ActiveRain Tutorials: Is Your Online Business Trusted?

Is Your Online Business Trusted?

As I am currently 40,000 feet in the air on a Southwest Airlines flight back home I started reflecting on the recent conference I just spoke at for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. Whenever I go to an event either as an attendee or presenter, I always try to take time shortly after to reflect on things I enjoyed, I learned, or would like to see done differently.

As I think back on this event, I find myself focusing on something completely different. One of the things that became abundantly clear at this event is that the way companies market themselves is evolving. See, many years ago I was a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. Their annual convention at that time was called The International Business Conference, or "IBC." Now, don't get me wrong with what I am about to say, but their event had been the same basic real estate style convention for many years. People in their suits talking about how great the market is and giving tips on how to get your clients a mortgage, etc. Most of the time was spent teaching how to convince consumers that "Now is the time to Buy" and "Real estate is a great investment."

But, this year they knew their conference needed an overhaul to match the changes that are taking place in our daily lives. The classes that would teach on a new product the company was releasing were replaced by things like 30 mobile applications for business. The neck ties were removed to symbolize a change in the mentality of leadership and that it was time for a change. I am starting to see this type of trend become more and more common at business conferences.

Why you may ask? It's simple. Large corporations like Coldwell Banker are starting to realize the importance of having a strong presence in the social media sphere. So, instead of a conference like this being filled with real estate coaches, the speaker lineup was filled with social media advisors like myself, Chris Brogan, and even the folks at Google.

The concepts of using digital marketing to become trusted agents in a digital world is now more important than ever as consumers are using sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to make decisions. These decisions are based upon the following five factors.

1. What do my peers recommend? During the Google presentation Sam Sebastian gave an example home buying scenario. Instead of grabbing the yellow pages and looking for the fanciest advertisement of a real estate brokerage, the couple turned to their Facebook account to ask friends which neighborhood they should consider when buying their next home. Based on what the consumers friends and peers online say about a product or service can now be the decision whether you get the sale or someone else. Not only did their friends give them advice, but one even gave them a specific home listed with an agent. Peer recommendations are becoming more and more powerful each day. Sites like Yelp and Foursquare are more influential in decisions consumers make than ever.

2. Who has been there to assist me in a time of need in the social sphere? Someone that is not sure what to do in a certain situation may ask for help. Businesses need to be monitoring on a daily basis what others are saying about your business, your brand, and industry via services like Google Alerts, Twitter search, BackType, etc. Being a social media winner in your industry will turn potential consumers into raving fanatics who grow your business for you. The business who goes the extra mile will be rewarded handsomely for their efforts.

3. How findable are you online? When someone goes to Google and types in a term relative to your business are you showing up on the first page? If you think ranking well in the search engines is not important, ask a successful real estate agent online. One in every three unique visitors to a real estate site is via search according to Google. Understanding how SEO works and positioning your business in the search engines properly for specific keywords applicable to your business can pay off with major dividends.

4. How is the their user experience? Let's be real here, if consumers visit your site but the user experience is terrible it will affect the possible current and all future transactions with that consumer and possibly even their entire sphere of influence. One of the things I do a lot is evaluations of websites for clients. They do not understand why their current design and site is not converting leads, and most of the time it is because of design of the site. Remember, you are on your site daily, you helped to build and design it, so you know how the site is supposed to work and how to get to the conversion state. But, have you had a stranger look at your site? Here is a good litmus test: Have friend or family member that has not been to your website go and try to go through the process on their own. How easy is it for them to navigate and get to your point of sale? When I do an analysis of a site, many times I pull it up for my wife and watch her try it out. She is a pretty savvy online user, so when I see her struggle I know we need to make adjustments. It's important to put on a pair of consumer goggles and look at our site from their eyes. If they experience confusion, too many clicks, or slow loading pages, you will not convert them and they will go find another place to purchase their products and services.

