Archive for the ‘Real Estate Market Trends’ Category

Facebook has the Hot Potato- Foursquare’s Out!

Facebook Announces ‘Facebook Places’ and purchase of Hot Potato!

Facebook recently announced a new geolocation feature for its users, Facebook Places.  You may be familiar with other geolocation services, such as the start-ups Foursquare, Gowalla, or Hot Potato.  Hot Potato was recently acquired by Facebook, which has brought all eight Hot Potato employees on-board, presumably to expand and develop Facebook Places.

hot-potato-logoIn a statement released to Mashable.com, Facebook announced, “We’re excited to confirm that we recently acquired Hot Potato, a service that helps people socialize around live events and share what they’re doing with friends.  We’ve admired for some time how Hot Potato is tackling this space and look forward to working with them to bring Hot Potato innovations to Facebook.”

Will Facebook Places eliminate these other small geo-location services?  Only time will tell.  Foursquare and Gowalla offer fun game-like features with their services, and often work with business to offer discounts for users.  Facebook Places doesn’t offer any of these features yet.  One thing’s for certain, though- Facebook serves over 500 million users compared with Foursquare’s 3 million users, and Gowalla has even less.  Also worth noting is the strong relationship between Facebook and Yelp.  I can only imagine there will be more integration with Yelp and Facebook Places in the future.

But how does Facebook Places work?  How will this new feature be implemented and effect user privacy?  How can Business Owners capitalize on Facebook Places?

Facebook Places Basics:

Facebook Places is currently only available to some users in the united States and on the Facebook iPhone app.  Places will be available to other smart phones that support HTML 5 geolocation, such as the Droid, in the near future.

Facebook Places on the iPhone

Facebook Places on the iPhone

Places works by allowing Facebook users to ‘check in’ to the various locations they visit, such as restaurants and bars, your local library, a friend’s home, etc. by logging into Facebook Places from their phone application or via touch.facebook.com.

Upon checking in, Facebook will announce to your friends that you have arrived at this destination.  You can also ‘tag’ your friends that are with you, much like you would tag someone in a photo, and find out who else is currently ‘checked in’.  If you tag a friend that is not using Places, it’s just like mentioning their name in a status update.

If you tag someone who is already signed up for and using Facebook Places, it will mention it in their Newsfeed and add them to the ‘checked-in’ list as if they checked-in themselves.  The first time you are tagged, Facebook will send you a notice and give you the option of allowing your friends to check you into places or not.  You are always notified of when someone checks you into a location, and you can always selectively delete check-ins, much like you can delete a comment on your wall or a status update.

Privacy Concerns with Facebook Places:

Facebook learned a lot (the hard way) when it changed the structure of its Privacy Settings, automatically setting all users’ accounts to share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE as the default setting.  This time around they have made the automatic sharing settings much more conservative, with the default setting only sharing your location with the people on your Friends list.  However, what if you still want more privacy?  Maybe your boss is on your Friends list, or you have an ex you’re trying to avoid.

Don’t go deleting your Facebook profile yet!  You can customize, or even completely disable the Places feature!  Facebook has even made a helpful demo video for you to show exactly how to customize your privacy settings.

Facebook Places for Business:

Right now, Facebook Places is in it’s Beta version, so there’s not too much information about how business will be able to interact with it and use it to promote their business, although when Mark Zuckerberg announce Facebook Places he hinted that there is more to come.  If Places follows in the footsteps of Foursquare, business could start offering promotions to customers that check in a certain number of times, etc.

yelp-logoIn the meantime, if you’re a Business Owner, you should probably log into touch.facebook.com, add your business address, and check in!  There still aren’t a lot of businesses listed, and new users will be eager to test the software out and visit new places they find.  You should also make sure you have a business listing on Yelp, too.  Your clients/ customers can and will add your business to these listing services sooner or later, if they haven’t done so already.  It’s in your best interest to be an active member of these online market places.  By adding your business to Facebook Places, you are making your business easier for the 500+ million Facebook users- for FREE!

If you want to learn more about Facebook Places, visit the Facebook Blog.

Like, What’s the Deal with All These Like Buttons?

Facebook’s new ‘Like’ buttons explained, in plain English.

By now you’ve probably heard that Facebook has done away with the idea of ‘Becoming a Fan’ of a Facebook Fan Page, and has instead replaced that function with a ‘Like’ button.  So now, you can ‘Like’ a friend’s photo or status update, and you can also ‘Like’ the Fan Page of your favorite businesses or products, such as Boston Logic or Dunkin Donuts.  When you ‘Like’ a Fan Page, it’s the same as ‘Becoming a Fan’ used to be in that you will now receive messages from these Fan Pages in your News Feeds (unless you ‘Hide’ them).  Most people have no trouble understanding this change; it’s more of a name change than anything else, right?  Right.

