The Real Estate Broker Blog 2.0 – Plug In To The Solution
Last year we launched the first of it’s kind Real Estate Broker Blog.
Because of its innovation and wild success, Beth Butler, the Broker responsible for the project, has been asked to speak at Inman Connect in San Francisco this summer.
Her topic: “How One Broker Is Making Group Blogging Work”
Here’s a quick overview of the EWM Project’s current stats:
-14 Offices with 750+ Agents
-400+ agents have posted since launch last year.
-100+ post regularly (a few times a month)
-10,000+ Posts to date
-Easily 100’s of Leads Generated (sales, leases, listings, press requests)
-Dozens and dozens of Sales
-60 Percent of Inbound Traffic from SE’s (read: Google)
-1000’s of Daily Hits
Well, from all that we learned over the last year, designing, developing and managing this massive project, we’ve found some room to make improvements. In fact, we learned so much, that the entire approach has changed enough for us to call the product the Real Estate Broker Blog 2.0.
Besides Beth’s Company Blog (http://blog.EWM.com), there are very few successful Broker Blogs on the internet, and the reasons abound:
1. Price: The development of an office-wide, comprehensive and organized blogsite is quite the project.
2. Getting Agents to Blog in the First Place: The Benefit, The Commitment and The Education.
3. Providing a Win-Win Solution for the Agents’: Agents aren’t going to just blog for the Good of the company.
4. Security and Moderation Control: Brokers are responsible for the content that is published to their site.
And then, there are other challenges that are sure to develop:
1. Agents come and go… what then?
2. Future Customization for Broker and Agents: Upgrades, Designs, PlugIns and Functionalities.
Well, we’ve solved all the above and more!
With one package product, we are now providing Real Estate Brokerages (large and small) with the following:
1. Full Featured Custom Company Blogsite
a. Custom Design from Scratch
b. Unlimited Content Pages and Lead Generation Forms
c. State of the Art Company Blog
d. Integration of Broker IDX
e. User Friendly Content Management System (CMS) for In-House Editing.
f. Open Source Platform
The Company Blogsite plays two roles. First of all it is a full blown real estate broker website, housing pages about the company, its agents and services, as well as it’s lead generation forms and IDX MLS searching tools. And secondly, it is the destination for a re-syndication (republishing) of all the content written by the agents on their personal blogsites. This creates greater exposure for the agents’ blog articles, and establishes the company blogsite as an enormous cumulative resource.
2. Unlimited Agent Blogsites
a. Personalized For Each Agent (Domain Name and Appearance)
b. Unlimited Content Pages and Lead Generation Forms
c. State of the Art Agent Blog
d. Integration of IDX
e. User Friendly Content Management System (CMS) for In-House Editing
f. Blog Content Re-Syndication to Company Site
g. Full Custom Design Upgrade Option
h. Open Source Platform
Every participating agent now can manage and customize their very own blogsite. Each site is both independent and yet still tied to the Company Blogsite through re-syndication. When an agent blogs, the article first posts to the agent’s blogsite and then in a truncated form on the Company Blogsite. In an effort establish some element of competition, there are also a limited number of agents’ avatars showcased on the Company Blogsite. The order is determined by posting frequency: the agent whom blog most frequently will grace the Company Blogsite homepage most often.
Each Agent Blogsite can be hosted on its own domain name, separate from the Company Domain. This establishes independence in search engine results; articles driving search engine traffic to a unique address, separate of the company. Each Agent Blogsite can also be completely custom designed to separate itself from the standard Agent Template Design.
3. Company Intranet Blog and User Management
a. Private Intranet for Entire Company
b. Full Featured Internal Blog
c. RSS & Email Notification Ensuring Company Participation
d. Unlimited User Management
e. Simple Agent Blogsite Creation
f. Moderation Security
g. Open Source Platform
Having a Private Company Blog gives every member of the brokerage an opportunity to be involved in the “company conversation”. Announcements, News, FAQ’s, Training, Sales Stats, Opinions, Support, Referrals, and Advice are just a sampling of topics that will be published, discussed, and archived for everyone in the company. At the end of each day, every member of the company can be notified via email (and RSS Feed) of that day’s new conversations, ensuring participation and accountability.
The Intranet also acts as the access point for Company Administrators to access the Company Blogsite management tools as well as for the Agents to access their Personal Blogsite management tools.
Agents not wishing to maintain an Agent Blogsite, custom or standard, will have the option of contributing directly to the Company Blogsite as an author.
We have several Broker Blogs for you to poke around on:
…and many more.
