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 Real Estate Blogging... WHY? (Part 3)
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Wed, Jul 5th, 2006 12:43 am

In early 2005, I was interviewed for a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article on blogging in the workplace. The reporter joked that she had been given the story assignment because blogs were in the news, but I was the only example of a commercial blog she could find in the St. Louis area.

Yet in 2004, there were a lot of news stories being printed about how blogging would change the way businesses connected with their customers. So was St Louis just behind the rest of the country?

Well, a quick Google search today (a year and a half later) produced hundreds of web pages discussing the benefits of commercial blogging, the reasons why commercial blogs don’t work, and a dozen people trying to sell consulting to businesses who want to start blogs.

What I couldn’t find were a lot of ACTUAL commercial blogs- i.e. businesses blogging for business purposes- with a couple of exception, namely (surprise!) the real estate industry.

On one national repository of blogs, it discussed the commercial value of blogging and encouraged businesses to register their blog with them unless it was for the pornography, gambling, or REAL ESTATE because those categories were full (so we're in great company...).

As an agent wanting to know more about the commercial benefits of blogging, this should raise a lot of questions.

Why are there so many real estate blogs?

Why don’t other industries find this to be a valuable business tool?

Is our industry on the cutting edge, or were we duped into believing there’s value in something that has none?

To understand this, I first suggest looking at the few non-real estate related commercial blogs that are out there to understand why they are being used.

Moveable Type, a software blogging tool, lists a few case studies (Editor's Note: I originally linked to the case studies, but they are no longer available). As you read what makes these case studies successful, you see individuals within the companies who are really just looking for a way to connect with their customers on a different level as a way of building more customer loyalty. This isn’t marketing and it isn’t sales- its grass roots public relations!

- GM’s Fastlane blog isn’t trying to tell you why you need to buy a new Chevy in every posting. Instead it’s talking about the GM racing division, future changes to their lineup, and discussing the need to create better fuel efficient vehicles. Basically it’s car talk for people who love cars written with a GM slant by GM executives (and not the marketing department). What does GM get in return? Excitement about their racing division, feedback on unreleased vehicles from the average person off the street, and a connection with car enthusiasts who might otherwise believe the automaker doesn’t really care about them.

- A recent post on Stonyfield Farm’s Baby Babble talks about getting the Chicken Pox Vaccine. Now keep in mind Stonyfield Farm’s is a dairy that sells milk and milk products. But their blog isn’t designed to sell or even talk about milk- it’s designed to discuss health issues and dispense advice for some of their most important customers- babies. What Stonyfield Farms blog has become is a go-to resource for new mothers looking for advice. What they get in return is a happy, loyal customer base who feels that Stonyfield Farm’s cares about them and is looking out for their best interest.

- Whole Foods, a national grocery chain of organic foods, has a blog done by their CEO, John Mackey. The purpose is to keep customers informed with “open and timely communications” on the direction and focus of the company. In a recent posting, Mackey addresses negative comments about his company that were written in a book on organic foods- giving his view points and beliefs on the book.

So why haven’t more companies duplicated what these three have done with blogs?

Well, based on the “successful” commercial blogs that I’ve seen, the reason blogs probably haven’t been implemented by more companies is that they're a soft, long-term solution to relating with customers that don’t really help with short term sales or Wall Street issues.

As someone with a college degree in the warm, soft and fuzzy world of public relations but years of experience in the cold, hard brutal world of corporate sales, let me say that a LOT of corporations are run by people that came out of the sales department and corporate sales managers are trained to look for the quick fix (long term customer satisfaction be damned).

For example, while employed at Hewlett-Packard, the company was looking for a quick fix to solve all of it's sales woes, so they reorganized our sales force every 90 days like clockwork in an "attempt to better connect with our customers"- yet it was the constant reorganizing that customers frequently complained was causing the disconnect in the first place!

So to go back to our question of "Why don't other industries find this to be valuable?" I'd say the fact that other industries haven’t embraced blogging shouldn’t be of concern because the value in blogging just doesn't solve short-term immediate problems.

That brings us to the next question, why is it real estate agents have jumped on the blogging bandwagon?

And I'll address that tomorrow...

[ Next Article: << Real Estate Blogging... WHY? (Part 4) ]
[ Previous Article: >> Real Estate Blogging... WHY? (Part 2) ]

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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in tech sales which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director. In 2011, he launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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