Facebook and MySpace are starting to get recognized as useful tools in networking for the online realtor. However, as social networking sites have become one of the front runners in connecting people on the Internet, people are starting to get interested in “niche” social networking: sites that connect people interested in specific subjects.
Active Rain is a network that has taken this concept and turned it into a growing community of realtors, real estate-related professionals and people looking for the right agent for them. It has pages for individuals to post information about themselves and the services they provide, forums, blogs, and a Q&A forum where people can post questions about real estate. So far, 60,000 people have become members, which makes for a lot of exposure on the site.
One does not need to be an Internet guru to create a “niche” network, though. It can be done with existing networking sites and applications. The key is to start out creating decent, useful information on your focus in the market. If you are selling homes in the Sunset Hill neighborhood of Seattle, by all means, start a Facebook group or your own message board about the Sunset Hill neighborhood. Whatever it is, make sure that it allows people to weigh in, ask questions and post answers.
Post information on the schools there, and the issues about them, the job scene, house care when dealing with Seattle weather… anything and everything that has to do with Sunset Hill and Seattle homes. Make sure it’s relevant, make sure it’s up-to-date. Look beyond selling houses and post about what people buying homes in Seattle and Sunset Hill are concerned about.
If you have happy clients who have conducted their home transaction through you, keep in contact with them and let them know about the site. Many home owners would be interested to know about a site where they can find the latest in local property values, information about the new mall being built or the issues facing the schools of the Sunset Hill area.
If you have people coming to your site for information on their neighborhood, even if they aren’t planning to buy or to sell, you have succeeded. The huge success of some sites through advertising has come about through popularity gained by giving stuff away for free. If you have a decent amount of steady visitors who come to your site for the information you post, you have a decent amount of leads who might mention you to real estate-minded friends and family.