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Engaging Today’s Homebuyers Where They Live: Online


… by Matt Gentile, Director of Public Relations and Social Media, Century 21 Real Estate LLC

In today’s rapidly changing marketplace, connecting with consumers where they already are — social and mobile platforms — is essential to brand marketing. It’s not just about understanding what consumers want; it’s about listening and delivering what they want through the devices and channels they’re using. This is certainly true for Century 21 as we look to reach out to the new generation of homebuyers.

In 2010, the largest share of homebuyers was between the ages of 25 and 34, and these consumers use digital and social media in a big way. This age group incorporates technology into their everyday lives and is actively using it to alter the way they search for and purchase real estate. We recognized with these overwhelming social activity numbers worldwide, we needed to begin shifting our advertising, customer service and customer outreach efforts to a medium where our target market is already engaged.

We have created branded Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. We’ve begun to experiment with location based services with our smart phone app and launched the @C21-Home Matters Blog. We are continuing to evolve our strategy for reaching today’s consumer and would love to hear your feedback. What can we do to better serve you, our customer?

Recently, we became the first brand to buy real estate in ngmoco’s We City, a leading mobile game. In-game partnerships are just one more avenue we’re using to interact with the growing segment of consumers who are mobile, social, and intent on acquiring property —virtually and in real life.

On Facebook we’ve built a community that shares tips, advice and photos about the real estate search, decorating your new home and more. We’ve also launched a campaign in support of Easter Seals’ Make the First Five Count Campaign, where each time a person “Likes” the Century 21 Facebook page, we donate $5 to Easter Seals.

We’re using Twitter to talk with homebuyers and agents about their experiences, as well as to share articles, breaking news and information about the recovery of the housing market. Twitter is a perfect platform for disseminating real-time news.

On our blog, @C21-Home Matters, we share information for buyers and sellers as well as company information for our agents. We post photos and videos from company events, expert tips and host a “Caption This Photo” contest with images of unique homes.

Like any brand in the social media space, we are consistently learning and adjusting our efforts to help more customers, generate more leads and close more sales. The one thing we know to be certain is that tomorrow’s media environment will be radically different than it is today. Where ever homebuyers set up shop, we’ll be there providing the best resource in real estate.

Century 21 Real Estate LLC is the franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate sales organization, providing comprehensive training, management, administrative and marketing support for the CENTURY 21® System. The System is comprised of approximately 8,000 independently owned and operated franchised broker offices and 121,000 agents in 73 countries and territories worldwide.

CENTURY 21 Real Estate is recognized as a leader in e-marketing and has received numerous awards.

The CENTURY 21 System is actively increasing its presence globally, with international operations throughout Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. Contact us to learn more about bringing the most recognized brand in real estate to select markets in the U.S. or countries and territories abroad! For more information visit our blog,@C21-Home Matters or follow us on Twitter.

Hyperlocal Blogging for Real Estate


Heather Elias

Confession: I’m one of those ‘hyper-local’ bloggers. By definition, that means that I write about my local area, a lot. I’d probably prefer to say that I’m a local blogger, hyper local makes it sound like I’ve had too much Red Bull. As a full time Realtor, I fall under the category of real estate blogging, although that isn’t typically what I write about. For me, blogging came naturally as a way to reach current and potential local clients. I have a journalism degree, so combining writing and real estate suits me.

When I started LoCoMusings (LoCo is short for Loudoun County, where I live), I didn’t set out to write a ‘real estate blog’… I only wanted to show people in my area that I was knowledgeable about Loudoun. So I started writing about things that were happening around me, issues that my neighbors were talking about, and stuff that was part of my everyday life. I included real estate as well, but my content is probably 80 percent local area and 20 percent real estate. I’ve written about road developments, power lines, holiday parades, youth sports, new construction communities, and builders that have gone out of business. I’ve also posted local area photos from across my county.

What I found as I developed my voice was that I was filling a need in my community that wasn’t being met by our local (weekly) newspaper, or DC Metro area television stations. My local news on my site covered stories and happenings that otherwise weren’t getting noticed by the media. LoCoMusings has become, to my readership, one of their news sources for Loudoun County. The difference between what I write and local media, though, is that you get my perspective, my opinions, and my spin on it as a local resident and business owner. For the readers, it’s honest, and for me, it shows my personality.

Last year at Blogworld I sat on a panel about the future of local media and hyperlocal blogging with another real estate blogger, Dave Smith, and two ‘traditional media’ representatives. At the time, it seemed like traditional media felt (very strongly) that real estate bloggers should leave the reporting to the professionals. From my perspective, the vibe was almost hostile. Now, however, a year later, things have changed, and local media (at least in the DC metropolitan area) is reaching out, sharing, and collaborating, which puts my blog in front of a much wider audience.

If you haven’t heard of TBD.com, make sure you take the time to check it out. Personally, I think it’s the future of news: it’s a multimedia mashup of television, traditional media (small stable of reporters), and a community network of bloggers covering the entire DC area. I’m part of the community network, so my blog posts are featured on the website, and I may participate as a ‘neighborhood expert’ on TBD tv from time to time. They are taking the best hyper-local blogs in our area and combining that with traditional news to enrich the experience for their audience. Amazing how much of a change that is from last year.

What I’ve learned since I started my blog is that you don’t have to write only about your industry to be providing relevant, useful content to your readership. Develop relationships with traditional media to widen your audience, and use your local area knowledge to grow your readership. Your unique perspective on your area is valuable to your readers, and will bring a sense of community to your blog.

Heather Elias is a real estate professional with Century 21 Redwood Realty, in Ashburn, Virginia. Heather has combined a background in public relations and marketing with small business ownership experience to grow her successful real estate business in northern Virginia. Her aggressive marketing program leans heavily on internet marketing and social media, garnering a solid 75% of her business from her online efforts. Her hyper-local blog about Loudoun County, LoCoMusings.com, is the lynchpin of her business and won her the title of Virginia Blog Brawl Champion in 2008. Heather also writes several local blogs that focus specifically on market statistics, and is a contributing author to VARBuzz.com, the blog for the Virginia Association of Realtors. She recently spoke for the National Association of Realtors Midyear Legislative Convention in Washington DC, at RETech South Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors in Herndon, Virginia.

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