I’ve got plans for you Century 21

On his blog David Meerman Scott was asked by Matt Gentile, Director Public Relations and Brand Communications for Century 21 Real Estate LLC to publish the top 10 things he can

“do immediately that will help me spread the gospel of home ownership and drive brand preference to CENTURY 21.”

On David’s 9th point he says

“Each local Century 21 expert would create such things as a localized real estate group on Facebook, localized Twitter feeds, would participate on local forums, chat rooms, and blogs and perhaps create a local blog.”

Which got me thinking, what would my top 10 points be for a local Century 21 chapter (chapter, group, coven… what exactly would an amassing of realtors be called?)? So without further ado, Mr. Matt Gentile, here are my top 10 points for a local entity of Century 21:

1. I would agree with David’s 9th point. Don’t make a FaceBook for the entire company (though that wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world either) and hope everyone sign up, make one of your LOCAL sections. Like Century 21 Utah, or Century 21 Salt Lake City. Break it up so that people can communicate and collaborate based on where they are at, they can join the main corporate group if they like, but a more locally based group would be better. It would have the advantage of drawing people to it because the realtors live in the same area as them and they would be talking to someone who understands the area. Meet your customers where they are daily. If you make it easier to talk to you vs. your competition people will go there. People are a lot like electricity, path of least resistance and all of that stuff.

2. Listen. Setup some listening strategies for your agents to use to monitor what people in the area are saying online about your company, your competition, and real estate in general. This is always important and should be a focus.

3. Make a Ning group for hells sake. Do you know what you can do with those things and the collaborative power behind them? You don’t need to go out and purchase your own white label social network but if you had a central hub for all of your employees to congregate, share advice, war stories, and ideas then everyone benefits. This could be a group open to people interested in real estate or potential customers so they can see how your group works together. You could also keep it closed and make it a social group just for your employees. Third option make 2 and have one for customers and employee interaction and yet another one for employee to employee interaction.

4. Build a blog with the focus being the local real estate scene. It’s always different all around the US all of the time. When most houses were dropping in price dramatically all around the country my house in SLC went up $40k in value. Getting general advice from a single main corporate blog is not nearly as helpful as one based on my location so I can get area specific information and updates.

5. Twitter channel that feeds real estate information from both the local blog(s) as well as the corporate blog. There are several services out there that can automate this part (I myself use one to publish my new blogs directly to my Twitter feed) It should also have a live person on there who can field questions, talk about local real estate and give advice. At the very least it can be someone who doesn’t even know that much about real estate but has local contacts (who are willingly involved in the social media aspects) and screens questions to the appropriate people to help open a dialogue between a potential customer and an agent.

6. Create videos involving local agents and their advice on what people can do to increase the value of their homes, advice on buying locally, and just giving some basic tips and how-to’s when buying or selling a home. This would also work as a great chance for local agents to promote themselves and generate some leads by putting their phone number at the end.

7. If there are local forums for real estate then get involved. Offer advice, help people out even if they are not your customers. This is an opportunity to display the values of your company and will speak volumes to everyone else who is not in the forum. If there are no local forums make some. Find where the locals hangout to chat online and start a real estate section.

8. Offer some free real estate seminars at a local office, film it, post it online and make it a series. Give away information for free, show your local agents helping with no outward gain from it and it will go miles in peoples eyes. Show you care about the community and it can only help.

9. Make real estate a game. Seriously, make a game on FaceBook (MySpace, Friendster, etc) where people can buy and sell real estate based on real local pricing trends and then buy and sell all over the US. This could be like a real estate mogul game and when you go to buy or sell your properties you talk to your friendly Century 21 agent who facilitates the sell. In doing this post I came up with a lot of idea about this type of game, email me if you want to get any more details, but this would be a great way to market the brand, have people use your company (even a digital environment has an impact on people), and educate people about real estate trends and prices all over the US. This could be a truly awesome game and powerful marketing tool if done right.

10. Make a media room for all of your local sites off of your main page (ie: utah.century21.com) where people can go to see what all of your agents are doing. What groups you have people involved in online, links to realtors social network profiles, all the local videos, a portal to a local forum (you could even host that). Creating media rooms will allow people to find out if the person they are dealing with or the channel they are going through is legit or if they are being scammed by a brand hijacker and also serves to make people aware of all the social media activities your company is engaged in.

You are always going to have people in your organization that don’t want to get involved and or participate, and that’s fine. They are the one loosing out on all of the amazing content, “free” marketing, and possible leads generated by those involved. The media rooms created as sub domains off of your main page add credibility and helps people connect with you directly and in a segmented setup like yours would help tremendously.

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Think about how much things like this can change the whole game for you and your customers. People moving could click on the state they are moving to and instantly be creating a relationship with a realtor in the area they are moving to. Buying or selling a house locally I could see realtors and visit with them online before we meet in person and we can start building that relationship before ever meeting.

I would also like to add that you guys should have your own wiki or at least a dictionary of terms used. When I bought my house I was calling my Grandpa, a very successful and now retired realtor here in UT, every 10 minutes to ask him what everything meant because my realtor sucked so bad (not Century 21).

You have a lot of options when it comes to this but I think your key to all of this would be to focus on localized social media efforts. This is something that has a very real potential to make a big difference for you and your company. Also, never underestimate what hiring a good social media consultant can do for your company and your efforts (can you blame me for trying?). Maybe even taking on one in each market could help facilitate your local groups efforts.

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If you’re reading this Matt, and you have any other questions feel free to email me and we can talk about it. What about anyone else reading this? What would you suggest to Matt over at Century 21?

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