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Making the connection: The objective of real estate weblogging is visceral and viral, not rape and run

This will have to be brief, because I’m crushed for time, but we’re promoting Real Estate Weblogging 101 at the StarPower Conference this morning, so it’s a topical topic.

The premise: The commercial value of real estate weblogging comes from making a visceral connection with future clients, ideally leading to viral results, not spam-trolling for short-term leads. In other words, where keyword-packed tapioca content may score well for now on search engines, and may bring in filled-out web forms, it will not create the kinds of enduring connections that result in repeat and referral business for generations. Certainly none of the people brought in by search engines will become loyal readers or subscribers to the weblog: There’s no there there. Even worse, spamvertising in weblogs surely repels at least as many people as it seems to attract, and the people repelled are very probably the ones most likely to yield significant viral results over the years. You’re not only not building bridges, you’re blasting the bridgeheads.

There’s more: What happens when Google changes the rules? When a vendor crows, “Ha, Ha! We tricked Google!” the demise of that particular trick is foreseeable. When Google discovers that favoritism towards weblogs is bringing spam to the top of its results, it will change the way it weights weblogs. Locally-focused webloggers like Jay Thompson who have made the effort to build a following will chug on unabated. Keyword-packing spamvertising weblogs will dry up and blow away.

This morning’s post from Jay is good example of how to do this job: The keywords are there, but they’re there because the post wouldn’t makes sense without them. Jay is providing real value to his readership, practical, relevant advice. Even so, the post should search very well. But here’s the interesting part: Even though Jay is writing about the news of the day, if someone should happen upon this post by search a year or two from now, it will still be serving the visceral, viral function: Jay Thompson cares about his clients, and he is working to provide meaningful benefit to them with his weblog. That’s a very powerful long-term sales message — because it’s not a sales message at all.

Here is a hierarchy of objectives you can pursue with a true weblog, as opposed to a hand-crafted keyword-packed splog:

  1. Readers who like what you have to say
  2. Enough to return to read future posts
  3. Enough to subscribe by email or RSS feed
  4. Enough to promote your weblog to their friends or associates
  5. Enough to use you for a real estate transaction
  6. Enough to commit to you for their future transactions
  7. Enough to refer you to family and friends
  8. Enough to refer you to strangers
  9. Enough to actively campaign for you with anyone who has a real estate need

The last is a true sneezer, the holy grail of viral marketing. You may never get that far up the hierarchy, but you will never get anywhere if you are deliberately saying nothing that anyone could like enough to return to your weblog.

The funny part is, the search results will come either way, for now at least, as will the often-flightly leads attracted by search results. But if you build a weblog that makes a visceral connection with your readers, leading in time to viral marketing results, you will put yourself beyond competition. Bad advice abounds, and the worst advice seems to cost thousands of dollars, but this is the true purpose of a commercial weblog. If you make the effort to connect with your readers, rather than trying to fool them, you will engender and sustain a warm network of people who will use you and only you for all of their real estate needs, now and forever.

And if some of those people should become true sneezers, here’s what you should say: “God bless you!”

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    1. [...] First, with a couple of exceptions, StarPower is stuck at about 1999. Web sites, lots of web sites, all of them static, almost all of them templated, most of them mindlessly mimicking the me-me-me meme. There is weblogging, sort of, substantially worse than what I’ve been bitching about and yet utterly invisible to Technorati and the Googlesphere. In the StarPower universe, there is no Web 2.0, nor any derivative implications of Web 2.0. I heard the words “long tail” out of my own mouth only. This thing that we do — this idea of a massively linked, massively interactive conversation — does not exist where StarPower orbits. [...]

    2. [...] In my neck of the woods, few people know what a blog is, nor do they care, and that disturbed me at first as I had some niggling thoughts about using a blog in Dayton to generate leads. On occasion, it was tough to hear about thousands of hits per day to some blogs, and still keep my head down and focused on blogging in the “be the community” way. Are you reading this and nodding your head? Let’s revisit this list of RE blogging objectives that Greg posted: “Here is a hierarchy of objectives you can pursue with a true weblog, as opposed to a hand-crafted keyword-packed splog: [...]