Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.

Content marketing strategy and ideas concept background

Yes, content marketing works! But it’s hard, has many moving parts and doesn’t play directly into a cold-eyed ROI analysis. That was the topic of our recent webinar with Paul Hagey – managing editor at T3 Sixty and founder of HageyMedia.

Paul, who has years of writing and journalism experience, explained the importance of content marketing and shared its components, strategy roles, and goals.

Content Marketing

Simply put, content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and distributing information to attract a specific audience. It’s more important and powerful now than ever because consumer attention is very difficult to attract and maintain. Content Marketing enables you to own your own platform by providing original information that consumers can’t find anywhere else. Paul shared the Denver Ear and Tacoma agent Marguerite Giguere’s websites as two examples of successful content marketing strategies.

Components of Content Marketing

The three components of content marketing include creation (i.e., video, blog posts, photos), distribution via social media channels/email, and measurement (i.e., Google analytics, Facebook insights). Paul stressed that distribution is just as important as the quality of the content you are creating. Measuring your efforts will also help you determine which content is resonating with your audience.


To create a smart content plan, you must clarify your business goals, know your brand, identify your audience, create your content, and distribute and measure it. It’s important to understand your value proposition and what will make you stand out.


Content marketing roles (which can be outsourced or done by you) include strategists, creators, editors, distributors, community managers, and analysts. These are people who think about your business goals and the type of content you want to create, brainstorm ideas, and create and edit content — many things that Paul noted are often overlooked. Community managers help maintain and nurture online relationships by replying to questions and comments. As Katie Lance often reiterates, social media is a two-way street. Lastly, a good analyst will make the time — whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly — to assess what strategy and content is working and what is not.


Before you get started, it’s important to identify your goals for content marketing, otherwise, what’s the point? Some of these goals may include generating new leads, growing your database, increasing SEO and brand awareness, demonstrating expertise and establishing trust with consumers.

The big takeaways from Paul’s presentation include: committing to your content marketing strategy, starting small and building a strong foundation, understanding why you’re doing it, and measuring so you can tweak your strategy along the way.

Want to jumpstart your content marketing efforts? Schedule a free consultation with Paul. 


Earlier this year, we announced our new partnership with Giveback Homes to help create social change through the real estate community. As part of this effort, we recently hosted a  Sacramento Build Day with Giveback Homes and their build partner, Habitat for Humanity.

Forty of our employees volunteered to work across three job sites alongside Giveback Homes agents, Habitat for Humanity members and future home owners. We are incredibly proud of our volunteers who jumped right in and put their handyman skills to work. And we’re especially grateful to Giveback Homes for organizing an amazing day of giving back to our community.

Here’s what a few of our employees had to say about their experience.

“It felt wonderful to know that at the end of the day, a family would truly benefit from our hard work. It was indeed a labor of love and I was happy to be a part of it.” –Michele G.

“It was an experience to remember. I feel as if everyone in their lifetime should have the opportunity and/or take the time to volunteer. It makes you appreciate things more and want to take care of your home and the community around you. Everyone deserves a place to call home.” –Charro T.

“A great day in the sun, getting to know my new co-workers while making a difference in our community. This was a perfect idea. –Phil H.

“What I loved about the experience was the ability for us to come together as a team for a great cause. –Tameka P.

“I really enjoyed doing the work and team work to help to make a family in need dreams come true – can’t wait for next time.” –Jeffrey H.

Check out photos from the build day here. Learn more about Giveback Homes at and Habitat for Humanity at

businessman in airport

Inman Connect San Francisco marks the kickoff to our industry’s busy conference season each year. As we all gear up for several months of booking flights, packing suitcases, and tweaking presentations — here are some tips to help you make the most of your own conference experience.

Get “Conference-ready”

  1. Set your objectives and goals. What are you hoping to get out the conference — new industry connections? A better social media strategy? A new advertising platform? Identifying your objectives and goals upfront will help you prioritize and spend your time wisely.
  2. Plan meetings ahead of time. Depending on the length of the conference, pick three to six people with whom you’d really like to meet, and reach out to them a week or two prior to the conference to get on their calendars. At the same time, be realistic with your time and try to avoid overbooking your schedule. You never know when you might connect with someone new or run into an old friend you didn’t expect to see. Keep things somewhat flexible so you can grab a spontaneous cup of coffee or dinner.
  3. Get packing. Put together a checklist so you don’t forget networking necessities like fresh business cards, batteries/chargers, your preferred device for note-taking (e.g., laptop, iPad, notebook), snacks, and agenda (Pro tip: download the conference app if there is one).

