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Last week The Real Deal held its annual forum at Avery Fisher Hall. I found myself in the surprising position of debating Lockhart Steele, the founder of curbed.com, on the topic of whether social media is good or bad for real estate. In theory, I was debating on the “bad” side, which, considering that I am both a blogger (quod erat demonstrandum) and a big Facebook fan, seems ironic. Nonetheless, there are a number of things about the media in 2011 which frustrate me, and I made those the focus of my debating points.
Here, in somewhat random order, they are:
1. I really hate the anonymous comments. Lockhart argues that the comments are an integral part of blog sites, and that they both expand and enrich the discussion. I get that, but why do they have to be anonymous? In my experience, not needing to identify yourself leads to egregious breaches of even the most basic politeness or relevance. A business story turns into a trashfest; respect-worthy individuals have irrelevant and off color sexual innuendo thrown at them, all because the writer doesn’t need to sign his/her name. My feeling is, have the courage to identify yourself or don’t participate!
2. The Internet has enlarged, facilitated, and diminished reporting, all at the same time.
· Enlarged, in that the vast database resources of the world are available at a keystroke, so creating connectivity between regions, ideas, and people is easier than ever.
· Facilitated because the sort of shoe leather reporting which was still the norm early in my career has mostly become obsolete. It’s easy to get the information you need.
· Diminished, for exactly the same reason: it is TOO easy to get the information you need. During the early years of my career, the reporters who covered real estate knew the business cold. They had done lots of research, cultivated sources, done analysis in order to draw conclusions based on facts. I see less and less of that today. With few exceptions, reporters DON’T tend to know the business cold any more, and they somehow mistake data representation for reporting.
· I was struck recently by the similarity between a good reporter’s work and that of a skilled agent. The Internet provides both (and both their audiences as well) with access to information. What separates excellence from mediocrity is the ability to make distinctions, draw conclusions, bring the data to life in a way which illuminates and contextualizes that information for the benefit of the user. Analysis, a balanced perspective giving both sides of the equation: these old fashioned virtues are increasingly hard to come by.
3. I spoke at the forum about the “Kardashianization” of residential real estate reporting. Residential real estate is the biggest asset many Americans own. Why then is it increasingly covered like “soft” news? Why is it more about bold faced names, decorating, and amenities than about the significant business trends on which the markets rise and fall? I suppose I am as interested as the next person in where Snooki’s hideaway is (on second thought, maybe not) or the distress caused by bedbugs, but can anyone imagine commercial real estate being covered this way!?
I don’t ask for much. I want blog commenters to have the courage to identify themselves. I want to deal with reporters who know my industry and actually analyze data to arrive at conclusions. And I want to read more about the complex trends which drive our market and less about Gaga’s new loft. OK?
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
2009 is proving a busy and exciting year for Rimontgó as the company follows up the success of its English-language realitysense.com blog site with the launch of three new, language-specific blogs.
English may be the international language, especially for Internet users, but the people at Rimontgó are not known for taking the easy way out or resting on their laurels. Instead, this autumn sees the foundation of independent blogs in German, Spanish and French.
Launched in quick succession, www.sinnvollerealitaet.de (German), www.demaravilla.com (Spanish) and www.sensdureel.fr (French) offer a personalised version of the lifestyle and real estate information that has made the original English version so popular.
Rather than rely entirely on English as a means of communication, the team at Rimontgó have put considerable efforts into creating blog sites aimed specifically at the potentially many millions of people who speak these three leading European languages. “It means native speakers do not have to make do with a ‘second hand’ service in what is not their primary tongue,” says company CEO José Ribes Bas, emphasising the international orientation of the firm.
“As a Spanish-based company we naturally include Spanish, but the French and German-speaking regions are also highly important in terms of the luxury real estate market, so we wished to offer a service aimed specifically at them.”