So how have we overcome all those challenges above?
What used to be an investment well into the tens of thousands now starts at 5k.
Price will increase depending on education, number of participants, pages of initial content, initial design skins needed and other potential programming and organizational needs.
Because the Agent Blogsites are essentially an independent entity, each agent can make the small investment for their blogsite, alleviating the cost to the brokerage.
2. Getting The Agents To Blog
When the company is blogging as a community, it creates so many benefits to the agents that it would be hard to believe that most of them wouldn’t want to contribute. Blogging success is all about quantity, quality and frequency. Multiply the efforts of one times dozens and every contributor wins. And, where there’s success, more and more effort will be made.
EWM is a perfect example of this: 400 of their agents have blogged since the launch last year, and 100’s blog regularly.
Regarding the Education: We are known as The Real Estate Blogging University because of our renowned Intense Personal Training Courses. Each client can take advantage of our personal training to learn the skills needed to put blogging at the center of their online marketing effort. Just as important, however, is the use of the Internal Company Blog for continued and archived blogging education. Tomato provided resources such as video tutorials and libraries of written training, coupled with blogging agents and admin advising each other, creates an environment that makes it easy for any new blogger to get ‘the hang of it’.
3. Providing a Win-Win Solution for the Agents.
The relationship between broker and agent is a unique relationship, twisting dependence and independence.
By allowing the agents to develop their own Agent Blogsite, under their own domain name and with the option of investing in a custom design, Independence is established. The content is property of the agent, as is the domain and any custom design. Any success in the search engines is theirs as are the leads generated by their articles.
The Dependence is in the re-syndication of content to the Company Blogsite. Publishing as a community will make the the whole company stronger. Dependence is also found in the Intranet where they are perpetually part of the company conversation. And finally, while they are “plugged in” to the system, the company admin maintains the right to moderate any published content.
4. Security and Moderation.
Brokers can no longer ignore the power and success that some agents have themselves earned through their blogging efforts. Active agent blogsites are out-performing company websites by a laughable margin. Yet there is still great hesitation to embrace the blog as a company marketing strategy. Fear of lawsuits and liability as a result of reckless blogging agents has them figuring the effort isn’t worth it.
The reality is, however, that agents are going to blog, on their own, with their blessing or not… so why not create a best-of-both-worlds environment?
So, how to harness the power of blogging as a company without putting oneself in the line of fire because of what the agents are posting?
First of all, with the Real Estate Broker Blog, the company admin has the power to moderate any post that is to be published on the Company Blogsite.
Also, because the Agent Blogsites are to be seen as the property of the Agent, the broker has removed themselves from being directly responsible for the content published by the agents. The relationship is such that the Agent is using the blogsite just as if they had set it up on their own, and simply re-syndicated the content to the company site for greater marketing exposure.
5. Agents Coming and Going…
For agents that decide they want to join the blogging party and get started with their own Agent Blogsite the process couldn’t be easier.
Company Admin can generate an independent blogsite in a few clicks. From there, customizing it for the agent (hosted domain name, bio and other pages, headshot, categories, RSS and email feeds, IDX integration, and basic training) can be done in around an hour with our staff.
For agents that are leaving, for whatever reason, they can ‘unplug’ their user profile from the Intranet and from re-syndicating their content to the Company Blogsite. If they have invested in a custom design, they can continue to use the custom site, for it is theirs. If they are using the standard template then they will need to re-skin the blogsite so as to not reflect affiliation with the company they are leaving. Because they own a custom domain, the site can either continue to be hosted with us, or move elsewhere.
6. Future Customization for Agents and Brokers
As new versions of the core of WordPress MU are released, upgrades will be installed for FREE “across the board” bringing every site in the system up to the latest in blogging technology and functionality.
Given that each site is essentially independent, the following can be accomplished with each site, depending on each agent’s need.
-PlugIns can be activated for each site separately.
-Each site can have it’s own Custom Design.
-Agents can invest in personal, one-on-one blog training.
-Widgets and other sidebar customizations (stat tracking programs, for example) can be added to agent’s sites independently.
Every element of the platform, although customized and modified by The Real Estate Tomato, is recognized as an Open Source platform. Click to read more about Open Source and why it is the best solution in this rapidly changing industry.
This latest incarnation of the Real Estate Broker Blog has been inspired by, and is utilizing a modified version of the exact same core platform as The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal, eBay, the NFL and Harvard Law School.
If you want to learn more about this Exclusive Product: The Real Estate Broker Blog, drop us a line.