What’s wrong with Real Estate Blogs

What’s wrong with Real Estate Blogs

Frankie Jones at Inman posted a fascinating interview with Russ Cofano of Rain City Guide on the subject of real estate weblogging and the ‘bloginars’ Russ and Dustin Luther, also of Rain City Guide, have been running. The interview is extensive, and I’m only going to touch on a piece of it, so you should go read the whole thing.

The meat of the matter for me is Russ going through his ideas on do-s and don’t-s for real estate weblogs. Like this:

Here is a list of 10 posts that make for great blog content:Stories
Data (Charts, Tables, Maps)
Book Reviews
Current Events
Neighborhood Descriptions
Local Events (Fun Stuff!)
Advice for Buyers/Sellers
Advice for other Agents

I don’t hate this stuff, but some of it seems to tread dangerously close to the turf Seth Godin calls a Cat Blog. Couple that with “Advice for other Agents” and we trip on the schizophrenia that seems to afflict many real estate weblogs — and BloodhoundBlog is guiltier than most.

Real Estate Weblogs for Realtors

Witness: Most real estate weblogs are run by agents or brokerages, and at least one meta-goal is to scare up business. But what is interesting to potential clients is very different from what is interesting to the weblogger. Data, current events, neighborhoods — all that stuff is great, but news about it is not in short supply, and it’s not always easy to come up with an original take on it. On the other hand, the business of the real estate business is endlessly varied and fascinating — even though it might be boring or even completely off-putting to potential clients. We seem to end up talking two games, client-focused material that can too-easily slip into blatant advertising, and inside-baseball commentary for well-schooled insiders.

(I’ve thought about writing a Wiki-fier in PHP that would pre-process a web posting, tagging delimited terms with Wikipedia look-ups, in case I’m assuming that readers know the jargon I’m using when in fact they don’t.)

What it Takes to Get the Right format

(The Latin root of the word discursive, as in discursive prose, is discurro, which literally translates to, “I run this way and that.” Discursive prose is the means by which we tame our scattered minds and focus them to a purpose. One of the huge benefits of weblogging, and of writing generally, is to focus the mind so that we might discover the truth. This is why I write so much about apprehension, which is an active pursuit of knowledge, rather than about comprehension, which is merely a passive if not completely prostrate possession of information. So: What’s wrong with real estate weblogs, including our own? Let’s write about it and see what emerges.)

Back to Cofano:

[T]he following make for less effective blog posts:Bubble Articles
Automated Content
Obvious Self-Promotion
“Brochure” Type Information (leave that to the web site)
Incoherent Rambles

I cannot imagine what he means by “Incoherent Rambles”… I agree about the “Cut-and-Paste” theft of articles from other sources. It’s cheesy even if attributed, and, of course, often it’s simple plagiarism. I like the idea of a fairly high wall between weblog content and outright selling.

Mike emailed me to ask my thoughts about posting listings in real estate weblogs. Three words: I’m against it.

Building Relationships in Real Estate

A weblog is a relationship — and a very complicated relationship at that. It’s like broadcasting in the sense that the content is simply out there, a one-way feed for whomever happens to find it. And yet it’s like a letter or a phone call in that it is intensely private and often viscerally intimate at the moment the content is transferred. Through commenting, it is social in a way that no broadcast medium before it has been. And yet is ultimately completely individual — you may be talking to no one but yourself. But, then again, at the meta-level, weblog-to-weblog, the whole thing can become a conversation — disjoint but ultimately complete and rigorous, from cacophony to consensus, often in record time. It becomes, serendipitous, a sort of relay of discursive discovery.

For all those reasons, I think every post should be interesting — and if you can’t make it interesting, make it brief. An entry like, “New listing in Old town Scottsdale,” with the link to the listing is not a problem. But if I start to feel like you’re selling me — which means that your objective is your own self-interest, not mine and not anything we might share together — I’m for the road. I don’t read half of everything I should read. There’s no way I’m going to continue reading your content once I’ve decided that I shouldn’t.

But: As much as I don’t like to see listings in a real estate weblog, I don’t think they’re a deal killer — unless listings are all the content there is. Stolen content chills my blood, but it’s not all that common, at least not where I go. More interesting to me is the issue of schizophrenia I raise above. Can a real estate weblog adequately serve two very different constituencies — potential clients and professional insiders — at the same time?

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