With the international market evolving and diversifying all the time, the possibility exists that more languages will be added in due course. “Of course, a move like this entails more than language issues alone,” says Mr. Ribes. “It would not be complete unless we include the relevant countries within the focus of our content, discussion and information, so expect an even broader orientation as the blogs evolve along with the market – and don’t forget, we would love to hear your feedback.”
By Robert Lockard
This is my last blog entry in this luxury real estate blog. After more than a year and a half of blogging, I'm afraid my time has come to an end. I'm about to move on to something new and scary, but I suppose change always involves some degree of fear and discomfort. I will no longer be the editor of the Luxury Real Estate Blog.
Thank you very much, everyone who has taken the time to share their thoughts on this blog. I'm sorry if I wasn't able to respond to all of your comments, but I definitely read them all and tried to incorporate what I learned from them into future posts. I have grown a lot in the past year and a half and I think you can definitely see that by going back through my many blog entries and seeing me try to articulate my feelings and ideas.
I don't know if I'll be able to respond to your comments on this blog entry, so I hope you won't be offended if you write me something and I am unable to respond for some time. Thank you again for sharing a wonderful discussion with me. I would say more, but once again I feel compelled to hold my tongue and simply encourage you to keep holding to hope in these perilous times. Don't put your trust in men, but build your foundation on something sure.
Farewell, my friends.
By Robert Lockard
In the winter 2009 issue of LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine (this link will start working in December 2008 when the magazine is published) I wrote an article entitled “Seeing Green: Living eco-friendly without sacrificing luxury.” In that article I mentioned a number of links and resources awaiting readers online. As promised, here they are! Check out the following Web sites for valuable information on what you can do today to start enjoying the benefits of “green” homes. In addition, I included links to the personal blogs/sites of the five Luxury Real Estate members and Eco-Brokers who I interviewed for this article. They were very helpful in the writing process and I’m sure you’ll find them to be extremely helpful in the home buying and selling process:
“Green” Organizations and Resources
www.buildinggreen.com: An independent publishing company focused on “green” building materials and methods.
www.builditgreen.org: A nonprofit dedicated to promoting “green” building in California by providing education, professional directories and more.
www.builtgreen.net: The Built Green™ logo signifies a property meets rigorous “green” standards. Based in Western Washington.
www.earthcrafthouse.com: Founded in 1999, EarthCraft House™ certifies new homes in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia as “green” based upon high standards.
www.greenhomeguide.org: Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, this site offers a variety of resources for “greening” your home.
www.lowimpactliving.com: A tool for setting realistic goals based on your budget, location and other factors.
www.nahb.org: Formed in 1942, the National Association of Home Builders provides in-depth data on housing trends, including “green” homes.
www.southeastgreen.com: A user-friendly directory of businesses offering “green” products and services in the Southeast United States.
www.usgbc.org: Official site of the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit composed of leaders from every sector of the building industry, which provides LEED™ standards for homes, businesses and more.
Blogs/Personal “Green” Sites:
www.cottenalston.com (Cotten Alston’s personal site)
www.roseannblacher.com (Roseann Blacher’s personal site)
http://maringreenrealestate.blogspot.com (Jonathan Marks’ blog, the only “green” blog in Marin County)
www.thebuckheadblog.com (Carson Matthews’ blog)
http://welcomehomegreen.typepad.com (Hannah Tai’s blog)
By Robert Lockard
Jim Walberg, the co-Owner/Broker of The Bay Area Team in San Francisco, told me something really cool a few days ago. He said, “Bloggers are the most open and sharing community I have found on the Internet. They want every blogger to win!” I have definitely found that to be true.
As a blogger, I often find myself learning a great deal about what is effective and what is not from other bloggers with more experience than me. I have received a lot of positive feedback and support in my blogging from Eric Kodner, a luxury homes Broker with Wayzata Lakes Realty and Madeline Island Realty. Eric is an awesome blogger, and he has more than 110,000 points on ActiveRain.
