Social Media for the Appraiser: A Multi-Channel Approach

Click here to load reader

  • date post

  • Category


  • view

  • download


Embed Size (px)

Transcript of Social Media for the Appraiser: A Multi-Channel Approach

Social Media for the Appraiser: A Multi-Channel Approach by Jane C. Brennom, ISA CAPP and Todd W. Sigety, ISA CAPPIntroduction This paper will provide an overview of the internet tools that professional appraisers can use to build an effective internet presence and make it easy for potential clients to find them through searches. As welldocumented by the Pew Research Center1, American Express Open2, and the 2010 Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey3, the use of internet search and social networking by individuals and businesses is growing significantly. More specifically, the Pew survey reports that nearly 6 in 10 adult consumers now perform online research before buying a product or service. The 2010 Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey states that in-house attorneys now are using new media platforms to deepen their professional networks; to obtain their legal, business, and industry news and information. The American Express Open survey reveals that four-in-ten businesses now indicate use of at least one social media platform. Perhaps even more significant is the growth of social media platforms, with the American Express Open survey revealing only one year ago just one-in-ten business owners were using online social networking to promote their businesses. This trend is further evidenced by Verizon recently announcing that it will stop providing Yellow Pages in some markets because the vast majority of users are finding telephone numbers on the internet. With such a growing number of potential clients searching the internet for services and products, appraisers need to seriously consider becoming active internet marketers or risk a progressive loss of business. Only a few years ago, a simple static website was considered to be effective internet marketing. However, just as the number of internet users has been growing so has the range and sophistication of tools available. The

arrival of Web 2.0 technology has ushered in increasing depth and interactivity of web sites, a shift from broad-based push to pull advertising promotions and better integration of branding. Depth and interactivity require not only text, but images, videos, news stories, links, testimonials, comments, wall posts, status updates, discussion boards and blogs. Pull promotions require appraisers to target their online audiences and become providers of user-specific, content-based, interactive information. The content must be flexibly presented and kept interesting for visitors ranging from casual lookers to clients, professional in its presentation, and engaging to the degree necessary to prompt any site visitor to respond to calls for action. Branding requires that all the depth, interactivity and flexibility be selfconsistent and seamlessly integrated. Today, effective internet marketing requires the use of multiple tools, more typically called channels by marketers. These can include: Websites Email Newsletters and Magazines Blogs Social Networking Landing Pages Video Podcasts Online Advertising Press Releases

Most appraisers are familiar with some or all of these channels. However, for a successful online strategy there needs to be more than just knowledge of individual channels. There needs to be purposeful connectivity between all the channels used. This means a website could be connected to a blog which connects to a LinkedIn profile which contains CV information as well as references to articles written and on and on through the whole chain of channel connection possibilities. The aggregate of information presented through connectivity can greatly exceed that which166 Jane C. Brennom and Todd W. Sigety

would be appropriate on any single channel. This aggregate will raise the profile of an appraisal practice toward the end of attracting more clients and generating more income. As the length of the list of channels implies, staying current with constantly advancing tools and understanding how to select, use and integrate them effectively will require most appraisers to continually learn new internet skills or hire internet experts to help. Each appraiser will need to assess which channels are appropriate and affordable for his or her business strategy, which ones will require outside help and to what degree outside help may be needed. Appropriateness mostly relates to the target audience. For example, an appraiser wanting to limit work to local professionals such as trust officers and lawyers probably doesn't need to blog, but may benefit greatly from a newsletter aimed at such professionals to educate them on relevant issues, such as how to communicate effectively with an appraiser to reduce cost for their clients and how changes in USPAP may affect appraisers interaction with lawyers. Affordability may relate to either dollars or time. Dollar costs are obvious, but time spent directly or indirectly managing internet marketing activities represents a very real opportunity cost because that time can't be used for generating billings for appraising. For example, most appraisers spend time using email for day-to-day communicating. However, few appraisers are going to want to invest time in running their own email system (although it is certainly possible to do so). On the other hand, completely managing a social networking presence such as LinkedIn is less time and knowledge intensive, although the help of a professional may well improve branding. With these general thoughts and guidelines in mind, the rest of this article will provide overviews of the channels and some resource suggestions for follow up by those interested in more detail about particular channels. Websites In simple terms, The Web is one of many electronic information exchanges that comprise the Internet, and the basic idea of the Web is that

Social Media for the Appraiser: A Multi-Channel Approach


one can read and often interact with information that anyone else has stored on a publicly accessible space called their website. An appraisal business today needs a professional-looking, easy-touse website that helps internet users learn about the appraiser, the appraiser's business and how to avail themselves of the appraiser's services and products. Appraisers with a website have a clear competitive advantage. Some aspects of that advantage are: 24/7 Availability - A website is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many people surf the web when tradition businesses are closed. However, with a high-quality website they can find, it is open at their convenience. Is the competition open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Are you? Deliver Significant Information - More than ever before, people are turning away from traditional means of finding information and looking online. Yellow pages, directories, and printed materials are being used less. Project a Professional Image -With a well-organized, informative and up-to-date website, visitors will see a business at its best all the time. Such professionalism helps instill client confidence and might just encourage them to tell others about the site. Increase Revenue - According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses that have websites are averaging $1.07 million per year in sales more than small businesses not online. That equates to 39% higher revenue. Add Clients - 217 million Americans regularly use the Internet. Of those, 43.7 million use broadband. According to the Small Business Administration, 50% of Internet sales are from new customers. Having a website will significantly improve customer reach no matter what services or products it offers. Not Just Local, Global - Most small businesses are only able to market to their town and surrounding communities. With a website, one can take services around the world. Worldwide Internet usage is one billion, so small odds can still produce new clients. One of the authors has,168 Jane C. Brennom and Todd W. Sigety

in fact, done an appraisal of a unique art object for a client in New Zealand, more than 7000 miles away. The client could not find appropriate expertise for that particular object in New Zealand and located the author through information on the internet. One can rent web space operated by an Internet service provider (ISP). This is known as getting someone to host a website. Generally, to set up a website, one will need a hosting package (a basic contract with an ISP to give so much disk space and bandwidth (the maximum amount of information that a website can transfer out to other people each month). The web space is simply a folder (directory) on the ISPs server and it will have a fairly obscure and unmemorable name such as: The ISP name/number is not for name recognition or branding, so a more memorable name is needed called a domain name. The domain name is simply a friendly address that makes a website easier to find. The domain address is set up to point to the real address of the ISPs server so when people type the domain name into their Web browser, they are automatically redirected to the correct address without actually having to worry about what it is. The domain name is another important point of branding. Some ISPs offer a user-friendly system where one simply purchases a domain name and hosting package for a single annual payment (generally, it will be less than about $60). Buying a domain name conveys legal ownership and immediate registration on a central database known as WHOIS, so that other people can't use the same name. Setting up a domain name and Web hosting package takes about five minutes; creating a website can take a lot longer because it means writing and editing all the information needed, coming up with a visually attractive page layout, finding photographs, and integrating all of it. Generally, there are three ways to create web pages. The first is to use an editing program that does all the hidden