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February 2012
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RealBird Wordpress Real Estate Plugin Updated

We just launched an updated version of the RealBird Nearby Homes Wordpress Plugin

RealBird Wordpress Plugin Blog Splash

This update greatly simplifies the installation process because the RealBird plugin is no longer dependent on any 3rd party ones. Just install the single RealBird plugin, activate it, set a few configuration options and you are ready to geotag your posts and automatically add your RealBird Map-based Search to your blog posts. 

How does it work?

Every time you write a new blog post (or update existing ones), you have an option provided by the RealBird plugin to add a location to it. It can be a city, a zip code or an exact address, depending on the context of your post. When you save the post (or page), the RealBird plugin will automatically geocode the location you entered and it will automatically include your private labeled RealBird Map-based Search in the post footer, centered to the place you selected. 

In short: Just enter a location with your Wordpress post and page and the RealBird plugin takes care of the rest. See the screenshot below:

RealBird Wordpress Plugin Post Editor Screenshot

Requirements:

  1. The map-search plugin is available for RealBird PRO members
  2. Works with self-hosted Wordpress 3.0 or later: This should not be an issue as best practices suggest to always update to the latest version of Wordpress
  3. PHP 5 is required: Most modern hosting platforms provide PHP 5 so this should not be an issue either for most of you

Installation for the first time:

If you haven't installed the previous version of RealBird plugin before, than all you need to do is

  1. Download the zipped plugin from the RealBird member area at Member Area > Property Search > Get Code > Wordpress plugin
  2. Go to your Wordpress Dashboard > Plugins page and upload the RealBird plugin's zip file. 
  3. After the succesfull installation, you will have to click the "Activate Plugin" link to finalize the plugin setup. 
  4. Finally, you have to configure the plugin on the WP Admin > Settings > RealBird page. Just enter your RealBird Public ID and your default city, state and you are done with the one-time set up.

If you installed the previous RealBird plugin, you have to do the following:

  1. On the Wordpress Dashboard > Plugins page, deactivate and also delete the existing RealBird plugin (version 0.9.0)
  2. On the Wordpress Dashboard > Plugins page, deactivate the GeoPress plugin, you may not need to delete it, if you want to retain geotags for your previous posts. Otherwise you can delete the GeoPress plugin too and add locations to previous posts
  3. Follow the install instructions above to set up the new plugin (current version 0.9.5). 

We hope you like the ease of use of the updated RealBird Wordpress plugin.

Should you have questions and feedback, just call or email.

-- The RealBird Team
www.realbird.com 

 


What a difference good photography makes ! Or visual communication in real estate marketing

It's no secret that a correctly priced property in an active marketplace will sell in a predictable time frame.

However:

You could speed up the sales cycle, and even sell the property at a higher price by employing professional staging, higher quality photography, and using innovative ways for marketing the listing to reach more well qualified prospects..

As a RealBird case study, please meet this beautiful home on Audubon Lakes Dr in Baton Rouge ( courtesy of Mike Denham & Carmen Widmeier ) 

14815 Audubon Lakes Dr Screenshot

Click the image above to see the actual property website

Following are some of the highlights that make this property website stand out:

  1. Visual communication #1: The background picture instantly suggests that the property is a golf property. No reading of the fine lines is required, it takes just a second for the visitor to realize it - it is visual and intuitive.
  2. Visual communication #2: The property pictures are outstanding and hence suggest "luxury" and "quality". They also suggest that the seller of this property and the real estate agents marketing it take pride in what they are selling. This results in another powerful motivation: "trust". Again, without the need of explanation. It's communicated visually.
  3. Visual communication #3: The primary photo taken during twilight is perfect for communicating "peacefulness" and "relaxation". At least that was my very first thought when first looking at the website. These are two very important considerations for buyers for calling a place a home.

As you see, attention to details like this is very powerful: within seconds of visiting the site, prospective buyers already know that the property is associated with "golf", "leisure", "luxury", "peacefulness" and "trust". Without reading a single sales pitch or digging through detailed descriptions. Powerful marketing right there.

Once these concepts are set as a baseline - as we noticed - Mike and Carmen have put a lot of effort into sharing the website with their network. They also started to announce the availability of the property on their Facebook page, days before it actually hit the market, hence building up excitement. If you click through to the property website, you'll see the growing number of social media shares (Facebook Likes, Tweets etc.) which again, add to the visual communication: New visitors instantly see the many Facebook Likes (35 at the time of writing this) and again, without thinking twice, those social counters provide positive feedback for them that the property is special and desireable, and in the case of an actual prospective buyer, this may create a sense of urgency. We also believe that the higher the counters on those social widgets are, the more likely that a new user will re-share it with their own network of friends.

So go ahead, "walk that extra mile", take good pictures, get inspired by other RealBird members' creations and make sure that you always share your own listings on your social networks. Those counters are part of the visual communication. And it takes only a few seconds.

Carmen and Mike - Congrats. Very well done ! And thanks for letting us use your RealBird property website as a case study. 