In addition, I just did a simple search on ActiveRain for “blog tip” and I found a whole bunch of great ideas for improving my own blog posts. I particularly like Ronnie Roach’s Blog Tip of the Week. He confirmed my suspicion that I should use a different term than “blog” to describe each post I write. Another great resource is the Daily Blog Tips Web site.
There are many other examples out there, but these show how helpful and open the blogging community is. Jim is right! He’s been blogging for two years and he currently has two blogs, one called Caribbean Islands Realty and another called East Bay Real Estate. He also contributes many of his blog posts to the Luxury Real Estate Blog, which I appreciate very much.
I appreciate all the people who take the time to let me know when they agree with what I write and those who share their disagreements, too. Feedback is very helpful, and bloggers are often happy to give it. In fact, I hope you feel free to let me know if you think I’m a little naïve on this topic or to share your own experiences with helping fellow bloggers or receiving help from them.
By the way, Jim shared this quote with me as I was writing a news release about his upcoming presentation at the 13th Annual Luxury Real Estate Fall Conference on effective blog strategies and tactics and the positive effects that can come from blogging. This event will be in Philadelphia on October 11-14, 2008 and you're welcome to attend.
Robert Lockard is the Public Relations & Media Specialist with LuxuryRealEstate.com. I am Robert. I create all of Luxury Real Estate’s newsletters, write the editorials in LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine and much more. You can share your blog entries on the Luxury Real Estate Blog by emailing them to me. Thank you very much! The photo of Rosie the Blogger is from www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/2493066577 and it is the copyright of Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.
By Michael Edlund
The Luxury Lounge is an exciting project we’ve been busy working on over here at Luxury Real Estate.
The Luxury Lounge is a gated social-networking community for professionals within the LuxuryRealEstate.com affiliate network to make connections with quality peers all over the world. Initially, you will be able to search and connect to people, send private messages and write public comments to others, write and comment on blog posts and discuss topics in forums.
We’ve also implemented online purchasing of Luxury Real Estate conference tickets and the Luxury Lounge will over time grow in to a hub for everything related to Luxury Real Estate. From managing your listings and exposure on LuxuryRealEstate.com to tracking your leads and much more. Rain or shine, noon or midnight. In the lounge, luxury professionals can utilize the full power of their Luxury Real Estate affiliation at the time and convenience of their choosing.
We have already started sending out invitations to a limited number of members, but will expand their reach over the coming weeks to the whole LuxuryRealEstate.com network. When you see an email with the subject “Invitation to Luxury Real Estate’s VIP Lounge” you know what it is all about. It is about embracing and empowering your interaction with the global Luxury Real Estate network.
Thank you for your participation!
Michael Edlund is the Director of Technology with LuxuryRealEstate.com. He is in charge of all of LuxuryRealEstate.com’s Web projects, including website creation, software updates and implementation, and much more. Big changes are afoot here at Luxury Real Estate. The Luxury Real Estate Blog is gaining in popularity on Google, Yahoo and MSN searches, and now the Luxury Lounge is gaining momentum! With the rise of social-networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Naymz, many people are starting to see the possibilities opened up through them. This is a great chance to build relationships in creative ways online. Happy networking!
By Robert Lockard
Thanks in large part to all of the wonderful contributors within the global Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate network, the Luxury Real Estate Blog is making a tremendous ascent in its ranking on major search engines, including Google, Yahoo and MSN.
www.LuxuryRealEstate.com is the most-viewed luxury real estate Web site in the world and it comes up first on most searches for luxury properties, luxury homes and luxury real estate. But the Luxury Real Estate Blog is fairly new and we’re building it up to the heights of our main Web site. We owe much of our success to Jim Walberg, John Brian Losh and many other bloggers who consistently contribute their fun work
Like my personal written works, I take pride in the writing found on the Luxury Real Estate Blog. As this blog’s editor, I feel particularly responsible for its quality and success. So it pleases me to no end to add so much great content almost daily and to find more comments from our fantastic readers. I also like seeing our blog climb in popularity with a number of search terms.
