The Real Estate Attention Economy, Relevancy, And Content

March 2, 2007

We found an excellent article on the attention economy: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/attention_economy_overview.php. Go ahead and read it as background.  We’ll be waiting here when you are done.

So, with that primer of the attention economy under your belt, let’s talk a bit about how the attention economy affects you as a real estate professional or service provider to the real estate industry.  The next few years will speed the growth of real estate internet content and the ability to share that content (listings, property data, blogs, podcasts, real estate video, etc.)  

Whether you have a blog or not, you’ll see many new blogs, vlogs, podcasts, videos, and other new technologies specifically tailored to the real estate industry. In short, whether you realize it or not, you’ve become a content provider just doing your day-to-day job, filming for your vlog, or writing to your blog.  List a property in MLS? That is content sharable by others. Write a blog post? New content. Sell a property? Yup, you guessed right…somewhere new content is generated based on the sales data and accessible to someone else as a result.

This year’s mechanism du jour driving the attention economy in the real estate world is the real estate blog. Real estate blogs are exploding in popularity and becoming a central collection point for much of the new content. What is happening to drive this information centralization? Agent blogs and single property blogs can now apparently can be set up in minutes with photos, text, and virtual tour slideshows. Interesting real estate data services such as IDX, Zillow, and Google Maps have public programming interfaces that make a plethora of plug-ins, widgets, and services instantly available on far-flung websites and often hawked by prominent, popular real estate bloggers. Real estate video sites will put videos instantly at your readers’ fingertips. The ease with which these methods and data become accessible directly drive and grow the attention economy.

As the article points out, relevancy in such growth is the real challenge. Relevancy is much more than just PageRank and links. So, what are some ways to capture your share of the attention economy in the face of stiffening competition or to retain your relevency during the growth curve? Here are some suggestions: 

Create Original Content: Many sites rely directly on automated reuse of the content of others. As technology improvements make content sharing trivial, users will seek out the source of original content. Don’t be afraid to take credit for that content and help others to redistribute it.

Provide A Tangible Value-add to Existing Content: If you are leveraging existing content, find a way to add additional value to the content whether a blog link, listing, real estate video, or other form of content.  This value-add could be as simple as focusing a general topic to real estate (much like I am doing with this blog post) , adding information or media to otherwise shared content (“the MLS link for the property but you can click here to hear a podcast/watch the video/read more about the property”), or getting different perspectives on the existing content.

Leverage Scarcity: People will choose to spend their attention on content that has some form of scarcity attached to it. Scarcity generally raises attention value for users.  The more difficult the content to get or generate, the more value users will generally attach to it. Real estate blogging is a great example – people read the Real Estate Tomato, Greg Swann, or Sellsius because not many write like them (I certainly cannot).  Their style is what keeps the attention level high on their site….not many top 10 lists or other formulaic approaches on their site…in short, breaking the rules makes them different.  We use real estate video to create content around subjects not often covered in English and in some cases Spanish. We also make property videos available in English/Portuguese that is generally only offered in Spanish.  Scarcity is something that almost EVERYONE can leverage in some way if people think about their own unique value proposition.

Find A Niche and a Voice For That Niche: I would describe an internet niches as a well defined area of interest with underserved content.  This is related to but different from the “Long Tail” which I believe refers more to making existing content more accessible. Key point: Google will only tell you if content exists – you need to decide if the existing content is underserving its audience and create content that serves the interested “community” better. We built our initial audience around a niche that people told me didnt exist at all. In some cases, you may find yourself defining the niche yourself and becoming the voice for it. Others that find commonality with your definition will soon find you.

So, now you know about the attention economy and the empirical evidence that shows that it will only get more difficult to maintain attention in an era of geometric internet growth (mirrored in real estate blogs and soon to be happening with real estate video).  The four areas above can help you stay relevant as the attention economy around real estate grows and the ease of content creation continues to improve.


One comment

  1. I think you nailed it. Excellent advice.
    PS: Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

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