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social media

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Where Do Buyers and Sellers Find Agents?

March 18, 2014

According to data in the 2013 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, home buyers and sellers consistently report that they truly rely on referrals from friends and family to find an agent or they use an agent they have worked with before.
Take a look at these stats:

  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of buyers and sixty-four percent (64%) of sellers found their agent through a personal referral from neighbors, friends or relatives or they used an agent they had previously worked with.
  • The next closest way a buyer or seller found their agent was through an online website; however, this was merely nine percent (9%) of buyers and four percent (4%) of sellers.

With these statistics, it’s more clear than ever that an integral part of your business’s success relies on good relationship with your past clients. How are you staying in contact with your past clients to build your relationships with them? Here are some ways:

  • Connect on Social Networks. Are you connected with your past clients on social network? Did you just add them but never interact? Social media opens a wealth of opportunities to interact with your clients in ways that was previously impossible. Learn about their interests, connect on a different level, and at your convenience. Dropping a comment, sending a gift, or even “liking” something they post – keeps you on their radar.
  • Monthly Newsletter. Are you regularly sending out information that is beneficial for your past clients? Are you keeping them up-to-date about their community and market?
  • Drip-Email Marketing. Staying in contact and making yourself a resource is crucial. Putting together a strong homeowners drip email campaign can be useful and establish yourself as an expert.
  • Be personal-able. While newsletters, email campaigns, direct marketing does reach consumers – often your clients want more from you – especially if they’re going to refer you to their friends. When’s the last time you reached out on an individual-level? Do you ask them about their families? Do you remember their hobbies? Did the birthday card you sent them include more than a generic message? No one likes to feel like they’re getting cookie-cutter service – so prove to them you’re not.

There’s many ways to reach out to past clients, but there’s no denying how important it is! Finding new ways to connect will ensure your business continues to grow.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

New Year Social Media Clean Up

January 7, 2014

Take the time right now to look at all your online and social media profiles – and I mean ALL:
LinkedIn, Facebook, Zillow, Trulia, Twitter, Google+, your profile on your broker’s website, YouTube, Trulia, Pinterest, Instagram, and whatever else you’re on (google yourself if you can’t remember!).

When is the last time you did this? Often times, even active users of social media create their accounts, fill out their info, and never look at their “profile” or “personal” information again.  I’m not talking about how many times you post a status or connect with someone on LinkedIn – I’m talking about the actual meat of your profile.  What do people that are looking at your profile for the first time see?
Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is your first impression of your profile? Does it look like how you remember it? Did they change the layout from last time you were here and you haven’t adjusted accordingly?
  2. Is your contact information updated? There are a lot of wrong phone numbers, broken website links, and bad email addresses out there. Make sure yours isn’t one of them!
  3. Is your “About Me” or “Bio” updated? Does you real estate bio say what everyone else’s does? Does it mention the areas you specialize in? Does it reflect your experience in the industry – or do you mention things from decades ago?
  4. Is your education / work experience updated? Does it have your current brokerage? Your current position? It’s shocking how many agents don’t change their profiles, logos, etc. when they have career changes.
  5. Does your picture look like you? Sorry folks – your 80’s hairdo and shoulder pads need to go. Still holding on to that old picture because you look younger? People notice. Don’t become a joke.
  6. Most importantly – does your profile reflect who you are? Do you seem just like any same-old, all-the-same REALTOR®? Or does it show a bit of who you are as an individual? Start connecting with people on that level. People are buying homes – it’s a personal process. Be personable.