But what about the OTHER ‘Like’ buttons?  The new ‘Like’ buttons you’ve been noticing on several websites all over the internet, on sites like BostonLogic.com, Yelp.com, NHL.com, Levis.com, etc.  These new website ‘Like’ buttons were announced at the F8 conference this past April and are part of an expansion of Facebook to help you personalize your entire online experience. These new ‘Like’ buttons can be added to any website, even specific and multiple pages of your website.
levis Like buttons

So now, not only can you choose to ‘Like’ the Boston Logic Facebook Fan Page while on Facebook, but you can also choose to ‘Like’ our website, or our blog, or a specific blog post (like just this particular blog about ‘Like’ buttons), or even our listing on Yelp.com when you’re browsing the internet.  Basically, anytime you find one of these new ‘Like’ buttons somewhere on the web, you can click it to show that you ‘Like’ whatever content is on that web page, much like when you share something on Digg or Yahoo Buzz, etc.  But that’s not all!

Facebook Like Button is everywhere

If you’re already logged into Facebook (I know that I, for one, keep a browser page with Facebook up for most of my work day) clicking the ‘Like’ button will post a notice on your Personal Profile Wall (aka Mini-Feed) stating that you’ve ‘Liked’ whatever it is you’ve clicked on and provide a link to that website.  If you’re not logged in, a popup window will appear and prompt you to log into your account, and then a notice with a text link to what you’ve ‘Liked’ posts to your Profile Wall.  If you change your mind, you can click the ‘Like’ button again, and it disappears from your Profile Wall automatically.  You could also go manually delete it from your Wall, but that would not undo your click on the website, so your click would still count on the tally for that button; this difference is actually significant, here’s why:

That ‘Like’ button on the web doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with a Fan Page on Facebook, which is a good thing, because otherwise there’s be a Fan Page for every style of jeans Levis offers!  Instead, the webmaster (or owner) that installed the ‘Like’ button on the website you’re visiting is given an invisible back-end Admin Page (using their personal Facebook Profile ID Number), which actually functions much like any other Facebook Admin Page.

warren-like-admin

From this ‘secret’ Admin Page, the webmaster can see who has clicked on their various ‘Like’ buttons and send out notifications to each group of ‘Fans’ (anyone who clicked any ‘Like’ button) that will appear in each Fan’s Facebook Newsfeeds.  So, even if you never ‘Liked’ or ‘Became a Fan’ of the Levi Jeans Facebook Fan Page, you DID click the ‘Like’ button on the Levis.com website next to that wicked cute pair of shorts- essentially granting Levis permission to send you notifications regarding the shorts you liked or related items, promotions, etc. via your Facebook News Feeds.

facebook-admin-pages

Currently, the ‘Like’ buttons you click while browsing the web don’t show up in your friends’ Newsfeeds, only ‘Liking’ a Facebook Fan Page does.  This is good news for people with lots of interests/ ‘Likes’; you’re friends won’t hate you for spamming them with all your internet window shopping, but you are giving the companies, websites, and brands you’re interested in a quick way of reaching you with cool offers and such on your own terms.

If you DO want to share whatever it is you’ve found to ‘Like’ on the internet in your Friends’ News Feeds, many ‘Like’ buttons display the option to ‘Write a Comment’ once you’ve clicked it.  If you do this, it will broadcast your comment and a link to the page you were on to all your Friends.

i-like-free-seo-advice

So, like, feel free to ‘Like’ what you ‘Like’, like wherever and whenever you want, and share it however you like!

like-buttons-syndicate-to-facebook

To learn more about Facebook’s other new features that you can also utilize for your social media marketing campaign, visit the Facebook blog.  If all this new ‘Like’ button stuff sounds like something you want to implement, but you don’t have the time or know-how, let Boston Logic help you by signing up for an Online Marketing Campaign!

Normalizing Search Engine Traffic Reporting

We’ve all known about Google Trends for a while. I’ve had a thought about using Google Trends to normalize our search engine optimization campaign reports. Let me explain.

If your campaign is producing 1000 visitors per month in month 1, then 1100 in month 2, then 1200, that’s great. Let’s say that the trend in month 4, 5, 6 then goes 1200, 1150, 1100. Well, that’s not so good, it was going up ~10% per month, now it’s falling about 5% each month. Well, if the site is optimized around a set of target search terms, and then other traffic comes from halo terms, then to assume that the SEO is providing more or less traffic is also to assume that search volume for this family of terms is constant.

If we used Google Trends to normalize, we might find that the number of times a term was searched on fell 15% during those down months. So, the 10%/month upward trend was actually sustained.

google-trends

Another way to look at this is to simply ask, what percentage of potential clicks did you get? If this percentage is trending up, then you’re in good shape. This means you’re taking more market share.