Network and Learn

  1. Get #social. Don’t forget to share your experience with your online followers. Sharing photos and videos on social media and live tweeting is a great way to share your experience with your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat followers. For example, share one new tip you learned each day via an Instagram video. Browsing and using the official conference hashtag in your posts will also help you stay in the loop and conversation.
  2. Be flexible. As we mentioned earlier, try not to overwhelm your schedule. Conferences are a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. At Inman Connect SF, Audie Chamberlain from Lion & Orb shared the conference tip to “stay an extra day and have lunch with someone you just met.”
  3. Enjoy it! As hectic and jam-packed as a conference can feel, don’t forget to enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity for personal and professional development. This is your time away from your clients, the office, and your daily routine – so make sure you soak it up.

Follow-up and Reflect  

  1. Share your insights and takeaways. Now that you’re back in the office with your notes and “aha moments,” share them! Create a Google doc to dump all of your big takeaways and notes for your team to read. Schedule a brainstorming session so you can give your team a conference summary, share ideas and hear their thoughts. Taking the time to reflect on who you’ve met and what you’ve learned can help you effectively implement these new tips and ideas into your business.
  2. Follow up, follow up, follow up. This might be our most important post-conference tip. It’s extremely important to follow up with the people you met. Whether it’s a brief email, handwritten note, or LinkedIn invitation, make sure to follow up within 3-5 days. After all, relationships don’t grow from just seeing someone twice a year at a conference.
  3. Decide if you’ll go again. As you reflect on your time at the conference, think about whether it’s worth attending again. Did you like the size? Was the information shared new or relevant to you? Were the attendees and vendors people with whom you could do business? Hopefully the conference was everything you expected and more. And perhaps next time you’ll want to bring some of your team members to share the experience!

Attending an upcoming conference? Check our conference map to see if we’ll be there!

Chinese Proverb

Just like every year, Inman Connect SF ends as quickly as it arrives. It feels as though we blink and just like that, the content packed week of networking and learning is gone in a flash – leaving us with great memories, business cards to sort and information from the top leaders in the industry to reflect on.

Although we were unable to attend every session during the week, below are our favorite tweet-worthy quotes from the event.

Looking for more quotes and key takeaways from the conference? Browse the #ICSF feed on Twitter!


Check out our favorite places while you’re in San Francisco.

We are especially excited for the Inman Connect® conference kicking off this week — because it’s taking place in our hometown, San Francisco! Ready for a week filled with networking, learning, sharing, catching up with old friends, and making new connections? We are! And for those of you who are not local, our San Francisco Team is sharing their favorite spots, ranging from where to get a great cup of coffee to the best places to take in the stunning views this city offers.

Need coffee? If you’re in need of an energy boost, grab a cup of coffee at Capital One Café/Peets. Enjoy 50% off all drinks if you have a CapitalOne Card, Blue Bottle, Philz Coffee or Mazarine Coffee.

Dinner ideas? Our CEO’s top picks include Tosca Café and Katanaya in Union Square. Other great eats include southern tastes at Hops & Hominy, the Italian-Californian eatery Puccini & Pinetti and the bar and lounge at Press Club.  Should you venture farther out, enjoy a meal at Little Star Pizza, Brenda’s Meat & Three, Octavia, Cala Restaurant, The Little Chihuahua, Nopa, Burma Superstar and Caffe Sport. For great Chinese food, check out the Hunan or City View Restaurant (best soup dumplings ever!).

Exercise? If you’re looking for somewhere to take a morning run or bike ride before the conference begins, the Embarcadero offers a great waterfront path, and also runs past the Ferry Building. Huntington Park is also not far — a great area to walk or relax and is surrounded by the famous Grace Cathedral and Fairmont Hotel, plus bonus views of the bay.