Chances are as you went through this list, you found a few things that are out of date, no longer reflect you or your business, or just things that could use a little freshening up. Whether you plan to take yourself to the next level this year on social media (you should) or your just want to get your feet wet again (jump in!) – make sure you’re starting 2014 off right. Reviewing and updating your profiles on (at the very, very minimum) an annual basis is necessary. Happy New Year.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights Sales Insights

Staying in Front of Your Clients Online This Holiday Season

December 12, 2013

Author: Diane Bravo, Director of Technical Training at Alain Pinel Realtors.
Did you know that according to the National Association of Realtors® surveys of buyers and sellers in 2011 that over 90% of real estate consumers never hear from their Realtor again after closing? Be different. Get more future business by keeping in touch!  The holidays are a perfect time for you to reach out to past, current and future clients in a natural way –and with online tools, it has never been easier.
Here are 5 easy was to get more exposure online this holiday season with the click of a button:

  1. Send a holiday card from your contact management tool.  Want to avoid the religious connotations of some of the season’s holidays?  Select a classy New Year greeting to ring in the New Year!
  2. Post a holiday tip on your favorite social networking site.  This can be anything from a decorating tip, to gift ideas, to recipes, to general entertaining ideas.  Just Google “holiday tips” and the possibilities are endless.
  3. Send a Facebook Gift. Facebook Gifts were launched late last year as a way to send gifts to celebrate the special moments millions of people share on Facebook each day.  It couldn’t be easier and can cost as little as a $5 for a Starbucks gift card. This is a thoughtful and easy way to really surprise your clients and connections in an unexpected way. And it’s simple for them – a message and redemption code is emailed directly to your friends.
  4. Share an online magazine or article. The Autumn 2013 Exquisite Living magazine is the perfect example of an online read to share. The magazine was designed for ease-of-use for the consumer to flip through luxury trends, market updates, community spotlights and some of Alain Pinel Realtors most impressive homes and estates.
  5. Sharing local holiday happenings in your area is another great way to touch base, while at the same time providing useful information. If you don’t already know some in your area – try checking out your local Chamber of Commerce, community events calendars and local news sources and papers. From holiday wine events, art exhibitions, parades and lightshows, to visits from Santa, who wouldn’t want to see a list of nearby events at a glance? In today’s fast paced environment, people seldom have the time to go out and look for things to do. Do it for them!

Whatever method you choose, remember keeping in touch ultimately lead to more sales. Do something today to cultivate more business and fill your pipeline for 2014.

About Author:

Diane Bravo brings 20 years of technical training and implementation experience to Alain Pinel Realtors. In her current capacity as Director of Technical Training, she is responsible for helping all APR agents improve their business through the use of real estate software. Before moving to APR, Ms. Bravo worked for Integrated Device Technology as Business Systems Analyst.

Announcements Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Special APR Discount for Inman Conference

June 14, 2013

Did you know one of the BEST real estate events of the year is happening in San Francisco this year? Inman News presents both Agent Reboot and Real Estate Connect this July at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
The events kickoff with Agent Reboot on July 9th. This one-day boot camp, revamped with all new content for 2013, is a crash course in digital marketing to make your upcoming year your best. Get expert advice via case studies, mobile marketing techniques to attract the digital consumer, strategies to foster and build relationships on social media, tips to ensure your website is personalized and local and so much more.
Next up is the main event – the 3-day, information packed Real Estate Connect from July 10-12th. Real Estate Connect is where real deals are made, new partnerships are formed, new technologies are introduced, start-ups are launched and hard issues are debated openly. Connect SF will position you to take advantage of tomorrow. This year, APR’s own VP of Relocation and Business Development Michi Olson will be speaking.
Unsure whether to attend? Check out our post from last year highlighting some of the take-aways and tools.
Even better – this year we’ve partnered with Inman News to make it easier for you to attend both events – at a reduced price. You can save $300 if you REGISTER NOW. This special deal for local agents will give you tickets to both events for the exclusive price of $649.
Register NOW – and secure your spot in this incredible 4-day event.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Jeff Barnett Asks What We Can Learn From YPNers