Another way to think of this is the following: Let’s say that you’re doing search engine optimization for a site that sells air conditioners. Let’s further assume that you start the SEO campaign on January 1st. Well, no one is really looking for AC units in January. Then, in April, you start to see an upward traffic trend, it goes higher and higher and peaks in August. Then, by mid September, you’re not seeing any traffic from the search engines. You start Googling around and see your site, but no visitors.

Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that people just aren’t buying air conditioners in October. So, you’d pretty much expect to see less traffic. In this case, the best way to judge if the SEO campaign is succeeding is to either look a target terms and catalog placement in search engine results pages, or to normalize your numbers. Take a benchmark at the beginning of the campaign, say a ratio of traffic to searches, then, each month you’d want that ratio to climb. This way, you’ll know if your SEO is working, regardless of market trends.

Stumped for new blog topics? Here are some ideas!

blogging

We’ve all been there. We get a new website, new blog, and get inspired with new business growth and possibilities that we cannot contain our blogging excitement.

Then a month goes by. Then six. And we can get disenchanted with the idea of consistent blogging.

It’s okay.

To get back on track, here are some blogging ideas to get re-inspired and to keep blogging on a regular basis again – which will lead to fresh content, optimized pages, search-engine friendly pages and ultimately more leads to your website. Which is exciting.

  1. Talk about the future of real estate by commenting on current developments within the industry.
  2. Explain why it’s important for everyone to care about real estate.
  3. List online resources for fellow real estate agents.
  4. Make a list of the top myths about buying or renting a home through an agency and debunk them.
  5. Attend real estate conventions or networking events and report on them.
  6. Do real estate market comparisons for your area, the national market, and abroad.
  7. Occasionally go off topic and link an issue from your life back to your business, i.e.“10 Reasons Real Estate is like A Box of Chocolates”.
  8. Pose this question to your followers: “What would you like to change in [insert your product or service here]?”
  9. Speak with other leaders in real estate and guest blog for each other.
  10. Write a book review dealing with your topic that depicts thinking about real estate in an outside-of-the-box way.
  11. Create short video to change things up – this can be fun, or you speaking about your business.
  12. Take a common issue many people care about and explain how it relates to your business.
  13. See which blog post received a lot of hits or attention and write a follow-up.
  14. Look into social media sites (if you haven’t already) like Digg, StumbleUpon or Technorati and find out what’s trending right now and put a property-spin to it.
  15. Tweet a question and blog about your favorite answers.

Blog away!

Source article and more ideas here.

The long tail of SEO

SEO is about more than just a few marquis terms.

Month-over-month, a client of ours just saw a 22% increase in traffic to their site from search engines. Looking at their list of target terms, there wasn’t all that much improvement in placement. Of course, this is to be expected, SEO isn’t a game of ranking for just a handful of terms.

A popular business book came out a couple of years ago. It’s called the long tail. It’s principles apply to SEO in great ways. First let me give you some basics:

The concept of the long tail is pretty mind-blowing. We now live in a world of options. Volume is often the name of the game. We no longer live our lives in a 25 mile radius. We have access to so much.

For example, google returns millions of records for most of your searches. Content on blogs is being created every second. itunes offers millions of songs, just imagine trying to fit all of those on the racks of a music store. Just a few decades ago, you could only get 6 or 10 TV channels. Now, you can subscribe to hundreds!

Long Tail of SEO

Long Tail of SEO

The Long Tail principle tells us that many actions follow a graph like the one to the right. The numbers start high, but degrade rapidly at first, then much more slowly. Total user volume is calculated by taking the integral of the curve. sorry if I just scared you back to high school calculus.

Let me bring this back home. 75% of those millions of titles on itunes sell at least once a month. The top 20 or 50 get a lot of press, but Apple makes the vast majority of it’s revenue from the millions of other songs in its catalog.

SEO works the same way. If you think SEO is about ranking for a few terms, you’re dead wrong. If you think that users only type in a few terms to search for the property that you sell or rent, that’s false too.

Searchers type in all sorts of strings. For example, if you think they’re going to google for “Newport Real Estate” and only for that term, then you’ll miss out on everyone who searches for terms like “Newport real estate for sale,” “Newport vacation homes” and “newport houses.” Not to mention the folks who might be very specific and google for “newport real estate open houses” or “newport 2 bedroom house.”

The point is that you may think that there are 20 or 40 terms that will bring you traffic, when the reality is that strong traffic comes from leveraging hundred and thousands of terms. Lots of those terms may only bring you 1 or 2 visitors per year, but when you add them all up, you’ll see real, lasting traffic.

The book: The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

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