I’ve thought a lot about how best to organize the information on the Luxury Real Estate Blog’s ranking in the big three search engines. I’ve finally decided to simply put the same search terms in each row for easy comparison purposes and to roughly put them in order, from highest to lowest, in terms of their placement on search engines.
The following search terms and rankings were recorded on the morning of Thursday, July 31, 2008, and they’ll surely change in the coming days and weeks. At least this will give us a good reference for future searches so we can see how they improve, hopefully.
Luxury blog 16
Luxury blog 18
Real estate blog 399
Real estate blog 135
Robert Lockard is the Public Relations & Media Specialist with LuxuryRealEstate.com. I am Robert. I create all of Luxury Real Estate’s newsletters, write the editorials in LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine and much more. Feel free to share your ideas and blog entries for inclusion on the LuxuryRealEstate.com Blog. The photo of the Blue Angels above is from www.flickr.com/photos/l1v32r1d3bmx/2506752403 and it is the copyright of Pablo Cocito Photography.
By Robert Lockard
I hope this doesn’t sound too prideful, but I really like what I write. And I do a lot of writing as the Public Relations & Media Specialist for LuxuryRealEstate.com.
While my blogs on ActiveRain and the LuxuryRealEstate.com Blog are sometimes quickly written and they don’t have the benefit of as much outside editing as I usually receive for my other work, I think they give you a taste of my writing skill and style.
My mind is constantly working before, during and after the writing process. I think about what is interesting about the story I am currently writing about. I ponder why my target readers would bother to read what I’ve written. I try to decide which points are most important and how best to convey them. I only have a limited amount of time to create my news releases, newsletters, magazine articles and other works, so I need to make quick decisions.
For the Week in Review newsletter I create each week, I receive a lot of news releases from members of the LuxuryRealEstate.com network. I am very grateful for that fact because it helps me keep our newsletters filled with great material. Many of the stories I receive are really interesting while others are about new employees, anniversaries and other topics that don’t seem too interesting at first. However, once I go through a news story, I can usually find something remarkable in it and I usually rewrite the headline so it’s much more eye-catching.
With these thoughts in mind, I’d like to talk about my recent experience writing a news release on a seemingly average topic: a Ewing & Clark, Inc. broker celebrating her 20th anniversary. I don’t mean that the broker, Jane Powers, is average; I’m just saying that I’ve read many stories similar to hers. As I approached this story I tried to remember that this is an important moment for her, and she has many great stories to tell after 20 successful years in the Seattle luxury market.
So I sat down to write about her story. Many times when I write I have a sudden inspiration that I know did not come from me. This time was no different. I suddenly had a thought that I should look up remarkable events that occurred in July 1988, when Powers started with her company. As it turned out, I discovered that a little movie called “Die Hard” debuted in theaters the same day that Powers began working at Ewing & Clark.
I was ecstatic by the creative opportunities opened up by this coincidence.
I am a big movie buff and I couldn’t pass up this chance to add some really unique flavor to Powers’ story. So that’s exactly what I did. You can see the final product here. I wrote the first and second-to-last paragraphs first and then worked on the rest of it. I had a blast writing this story.
I got butterflies of nervous excitement when I showed it to Powers herself for approval. Luckily, she liked my take on her story and I got to distribute it through my usual PR sources.
I believe any story can be interesting to read. I could have written Powers’ news release in a really boring, run-of-the-mill way, but I found that little something special that turned it into a great story. I hope that you can find the greatness in your stories and, as long as you’re a LuxuryRealEstate.com member, I’d love to post them in the Week in Review!
Robert Lockard is the Public Relations & Media Specialist with LuxuryRealEstate.com. I am Robert. I create all of Luxury Real Estate’s newsletters, write the editorials in LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine and much more. By the way, John Brian Losh is the Chairman/CEO of Ewing & Clark, which is a member of the Luxury Real Estate Board of Regents. The copy of the “Die Hard” movie poster is from www.flickr.com/photos/nickslidepics/442646618 and it is the copyright of Nick Slide.