February 26, 2013

Jeff Barnett, Vice President and Regional Manager of Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Gatos, also serves the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) as the Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. In this capacity, he oversees a monthly NAR Power Broker Roundtable in RISMedia‘s magazine Real Estate. His latest focuses on the newest generation of real estate professionals and how they are shaping the future of the business  The Young Professionals Network, or YPN, launched by NAR’s REALTOR® Magazine in 2006 has been a driving force of this change. Here’s what a few of the leaders of this generation of real estate professionals had to say.
What’s important for people to understand is I look at Facebook and Twitter and other networking conduits for what they really are: a way to build relationships.” – Tamara Suminski
Social Media is the best way I’ve found to get myself out in front of people … Every day, I try to put my personality and my experience out there … I want people to see me online for who I am and what I know – including what I know about real estate. I’m just myself, and customers find me.” – Imran Poladi
I taught myself all the apps and the fun stuff, and now probably 50% of my business is done by cell phone. But you have to interact with clients and agents the way they prefer.” – Sarah Jacobson
I use a virtual assistant to confirm showings. My files and photos are in Dropbox. All of my contacts, offers, signatures, and communications are handled by phone or online unless someone else prefers it another way … This is just the way the business is going … one thing we all agree on is that service, professionalism and commitment come first no matter how you choose to do business.” – Erin Mendel
For the full article, visit “Building Real Estate Relationships in the New Generation: What the Rest of Us Learn from YPNers.

Community Spotlights

Alain Pinel Presents 12 Days of Holiday Fun!

December 17, 2012

We love the holidays here at Alain Pinel Realtors – and we want to share that with you! Check out our Facebook where we’ve just launched our 12 Days of Holiday Fun. Each day, we’ll post another holiday activity in the Bay Area for you to enjoy with your family and friends.
We’re already on our 5th Day! Here’s a taste of some of the events you’ll see …

Join the fun and like us on Facebook.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Which Social Networks Should I Be On?

November 19, 2012

One frequent question I get from REALTORS® is “Which social networks should I be on?” With so many out there, they often don’t know where to start or which to invest their time in. It seems that every couple of months a new “hot” social network is in the news – Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, etc. With so many options it is no surprise that agents are asking which networks they should be on. However, there isn’t a simple answer to this. Which network works from some people doesn’t work for others. Below are some things to think about when choosing which social media site to be on:
What are your goals?
This is always an important one to start with. Are you on it solely for business? If so, what business goals do you have? Is it to deepen relationships with past clients? Connect with potential future clients? Is it to make a name for yourself among others in the industry? Is it to connect with other REALTORS® and discuss industry related issues? Depending on what your goals are, different networks will have different appears. It’s also important to note that if done right, most networks can be used for any of these goals.
What is your audience?
This is closely related to your first question. If you know who your ideal audience is, you can also make guesses about where to connect with them. Professionals? Likely to be on LinkedIn. Very mobile? Try Instagram and Foursquare. Not quite sure? Well … Facebook has the most users.
Where are you most comfortable? What are your strengths?
This is possibly more important than either of the other two questions. The thing about social media is that being genuine is the most important aspect of it. Social networks are meant to build real connections. They’re meant to humanize the users. If you aren’t comfortable and not genuine, it will show – and people aren’t on these networks to connect with someone that doesn’t feel genuine. One thing that helps determine where you’re most comfortable, is identifying your strengths. If you don’t like to write, don’t start a blog. If you don’t have an eye for photography, Instagram isn’t for you. If you don’t want to keep up with a real-time network, Twitter isn’t for you. Are you an expert about local business? Maybe you should try Foursquare or Yelp and be an engaged member.
Learn the culture of the network you’re about to join. Ask yourself why other people are on the network. How are people engaging with them? Sure, LinkedIn is a great place to post your accomplishments and your resume – but where is the relationship building happening? It’s happening in the groups. Are people on Facebook sharing information just about their business? Or are they communicating a little bit more about themselves as a person. Are people using Twitter just to blast out messages? Or are they having interactions and dialogues about real-time events? Learning what makes each network engaging to its users is crucial in determining your success. The goal should be to figure out the culture of the network and then determine how you fit into it. Blasting just your listings in an attempt to accomplish your goals will not only make you stand out like a soar thumb, but also have the opposite effect of your goals.
Try out a network. Not what you want? That’s ok. You can try another. Getting to know the networks and what makes them unique will help you determine where you should be.
Don’t over-commit or overwhelm yourself.
You don’t have to be on every network. You don’t have to be on the latest and greatest network. Often, the latest networks rise and fall. Instead of trying to be everywhere, focus on doing one well. If you try to do too much, you’ll overwhelm yourself and end up doing them all poorly.
While there is no easy answer for which network to be on, hopefully putting some real thought into the ideas above will help guide you. Best of luck!

