Ricardo Bueno joins us for another episode of Inbound Now.
Ricardo works for Diverse Solutions. He is an expert on the topics of local niche blogging and lead generation.
In this episode, we chat about:
- Where local businesses should start online with content creation
- How to Listen and be helpful in social media
- Tips for writing killer headlines
David: All right. Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of HubSpot’s Inbound Now. I’m your host, David Wells, and with me today is Ricardo Bueno. Welcome to the show, Ricardo.
Ricardo: How’s it going? Thanks for having me.
David: It’s going good. Ricardo works for a company called Diverse Solutions. He’s a professional speaker, and he talks a lot on the topics of local niche blogging and lead generation, and he blogs and podcasts over at his own site, RicardoBueno.com. I wanted to get you on the show today, Ricardo, to talk a little bit about local businesses and how they can start targeting their specific area in their blogging and their lead generation strategies, talk about what they should be blogging about, and how you personally listen in and teach other people listening into a local space how they listen into social media. Sound good?
Ricardo: That sounds perfect.
David: Cool. So let’s dive into it. For business that are focused on a specific geographic area, like you deal with a lot of real estate agents, for example, what are some pieces of advice that you could give them – and any local businesses, not just real estate agents – of what types of content that they should really be focusing on?
Ricardo: I think that businesses really need to start, rather I should say, they need to have a Web presence. I’m a fan of sort of owning your domain, and I think that’s something that you need to do early on if you want to establish a Web presence. It’s a sound investment. So having your own website and a space that you control, versus say renting space on a subdomain. Nothing against having also RealEstateBlogSites.com or WordPress.com and those platforms, but I really think that having your own hosted account where you control the content, where you control the domain, where you in essence set your own terms of service, I think that’s important.
Ricardo: So for a lot of folks that are just starting out, whether it’s real estate or anyone else, I really tell them to do two things. You need to create content that engages your audience in order to create awareness for yourself and to showcase that you know what you’re talking about. So to showcase that you’re the local expert.
So I tell real estate agents and I think any business, this works for any business, I tell them to start by making two lists. On the first column is write everything that you know about your industry. In terms of real estate, write everything that you know about the real estate process. All the terms, anything as far as how to price your home for sale. Write down all of that technical jargon. Just make a bullet list. Then on that other list is write down what some of your hobbies are and the things that you’re most passionate about, because ultimately, you don’t want your content to really be just a press release about how awesome you are, about how awesome your product is, but you also want to write about things where you might share a common interest with your readers. So having that list of hobbies and other things that you’re interested in and that you’re willing to talk about, I think that makes you more engaging and more relatable.
Ricardo: It makes you approachable so that people don’t feel like your site and your content is just another press release, and you’re yelling “Buy my stuff” all day long.
David: Right, right. When you’re focusing on local stuff, what’s the perfect balance between personal and professional content then? I agree that you should put in some of your own stuff in there. It makes you more human, right? But what’s that balance?
Ricardo: That’s a great question, because I think that consistency matters a lot. So writing content on a weekly basis, whether it’s two or three times a week, is important, at least in my opinion, because what it does is it establishes a consistency with your readers, and it sets an expectation that, oh, I can come find fresh new stuff on your site. And that in turn shows that you’re reliable, and it starts to build trustworthiness. So people come to rely on your for your content and your insight, and so the more frequently you do it, the more you’re engaging with your audience and also, the more opportunities you have to start to gain better placement in search engines.
Ricardo: Each blog post you write generates a unique URL, right? It’s a lot of the stuff that you guys talked about in the Inbound Marketing book. So I think that sort of thing is important. I think consistency is important. The more you do it, the better. In terms of what that proper balance is, I also think that you need to determine for yourself or ask yourself, “What sorts of things am I willing to talk about, and what sorts of things am I not willing to talk about? Where would I cross the line?” I think some things are too personal.
Ricardo: Other things not so much. Real estate agents also, they’re using social media, they’re using services like Foursquare and Facebook. To what extent do you want to divulge a lot of your personal life?
Ricardo: So I think when you write professional content, whether it’s on your blog or engaging on a network like Twitter and Facebook, you still have to maintain some of that professional posture, because it’s important. Everything you do on the Web is permanent, right?
