Why Realtors Are Becoming Hyperlocal Content Producers

A sea change has taken place in real estate marketing. The classic pitch, “It’s a great time to buy!” hasn’t worked during the past five years of market slide, and, with society increasingly intolerant of the pushy pitches associated with the industry, real estate agents have taken to social networks to build business relationships. But many are realizing they can’t engage their community simply by talking up their latest listings.

As a result, hyperlocal news and information blogging is becoming a key part of many real estate agents’ marketing arsenals. Real estate network Active Rain boasts over 200,000 blogger signups, and created a separate arena called Localism devoted to community blogging. Many agents have also started building local pages on Facebook to attract community feedback and create conversations around place.

Most hyperlocal agent blogs tend to follow the classic marketing formula of three parts community news to one part real estate plugging.  It’s clear that the agent’s commercial mission for creating content is community engagement, not journalistic coverage, so many agents write their own restaurant reviews or produce videos interviewing local merchants. These kinds of posts can build the kinds of relationships that will ultimately lead to business, but for many agents content creation can be a chore — a distraction unrelated to the real work of selling homes.

So it’s possible that automated marketing tools that generate leads, referrals and community good will are the Holy Grail of real estate marketing. Curatorial tools like dlvr.it and Twitter Lists can facilitate the creation of hyperlocal news systems across blog platforms, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. Using tools like Paper.li or Postano, agents can create automated real estate newspapers that generate-real time news so they don’t need to blog daily. It’s true that curated newspapers won’t source original content, but these hyperlocal media systems give agents — or any local business — a platform to provide a community service, which could include free promotion or advertising to local businesses and causes. By offering tangible marketing value to other businesses, agents build the tighter relationships they need for referrals, and ultimately for transactions.

The idea of spending time and energy to develop hyperlocal content as a business and marketing tool (without the need for a local ad revenue model) is somewhat foreign to journalists. But for many real estate agents, hyperlocal content is itself a tool.

Patrick Kitano is founding Principal of Domus Consulting Group, an advisory for social commerce and social engagement solutions, and administrator of the Breaking News Network, a national hyperlocal network devoted to community service. He is the author of Media Transparent, and contributor to Social Media Today, Daily Deal Media, and The Customer Collective.

  1. September 6, 2011

    It’s such an unfortunate thing that Localism never was given the proper attention & funding to make it into an awesome product. It has so much potential.

  2. Anonymous
    September 6, 2011

    So, it sounds like they are providing ad space for their own product and for other businesses, without providing any original content.  Is this really a good strategy for the long-term?  Not so sure on that.

    1. September 7, 2011

      For local businesses, this certainly is a good long term strategy if it helps them increase their business. Wouldn’t you agree?  Not a good long term strategy for journalism.

  3. John Triplett
    September 6, 2011

    Patrick — i have heard there is a group of insurance agents trying to set up and build a similar network in their neighborhoods. Are you familiar with them?

    1. September 6, 2011

      John, be interested in finding out. Contact me at pkitano@gmail.com

  4. September 6, 2011

    I agree with Tish, Pat. I went to your Localism pages, and what I saw, besides ads for the real estate properties, were run-of-the-mill photography tips, event notices that had to be in every other hyperlocal’s calendar, and one agent’s self-aggrandizing story about how he helped provide first aid for a little girl who got her hand caught in a the door of her family’s van during a trip to the zoo.  Thanks to the agent’s quick assistance — ice pack and Ibuprofen — the girl was able to recover and happily complete her zoo visit with her family. http://activerain.com/blogsview/2491040/pay-it-forward-in-the-zoo-parking-lot    Oh, and there was the video that one agent put up of a tour of her community’s schools — with no narration, just John Philip Sousa music — http://localism.com/neighbor/karenhomes   Maybe there was a message I missed?

    As a journalist whose stories used to be published only on dead trees, I do believe we’re seeing the evolution of news, not only in form but also in substance and provider.  Traditional journalistic standards, rigidly applied, aren’t the way to judge this evolution.  But brochure-quality writing is not going to sparkle because it is presented digitally.

    1. September 7, 2011

      And I also agree with you Tish and Tom, especially your last paragraph ” As a journalist…”. The main point I’m making is hyperlocal media is and will be created for different purposes now, and just like social media itself, it’s not all going to be pretty. But it will be engaging because somebody live, on the ground, will be behind the effort.

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