5. How mobile are you? Piggybacking off of number four is the question: How does your site work on a mobile device? If you do not have some sort of mobile option of your site available you are missing out on one of the fastest growing sections of the online market. In the past year mobile queries have grown by 4 times according to Google. By the end of 2011 more than half of all Americans will own a smart phone device of some sort. If you are using a platform like WordPress for your site make sure to at least have some sort of mobile plugin in place. I enjoy the WP Touch Plugin which gives a quick mobile version of my blog. These type of plugin also help immensely in load time for a blog post. If your site is huge to load on a mobile device it could cost someone who may be visiting from another country $10 just to view. If that's the case, you better have something really awesome and important to them or you will lose them and all their friends forever from visiting your site.

These five things can make or break your business online in this era of new media marketing. They are more important than knowing how to create viral videos, schedule tweets, or even upload a photo to Facebook. Keep the consumer in mind first and how to help them make more informed decisions and they will trust your business more than ever. The more they trust you, the more then will support and promote you to their peers. This is the beauty of social media and how it can be optimized to assist your business in growing online. Use it properly and it will make your business very successful. Use it improperly or ignore it and it could destroy your business permanently.

If you read this post and realized that your business is not following these steps, please contact me, and let's get started putting your business on the right path!

Originally Posted at: 210 Consulting- Social Media Advisors

I'm a full time Myrtle Beach Real Estate Agent that focuses on homes for sale in Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest Real Estate.

 

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Comment balloon 39 commentsJeremy Blanton • April 06 2011 11:53PM

Comments

Enjoyed reading your post, it seems to me the idea of "Socail Media" gets lost when people are trying to monetize it. Social Media is an amplifier of your message and online voice. Where do you think most people can improve? Thanks!

Posted by Dustin Oldfather, Delaware Ocean & Water Front Homes (Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty) over 7 years ago

Some of the agents at my office just went to a IBC convention in Las Vegas.  They came back and said that it taught them alot about social media, and that I was right all along.  :)  But they still do not accept my invites to AR.  Funny.

Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (ERA - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) over 7 years ago

Jeremy, the how does the site work on a mobile device is a good thought and many agents have not thought that one through or checked it out yet. Thanks for your report from the event.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 7 years ago

Hey Jeremy,

Great stuff in this one...as an old r.e. dinosoar myself, I've loving the changes I've experienced the past 4-5 years. For me it's a exciting time to be in the biz, so many diverse opportunitites.

And your staement about "How is the their user experience?" pretty much sums it up for me, it's always been about the consumer experience, irrespective of the medium.

Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) over 7 years ago

Jeremy, I saw at you at RETSO in Atlanta last week but did not get a chance to say "Hi".  You were helping Mike Mueller set up a room.

So let me say, "Hi", and thanks for this great post.  

FWIW, I started with Coldwell Banker in 1985 - they were, and are a great company.

 

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I read your entire post, lots of great info by the way, but nearing the end my little brain went ding ding ding... SOUTHWEST airlines.  Glad you weren't delayed.  Now back to your post.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 7 years ago

Glad to hear you are sharing and learning.
I read you blog and would like to hear more about your services.

I will contact you offline.

Posted by Sidney Kutchuk, Property Management & Sales Experts 951-217-6745 (Property Management & Sales at REALTY WORKS TEMECULA, CA 92590 (951) 217-6745) over 7 years ago

I know it was great!  I got the Chris Brogan's Trust Agents book for Christmas and read it right away, trying to put alot of principles into play.  Do I have the mobile plug in your mentioned on my site??

Posted by Marilyn Boudreaux, Lake Charles LA Century 21 Realtor (Marilyn Boudreaux, Century 21 Mike D. Bono & Co.'s) over 7 years ago

Jeremy -Thank you for sharing the 5 factors we should all be considering when working on our social media platforms!

Betsy

Posted by Betsy Schuman Dodek, SearchPotomacHomes.com (Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Hey Marilyn- Yes, when I build a site for a client I always install a mobile plugin to make their site work faster on a mobile phone.