Ricardo: It’s like getting a tattoo. Once you put it out there, it’s out there. So to what extent do you want to get personable and divulge a lot of your personal life, I think that’s a boundary that you need to draw a line for early on. But the more you make your content relatable conversation with your audience, the better. I really do think that that’s ultimately the point. Like you said, it just makes you sound human, and I think those kinds of folks are a little more approachable.
David: Right. And to use a good example. I think it was a podcast you did. I dug all over your site before this interview. But basically, one of the examples that you referenced was a real estate agent going through all of these different community, local events, and blogging about that and visiting restaurants and stuff like that. Where really, it isn’t about a house that he’s selling, but he’s talking about the community, something around it. So I think that could be used in a lot of other local businesses. Being the go-to place for …
Ricardo: Absolutely. That interview was a podcast, and it was with a real estate agent named Dale Chumbley.
David: Right, right. That’s what it was.
Ricardo: He’s in the Vancouver/Portland area. So what he did, he wasn’t the first one to do it, but he did it exceedingly well and got a lot of recognition for it, not just from other circles in the industry. But he managed to turn the experiment into really a thriving community for himself. The idea was that for 365 days, I’m going to share with my community, my readers something unique and different to do in the Portland and Vancouver area.
So you’re right. It wasn’t about check out my new listing at 123 Goddard Street or now’s the time to buy, you should hire me as your agent. It wasn’t any of that. It was more selling the community before you sell the house, which I think is important, because you’re not just selling real estate. You’re selling the community. What’s it like to live there? For anybody’s who’s relocating, where are the good places to eat? What are the fun things to do? We’re heading into summer, and one of the things agents always tell me is, “Ricardo, I don’t know what to talk about. How do I make this personable?” Why not, if you live in a hot area, write top 10 ways to stay cool this summer.
Ricardo: I think that kind of concept makes it fun, makes it interesting. A lot of times we want to know what to do. So Dale, what he did for an entire year is he wrote a blog post, if you want to go eat at a restaurant after showing properties for a while. He would literally, on his iPhone, film a video review of what the food tasted like there. And if he had the opportunity to, he would interview the business owner and talk to the business owner about the restaurant, when they started and just other local community stuff. He did that for a ton of different things.
What he did is he just embedded into his lifestyle. He made it a part of his process. But every day without fail, he wrote a blog post of something new and unique to do in the community, whether it was a place to eat, an activity to do, so on and so forth. So for Christmas, for example, he wrote a blog post called “Christmas Lights” or something to that effect, where he just drove down the street and highlighted some of the unique things that families were doing to decorate their homes.
Ricardo: And that post in and of itself got about 100 views, and it was shared all over Facebook with his tens of thousands of fans. Why? Because it was engaging. It had nothing to do with real estate. But at the end of the day, those are the things that we talk about in our daily lives.
Ricardo: So he was making those connections every single day that he published that post by write about things that didn’t necessarily have to do with real estate, but it did have to do with …
David: Right. And over the year that he did this, he went from 0 fans to like 13,000, right?
Ricardo: Yeah. So what’s unique about that, Dale is, you would think, do I take out a Facebook ad, or how do I market this thing? A lot of that traffic grew organically. So he really didn’t do much. He didn’t buy any Facebook ads or do any of that to promote the content. He would say, “Hey Ricardo, can you [inaudible 09:40] this page and start spamming people to kind of generate those fans.” He literally just shared content, whether it was a photo, whether it was a video, whatever it was. So a lot of that demographic, I forget the statistics now because I’m not looking at it, but the statistics were that 68% of the fans were female, another 40% were male. A lot of that demographic was very tight knit to his specific area.
Ricardo: A lot of his demographic was specific to his geographic area. Again, those people were interested in the community and what he had to share.
David: Yeah. I think the consistency, and that’s what I thought was so cool about the campaign is every single day without fail, he posted something, something some engaging, something around the community. Not salesy, not anything like that, and he basically built the content creation process into his day-to-day life, and I think that’s what a lot of people, I think they’re scared to do it, right?
