What You Should And Shouldn't Be Doing Online

What You Should And Shouldn't Be Doing Online

With so much of our world online nowadays, it’s a wonder agents don’t go crazy making decisions about what they should be doing with their computers. Blog sites. Social networking sites. Business networking sites. Video sites. It can feel overwhelming.

With so much of our world online nowadays, it's a wonder agents don't go crazy making decisions about what they should be doing with their computers. Blog sites. Social networking sites. Business networking sites. Video sites. It can feel overwhelming.

If you're a recovering technophobe (like me), I'm here to tell you exactly what you should be spending your time on. There are some key online tasks you should be doing right now:

Get a Custom Website

Please-please!-hire a web designer to create a custom site for you. The first item I notice when critiquing agents' sites is that it's a template site. If you want to get more business, a template site will NOT do the job. It tells the world you're not dedicated enough to your business to create an online presence that drips with professionalism.

Not to mention the fact that EVERYONE ELSE is using template sites. It's possible that you might have the exact same site as your competition across the street if you use a template site.

A custom site transmits your own look, feel, and content. It is an online extension of your own personality and needs to be unique. There is nothing else like it.

Another good point about custom sites is that search engines love them. Template sites have a much lower ranking than custom sites. Custom sites tell search engines that you have spent more time on your business and you are more dedicated than somebody who purchased a template site for $9.95.

Create a Presence on Social Networking Sites

Yes, this means Instagram and Facebook. I know, I know - your kids are on Instagram and it seems like something that a real estate agent should avoid. But the truth is that people do use these sites. The more you participate, the more your name gets out there.

People are creating new Instagram accounts DAILY. Its popularity is unbelievable. It's not just for kids. It reaches more prospects than you can imagine.

Your Facebook page should be a professional page. It should be all about real estate and about real estate ONLY. Most importantly, it should link to your website.

Once you get it set up, go to other social networks repeat. For example, ActiveRain is geared specifically toward real estate professionals.

All these sites work pretty much the same way. You create a page, put some pictures and descriptions up, link to your website, and post your thoughts and activities. You link to other pages within the community-friends, colleagues, and other businesses.

Something else to pay attention to in these communities is something called "democratic rankings". Members of ActiveRain rank you higher the more you are an active part of the community. You receive points when you submit content or make a comment. Every time a member signs up, writes an article, or posts a thought, make sure you comment on it. You get rewarded with points on that site by the activity you put into it.

But be careful. Once you start, it's easy to become addicted to spending all your time in these online communities. Never forget that this is just one tool in your toolbox. Make sure you don't end up chasing online business endlessly while missing out on opportunities in the real world.

One more thing: Make sure you're posting valuable and relevant content on your pages. These sites are a great place to post your informative articles and other real estate "how-to" information.

Put Videos on YouTube

I know some of you just groaned. The idea of creating a video sends some people to the emergency room. But in today's world, it's simpler than you can imagine. With every kid making videos with their cell phones, finding someone to put one together for you is easier than ever.

I cannot tell you how powerful it is to get your listings posted on YouTube! It is very easy to create a video of every single one of your listings.

Here's a simple way to do it if you don't like video: Take photos of your listings and have someone edit them together into a slideshow presentation. Voila! A video is done and ready for YouTube.

Once you get yourself online, you'll find out how simple it is to keep your name out there-at virtually zero cost.

What You Should Not Be Doing Online

This doesn't mean there aren't any pitfalls to being online. Be careful you don't make the mistakes some people have made online. There are some things you should NOT be doing.

Do NOT create any hint of impropriety on Facebook, ActiveRain, or YouTube. This could be damaging to your image as a real estate professional.

I'll give you an example. Recently an agent told me he was thinking about moving to another office. I told him to check out a certain brokerage because I knew the broker. I thought he was a true professional. So, I was stunned when the agent called me back and said, "Denise, you need to look at this!"

This particular broker had a Facebook page with photos of him partying, drinking, and getting a little crazy. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a prude. There's nothing wrong with "getting your groove on" every once in a while. But there IS something wrong with you posting those pictures on Facebook if you consider yourself a professional and responsible member of your community.

My client was so flabbergasted at the pictures that he decided not to go to work for that broker. He was afraid of the mental links people would create if he were associated with him.

Seriously, this is stuff you need to think about! It astounds me how many people don't think about it. College seniors looking for jobs with Fortune 500 companies are putting pictures of themselves passed out at frat parties online. This is career suicide. I can't believe some of the personal items people put online.

So again, I can't emphasize it enough-be careful!

Online marketing is the way of right now. Bottom line is that it works, but only when it's done right. Follow these guidelines and you will attract an entire segment of clients that you never would have found any other way.