Barry Cunningham, the Infamous Host of Real Estate Radio USA (Yes, just like in the movie, "The Three Amigos" - he's not only famous, he's IN-famous!), recently posed a question on one of my Agent Genius articles, so I thought I would post a response here, and kill the proverbial 2 birds with one stone.
My article was entitled "Taking the 'HYPE' out of Hyper-Local Blogging" and served to exhort RE bloggers to eliminate or minimize the amount of self-promotional clutter or 'noise' taking up space in their blog posts.
Here's Barry's question:
"One thing I wonder, and maybe Rich can add…In looking how Localism is being promoted, it seems that AR is encouraging bloggers to basically become extensions of the local newspaper.
You know I follow the tutelage of Mary McKnight and one of the things she always says is to keep your local posts about real estate..NOT about current events and such. Point being we don’t want to be answering questions about what time the parade starts.
In as far as hyperlocal blogging, what’s everybody think? Should the current events be involved or should it be just about real estate.
My feeling is I want to attract buyers, that’s my demo…If I post about the girl scout troop brownie drive is the buyer going to matter?
Interesting conundrum. I once wrote about a restaurant that has all you can eat crab legs and I get a lot of traffic for people searching all you can eat crab legs but they don’t search properties or look to buy…they just want the restaurant info.
So why is localism pushing the whole community thing when it really does not do anything for real estate..or so it seems."
Well, personally, Barry, I think good effective 'Hyper-Local' blogging necessitates balance - a balance between qualified, experienced, and knowledgable real estate information, AND good relevant local content information/resources. Many times, a skilled writer can weave the two elements together almost seemlessly, thereby increasing your readership. One of my favorite posts entitled "Real Estate is for the Crabs!" is an example of this.
The New Localism will become more of a point of connection for neighborhoods and communities, where residents and local businesses can interact with one another. Think of it as thousands of micro-social networks tailored specifically to real world geographic communities. Our members will be afforded the opportunity to 'own' and dominate their respective neighborhoods/communities through quality, relevant content, and to establish themselves as the local real estate expert.
While I would agree that a large portion of our marketing efforts should be tailored towards people who are actively in the 'hunt,' I would also suggest that an equal emphasis needs to be placed on maintaining meaningful exposure/contact with our Sphere, and within the communities that we serve. Not everyone we come into contact with is interested in buying or selling right this minute. But eventually, they will. Or they'll think of someone they know who is. Consistent involvement on Localism will offer an effective means to accomplish this strategy.
And, if there's one thing we've learned in recent years, it's that consumers accessing the Internet have an ever-increasing desire for more information, especially as it relates to their relocation process. They are no longer satisfied with simply accessing listing information. They want to know the unique nuances and flavor of potential areas. Creating an archive of hyper-local content, rich with relevant search terms, and narrowly geo-targeted to specific communities/neighborhoods, will help to feed this appetite, and naturally improve your ability of being 'found.'
As much as I have enjoyed some of Mary's past articles, especially as they relate to SEO, I would respectfully disagree that a local blog should contain only information that is relevant to real estate. Readers aren't always interested in current 'Days on Market' or absorption rates. A well-balanced local blog will serve up a menu that appeals a variety of tastes.
Barry, after having followed a number of your comment streams, and gaining some measure of appreciation for your particular business model, hyper-local blogging probably isn't a good fiit for you. Most of your clients aren't necessarily concerned with local content. They could care less about where's the best place to go for fresh sushi. They're more concerned with cap rates, ROI, and expanding their portfolio.
I hope this helps to explain things better, and adequately answers your question.