Ricardo: I think it’s … what's the word? It’s the inner critic that tells them, “Oh, it’s too short. It’s too long. It’s not good enough. What if people don’t read it? What if they don’t like it?” A lot of those things go through your head. Even myself. I try to be [inaudible 10:54] blog post a day, and then we’re doing podcasts. You’re doing interviews, you’re doing all kinds of things. Something [inaudible 11:00], “‘Are people going to relate to this? Are they going to like it? Are they going to engage with it?” So a lot of that is you have to learn to silence the inner critic and just do it, and recognize the fact that, at first, it’s probably not going to get a lot of traction, but if you keep doing it, you get better and people will recognize and then start [inaudible 11:18].
David: Right. Exactly. It’s not an overnight thing. It really takes time to build something. up. I think a lot of times, people will jump into Facebook fan page or Twitter and start trying to do stuff with it, but not getting any traction, because they’re new. They’re still trying to learn it, and then they’ll just quit, because, “Oh, I only have three people liking me on Facebook. No one’s listening.” There’s ways to kind of grow, right?
David: Cool. Yeah, so let’s see here. Consistency definitely important. So let’s switch gears a little bit. You wrote a post a little bit ago entitled, “Listening and Being Helpful in Social Media,” where you detail how you sort and listen to different social media conversations that revolve around your own business. What are some of those tips that you can share with our audience here?
Ricardo: I think with the advent of social media, a lot of marketers, even the solopreneurs and the businesses, I think we’re too quick to see it as an opportunity. So like, “Wow, this person is getting a lot of traffic. They have a lot of followers. Let me do the same.” So the focus is not so much on how can I help people and connect with them and provide valuable advice. It’s more, how do I get that many followers to get them to promote my content? I think that’s the wrong approach.
So, I think what you have to determine for yourself, first of all is where I approach it from the perspective of seek to be helpful first. Who are the people that you want to connect with? What specifically is the demographic that you want to connect with? David Meerman Scott, who you interviewed, talks about this in his book, “World Wide Rave,” and it’s about creating buyer personas, understanding who your target demographic is, and getting to know them well.
Ricardo: But then it’s just finding those opportunities to connect and actually have an interaction. Not, “Hey David, check me out. Can you help me promote this post?” But more listening to opportunities where they might be talking about something, where they might have a question that you can then provide answers to.
Ricardo: On Twitter, I have private Twitter lists for two things. Anyone in real estate that I might connect with, I won’t necessarily follow them back, but if there’s a real estate agent, I’ll put them in my real estate Twitter list. Anyone who’s a client of our company at Diverse Solutions, they have questions about home search, IDX technologies, WordPress, whatever. I put them in my Diverse Solutions client list. So, when I wake up in the morning, I read those Twitter lists like it’s the morning paper, and I’m looking for opportunities to answer any questions or kind of see where they might need something that I can then turn around and help them by providing them an answer.
David: Right. By linking them to an article that you read or a plugin that you know of or something like that. Cool.
Ricardo: Exactly. So you take that approach whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s even now Google+, it’s all the hot rage. It’s just finding those opportunities, but always be helpful first and then recognizing that by giving a little, you’re going to get a lot.
David: Right. And there are some tools out there that can kind of help you filter through the noise of Twitter and what have you. I’ve got to give you a huge shout out. You actually introduced me to a tool called InboxQ. I’ve been using it the past couple days. It is amazing. Can you explain what InboxQ is to people watching and listening?
Ricardo: Yeah. Inbox Q, and I forget who pointed me to it, and I’m probably not going to remember, and if I do, great. Inbox Q functions as a Chrome add-on or a Firefox extension. You download it, and then you create these lists for search terms. It’s Twitter-based. So once you connect your Twitter account, you create these lists, and you put in the search terms. So, as part of my company, what we do is we provide IDX services. So I might do a search team for “IDX WordPress plugin” or “IDX home search” or “how to build a WordPress blog” or “WordPress design”, whatever.
Ricardo: Anything that’s specific to the kind of service that you provide or the kind of content and discussions you’re interested in having. What InboxQ will do is then pull queries of people tweeting stuff related to that specific search phrase that you input. So because it functions as an add-on on Firefox and Chrome, you’ll see the ticker go up, “You have two questions you can answer.”
Ricardo: And it shows the stream. You can answer the question right then and there. So if someone has a question on what plugin they should use for IDX home search, you can answer the question right then and there, and it will send it off as a tweet, and your response is a tweet.