Realty Works- Thanks!  I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Tammy- Southwest & I have a love/hate relationship at the moment.  One day I may have the same affection again.

Fred- Thanks for the kind words!  Next time though, come up & say hi!

Lynda- too many times we do what we like on a site & ignore the consumer.   They are the ones using it for business, so it needs to be designed for them.

Virginia- The old saying holds true.  You can lead a horse to water.....

Dustin- the biggest area anyone can improve is in their level of engagement on social platforms.  Be more connected and less on the sales pitch.

 

Posted by Jeremy Blanton, Myrtle Beach REALTOR®- myrtlebeachhomesblog.com (Myrtle Beach Homes Blog) over 7 years ago

Hi Jeremy, This conference like all others(retech) have in common the fact that I saw you and never quite got to meet you. Hope you had a good trip bacl

Posted by Charlie Ragonesi, Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros (AllMountainRealty.com) over 7 years ago

It's a long post but I read the whole thing...I too read part of Trust Agents (life got busy).  I know a year ago I was probably cutting edge with most of my peers in town with just a slick IDX...now; the bar is so high...thank goodness for the referral business!  lol

Posted by Cindy Marchant, "Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate (Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 www.marchantteam.com) over 7 years ago

Jeremy, Trust Agents is a great book on how to get your attitude and behavior right on social media. 210 consult in the place to go to get your presentation right.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 7 years ago

Jeremy,

Great topic of conversation. There are many businesses  endeavoring to build online trust. Perhaps the tension of the fact is there are many online consumers that believe "if it's online it must be true." Businesses that have long lived by "word of mouth" referrals will do well as they learn to transition their relationships online.

Best,

Steve

Posted by Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain (Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain) over 7 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing all of that info- I feel like I am at another RainCamp with this great info!

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Jeremy, it is so true that being on top of social media & it is everchanging ...that is why Raincamp helps keeps abreast as well as you...thanks for sharing

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Hi Jeremy, Peer recommendations make a lot of sense and platforms like Facebook allow people to ask the opinion of groups rather than calling people one by one to see if they've heard of a good agent or product. How do you think Google's #1 concept will work on a large scale?

Posted by Dynamic Page Solutions (Dynamic Page Solutions) over 7 years ago

Jeremy- I use a "brand" web site and I really like it.  Their hosting is good, never down ect...  my question is can a mobile {plug-in} be added to that type of cookie cutter site.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 7 years ago

Hi Jeremy, WOW, this was some post and I certainly agree that things have changed and for the most part, for the better. There is a certain known fact that small companies can now actually complete rather well in the market place. With the agents better on-line presence and social media playing the key role of leveler, it will be interesting times ahead. Jeremy, I need some help with my key website and wondered if I might call you sometime. 

Posted by William Johnson, San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) over 7 years ago

Sure William, feel free to contact me whenever.  My number is in my profile.

Posted by Jeremy Blanton, Myrtle Beach REALTOR®- myrtlebeachhomesblog.com (Myrtle Beach Homes Blog) over 7 years ago

Every single one of your five points is a gem. Thanks for the reminder. So many sites and landing pages are full of generic, bland "put me to sleep" text.

How about relevant, timely, usable information? How about a prominently placed sign-up form to subscribe or get some high value report? How about giving the visitor a compelling reason to pick up the phone and call?

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) over 7 years ago

Jeremy,

I did not know that you were a brethren of Coldwell Banker in your former life! I have subscribed to and enjoyed advice posted on your AR blog since joining back in June. Anyhow, I would love to have a 210 Consulting WP designed site for Christmas! I like your style and understanding of the SM world. Until then I will keep gleaning from you blog and enjoying your thoughts.

