If you’re a “tight-wad” like me, when it comes to your Realtor marketing budget, you’re going to love “forum marketing.” It costs you absolutely $0; only your time. It’s super-duper simple and it can be set on autopilot, sort of.
Forum marketing is all online but hopefully you already knew that. They are tons and tons of forums on the web for every subject and topic you can imagine.
People surfing the web for specific information will come across forums on their topic of interest. They’ll browse through the categories and individual posts that other people submit, searching for the information they want. It’s like when a club, such as The Knights of Columbus, has a live meeting; only it’s online.
With real estate forums, for example, some are geared only towards agents and helping them increase their businesses. Others are for consumers only, while a bunch is for both consumers and agents. You want to be in the last group, where the consumers are!
Your goal as a Realtor or agent is to prospect, generate leads and build relationships through your marketing efforts, right? That’s how you generate business and closings. If you like emailing and using Facebook, this is perfect for you!
Here’s exactly how this whole forum marketing thing works……
You’ll want to do a Google search for something like “real estate forums” and find a good forum with a lot of traffic. Try to find more than one high traffic forum to join, if you can (Alexa.com is a great place to see if a forum or any website is getting sufficient traffic). Also, make sure you can target you local region. It won’t do you any good if it’s a big national forum and not segmented into each state or area.
Once you’ve picked a couple of real estate related forums, you’ll sign up for a free account with them. They’ll ask for you to create a username (like “Sally Realtor”), a password, a profile/bio of yourself, yada, yada. All the standard stuff when you sign up for something like this.
But a vitally essential part of this forum marketing process will include setting up your “signature”, which will appear at the bottom of every entry or “post” you write. Your signature is how you’re going to generate all these leads and prospects going to your site.
By the way, when you write a “post”, it can be as short or as long as you want it to be. There’s typically no limit, although some forums require you to have a minimum of 15 words in each post. It keeps the spammers out.
When setting up your signature, take advantage of everything the forum lets you do. What I mean is some real estate forums will let you include a picture, some won’t. Some forums will let you use a lot of words in your signature, others have a limit.
So be sure to use a good, unique picture so people recognize you. It doesn’t need to be of you, necessarily. It could be your logo. The point is to have an image for prospects to identify and become familiar with you.
With the text though, don’t go crazy! The worst forum marketing signatures are the ones that have a novel of text and all kinds of links to various websites. Do include your website or blog but not your MLM you’re selling plus your dog’s website and your grandma’s Flickr page. You’re a real estate agent, not one of these wacko’s selling everything under the sun.
You’ll want to add in your USP/tagline (slogan) too. Try to keep it between 2-7 words, in general. Make it clear, concise and tell people in a nutshell what you’re all about.
And the most vital part of your signature? Your website or blog link! I would suggest making your company name a link to your site as well as a word or phrase in your slogan. Give prospects a couple of chances to click to your website but don’t go crazy and throw 5-10 links in there.
Some prospects will click on one of the links, others won’t. But the more posts you write, the more interesting content you write, the more helpful you are, the higher the number of prospects who “clicking through” to your site or blog will be. This brings me to my next point about forum marketing as a Realtor or agent…
Don’t simply write posts selling yourself! People will catch on and disregard you and you might even get kicked out of the forum. Carry yourself as you would in-person. Be helpful, answer people’s questions, give solid advice, tips, etc. Prospects on these forums will notice this about you and eventually you’ll start getting inquiries wanting to use you as their Realtor or agent.
Now, there are a couple of different types of forum marketing “posts” you can write. One option is to reply to someone else’s question or comment OR you can start your own topic (“thread”) and let other people reply and comment on it.
To utilize forum marketing to it full advantage, I would say it’s good to do both while emphasizing starting your own topics or “threads” (forum marketing language).
The reason I prefer you to start your own topics more often is that you’re likely to get more prospects viewing your post and signature than if you reply to someone else’s post.
For example, someone could have made a post and started a topic last week about “first-time home buying”. That “thread” may already have 50 or 100 replies. Everyone who’s viewing that thread is seeing the person’s post and signature that started it but they’re not all reading all 50-100 replies that have been written. If you’re one of those replies, you could be missing traffic. Make sense? You want to be the guy or gall started the thread.
Another reason I like starting new threads is that it sort of puts you as a Realtor or agent in authority; a leader in the real estate forum. In general terms (very general), “followers” reply and “leaders” start threads.
Again, if you start a thread, everyone will see you and your signature, whether they reply or not. They won’t always see your signature if you’re simply replying to another thread. That’s the difference between massive traffic and drips of traffic, my friend.
But don’t ignore replying to other people’s threads. If a prospect has a question and you’re one of the first to answer it, they’ll see that and you’ll move up a notch in their book. That’s how you’ll get clients.
In regards to my statement at the beginning of this forum marketing tutorial, the reason I said this can be set up on autopilot is because once you’ve made your post with your signature (whether it’s a new thread or a reply), it’s up there day and night for prospects to see and click on. You’re sleeping AND getting traffic at the same time! Add up the 100’s or 1,000’s of posts you could have and think about the potential flood of traffic. Yee Haw!
The last aspect of forum marketing that is great is how it relates to search engine optimization (SEO). A big part of SEO is the number of other websites that have a link pointing to your site and visa versa.
If you’re on 5 high traffic real estate forums and have your website link in your signature, that’s going to help with your SEO a whole bunch. The more sites that have your website link, the higher your site will rank with the search engines.
Again, this is just one aspect of SEO. I just wanted to explain how forum marketing relates to your SEO too. For lack of a better saying, it’s like “killing two birds with one stone”, in your overall marketing arsenal.
So that’s what forum marketing is all about. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s effective. Each real estate forum is a bit different but find a few, jump in, have fun and start gaining some more clients!