"I'm a fan of owning your domain, and I think that's something that you need to do early on if you want to establish a Web presence. It's a sound investment."
The first thing local businesses need to do is establish a Web presence. That means securing your own domain name and hosting account where you can control the content.
Then you need to create content, with the goal of engaging your audience, in order to build awareness and showcase that you're a local expert.
Try this exercise: Make two lists. On one list, put down everything you know about your industry (all the processes, technical jargon, etc). On the other list, put down your hobbies and things you're passionate about that will make you relatable to the audience. It's important to have both lists so there's a balance of being interesting to the audience and talking about the industry and selling.
Balancing Personal and Professional Content
"In terms of what that proper balance is, I also think that you need to determine for yourself or ask yourself, 'What sorts of things am I willing to talk about, and what sorts of things am I not willing to talk about? Where would I cross the line?' I think some things are too personal."
It's important to be consistent with your content. Write on a weekly basis. This lets the audience know that you're consistent and reliable.
Everything you do on the Internet is permanent, so it's important to maintain a line (of your own choosing) between sharing personal information in your professional spaces. But, it's important to be relatable, so don't avoid sharing any personal information.
A good example can be heard in
an interview Ricardo did with real estate agent Dale Chumbley
. For 365 days he shared one unique and different thing to do in the Portland and Vancouver areas. He was selling the community before selling houses in that community. It earned him lots of recognition, traffic, and Facebook fans.
Listening and Being Helpful in Social Media
"I think we're too quick to see it as an opportunity - 'Wow, this person is getting a lot of traffic. They have a lot of followers. Let me do the same.' So the focus is not so much on how can I help people and connect with them and provide valuable advice. It's more, how do I get that many followers to get them to promote my content. I think that's the wrong approach."
With social media, you need to
seek to be helpful first
. Get to know your target demographic well, and find opportunities to connect and actually interact.
A good tip is to use Twitter lists to segment different audiences. Check those lists often and see if you can chime in with an answer to someone's question or help someone out.
For help filtering out the noise on Twitter and finding people you can help based on specific keywords, check out the Firefox extension/Google Chrome add-on
"I have a newsletter on my blog, and then using Darren Rowse's
31 Days to Build a Better Blog
, every business day we go through one of the lessons in Darren's ebook."
Ricardo has a great newsletter
where he helps real estate agents find different topics to blog about. In the weekly newsletter he sources different topics and passes it on for free to subscribers and helps them turn the information around and target it to their specific area.
"So the headline is probably the hardest part. I look at upwards of 40 real estate blogs or websites on a daily basis, and we tend to really butcher headlines."
Your headline should give a sneak peek at what your content contains. It's like a promise of what's in the post. The headline is important not only for SEO, but for sharing. Write something that's enticing and shareable by people.
Outrageous headlines and list posts tend to do well and are shared by people on social media.