Breathtaking views? San Francisco is full of photo ops. If you have time, check out the Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, Coit Tower, Top of the Mark, Lombard Street, Dolores Park, Cliff House, and Lyon Street Steps.

If you are extending your stay past the conference, there is still plenty to do. Hiking the Marin Headlands, spending an afternoon at Baker Beach, visiting the SFMOMA, having a picnic in Golden Gate Park, touring Alcatraz, biking around Sausalito, or unwinding in Napa/Sonoma are sure to make your trip a memorable one!

If you’re planning to attend Inman Connect this week, don’t forget to stop by our booth to learn how you can make the most of your referral business!

Man and woman couple help silhouette in mountains

Think you don’t need a real estate coach? Think again. That was the topic of our most recent webinar when our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner, sat down with personal and business coach Jody Burr.

Jody, a real estate conference speaker and panelist who works with real estate professionals and business owners nationwide, answered some of our questions on how working with a coach can help take your business to the next level.

What are the differences between a coach, a consultant, and a therapist?

“A consultant gives advice and guidance in their area of expertise, and a therapist tends to focus on resolving past issues. A coach looks at your individual desires and goals to help you achieve them. A coach tends to ask more than tell; focuses on helping to make you better at the job you know.”

Why would a top agent need a coach?

“Coaching can transform your business and bring it to the next level. Just because you are good at what you do, doesn’t mean there aren’t areas where you can excel to a greater extent or be more efficient. Coaching can also help you reach your most important goals, be more effective, and help both your personal and business relationships.”

How would a real estate agent use a coach?

“Coaching real estate professionals usually focuses on individual needs, goals, priorities, strengths, and challenges. For example, where you want to grow your business, and what you want to accelerate. I had one client who was on-call 24 hours a day and needed personal time. Together, we worked to set up boundaries that allowed her the personal time guilt-free, but did not impact her client satisfaction — or performance.”

What are the top areas with which you would typically help an agent?

“Time management can be a big issue. If you are not really accountable to anyone, it’s easy to fall into traps of not managing your time correctly. It’s important to find a way to work smarter, not harder. Also, sometimes our own limited thinking can prevent us from getting where we want to go. Getting those thoughts out of the way is critical for exceeding your expectations. A coach can help you build the concrete steps to get you there.”

How do I find a coach?  

“See if any colleagues or friends have used a coach and can give you a referral. The International Coaching Federation and Coaching Training Institute also have directories of coaches in your area. Try to get a sample session with a coach beforehand to make sure it’s a good fit.”

Is it important to use a certified coach?

“Yes, because a certified coach has gone through extensive training. Coaching is about asking questions that help people figure out what’s important to them. It’s also an unregulated business, so anyone can say they are a coach without any training. By getting someone who is certified, you know you are working with someone who knows what they are doing.”

What should I look for when finding the right coach?

“When exploring different coaches, you should look for someone with whom you feel a connection. A good coach will be more concerned about you getting what you need rather than them getting the business. A coach’s job is to make sure they help you achieve your goals. Explore and research several coaches to ensure you find the right one.”

How long does the average coaching relationship last?

“It really depends. The coach and the client create what is called a designed alliance — an agreement of how they will work together. Coaches typically will start a contract for a period of time (e.g., 3 months, 4 months, 6 months). At the end of the contract it’s on a month-by-month basis. Typically, if it’s a good fit, you can stay indefinitely. At the end of the day, it’s up to you for how long you want to do it.”

How has coaching changed over the last few years?

“Coaching today is getting a lot more attention and has become much more acceptable as a key part of business and success. Most entrepreneurs and businesses site coaching as a major contributor to their success.”

Still wondering if a real estate coach is right for you? Try a complimentary coaching session with Jody by phone to explore the process. 


We’ve been talking a lot about Snapchat lately and how it can help you be more successful. Hopefully you’ve caught our previous two blog posts, “6 Reasons Agents Should Join the Snapchat Phenomenon” and “Snapchat 101 – Part 2: Get started in 3 easy steps.” In our final Snapchat blog, we’re sharing tips on how to incorporate the real-time, photo app into your business.