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage.

Photo Credit: “Social Media Explained” Douglas Wray, Instagram.


Industry Insights Legal Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Beautiful Images, Ugly Copyright Violations (and Fees!)

November 7, 2012

In the past few months we’ve heard more and more reports of people being contacted by photographers and agencies claiming copyright violations and improper use of photos – sometimes even demanding compensation. Guess what? They’re probably right. Chances are you’ve illegally, and unintentionally, used a copyrighted image on the internet. In our digital age, where finding an image is as simple as Googling it – we often think we have the right to use them for whatever purpose we want – for a blog entry, to post to our website, to share on Facebook. The ease of access to photos is misleading; just finding a photo does not give you permission to reproduce it.
We often mistakenly think we’re covered if we:

  • link to the source
  • don’t claim the photo as our own
  • didn’t know it was copyrighted!
  • didn’t make money off it
  • if we have a disclaimer on our site
  • we immediately take it down if requested

None of these protect you. So then, what do we do if we want to use photos on our sites, etc? Here are some options:

  1. Use your own photos!
  2. Search for photos that are approved for use:
    Creative Commons licensed pictures – search for photos which are approved for free use (with some attribution and other restrictions)
    Flikr Creative Commons – some users allow use of their photos.
    Wikimedia Commons – offers free media files
  3. Buy rights to photos that are offered through stock photography sites, like
    –  Fotolia
    –  Veer
    –  Corbis Images
    –  Getty Images
  4. Get explicit permission from the photographer (sites like Flikr and other photography sites often allow you to contact the photographer directly) – it can’t hurt to ask.

While we’re not legal experts  – we do encourage everyone to stay on the side of caution. Assume photos are copyrighted unless proven otherwise. 

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Violante
Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Facebook Tip: Using Lists to Build Relationships

November 2, 2012

When I tell agents that I find I find most people are able to use their personal pages most effectively in building relationships, they get nervous. They have family and friends on their personal profiles and are nervous about being friends with clients. However; this is is misguided. As long as you are not directly advertising or marketing and not posting links to just your listings and open houses, you will be fine. Facebook isn’t a place for that anyway – it’s a place to deepen relationships. Personal profiles are exactly the place that you can really deepen your ties with past clients and acquaintances that are potential clients. Only on personal profiles can you really access the plethora of information that your clients are willingly sharing. It’s on personal profiles, not business pages, that the types of engagement and relationships are happening. But how do you keep it all separate?
That’s where Facebook Lists come in.
With lists, you’re able to sort any of the people you’ve friended. To make a custom list (they won’t know you put them on it if your’e creating a new list), hover over your friends on the left hand side and select “More.” Then select add list, pick a name, and begin sorting your existing friends. You can also click this link:

Think of potential lists, like “clients” or “potential clients.” The lists that Facebook have already provided you (with the exception of restricted, close friends, and acquaintances) will notify people if you add them. Make your own custom lists.
Here are some benefits of sorting your various friends:
1) Privacy Settings
Under your privacy settings, you can choose who can see various information posted to your personal profile. Most people select the default settings of “Public,” “Friends,” or “Friends of Friends;” however, if you choose custom, you are able to enable or disable specific people and lists from seeing certain types of information.
2) Publishing Posts
In addition to controlling who can see information already provided on your profile through the privacy settings, each time you post anything, you can control who is seeing it. By selecting the “Custom” setting while making a post, you can directly control who can see each post.

