’re a forward-thinking real estate broker or salesperson, you can benefit by participating in this real estate marketing program and increasing your influence online and offline.

Contact me to learn more about my new hyper-local real estate and small business marketing program or pose your questions in the comments. :-)

Larry BraunerSocial media and other types of media revolve around the findability and value of their content.

You could use a newspaper to wrap fish or fragile belongings (ideal), a book as a paperweight (sad), a radio or television program as white noise (even sadder) or a blog to switch to, so that the boss won’t catch you playing FarmVille at work (hopefully not my readers).

Kidding aside, media are published so that their content will be consumed, and social media marketing can only succeed if its content is findable, and if the people finding that content repeatedly consume it.

Am I stating simply the obvious? Perhaps, but consider for a minute the large number of web sites with little traffic and blogs with little traction. Do you not agree that my concern is somewhat justified?

Value and findability of content to and by stakeholders are prerequisites for social media marketing success, and the optimization of each must be at the top of our social media marketing content lists.

Larry BraunerAt the Search and Social Leadership Forum, Veronica Fielding, whose Digital Brand Expressions sponsored the event, presented case studies of several companies that had optimized their web marketing campaigns by creating synergy between search and social.

These projects were very complex and required expert execution. However, less complex ways exist for you and I to realize similar synergies, each of us according to our own levels of expertise, by integrating search and social on personal or company blogs. Here are six easy ways you can integrate search and social on your blogs:

  1. Content - Post to your blog very frequently. Blogs are social, and they’re content generators. You write; others comment. When you post to your blog, you’re supplying content that attracts both search engines and humans. When you post frequently, your content is fresh. Readers like to find fresh content, and it’s like caviar for Google and other search engines, since searchers crave it.
  2. Comments – Elicit comments, interact with readers and build your community. Consider making your comments dofollow to increase reader participation. Comments augment content and attract both readers and search engines, just like blog posts. Similarly, frequent comments help even more. Some search engines interpret comments as votes for you and for your authority.
  3. FollowersMake it easy for visitors to follow and subscribe to your blog. The more people following and reading your blog, the more authority being conferred upon you by your audience and by search engines.
  4. Widgets – Install Google Friend Connect and other widgets on your blog to increase followers and your perceived authority. Website widgets can help build your following.
  5. Social – Build relationships with readers on and off your blog. I like to connect on Facebook, Twitter, by phone and face-to-face. Always keep in mind that social media is.. uh social. People who like you and your content will often refer others to you and link to you. Inbound links translate into authority with search engines.
  6. Search – Fine tune your search engine optimization. You may receive more visitors from search than from social, and search visitors tend to be searching for something you have. The search engines close the loop by sending new visitors who read, comment and follow your blog, helping you all over again with search engine positioning.

I’ve enjoyed our brief visit. Now it’s time for you to subscribe and leave me a comment. ;-)

Larry BraunerAt the Search and Social Leadership Forum, hosted by the Business Development Institute and NYU Midtown and sponsored by Digital Brand Expressions, Julie Sun presented a fascinating MTV Movie Awards case study.

Julie documented her team’s successful orchestration of a combined social media and PPC search campaign to engage stakeholders and win share of voice the night of the event.

Julie SunA key part of the MTV strategy was to make it simple for people to join the conversation, especially those people who do not readily share. This was achieved by directly embedding the conversation in the event’s web pages.

The night of the awards, not only did Julie’s MTV team monitor sentiment online, they also looked for breaking news on the ground. Stories were immediately posted online, thereby fueling the enthusiasm and feeding the social media conversation.

Julie also pointed out that MTV’s social media success was due as much to months of preparation as it was to expert execution the night of the event.

Larry BraunerI attended my second Business Development Institute event today, Social Convergence and the Enterprise: Case Studies and Roundtables.

What can I say? It rocked. There were top notch speakers, great exhibitors and lots of networking. Thank you Maria Feola and the entire Business Development Institute team for putting this event together.

If Business Development Institute isn’t on your radar, it should be, especially if you work at a large company, are part of an interactive or PR agency, are a business consultant, or you live somewhere in the NYC area.

Please follow BDI socially and join the BDI mailing list.

I’ve already written about the Search and Social Leadership Forum, the BDI event I attended last week. I need some rest tonight, so I plan to write about Social Convergence and the Enterprise in the days to come.

Larry BraunerI heard some excellent speakers present their case studies at the Search and Social Leadership Forum hosted by the Business Development Institute and NYU last week.

To wrap up the morning event, three speakers, Julie Sun, Thomas Hoehn and Jordan Glogau sat in a panel to answer questions posed by Veronica Fielding, the moderator, and afterward by attendees.

During two of the earlier talks, an increase in share of voice was cited as evidence that the presenters’ social media programs had been successful.

