Three guidelines for blogging gleaned from the first Center for Real Estate & Social Technologies survey

Over the past two weeks I’ve had a little bit of time to think about and discuss the findings of the first CREST real estate blogging survey with REALTORS® and social media experts in the industry. After spending nearly twenty hours poring over the data, writing the executive summary, preparing for a session at RE BarCamp, and answering questions about the report, I’m ready to start talking about the implications. Let’s get practical, shall we?

I’ve distilled the findings of the first CREST survey into three actionable things you can do to maximize your real estate blogging effectiveness. For reference, check out an abbreviated version of the results, or whip out your credit card and drop $9 to buy the full version. Of course, if you completed our first survey and provided us with your e-mail address, you’ve already received the full version.

Here are my conclusions:

1. THE TENURE EFFECT: The longer you blog the better it gets.

From visitors, to comments, to RSS subscribers, there is a positive correlation between your tenure as a blogger and these metrics. The CREST data suggests that there is a strategic inflection point after three years of blogging. Blogs started in 2005 received more than double the median comments, nearly triple the median unique visitors, and nearly six times the number of subscribers. I don’t think this is as simple as being a long-time blogger, though. Just because you’ve been blogging since 2005 (or earlier) doesn’t mean you’ll just automatically get better traffic and engagement, like some kind of entitlement. My suspicion is that the tenure effect is less about tenure and more about commitment. In other words, there are some real estate pros who started blogging many years ago and just decided it wasn’t right for them. They aren’t around to answer the survey. The best of those early bloggers — the ones who have stuck to it, continually trying to perfect their craft — ARE still around. And, I might add, they are more inclined to answer a survey like this one, because they want to compare their results to their peers and learn how to get even better. Is there a tenure effect? Yes. Is it based only on number of years blogging? Not likely. Bottom line: Keep blogging! The positive effects multiply as time goes on, but you’ll have to work hard, too.

2. FOR MORE ENGAGEMENT, POST LESS: The law of diminishing returns applies to blog posts.

The CREST data shows that the more you blog, the less engaged your readers are on a per-post basis. For example, on a per-post basis, respondents received the highest average number of comments when they posted between one and 10 times per month. If they posted between 21 and 30 times per month, the CREST data shows that they received the highest number of unique visitors per post. The CREST data shows that posting more than once per day triggers the law of diminishing returns. The lowest number of comments and unique visitors on a per-post basis was found among those bloggers who posted 31 times or more in a month. Bottom line: To maximize unique visitors per post, author between 20 and 30 posts per month on average.

3. PARTIAL TEXT RSS FEEDS DON’T PAY: Publish a full text RSS feed for more unique visitors.

At some point, virtually all bloggers are tempted to publish a partial text RSS feed. Many assume that by publishing only a snippet of their content by RSS, they’ll force subscribers to click through to their blog, and thereby earn more site visitors. The CREST data does not support this assumption. In fact, real estate bloggers who published a full text RSS feed received almost double the number of unique visitors per post than those who published a partial text RSS feed. I’ll leave it to the commenters to conjecture about why this is as it is. Bottom line: Publish a full text RSS feed.

Of course, YMMV, but the collective experience of 128 real estate bloggers is certainly more accurate than any one blogger’s isolated experience. I welcome your thoughts and conclusions about the first CREST survey results, leave a comment or link to us to join the conversation. And, before you click away from VARbuzz, please complete our second real estate blogging survey, which focuses on clients earned, a little bit of social networking, and frequently-used blog widgets.

Also, be sure to check out Mark Eckenrode’s analysis of our survey. He has some great insights, including a simple way for REALTORS® to reap potentially hundreds of potential prospects.

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11 Responses to Three guidelines for blogging gleaned from the first Center for Real Estate & Social Technologies survey

  1. Jim Cronin says:

    Well this is invaluable!

    I can tell you from my own experience, yes, I get more comments when I post less. However, my traffic slumps to half if I wait to long to post.
    At this point I believe the optimum posting schedule for my topics is 2-3 times a week.. If I could only keep that pace :)

    Regarding the truncated RSS feed… i torn on that one. I think it depends on whether you are conscious of the truncation or not. In order to make it work, you’ll need a strong enough intro with a strong enough call to action to get the CLICK. If you are good at that, then I can see it in fact working better for you to truncate the article’s feed.

  2. Daniel Noll says:

    I’m not in the real estate business (in fact, my wife and I are rather transient, traveling around the world). At any rate, I find real estate blogs to be full of blogging wisdom.

    Anyhow. Regarding the tenure effect, I agree that commitment is big. Quality also has to count for something. Perhaps quality (and visitors) beget commitment?

    Regarding frequency of posts and RSS partial feeds, it depends. Based on my reading, many of us are torn. We post the full feed, banking that the reader will return to our site for photos and other content outside of the current post they happen to be consuming on the feed.

    Regarding frequency, we post when we can (which means never when we are without electricity and in the middle of nowhere) and about 2-3x weekly if we happen to be well-connected.
    Cheers,
    Dan
    P.S. My wife and I lived in Arlington, Falls Church and Vienna previously.

  3. Brian Block says:

    Ben,

    Excellent first study! I agree with all your findings and was happy to receive a copy of the report last week at REBARCamp — also felt privileged to have the 2 sided version when most only had the one sided copy.

    I’ll offer to sell copies of mine for the discounted rate of $7.50 if anyone is interested.

  4. Thanks for the comments, Brian, Dan and Jim! Please spread the word about the second survey. The better the responses, the more accurate the results!

    Obviously a lot of folks are torn on the whole full/partial RSS issue. We’re A/B testing full versus partial text RSS at VARbuzz. I can tell you that readers overwhelmingly prefer full when given a choice. And our results indicate that offering a full text feed actually increases unique visitors on a per-post basis. Blog karma purists, like me, will also support full text over partial. My data (and experience) indicates that full text feed is the only way to go. But as I said in the post, YMMV.

    Dan, drop me a line when your travels bring you back through Virginia!

  5. Cindy Jones says:

    I’m not sure that # 1 counts for everyone. I laugh when I read some of my first posts and not because they were supposed to be funny but there are others who I call serial bloggers who just keep hitting the cyberwaves with the same thing over and over again. They appear to have pretty strong readership so it makes me wonder if trying to think about what you write is worth it :-)

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  8. Scott Nellé says:

    I’m only speculating here, but I feel like there could be some correlation between full-text RSS, increased clickthroughs, and community activity. People tend to comment on things that they find interesting and I believe people tend to be interested by complete thoughts. If you cut your idea short, people might be as likely to pass on it as they are to click through to find the conclusion. Having read to the conclusion, however, people may be more likely to click through in order to read and participate in the follow-up discussion. Perhaps that’s why people seem to click through more with full-text feeds.

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  11. Wow, suprise like anything else in this world if you stick to it and work on improving you have excellent results. Who would have guessed that to be true. Sorry about the sarcasim I just am suprised that people still have to be told that you get better results if you stay committed to something.

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