Tell real-time stories. Real estate is all about telling a story, and Snapchat allows users to do just that. Potential buyers don’t just want to see the house for sale — they want to envision their lives there, and see the quaint coffee shop just around the corner, the charming neighborhood they’ll get to be a part of, and the middle school that is just a quick drive down the road. Think of fun ways you can tell a story beyond the home, such as reviewing a local restaurant or taking a walk through a nearby park. With Snapchat, all you need is your smartphone to show that you are the neighborhood expert.

Hold client attention. Snapchat offers a great way for you to maintain client engagement and keep you top of mind. If you’re house hunting for your buyers, you could send them videos and pictures of the homes you are touring while highlighting key features they are looking for. They can quickly send you a direct message for more information if they see one they like. If you’re listing your client’s home, send them pictures of you hosting the open house or putting together the paperwork for the closing. It will show them that you are tech savvy, working hard, and easy to reach if needed. Once you close a deal, ask your clients if you can record a quick testimonial video for you to share with your followers.

Get creative with custom geofilters. Snapchat geofilters have become a popular way for businesses to build brand recognition. Anyone can create a custom filter with their logo and target Snapchat users at a specific location or event. Social media guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, shared a creative example of how an agent in Soho could buy filters on top of the hottest restaurants in the neighborhood. He explains, “For the cool, affluent 36-year old who can afford a 3-million-dollar apartment in Soho, a real estate agent who is smart enough to create a filter on Snapchat is exactly the person who is going to win that business.” We recently experimented with our own custom geofilter when our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner, spoke at the AFIRE conference in Arizona. We created a custom ReferralExchange Snapchat filter that reflected both the conference and location. Check it out here.

We hope you found our Snapchat tips useful. Don’t forget to add ReferralExchange on Snapchat here for exclusive pictures and videos!


So, you’ve decided to join the Snapchat phenomenon – now what? In the second of three blogs, we show you how to get started on Snapchat in three easy steps. Click here to read the first blog.

  • Create your profile and keep it consistent. This step might seem like a no-brainer, but you can’t begin to think about taking pictures or videos until you’ve created your account – and you want to make it easy for your followers on other social channels to find you. Download the app on your phone and try to use the same username (or something similar) as your other social accounts (e.g., Twitter, Instagram). Next, create your profile photo – four quick photos, which create a moving GIF. A black dot pattern will appear around your yellow profile image. This is your Snapcode – and it’s the easiest way for people to add you on the platform (they can add you by simply scanning the image).
  • Play around. Snapchat is supposed to be fun, so spend some time playing around on the app to familiarize yourself with it. Take fun videos and pictures around your office or home, and practice with the different filters and caption features. Going on a summer vacation? A vacation is a great opportunity to get creative and practice with the app by taking fun snaps on your trip. In addition, add other users to see what they are posting for inspiration. You can add users from your address book, by searching their username or by scanning their Snapcode. Need suggestions to get started? Start by following social media gurus @garyvee and @katielance1, digital marketer @joelcomm, content marketing coach @schmittastic and real estate agents @deanoullette and @dustinbrohm.
  • Tell others. Now that you’re on your way to becoming a Snapchat pro, it’s time to start promoting your account. Use your existing social media channels to garner new followers. Post, tweet, text and email your personal Snapchat URL (e.g., or Snapcode to allow others to easily add you. You can find an example here. Updating your existing social media profile pictures with your Snapchat picture is another great way to grab attention and cross-promote your new account. If you have a friend or agent in your office who is a Snapchat expert, don’t be afraid to ask them for tips or a quick demo!

Be sure to check back for our final Snapchat blog next week which will give you tips on incorporating Snapchat into your business.

We have a Snapchat channel as well. Add ReferralExchange here for exclusive, pictures and videos!


“Don’t be afraid to make big mistakes.”   ̶ Ali Hamed, ReferralExchange Founder

From working 120-hour weeks, sleeping on an air mattress, and listening to the Jurassic Park soundtrack 8,000+ times — our founder, Ali Hamed, went on to write the code for what is now the largest agent-to-agent real estate referral network in the nation. He recently shared his journey to success at the 1000Watt “Turn On” event in Portland.

