How to Become a Chicago Neighborhood Expert

by Chicago Agent

Digital Strategist and Business Development Coach Rich Rogala, for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Chicago Region.

With almost 90 percent of all potential clients starting their home search online, most of us understand the power of being found in Google and other search engines when potential clients are looking for a Chicago broker. But have you ever done that search for yourself? There are more than 44 million results!

So how on earth are you supposed to compete with those numbers? My answer is by becoming a neighborhood expert.

As a Chicago neighborhood expert, you can actually compete in search engine results. You become the go-to expert for a particular neighborhood – anyone seriously interested in a home in that neighborhood will likely discover you online before they choose a Realtor.  They’ll find you everywhere! Facebook, YouTube, Google and in articles across the web that will show them that you are the most knowledgeable agent for them.

So in this series, we’re going to talk about how to do just that – become a Chicago neighborhood expert through social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and the content you distribute through your blog and your social media networks. First, let’s talk about creating content and distributing that content through social media.

Content is what drives your presence as a neighborhood expert, but unfortunately, most agents hear that advice and immediately give up because they don’t think they have enough time to write. But that’s the amazing thing about marketing in 2012 compared to just a few years ago – there are so many ways you can share content online, you can absolutely find a way that is easy and fits your personality.

As a neighborhood expert, you will be sharing all sorts of information that’s valuable for those potential clients in that specific neighborhood. These topics can include:

  • Resource articles with important information about the neighborhood, utility information, and great places to eat, etc.
  • Photos of local hot spots and interesting neighborhood events you’ve attended.
  • Photo/video/blog posts of seasonal menus and dishes from restaurants in the area.
  • Articles about upcoming events and festivals in the neighborhood or general neighborhood news.
  • Video interview with local community experts.
  • Neighborhood bus and el maps.
  • Video tour of a hot property that has come up for sale.
  • An interesting photo series of neighborhood buildings or landmarks using the app Instagram (we will cover this great new app in future posts).
  • Neighborhood video tours.
  • Home values, apartment prices and other real estate information (creating a market report snapshot).

As you can see, all this content is easy to create and gather. You probably have some of it in one form or another – info that you give to clients, and info you come across during the day in the office or out with clients. So it’s just a matter of re-purposing this content and adding it to your blog.

A blog should be your “Hub” online. This is the source of all of your neighborhood content, has all your information about you as a real estate professional, and is where you should send potential clients when giving out your contact information. All the other engagement you are creating on your social media platforms are what I call “digital breadcrumbs,” and these breadcrumbs are leading potential clients directly to your “Hub.”

If you don’t have a blog just yet, I recommend that you start one. There are many options out there – WordPress is one of my favorites if you want a fully-installed blog. For quickness and ease-of-use, try a site called Tumblr, which can be found at Tumblr.com, to create a free blog in a couple of minutes. You can select the style, match it to your professional branding, add all of your contact information, and use it as an extension of your website if you choose.

Tumblr makes it easy to share when you are mobile, which is a huge sigh of relief for all of us in real estate! You can still go about your day, you just have to train yourself to find a minute to take a quick photo or two using your smartphone and share the photo using the app Instagram, or, you can do a quick video snapshot of a new restaurant you are getting ready to have lunch at in your neighborhood – just like that, you’re creating content! Spend another 20-30 minutes every few days while you’re in the office to create slightly longer articles or videos, and you’ll find you really can create quality content without tons of effort. Then you can share this great neighborhood content to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare with your smartphone (we’ll talk about these sites in the next post), and you’ll find your network growing quickly!

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll talk about how and where to share the content you’re creating. If you have a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter or YouTube account for your business and can’t figure out why you’re not getting much engagement, we’ll cover some ideas for social media that will really build your Chicago neighborhood expert status.

Rich Rogala is the Digital Strategist and Business Development Coach for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Chicago Region as well as a Digital Storyteller | Business Artist | Father | Sports Guy | Hot Dog & Sandwich Connoisseur |Music Lover | Husband | Fantasy Football Champ |

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