It’s imperative that every new or established agent has a strong online brand. 90% of potential homebuyers are searching online for properties and real estate agents, according to the National Association of Realtors. In the past, new real estate agents would hastily create their online presence. This would usually just consist of a profile on their company’s web page with contact info. But those days are long gone.
Integrate Your Online Branding - Instead of approaching your online branding as separate, unrelated components, many successful agents now are adopting a more holistic approach that consists of the following steps:
1. Launch your own free website that outlines the unique skills and personality you bring to the table. In addition to your business profile, share your interests and be sure to share some tips that might help someone buying or listing their home for the first time. In addition, post the kind of listings you specialize in and be sure to highlight your niche. In branding, it’s not OK to be all things to all people. You must decide. Are you a real estate agent that specializes in business properties? Or are you an agent specializing in vacation or residential homes? This is critical information for establishing your online brand. You can create your personal website for free on Wordpress.com, Google’s blogger.com or on the popular Tumblr.com. They are all easy and intuitive to use and are indexed by Google quickly and frequently. This simply means your site will get into the search engines and when a prospect is looking for you or a specific neighborhood, your name or your property will come up. That is, if you take the next critical online branding step.
2. Purchase your own domain name to use with your free website. All three of the blogging platforms I mentioned allow you to do this. Preferably, you should buy a domain name using your own name, such as JaneSmith.com. This ensures that when a potential client searches online for you because they’ve met you at a PTA meeting or at the mall that your site comes up high in a Google search. You can purchase a domain name from such web hosting companies like bluehost.com, hostgator.com or godaddy.com. They usually cost no more than $10 to $15 per year. Sometimes you can pay even less if you search for a coupon being offered online or the Domain Registrar is promoting a sale.
3. Take your website profile and create a Google+ page, which is integrated with your Google Gmail account, if you have one. If not, open up a free Gmail account. Here’s a secret: If you put your profile on Google+, your profile will show up more frequently in a Google search. Also open a Facebook account and use the same profile. Do the same with LinkedIn. By doing this, you are interconnecting your online presence and creating a consistent and powerful branding tool. It is critical that your profile is crafted to attract the exact kind of real estate prospects you want as clients. If you really want to turbo-charge your social-networking integration even more, then join Zillow.com, which is a social network created to connect real estate agents with potential clients. You just upload a personal photo, contact information and a link to your website. If you send your listings to Zillow, it will link them to your profile. You should also create a free profile with Trulia.com, which also connects real estate agents with clients.
4. Now that you have connected all the dots of your online presence, it’s time to enhance your brand and build your credibility. You can do this by establishing yourself as a real estate expert by blogging on your free website about specific properties, tips for potential clients, or about financing or industry trends. If you write a post at least three times a week and link them to your social media accounts, before you know it, you’ll become the go-to person -- or resident real estate expert. The out-of-pocket cost to establish your online brand holistically is minimal. But you must commit to investing your time. You’ll be amazed at the results, if you do!