For Ali, it all started with walking away from his dream to become a professional baseball player, followed by several failed ventures. But, as he reminds us, it’s not about failure or falling down, it’s about seeing that what you do next is indifferent to all that has happened – approaching every event in your life with “fresh eyes.” For Ali, failure is no obstacle, and it shouldn’t be for you either.

Below are five life lessons he learned from his journey.

  1. Your heart must be in it. To reach any goal, it’s imperative that your heart must “burn with hunger” for it.
  1. There are no short cuts – don’t believe the fairytales. Build “brick-by-brick,” find the rhythm to your drive, don’t expect anyone to help you and always be in doubt.
  1. Don’t be afraid to make big mistakes. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes. You will find the right path through the wrong ones.
  1. Don’t listen to the saying “never quit.” That’s a trap. Play the cards as best you can in the games you want in life, sometimes the house wins and sometimes it’s your lucky day.
  1. Every day is Day Zero – a fresh start. Even if you win or lose, have a good day or a bad day; just remember, every day is a new opportunity.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.


Managing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts for your business can be challenging. So is it really necessary to add another social media account to the list?

If we’re talking about Snapchat – the real-time image-based messaging app that has 100 million daily users, and your client base is primarily Gen Xers and Millennials – the short answer is yes. While you may be apprehensive to create yet another social platform, this app has already proven to be an excellent way to create client engagement and retention. Given below are six reasons you should embrace the Snapchat phenomenon.

  1. Millennials love it. Snapchat embodies everything millennials enjoy – content that is fun, fast, on-demand, easily accessible and engaging. According to a recent NAR study, 35 percent of all buyers were millennials, which means you want to be where this younger generation is – and that’s on Snapchat. In addition, millennial homebuyers expect their real estate agent to be tech savvy and current with the latest trends and apps, just like they are. Imagine how impressed your clients would be if you sent them a few Snapchat videos of the homes you were previewing for them!
  1. Real estate is a visual business. It’s not news that compelling photos and videos significantly help the sale of a home. Fortunately for those in the real estate industry, that’s what Snapchat is all about. Use the app as a “teaser” for your listings, sharing the best features of the home in a few snaps. In seconds, if your buyer likes what they saw, they’ll likely pick up the phone to call or schedule a tour. You can also build content around the neighborhoods you specialize in, such as sharing photos at your favorite local restaurant or coffee shop.
  1. You can use your current accounts to grow your following. Using your established social media accounts to help cross promote your Snapchat account is a great way to grow your following. For example, tweet a photo of your new listings and then tell your followers to add you on Snapchat for exclusive videos of the property. Plus, saving and repurposing your Snapchat videos on other channels is fast and easy.
  1. It’s a temporary, real-time engagement. Recipients on Snapchat can only view photos for one to ten seconds (24 hours when posted to your story) before it’s gone for good. There are two big benefits to this: the first is not having to hassle with the data storage of emailing and texting photos and videos. The second is having the recipient’s undivided attention because they don’t have distractions such as a newsfeed to intercept the message you’re trying to send them. In addition, if you send out a few photos on Snapchat of a home you’re listing, viewers will know those photos were taken the day you posted them and that they’re not six-year-old photos when the home might have been in a different condition. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.
  1. It’s fun. Unlike other social media channels and apps, Snapchat does not show engagement metrics, such as how many followers you have or how many shares your posts have garnered. Instead, users can only see who has viewed the videos and photos they share. This means more time for you to focus on the fun and compelling content you are going to share, and less time worrying about another agent having more followers or “likes” than you. No numbers = no worry. Fun filters and the ability to easily add text captions make the process super simple.
  1. It’s not going anywhere. Snapchat’s popularity is only a glimpse at where technology and the real estate industry is headed. There’s no better time than now to start learning and embracing this fast-paced social media app. You can download the free app here.

There are numerous online tutorials available if you don’t have a teenager or millennial around to help you. Be sure to check back on our next two blogs – the first will give you some tips to help you start using Snapchat like a pro, and the final blog will give you tips on incorporating Snapchat into your business.

We have a Snapchat Channel as well. Add ReferralExchange here for exclusive, pictures and videos!