-- The RealBird Team
www.realbird.com 


Win an iPad ! The new RealBird sweepstakes starts now

Win an iPad ! RealBird SweepstakesWe just reached a great milestone with the 150,000th listing published on RealBird a few days ago. Since then, close to 1,000 more properties have been added ! To celebrate this milestone and also because we love giving away popular gadgets (and the referrals we get in exchange :) we just announced our brand new RealBird sweepstakes.

Here are the sweepstakes rules:

  • Prize: the brand new Apple iPad (16GB model, a $499 value !)
  • Drawing date: May 31, 2012
  • No purchase necessary
  • You have to be a real estate professional in the USA, Canada or the UK
  • You have to be a member of RealBird (free or PRO)
  • Each RealBird Reward Point counts as a distinct entry, the more points you collect, the more chances you have to win
  • All existing Reward Points that you may have collected in the past count as well
How to get RealBird Reward Points?
 
We also improved the Reward Program so that you can increase your chance to win:
  • You get 1 point for each new RealBird member
  • You get 10 points for each referred RealBird member who upgrades to PRO (e.g. 5 PRO referrals equals to 50 extra points)
  • You get 10 points if you submit a RealBird testimonial
You can start inviting your colleagues from the RealBird Member area by following this link (login required)
 
Should you want to post a RealBird Success Story, you can do it quickly in the member area, on the "Profile" >> "Your testimonial" page (login required). Your testimonial will appear on the RealBird's public site with links back to your real estate website and your RealBird single property websites. You can see some of the current testimonials here

Meet some of the previous sweepstakes' winners:

Amazon Kindle Fire - Nov 15, 2011

RealBird Sweepstakes winner Roberta Murhpy

Winner: Roberta Murphy of SanDiegoPreviews.com

Here is Roberta's post about it

Previous iPad version   - Nov 15, 2010

RealBird Sweepstakes iPad

Winner: Charita Cadenhead of Birmingham, AL

She even made a video for us after receiving the iPad !

Previous iPad version  - April, 2010

RealBird Sweepstakes iPad winner

Winner: Michael Layton from Palm Springs, CA

---

To get started and to enter the current sweepstakes, just log into RealBird and use the Rewards page to invite your real estate colleagues. 

Thanks for participating and for using RealBird

Good Luck !

-- The RealBird Team
www.RealBird.com 


Phone call activated, geo location enabled mobile marketing with RealBird and Twilio

This is one of the coolest and most unique features that we launched so far for the RealBird Text Message Marketing platform.

The RealBird Text Message Marketing service is built on top of the Twilio infrastructure. As we wrote when we first launched in December, the primary goal was to provide a text (SMS) keyword marketing tool for you: your prospective buyers see your call-for-action message asking them to text a keyword to your Twilio phone number and when they do so, RealBird returns to them your property information via an SMS reply, while also capturing their phone numbers for you. 

Soon after the launch, we noticed that consumers had a tendency to call the SMS phone number, rather than texting the SMS keywords, so we began to work on RealBird features that can handle incoming calls on your SMS phone number as well.

First, we made sure that prospects who call your marketing phone number are captured in your RealBird contacts database so that you can call them back with more details. Now there is another feature automatically available to RealBird PRO members:

RealBird Geo Enabled Voice Call
This feature is very unique and powerful: When a prospect calls your phone number, we not only store their contact information for you, but we automatically and instantly return to him or her an SMS message on your behalf with a geo location enabled link in it. This is how the workflow goes:

  1. Prospect calls your SMS phone number 
  2. RealBird captures his/her phone number in your RealBird database and sends you an email with the prospect's details 
  3. RealBird hangs up the phone call (we'll have more options for this soon) 
  4. Then instantly, RealBird sends an SMS message back to the prospect: The SMS contains and thank you note, your RealBird phone number to call (your regular number in your profile) 
    AND and link to a special RealBird mobile page 
  5. If this special link is followed by the user via their smartphones, RealBird asks the prospect for permission to access his/her location (via the GPS geolocation feature available in modern smartphones) 

    A) If prospects declines this (or his/her phone does not support geolocation), RealBird redirects the user to your RealBird mobile website's homepage

    B ) If prospect allows the GPS lookup, than RealBird searches your RealBird listings for the nearby property (within 0.2 miles of your prospect's current location) 

    >> If the RealBird listing is found (prospect is in front of your property within 200 feet), then RealBird redirects him/her to your mobile property website showing the property details 

    >> If the listing was not found (e.g. the prospect called your number via a magazine, print ad etc. - i.e. away from your property), RealBird redirects the prospect to your RealBird mobile site's homepage

This is a very powerful and novel feature that bridges phone calls with geolocation enabled smartphones and provides an additional way for you to turn these prospects into clients.

And just like with the SMS feature, you can use this new voice feature to WOW your prospective sellers at listing interviews: You can set up a draft listing on RealBird prior to your meeting and at your seller's house - as a demonstration - you can call your Twilio phone number, receive the geo enabled SMS message and automatically pull up their property information on your smartphone.

If this does not WOW your prospective sellers about your technical/marketing capabilities, I am not sure what will :)

We hope you will like this new RealBird feature and put it to good use.

Should you need help with setting up Twilio with RealBird, please contact us directly as Twilio does not have access to the RealBird backend and they can't support our integration. We are here to help if you need assistance. 

 

-- The RealBird Team
www.realbird.com