Heather Elias,* a mom, real estate agent, and recovering journalism school graduate is the blogger in question, who lives in Loudoun County, Va. She is also a busy tweeter and Facebooker who seems to take her camera with her everywhere. She collects her lovely photos of the local countryside on Flickr, and drops a few on her real estate blog regularly.
And yes, she does post about her business as well. What she hears about the local housing market, what she sees, trends, analysis. [She focuses on just numbers and statistics on yet another blog.*] There is no more intense topic than real estate in her community, a fast-growing exurb of Washington, D.C. that has seen extreme price volatility in recent years.
Heather mixes it all up in a smart and engaging way, and keeps all of those outlets humming. Heather was named one of the top 12 real estate bloggers,* a group singled out by blogger sellsius* for “exemplary efforts in publishing local consumer-centric content across multiple channels, building brand identity, awareness and trust and, most importantly, for their community involvement and service, both online and offline.”
Many of these blogging and tweeting real estate agents have plenty to share with those in other small businesses about the power of integrating social media into their daily work.
“I generate 75% of my business from my online efforts,” Heather told me. “Typically I get an email or a phone call that says, ‘I’ve been reading your blog since last October, and I would like to sell my house, and I want to work with you.’ Or ‘I have been reading your blog, I’m looking to relocate to the area and would like you to help me find my new home.’ It’s a warm introduction the first time I meet them in person. I don’t have to establish my expertise with them.
“They already ‘know’ me from my blog and can get a sense for my knowledge and how I do business before I ever walk in their door. At this point I get enough of those contacts to keep my business very busy.”
So why does real estate seem to be one field that attracts such social media energy?
“Real estate agents are leaders in using social media because they are in a relationship-based industry,” says Joseph G. Ferrara, the publisher of the sellsius blog who is also an attorney and broker. “They are used to connecting with people. Their success depends on it.”
And there is plenty to learn by listening, not just by slinging masses of content, Ferrara points out. “They may be using social media effectively in receiving information they can use to improve their business,” he says. “It may be a new tech app, or tool they learned from a twit.”
Real estate professionals who are successful online “are fearless about new media,” he adds. [The sellsius blog also includes a long list of real estate-related blogs here.*]
On her blog, Heather found a style and a mix that works for her. Blending posts specifically about the local housing market with others about all sorts of facets of living in the area results in a truly engaging experience for any reader, and certainly for anybody looking to find someone to assist in what can be a stressful transaction.
And so then, the question for anybody considering investigating use of social media in business: Aren’t nearly ALL of us in a “relationship-based industry”?
“Any small business getting started should think first about where their customers/clients are, and what information they want or need, then craft a social media strategy about building relationships with them by being a trusted resource,” Heather says.
“When you first get started you will feel like you are throwing it out into the wind, and no one is noticing. But truly, if you build it, they will come. If you stick with it and give it time.”