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2009-09-16 18:35:38

Augment Your Social Networking Efforts Through Bookmarking

 

For many real estate brokers and agents, the hot technology today is social networking. Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are the “new new thing” for making friends and influencing business. There’s probably no better tools for directly prospecting your marketplace – and maintaining your referral and repeat business base.
 
But let’s not lose sight of the other pieces of the social networking-sphere, notably those technologies that we all take for granted, but may not be maximizing to drive web traffic and sell more homes. Long before there was social networking, there was social bookmarking, a system for recommending cool web content to your friends – and millions of others. The real estate industry should revisit these networks  as free systems to drive web traffic without increasing their marketing budgets.
 
Social bookmarking refers to the dozens (hundreds?) of little icons that you now see at the bottom of every news article, blog entry and video clip that enable you to “share” something you’ve found online with entire social networks. Systems like Digg, Reddit and StumbleIt are the modern evolution of the “Send a link…” function that Web 1′ers used to rely on to email their entire address book with their latest finds online. With social bookmarking, though, you can recommend your findings to both your personal network – and the greater social sphere – at the same time.
 
Social Bookmark networks can be powerful promotional tools for any business. Initially, they started as a way to save your personal web favorites online, so you could access them from anywhere, not just the specific browser on your personal computer. As people became more comfortable with the concept, these networks added features to “suggest” and share your bookmarks with others. Soon, the systems we’re familiar with today were born – where people are sharing, recommending – and promoting – others’ web content with  millions of clicks a day.
 
Unlike the old days, however, social bookmarking doesn’t use email as its communication tool; instead, bookmarks  appear each network’s front page in a never-ending stream of members’ suggestions. In addition, members can “vote” on recommended links, to keep sites ranked higher, plus add their own comments, creating social networking around social bookmarking.
 
While it may lack the “personal stream” you’re used to seeing about your friends in Facebook, social bookmark sites like Digg offer far greater variety of content and information because the suggestions come from a global membership. And while Twitter may be slightly more torrential in update speed, social bookmarks go beyond mere snippets to catch your attention, sharing the full titles and descriptions (plus user comments and ranking) on each site, article or video clip.
 
All of which presents tremendous opportunities for marketing your company, inventory, services and sales team to a massive audience every day. While many of us have added the obligatory “Share on Facebook” features to our blogs, and maybe even our inventory, adding options for many of the top social bookmarking networks can do wonders for driving visitors.
 
Both direct web traffic and enhanced search engine optimization – as your content appears linked from more and more credible web sites – can boost your ability to reach new customers and generate public relations. And did we mention, it’s all pretty much free?
 
Reddit as 4th largest source of our traffic, beating Google, Q1&Q2
 
To maximize the social bookmark networks, companies should rely upon passive and purposeful strategies for hitting the lists daily. Customers and casual readers of your blog will likely create some passive traffic for you, as interesting content causes them to share your site with their preferred network. However, most users will likely take only the time to suggest your content to one social bookmarking site – their favorite. That’s why a purposeful strategy to have your marketing department – and perhaps a few staff members and agents – suggest key content to multiple sites every day can help increase your results.
 
As more people suggest the same site to these networks, they rank higher and have a better chance of reaching the first page. And first page ranked links create avalanches of visitors from the vast membership fo the social bookmark sites.
 
While it will be tough to compete for top spots with the “suggestion traffic” that sites like the Wall Street Journal or ESPN will naturally receive, companies should still try to mobilize their internal and external social networks to recommend their blog, inventory and press-release content to the social bookmark sites. Even a company with 10 people can create inroads if everyone consistently makes the coordinated suggestions to the same sites. Considering the opportunity for free web traffic without increasing your marketing costs, social bookmarking can pay off for the few seconds each day it takes to make the effort
 
(Matthew Ferrara is CEO of Matthew Ferrara & Company, a technology organization that delivers training, consulting and technical support to real estate companies worldwide, including their new "Support on Demand" REALTOR help desk service available at 866-316-4209.)   

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