David: Right. So you connect through Facebook. Also, what’s cool about it is you can put it in a to-do list. So if you’re seeing the question maybe at like 12:00 at night, put it in to-do, answer them in the morning or something. It’s actually a really useful tool. I’ve been using it to kind of search for people’s questions on social media. So the keyword will be social media and then space question mark. Then a really useful search tip that I’ve learned is actually minus HTTP. That’ll actually get rid of everyone sharing links out, because a lot of blog posts will be questions and stuff, and it’ll pull back a lot of really useful stuff. So thanks for pointing me to that tool.
Ricardo: Well, you’re welcome. Thanks for that tip at the end.
David: Yeah. There you go. It’s a give and get, right? Awesome. What are some of your other favorite blogging or social media tools that you use on a day-to-day basis?
Ricardo: That’s a good question. My process is always finding content for the blog. So a lot of my process involves … I still use Delicious as my bookmarking service, and I’ll save a lot of that stuff privately, or I’ll email something to myself if I think it’s a good resource that I could link to. Like just the other day for example, I wrote a link post titled “33 Tools and Tips for Beginner Bloggers.” So I’ll use Delicious to kind of save all of that content and reference it later, whether I want to use it on a post or save it for later use.
Ricardo: But I think if you’re in the mode of creating content and things like that, I think you have to constantly work on creating a swipe file. I carry a [inaudible 17:48] with me everywhere I go, and I just drop down post titles. So I go to the cafe in the morning, I go to the cafe in the afternoon, I’m just always jotting down post titles for things to come up with and content to produce.
Ricardo: For me, the focus is always to generate content for the blog, and I think for a lot of folks, I think that needs to be the focus as well.
Ricardo: And then everything else sort of comes after.
David: Yeah. So that’s actually a good transition there. So you run a real estate blog topics newsletter. It’s a weekly email newsletter where you basically source different blog topics that real estate agents can kind of blog about. So you kind of give them the ideas. How do you come up with the ideas? I guess you bookmark stuff that you see. But what are some other ways to kind of really think about those blog ideas?
Ricardo: I have a newsletter on my blog, and then using Darren Rowse’s “31 Days to Build a Better Blog,” I started a, for this month anyway, every business day we go through one of the lessons in Darren’s ebook. So what I did was the auto-responders for either my newsletter or even the 31 day blog challenge is, “What’s your biggest challenge with social media and/or blogging right now? Hit reply to this email, and I’ll answer your question.” So I use a lot of that content, kind of seeing what folks’ struggling points are to source ideas for the newsletter. It goes out every Monday morning, and so last week or two weeks ago, I think folks were kind of struggling. Summer’s coming around, things start to slow down.
Ricardo: [inaudible 19:32] gets slower. What do I do? How do I build things up? I think the title of the post was “You Don’t Always Have to Write About Just Real Estate,” and it was the idea of selling the community before you sell the house. So it kind of goes back to what we were talking about before, and what I did was I gave folks a bunch of different blog topics, like 10 ways to stay cool this summer. Here’s a blog post that you can write, not necessarily about real estate, but it engages the community and activities that they can do.
David: Right. But they’re targeting it to their specific area of interest, right?
David: Cool. How do you come up with your headlines? Because you wrote a post about how, I think it was like, numbered lists rock or something. Is it that swipe file, or do you have other ways of kind of sourcing those?
Ricardo: So the headline is probably the hardest part. I look at upwards of 40 real estate blogs or websites on a daily basis, and we tend to really butcher headlines. I think that the headline is important not just for SEO. It’s important if you think about it from a sharing perspective. Your headline gives sort of a sneak peek at what your content contains, and then it’s up to you to deliver on the promise of what is in that post. Your headline says, this is what you’re going to get, six pricing mistakes and how to avoid them. Then your article better talk about how to properly price a home for sale in your market.
For me, the headline, I always start my blog posts with the headline first, and then I just keep rewriting the headline until I’m satisfied with it. Sometimes I’ll rewrite it three or four times or even ten times until I think that the headline is something that, yeah, people are going to click the tweet button and share it, because it’s a good headline. It’s an outrageous headline or it’s an enticing headline. What I’ve noticed is that list posts tend to work or people tend to react to list posts really well.