By Jean-Yves Piton
I recently came across some remarkable facts about blogging. Did you know that, as of 2008, 70 million weblogs exist, about 120,000 new blogs are started each day or 1.4 new blogs are created every second, according to a report by David Sifry, founder and CEO of technorati.
Impressive, isn’t it? And blogging keeps on growing universally!
As a business professional, do yourself a favor: embrace this change rapidly.
Thanks to a recent analysis of the online behaviors of over 2 million worldwide candidates performed by comScore, Six Apart and Gawker Media, we discovered that bloggers are “significantly more likely to live in wealthier households, be younger and connect to the Web on high-speed connections. Blog readers also visit nearly twice as many Web pages as the Internet average, and they are more likely to shop online.”
Clearly, this fact alone should help you appreciate the importance of reaching out to this ever-growing target audience in order to grow your business.
Equally important, do not underestimate the power of this innovative tool as part of your online marketing strategy worldwide. Search-engine marketing is predominantly gaining ground vis-à-vis other forms of online marketing. As you blog, your blog entries will consistently appear in search engines like Google and Yahoo, resulting in higher search-engine rankings to be seen by virtually anyone around the world.
Needless to say, blogging is much cheaper than owning and maintaining a complete website, and represents the most inexpensive method to date to advertise your company's brand name and products on the Internet.
Jean-Yves Piton is the Global Services Membership Manager for LuxuryRealEstate.com. He assists Bente Madtsen, the Director of Global Services, in expanding the LuxuryRealEstate.com brand into even more countries around the world. Blogs are amazing tools for gaining traffic, and their usefulness is probably just going to grow as bloggers refine their craft. Be mindful of some possible legal issues involved in blogging, but other than that, happy blogging! The photo of the blog apartment building is from www.flickr.com/photos/poagao/96805244 and it is the copyright of Poagao.
By Robert Lockard
For the past several months I’ve had the pleasure of posting content to the LuxuryRealEstate.com Blog from Jim Walberg, an experienced blogger and the co-Broker/Owner of The Bay Area Team, the most-successful team at Keller Williams Realty-Danville, Calif. Jim’s Caribbean Islands Realty Blog is very well-established and fun to read so I’m always glad to include his work on our blog, with his permission, of course.
Jim took the time to point out something awesome to me in an email on June 11, 2008. I have read about blogs helping with search-engine optimization, but Jim’s message really drove this idea home to me (The links weren’t in his message originally. I added them):
”You may notice when you use my blog postings that LuxuryRealEstate.com jumps up on the Google search engine. I have “owned” Aruba Fractionals on Google for months! LuxuryRealEstate.com just jumped to the top of page one with the posting of my article on your blog site. It is so fun to see how this blogging game works. It is my pleasure to support LuxuryRealEstate.com in any way I can.”
One other comment Jim made also impressed me: “The power of blogging is based on one’s understanding the ‘rules’ that Google and Yahoo have set up for search-engine optimization. The next is to understand the ‘strategies’. Don’t forget, strategies always beat out rules. What I have found among the blogging world is that all of us are constantly sharing strategies. We all want each other to ‘win’. That is one of the fun cultural experiences you will find in the blogosphere. I am always available to share.”
Thanks for the great message and for all of your help, Jim.
I still feel like I'm learning the ropes when it comes to blogs, trackbacks and all of these inventive ways to provide great content and be rewarded by search engines. I think it’s very important to write about important topics first and worry about good placement and all that other stuff second. It’s nice to know that Jim Walberg, who has found a great balance between the two, is on our side!
Robert Lockard is the Public Relations & Media Specialist with LuxuryRealEstate.com. I am Robert. I create all of Luxury Real Estate’s newsletters, write the editorials in LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine and much more. You can contact Jim Walberg at jim at jimwalberg.com. I sure put a lot of links in this blog entry. I guess I just had a lot of information to cram into a couple of paragraphs, plus I’m learning how to provide more links for the search engines to find us.
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