When my turn came to query the panel, I asked whether any formal offline marketing research had been performed to measure the effectiveness of their social media marketing endeavors. Having spent most of my career at Eric Marder Associates, a once preeminent quantitative marketing research firm, I could not let this question go by.

Besides focus groups, no offline marketing research had been done. I was surprised, frankly, that the type of quantitative marketing research I was alluding to, with controlled experimentation, didn’t even seem to be on the radar of the panelists or the audience, especially with many working at big corporations.

When I returned home, I noticed that What You’re Missing By Measuring Social Media ROI Online had been posted by Tom Webster on Brand Savant that very day. I suggest you read it. I can’t yet say whether I agree with every point Tom made, but I can say with certainty that I totally agree with the spirit of his article.

It is only fair to point out that valid marketing research is costly, but how else can we satisfactorily gauge the effectiveness of our large social media marketing initiatives?

Larry BraunerAt the BDI forum on Search and Social last week, SEO and business development consultant at 1-800-Flowers, Jordan Glogau, discussed recent Google search changes.

Jordan said that authority is up, i.e., more important, while relevance is down. Content is also more time sensitive as Google pushes for more up-to-date results.

Jordan GlogauAuthority is achieved by means of quality inbound links. Often it’s necessary to purchase these links.

Jordan recommended Pay Per Post and Review Me. Ask to have your product or service mentioned, not endorsed.

Recency is achieved by frequent blogging and use of social sites.

I personally suggest that while you may strive for greater authority and recency, you shouldn’t neglect relevance. After all, what good is SEO and driving Google traffic to your site if your content isn’t relevant to your visitors?

Larry BraunerI very much enjoyed an informative morning at the The Search and Social Leadership Forum, hosted by the Business Development Institute and NYU.

Veronica Fielding, CEO of Digital Brand Expressions, forum sponsor, treated us to a fast-moving overview of the direction digital marketing is taking.

Veronica Fielding Discusses Findability ConvergenceVeronica discussed findability, which as I understand it refers to the ability of a brand and all its associated content to be discovered and interacted with by people. She identified three key forms of findability and likened them to three forms of investment, underscoring their value and illustrating their complementary nature:

  1. Search Engine Marketing – Paid search results. Like cash, it’s instantly available.
  2. Search Engine Optimization – Organic search results. Like bonds, they’re for the long term.
  3. Social Media – Blogs and social media sites. Like the stock market, it’s volatile.

Veronica showcased companies successfully combining all three findability channels to build their web presence. We need use all three forms of outreach and to foster increased interaction and synergy between them. This is findability convergence.

Watch for more in the near future about this event and about the other excellent presenters:

Much thanks to Steve Etzler, Maria Feola and the BDI team for making today’s Search and Social Leadership Forum a big success.

There’s still space available for the next BDI event, Social Convergence and the Enterprise at NYU Midtown on July 21.

One final note: In case you’re new to this blog, we’ve reached the place where readers generally subscribe or leave me a comment. ;-)

Larry BraunerSeveral colleagues have asked that I share my experiences and thoughts about Google Friend Connect on this blog. So as to humor these fellows and show them that I can — at least on occasion — be thoroughly amicable and completely reasonable, I’ve acceded to their demands.

Google Friend Connect or GFC is a set of widgets or gadgets, as Google calls them, that you install on any website or blog site, in order to develop a community of users and fans on that site.

If you aren’t familiar with Google Friend Connect, it would be worthwhile to take several minutes right now to check out a CrunchBase blog post on Google Friend Connect or, if you prefer something much more terse, try the Wikipedia article on the same subject.

Here are ten of my personal Google Friend Connect observations:

  1. While the official Google Friend Connect instructions are not totally adequate, the GFC gadgets aren’t  too difficult to install, at least not on a blog site sidebar.
  2. It happens infrequently that the Google Friend Connect gadgets can’t be installed on a website because of a script conflict. I haven’t found a way to work around this problem, but I’m still on the lookout for a solution.
  3. Once gadgets installed, visitors to your site begin joining, almost if by magic.
  4. As with Facebook pages, you can actually see who your members are and reach out to them if you choose.
  5. The rate at which people join is lower than I would have expected, yet slow and steady, they do keep joining. I suspect that too few people understand what Google Friend Connect is.
  6. The single most valuable feature of Google Friend Connect is the website newsletter. Make sure you click the check box in the newsletter tab that reads: “Ask visitors to subscribe immediately after their first sign-in.” A high percentage of your site’s GFC members will elect to receive email updates from you.
  7. Another valuable feature of Google Friend Connect is member polling that helps you learn about your members and their preferences. You can download your data into a spreadsheet to analyze.
  8. The Google Friend Connect comment box enables members to have discussions with you and with each other. I’ve only installed it on blogs so far. Since visitors can comment on individual blog posts, I don’t feel that the gadget has added much to these sites. I’m looking forward to installing it on a site that has no blog in the very near future.
  9. If you log into Google sometimes using one account and other times using another, your Google Friend Connect membership may suffer a split personality. Unfortunately, there isn’t even a name yet for this disorder. GFC gives you so many ways to connect that you can easily become fragmented.
  10. I originally joined Google Friend Connect because I believed it might help with my search engine optimization. I reasoned that any data that Google owned, they ought to use to assist their search algorithms. I have no proof, but my analysis leads me to believe that they are in fact using these data. If they aren’t, they might in the future. In any case, considering the brand building benefits of GFC, you can look at search influence as a possible plus.