Ricardo: I don’t know why. They just do. I think it’s because we tend to skim by default, skim content. So when you read something like “Top 10 Posts” or whatever, it’s something that you’re apt to read quickly and skim through. But then the other trick is and this one I stole from Brian Clark over at Copyblogger, “The Cosmo Guide to Writing Killer Headlines.” You pick up a copy of Cosmopolitan or whatever magazine that’s sitting on the rack at Barnes & Noble. I go to Barnes & Noble maybe two or three times a week. You read the headline, and the headline might be “10 Ways to Pamper and Pleasure Your Man”.
Ricardo: But you rewrite it to say “10 Ways to Pamper and Pleasure Your Customers.”
David: Right. I heard the same tip from the guys over at Marketing Over Coffee, another podcast that I’d highly recommend. Basically yeah, they’re like, in the supermarket, just do a quick glance over the magazine rack. They’ve been copywriting those headlines because they want you to open up the magazine and read it. It’s the same way with the tweets. If the headline is kind of eh, people aren’t going to click through. They’re not going to visit that post. You kind of talked about this, too. You want to deliver on that promise. You don’t want to have “The 10 Ways to Do This” and then talk about something else, because that’s probably not going to be a return visitor or a subscriber, right?
David: Totally. So, I have to ask this questions for the next probably like five episodes of the show. What do you think about Google+?
Ricardo: I’m slowly falling in love with Google+. I guess I’ve just never been a big Facebook fanboy. We’ve all spent so much time and [inaudible 23:21] that it’s kind of difficult to just up and leave.
Ricardo: But I commend them for the elegant design and the easy integration. It’s easy to sort of filter the people that you’re connecting with by adding them to circles. So, what I’m looking for is a lot of people are still talking about it’s so brand new, how are you going to use it for its marketing potential? I don’t think about it in those terms at all. What I’m trying to do is create my circles or groups into folks that I want to learn more about, folks that share or tend to share great content that I find interesting. Then I follow the tech pundits to see what’s new, what’s shiny, what they’re talking about.
Ricardo: And then of course, I always have that inner circle list where the people that I engage with or brainstorm and do those sorts of things with.
David: Gotcha. I think it’s cool, too. Definitely, I have seen some stuff kind of go viral, as it were, through the circles. Resharing stuff, I can definitely see the marketing potential already. I’m trying to decide if I want to start an Inbound Now Google+. I don’t know if I want to separate and run two again. I don’t know, we’ll see. Definitely, I would say, keep an eye out and see what’s going to happen with that.
Ricardo: I forgot who I saw that said this, but they posted a question, “Comment on this post if you want to get added to a circle. I’ll just share marketing advice and things like that.” I think it was Chris Brogan, part of his [inaudible 25:00] earlier today. He was just creating circles where he will push content that’s kind of marketing in nature and that sort of thing.
David: Right, right.
Ricardo: It’s just for people in that circle, so it’s not hitting everybody else.
David: Interesting. Yeah. So we’ll see what happens. They already have like 10 million users after like two weeks or three weeks, so pretty good I’d say. But, yeah. So what are some of your favorite social media resources that you keep up-to-date with this stuff?
Ricardo: So I have two. The RSS reader is still something that I spend a lot of time in. It’s part of my morning routine. I try to have a blog post published before 8:30, 9:00, and then I’ll dig through the feed reader to see what’s new. The two circles that I have are blogging and copywriting, and I have maybe 20 blogs that I follow in that section, and then I have marketing and technology. So I’ll follow the HubSpot blog. I’m supporting the HubSpot blog.
David: Hey, yeah.
Ricardo: But I read the Copyblogger. I read a lot of other smaller copywriting blogs. What I used to do way back when, when people used to use blogrolls a lot more often, like Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni. On her sidebar, you’ll notice she has blogs that she follows on blogging, on marketing, on B2B marketing, and things like that. I’ll just dig through the blogrolls and add blogs that I think are useful or resourceful.
Ricardo: [inaudible 26:28] dig through and add them to the RSS reader.
David: Cool, awesome. So, Ricardo, where can people find you online?
Ricardo: I’m at RicardoBueno.com. Also at DiverseSolutions.com. I’m kind of both. Then @Ribeezie on Twitter.
David: All right. Awesome. Well thanks for coming on the show. I appreciate your time, and I appreciate the backdrop, supporting the HubSpot orange there.
Ricardo: Thanks for having me, David. I really appreciate it.
David: Yeah. No problem. All right. Cool.