Cheers,

John

Posted by John Cunningham, Helping Phoenix Sellers and Buyers find each other (eXp Realty) over 7 years ago

John- Ever hear of Christmas in July? :)

Posted by Jeremy Blanton, Myrtle Beach REALTOR®- myrtlebeachhomesblog.com (Myrtle Beach Homes Blog) over 7 years ago

Good stuff and very thought provoking.  This old dog needs to learn some new tricks....

Posted by Janna Scharf, Coeur d'Alene Idaho Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene) over 7 years ago

That must have been a very interesting conference!  Things are definitely changing rapidly in the online world.

Posted by Bruce LaMaster, Strength of Teamwork . . . Reputation for Results (Allison James Estates & Homes) over 7 years ago

Good morning Jeremy,

I find that there are still folks in the industry that give a nod to social media and to having a web presence but still won't jump in.  We were just talking about this just yesterday, I believe that this is the new, if you will, farming tool of the future.

Posted by Don Rogers, Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes (Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) over 7 years ago

Jeremy....you get the suggest button for me.  Anyway, sounds like a great experience.  I"m with you in that most folks are starting out on line.  There will be so many people skipping over a generation that is not online.  If you're not actively engaged, then why bother?  Your reputation is hard to establish, but it's so easy to break down.  Need to be on line and need to be professional with it.

Posted by Larry Bettag, Vice-President of National Production (Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001) over 7 years ago

Jeremy - What great tips and advice.  Glad to see that the large corporations, realizing their main thrust needs to be in the social media sphere, are switching their focus and advertsing and education tactics.

Posted by Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528, Real Estate Salesperson (Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956) over 7 years ago

Jeremy,

What a great post and it is applicable to all of our businesses.  We all know how important it is to stay current.

Thanks

Posted by Mindy Kannon, Personal Chef and Nutrition Coach (Chew Your Rope, LLC) over 7 years ago

What great tips and advice, how does the site work on a mobile device is a good thought and many agents have not thought that one through or checked it out yet. Thanks for your post very helpful

Posted by Tiffany Jacobs, CDPE (Re/Max Regency) over 7 years ago

Lots of great information here!  Thank you for sharing so much!  I'll bookmark this one as a "keeper."

Posted by Michelle Hatmaker, Houston Galveston Real Estate (Real Living - The Hatmaker Group) over 7 years ago

Hi Jeremy,

You have so much great stuff to say.

I could not quite finish.

Maybe two posts next time?

Phil

Posted by Phil Leng, Phil Leng - Retired (Retired) over 7 years ago

Excellent points, I learn so much reading posts like this. 

I agree that technology is leaving many behind 

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 7 years ago

Jeremy, After reading your post I went over to my wordpresss site and installed a mobile  plug in. It won't be long before everybody is using phones and tablets to visit websites. Just trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Posted by Robert Schwabe, Orange Park Real Estate (EXP Realty) over 7 years ago

Jeremy,

Will have to look up that book, Trust Agents.

Social Media is definitely something all agents have to be a part of!

Posted by Michele Miller ~ REALTOR®, LMC, HSE, CHS, SRES, CMRS, 'Helping You Make the Best Move" (ERA Key Realty~Worcester County Realty Group) over 7 years ago

Phil, it's only 1294 words.. Not that long.  Is it?

Posted by Jeremy Blanton, Myrtle Beach REALTOR®- myrtlebeachhomesblog.com (Myrtle Beach Homes Blog) over 7 years ago

Is it time for people to do an inventory of their Internet marketing to ensure that it really works or not?

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hello Jeremy,

As always, very educational blog... Thank you. And it is soo true.

Keep writing, and I will keep reading and learning something new.

thank you.

Tatyana.

Posted by Tatyana Makarov, Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago

What a wonderful, informative post. I know Darrin Friedman from our office enjoyed the conference as well. He dropped many pearls of wisdom on us after returning. I had to skip it this year, but for the record, I did go to NARdigras in the fall in New Orleans and learned a lot there as well. It is vital to sharpen the saw!

Posted by Ellie Shorb, Realtor DC, MD & VA Luxury Home Expert (Compass Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Participate