I highly recommend Google Friend Connect. While it won’t totally transform your website, GFC will make it more social.

Please join Google Friend Connect on my blog’s right sidebar.

Larry BraunerThe Business Development Institute and New York University are hosting a meeting of The Search and Social Leadership Forum in Midtown Manhattan next Thursday to discuss some of the opportunities and issues surrounding the integration of social and search.

The search and social symposium will be attended by top marketing and communications leaders from large brands. It’s my good fortune to have been invited to participate as a social media and SEO evangelist. I will not, however, be speaking at this event.

To learn more about the Search and Social Leadership Forum or sign up, please visit the event’s web page. Hope to see you there.

Larry BraunerI wrote this past week about how Social Media Marketing Impacts SEO.

There are essentially three ways that posting your content in social media can increase your brand’s visibility in search engine result pages:

  1. Your content itself ranks well in searches for your designated keyword phrases.
  2. Your content provides backlinks to other content which as a result performs better in searches.
  3. Your content engages people whose backlinks and online conversation help your content perform better in searches.

Ideally, when you would post your content in social media, all three benefits would be obtained. In practice, sometimes you achieve this objective; many times you do not:

Being virtually everywhere (pun intended) is a powerful strategy, so do not reject key social media venues just because they don’t help you achieve all your social and search objectives.

However, it is desirable to accomplish all three objectives with one action when possible, and here are some tips that can help:

  • Post on Amplify and Posterous, all-in-one blogging, micro-blogging and social bookmarking sites, rank well in search and feature both dofollow links and member interaction. They can also syndicate your content to a variety of social media sites.
  • Your blogs and online social networks, such as Ning sites, that you control can potentially help with all three objectives. It depends on the extent to which they influence both search engines and fellow humans. You can also set them up to syndicate your content.
  • Leave good comments on influential dofollow blogs in your brand’s niche, if you can find any. Most popular high PageRank blogs are nofollow. Always be careful not to spam.

My other blog, Online Social Networking, is dofollow. This blog isn’t — at least not for now. I suggest that you not let that stop you from commenting and subscribing. ;-)

Larry BraunerIf you and your organization are having difficulty justifying the high cost of social media marketing, consider this new and compelling factor:

Social media is increasingly influencing your visibility in the search engines. Businesses that fall behind in social media marketing could soon start noticing a reduction in their search engine traffic.

I wrote last year in The Long Tail and Social Media and Social Media vs. Search Engine Optimization about ways in which your social media marketing can be helped by search engines.

Shortly thereafter, I discussed in The NEW Search Engine Optimization some of the effects that social media marketing can have on your SEO and on your web presence. Now that the topic of social and search is gaining traction, I’m revisiting it, and I present to you a brief summary of social and search issues and benefits.

Dubious Value of Backlinks

The use of social data by search engines isn’t something new. Backlinks can be regarded as a form of social data. Search engines have for many years relied exclusively upon inbound links to evaluate a site’s authority. A well known criterion derived from the analysis of inbound links is Google Page Rank.

Backlinks are, however, of somewhat dubious value, since they often result from non-organic gray- and black-hat link-building techniques, such as link exchange, outright link purchase, blog-comment spam and spam blogs.

Social Media Content Authentic

Social media content is growing exponentially. Social content can be mined for useful data, and it will be. Social media sites and blogs yield data that’s authentic, and which coupled with backlinks, promises to more adequately measure a page’s authority.

Social media data may also enable search engines to return results that are more personalized.

Social Media Generates Backlinks

Not only can data from social media complement backlinks, social media itself can generate valuable backlinks to your website. Your blog posts, your comments on dofollow blogs and your content on dofollow social media sites, such as Amplify and Posterous, can all link back to your website.

However, the potential for backlinks doesn’t end there. Your participation in social media will attract genuine backlinks from within your communities.

Social Media Appears in Search Results

Search engines are indexing more and more social media content. Your content on social media sites appears in search engine results and can receive traffic from them. Your backlinks contained in that content, even if nofollow, permit visitors to click through to your website.

Furthermore, when your content is returned in search engine result pages, it occupies a slot that might have otherwise been occupied by a competitor.

Consider the numerous ways in which social media marketing can help search, and you might find it easier to justify costs, even if you cannot satisfactorily estimate social media ROI.