This is simply mindblowing:
The use of blogs has steadily increased as a marketing tool for real estate agents. One in ten members reported having a real estate blog. In 2009, 7 percent of members reported having a blog. Among REALTORS®, blogs are most common among those aged 29, and nearly one in five members in this age group have a blog.
One in ten REALTORS has a blog. There are 1 million REALTORS as of February, 2011. That means there are 100,000 REALTOR blogs out there in the wilds of the Web. Let’s say that again: one hundred thousand real estate blogs. In 2009, 7% of REALTORS had a blog — which means 77,000 real estate blogs. While the number of REALTORS shrank by 100K, the number of real estate blogs went up by 23,000.
Note that one in five REALTORS aged 29 has a blog.
Meanwhile, at conferences like CMLS, I hear MLS executives say that some 30-40% of their members have done zero transactions in 2010. So one of two things is true:
- The blogging REALTORS are among the 70-60% who do deals; or
- 30,000-40,000 real estate blogs are written by REALTORS who have done not a single transaction in 2010.
I call upon NAR to correlate the transaction counts and gross income of REALTORS who have blogs vs. those who do not. Or, send me the data, and I’ll do the analysis.
But wait! There’s more. I am forced to conclude that blogging has entered a new realm of strategy for marketing real estate services.
Blogging Is Now Commonplace
With 100,000 real estate blogs and only 50 states, that means there are 2,000 blogs per state. Of course, since population distribution is uneven, it probably means that Wyoming might only have 20 blogs, while California might have 25,000 blogs. “But what about hyperlocal?”
Well, there are 3,141 counties in the United States. So on average, each county has 31.8 blogs covering it, assuming each one is hyperlocal. If we go to the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) level, there are only 362 of them, and these are the areas where the population is the most densely concentrated. On that basis, there are 276 real estate blogs per MSA.
It is now impossible to believe that a real estate blog will stand out simply for existing as a place for consumers to find useful and valuable information about real estate. If you’ve got a blog talking about your area, there are 30 others in your county alone. Maybe in 2006/2007 when some of the most well-known real estate blogs were started, they were so unique, so novel, simply for being that consumers naturally gravitated towards them.
Not so in 2011.
Anyone who still thinks of real estate blogs as ‘something different’ has a different idea of what different means than I do. One in Ten. One in FIVE in some age groups.
Strategy: Unexpected vs. Execution
I’d like to refer you to this post I wrote over on Notorious about strategy. Strategies come in two varieties: doing the Unexpected, or Executing better. At one time, blogging (and by extension, social media marketing) was doing the Unexpected. Quite a few REALTORS and broker/managers thought all this bloggery was a bunch of nonsense and a waste of time. Those early pioneers — assuming they met a minimum level of competence in execution — did grow their online reputations, create an audience, and possibly got some leads from their blogs.
The SEO angle of blogging is, I have to conclude, vastly overrated. The idea that simply by having a blog, posting some random words on there to have Google index them, just fails when there are 99,999 other blogs doing the exact same thing. Just because Jay Thompson has 80,000 backlinks to his blog, which he began in 2005, does not mean that your blog that you started in 2010 with 99,000 other blogs will get the same results.
Today, with 1 in 10 REALTORS also having a blog — thanks to years of being told by others that they need to start a blog, that they need a social media strategy, and so forth — this early pioneering phase is now officially over. Now, it will be about Execution.
There might be 30 other blogs in your county; 275 other blogs in your metro area. But if you out-Execute them all, then you can still find blogging to be an effective marketing strategy of some sort (depending on what you’re looking to get out of it). Otherwise, forget it. Out-execute, both in terms of quantity and quality, or do something else.
Good News (or Is It Bad News?)
The good (?) news is that with 100,000 REALTOR blogs out there, there is absolutely no chance that the vast majority of them are worth ever clicking on. In my own RSS Reader, I think there might be a half-dozen REALTOR blogs, out of 100,000. Even if I’m not the average consumer who wants to read another post on local restaurant reviews and whatnot, there is no chance that the vast majority of the 100,000 real estate blogs are any good.
The good news, then, is that anyone who wants to out-execute the competition doesn’t have a particularly high bar to clear. A decent command of the English language, some personality, some natural talent in interacting with other bloggers and commenters, and the ability to just keep on writing posts and publishing on a semi-regular basis, and you should be way ahead of the competition.
The bad news, of course, is that there are so many bad real estate blogs out there. Unless and until you rise above the masses, your blog too, I’m sorry to report, sucks. And as a result, how much time and energy you would need to spend on blogging to get ahead of the competition, see SEO improvement, and increase business is at this time completely unknown. I can assure you, however, that it won’t be “15 minutes a day for a month”.
For the Broker/Manager/Owner
Given that blogging (and quite likely social media marketing in general) is now commonplace, the broker/owner/manager has to make some decisions.
- If you’re going to pursue having a company blog, then you too must out-execute not just other companies, but the 100,000 individual REALTOR blogs that now populate the Interwebz. Are you really committed to doing this? If so, put real resources towards it.
- If you’re going to encourage your agents to take up blogging and social media as a strategy, you must ask whether that particular individual has the natural talent and the inclination to rise above the masses of bad real estate blogs. You don’t recruit a 5’3″ guy to play center for your championship basketball team; don’t urge agents who can’t write a coherent sentence to start a hyperlocal blog. That’s a waste of your time and their time.
- If you’re going to pursue blogging and social media strategy, it is now imperative that the effort become one driven by Execution. That means attention to detail and commitment. Recruit only those who show promise, then support the hell out of them, while managing the whole process tightly. If that means you bring in blogging consultants, social media gurus, writing coaches, and the like to make sure that your people are out-executing all the others, that is what it means.
Otherwise, don’t bother. You’re likely to get better results by getting on your agent’s case to make more cold calls to expired listings.
Allow me to summarize for easy digestion:
- There are 100,000 REALTOR blogs out there.
- Most of them suck, but that means yours does too.
- Until and unless you out-execute the rest of them, which requires commitment, natural talent, and attention to detail.
- Have that commitment, talent, and attention to detail, or find something else to do to market yourself.
Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.