Who Let’s Them Print This?

Internet Crusade has yet again earned the award for Over Setting the Expectations of Their Unwitting Followers.

First it was the reckless statement that their internet foundations class called e-Pro is the guiding light to “Thrive in the Competitive World Of Online Real Estate.”

Now they think that they have the keys to “Mastering the Blogosphere.”  Excuse me while I wipe up the coffee I just spit up all over my desk.

I swear I don’t have a vendetta with Internet Crusade.  However, when I keep coming across them making foolish and irresponsible claims, I just can’t seem to contain myself.

Here is the article in full as it appeared
in Realtor Magazine Online, yesterday:

(My comments are indented and appear in blue.)

10 Steps to Mastering the Blogosphere

Blogs are online journals that give everyone the opportunity to be a writer and publisher. Real estate practitioners use the medium to interact with their community and reinforce their professional expertise.

InternetCrusade, the San Diego-based real estate technology company, provides these tips for getting started:

1. Understand what a blog can do for you.
Blogs are frequently updated and blend personal opinions and fact with links to other resources. If done right, your blog will showcase your real estate know-how and differentiate you from other practitioners in
your market.

Don’t blog because you think you have know-how, blog because you have something to say, something to teach and something to learn.

IC, you have left out the two most important factors in, and reasons for business blogging:

1. Blogging immediately helps create exposure for your content.

If you are using the correct tools, platform, and strategies, you can gain an enormous amount of exposure in the search engines (yes Google!).  More here, and here

2.  Blogging on your topic isn’t so much about showcasing your know-how as it is an opportunity for your audience to hear your voice.

Today’s audience is a very discerning one that will sit for months, even years educating themselves before contacting an agent.  The blogger’s voice is an opportunity to build trust through commitment, passion and education.  This trust is the foundation of the relationship you hope to earn with your future clients.  Don’t blog because you think you have know-how, blog because you have something to say, something to teach and something to learn.

2. Determine the purpose of your blog.
Before you leap into the world of blogging, find your focus. Your blog can be professional, fun, or educational, or any combination of those. Define your blog’s goal. Will it position you as the neighborhood real estate expert? Will it service your clients and prospects? Will it help you network with other real estate pros or with fellow  hobbyists?

A Realtor should be blogging for all of the above, but most importantly to build an audience.

Realtors need the internet to incubate leads. Create an audience, and use the blog as the landing page for lead generation: RSS feeds, headline emails blasts, CMA reports, eBookdownloads, MLS access and listing inquiries.  The goal is to use the blog as a marketing tool, the ultimate marketing tool.  If this is not your focus, then you are spinning your wheels and need to get out and pound the pavement.  All the while, the  best marketing tool is doing good for you audience and in turn doing well for yourself.  So blog with them in mind and the leads will come.

3. Select blog software.
There’s no shortage of programs that make it extraordinarily simple to create and update a blog. With no more effort or time than it takes to compose an e-mail, you can have your latest blog entry on the Web.
Experiment with different software programs, such as Google’s Blogger or InternetCrusade’s RealTown Blogs, both of which are free.

Oh my gosh!  Are you kidding me?!  Why not just have them start using AOL too!  What terrible advice.

Greg Swann always says everything better than me, so I’ll let him explain to you why you need WordPress if you are going to start blogging seriously.

4. Address the needs of your target audience.
Think of yourself as an editor who must provide compelling and relevant news and filter information on your audience’s behalf. For example, if your audience is primarily buyers, use your blog to deliver buying tips
and information on properties just minutes after they hit the market.

How revolutionary… getting buyers listing info as it hits the market. Call me crazy… isn’t that what IDX is for?

Use the blog to separate yourself from your tools.  Almost all real estate websites these days are just a bunch of tools without a voice.  The blog shouldn’t carry over that dead horse.  Get up on your soapbox, speak your mind and start separating yourself from the sheep.

5. Update your blog regularly.
Create a schedule of when you’ll add new postings, whether it’s three times a day or once a week. Let readers know how often the site is updated, and stay true to your word. Fresh content will keep your audience interested and will help the blog rank higher on search engines.

This is one I do agree with.

I don’t know what the point of letting readers know how often the site is updated.  If there is content, they will figure out how dedicated you are.  You are only setting yourself up for
failure if you start claiming something like:  “I will be adding a new post to my blog every day…”  Yes, post often, and post relevant.

6.Encourage audience participation.
Ask for opinions and feedback on the issues you cover in your blog — for example, “Which architectural style do you like best?” or “What would you like to see developed at the corner of Main Street and Forest Drive?” Also include a “comments” section where readers can post other feedback any time.

More sound advice.  Just don’t start begging for comments.

7. Jazz it up.
Add dimension to your blog with photos, videos, and links to news articles, relevant Web sites, and your favorite blogs.

I don’t know if that’s how you “jazz up” a blog… I would think that would be better defined as “do what everyone else is doing on their blogs”

Jazzing up a blog would be either adding images of pianos, clefs,  sharps and horns to the graphic design – or, actually designing something that didn’t look like it came out of the Blogger Box.

8. Use RSS feeds.
A technology called RSS, short for “really simple syndication,” allows you to proactively distribute your blog content. It works like this: People who visit your blog—and have already installed an RSS reader on their computer—can click on a link you provide to have the content delivered straight to their reader. Make sure your blog software has RSS feed capability.

WordPress has RSS as a standard feature on their blogs.

Given that this is such a standard option with blogs, it would be more effective to offer an explanation of just what the heck RSS is for our novice readers.   Educate them on how to get started using RSS, you may be their first RSS feed and you will have just earned a reader for life.

9. Arrange postings by categories.
Your blog software will automatically sort your postings on your blog site with the newest content on top. But that makes it difficult for visitors to your site to zero in on the topics they find most interesting. Use the “categories” feature of your blog software to organize your postings by topic.

Some good advice here.  I think I will take a short break from ripping IC’s take on “Mastering the Blogosphere” and just agree with them on this one too.

10. Promote your blog at every opportunity.
Create a prominent link to the blog on your Web site, include the blog’s Web address in your e-mail signature, and reference your blog in all advertising and marketing materials. If you publish an article in your blog that you’re particularly proud of, send a link to everyone in your sphere of influence. Be sure to have someone check your spelling and grammar before you publish. Errors will reflect badly on you.

First of all what the heck does grammar and spelling have to do with promoting a blog?

So I need to make sure that I am advertising my blog on all my traditional marketing?  Dude, this is fair advice.  However, it is not by any means something we will consider a step for “mastering” anything to do with blogging.  Promoting the blog effectively is getting in front of the audience that is already out there reading the content that you are aiming to create.

Thousands are reading blogs on the topics you are (going to be) writing on.  Find that audience by finding the blogs that are catering to it better than you are.  Then get out there and participate by leaving intelligent, thought provoking comments with their articles.  These comments will link back to you.

In addition, take the time to write intelligent articles about those articles written by the ‘popular kids’ and these will be picked up by their blogs as ‘trackbacks’ which will also link back to your blog.  Slowly, but assuredly you will start to gain a portion of the same audience. If you have something compelling to offer and you are offering it in an atmosphere that is attractive and frequently updated, then you will have found your readership.