This means you can push out specific content to clients that you may not want all your family and friends to see. It also means you can post pictures from that trip that you want your friends to see, but maybe not clients.
3) Breaking Through Noise
Sometimes, it’s hard to actually figure out what’s going on with certain people on Facebook because there’s so much noise on your home newsfeed. However, by making a small list of potential clients, you can access just their updates. By building lists, on the left hand navigation, if you select the list, you will be taken to a newsfeed of just their content. Suddenly, it’s really easy to see which of your clients just got married, had a baby, or any other life event that they are willingly sharing on Facebook. they are publicizing this info on their profiles – and now you can use that info to build your relationship. Potential client gets engaged? Send them a gift basket – when it comes time to buy a house, they’ll remember. For more tips on breaking through the noise, see Inman’s Facebook Quick Tip: 4 Simple Steps To Connect With Clients.
For more information about Facebook lists, see Facebook’s page on Lists.
If you aren’t using lists, you’re missing a major opportunity to build meaningful relationships through Facebook.

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage. 

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

10 Common Mistakes REALTORS® Make on Social Media

September 28, 2012

No matter what social media site you choose to be one, some commonalities exist among them. Social media is exactly what it sounds like – and the social aspects of varying media is the important part. It is about the relationships and communities that are created and exist in the online sphere. It’s not uncommon that REALTORS® jump on these networks without fully understanding them. While there are many different ideas about how to present yourself on these networks, here are 10 common mistakes I often see real estate agents making on social media.
10 Common Mistakes of Real Estate Agents on Social Media

  1. Joined Because Everyone Else Did – If your hearts not into it, people can tell.
  2. Stop Posting – If you sign up for a bunch of accounts, but never use them, it looks bad. People will not interact with you if you are not providing any value. If your account isn’t active or current, why do you have it?
  3. Just Talk About Real Estate – No one on these networks is as interested in real estate as you are. Chances are your interests are larger than just real estate. Why not talk about those?
  4. Post Listings Directly – If you’re just posting a link to your newest listing or a brief bit of ad copy, it is not very engaging.
  5. Advertise – Like above, not only is it not engaging to see advertising, but it’s annoying. The majority of people did not connect with you to see advertisements. Always think about why other people are on these networks – think about what they might be interested in.
  6. Not Being Genuine – Most of these networks are fairly personal. They want to connect with you. If you aren’t giving people a sense of who you are and that you are a real person, they likely will become disinterested. Also, if everything is always “fabulous!” or “amazing!” people see through it.
  7. Overshare – There is a fine line of what to share on social media. Hint: Anything you wouldn’t be ok with a stranger knowing, probably shouldn’t be on there. While we have privacy controls, it’s a good habit to ask yourself that before posting. Also, refrain from talking about your clients in a negative way – even if you’re just commenting on a fellow agents post.
  8. Expect Immediate Return – Social media is not an instant lead generator. It’s the ultimate drip campaign and can help you connect deeper with existing clients. You’re building relationships and networking – these don’t happen overnight. If you’re only thinking about ROI, you’re not doing it right.
  9. Take on Too Much – Just because there’s a hot new social network, does not mean you have to be on it right away. If you take on too much, you’ll end up doing them all wrong. Pick one and focus on getting it right first.
  10. Don’t Engage – This is social media. It’s just as much about the pull as the push. If you aren’t out there interacting with people and instead just throwing random stuff on your page – it won’t work. Even if you have great content, people are on here to interact with others. If you aren’t engaging with your connections while on social media, you’re missing a huge part of it.

As with all rules, there of course are exceptions. The thing about social media is cookie-cutter is boring – it doesn’t engage people. While these are what I think are common problems, others might not see it that way. It would be counter intuitive to tell someone exactly how to be on social media – it’s all about each individual finding their voice, their niche, and their comfort level. However, if you aren’t really sure what you’re doing and you aren’t familiar with the culture of the social media network you’re on – chances are, the above are mistakes.

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage.