Monday, September 26, 2011

The Secret Ingredient In Zillow's Social Media Magic

How come Zillow does social media so well? Simple. They employ Grade A, top-notch writers churning out top-notch social media at every turn.

People have yakked about the folks who write copy for Groupon, but I think Zillow out does them. Groupon is self-conscious, insider-ish, and full of itself (sorry guys). but Zillow does what copy is supposed to do: It challenges us to open -- and read -- the social media envelope.

As a company, Zillow started with data in early 2005 and hit the Internet about a year later with info on millions of U.S. homes. Though Zillow hadn't turned a profit when it went public in July this year, shares of Zillow shot up 120% at the IPO. Not bad for a company operating in the industry that's experienced -- some would say caused -- the worst recession in history. If anything can kill the National Association of Realtors®, it's Zillow (no, I don't have stock in the company).

Even if Zillow goes under, I will always argue that they have one of the best social media efforts in the country. And the entire program is built on good writing.

Cases in point:

1. They know how to gossip. Zwillow knows that America is talking about and they find a great way to relate the latest buzz to real estate. Take the story that appeared front and center in the September 22 newsletter: Where Are They Now? Update on Some Guilty Pleasures.

2. They write killer headlines:
• Reasons to Friend (or Not) Your Tenants on Social Media Networks
• Strutting Their Stuff: Homes of Fashion Designers

3. Their tweets are must-click masterpieces.
• Have an open house coming up? Here's how to do it on Zillow.
• Zillow's Facebook Question of Day: Do you drink tap water, filtered or bottled in your home?
• Can you buy a house when your current mortgage is upside down?
• Borum Hill rental: $3,100/month. Bedrooms: 0 -- But hey, its got bike storage
• Crazy times. See a home you can buy for the price of a car.

4. Their content is USEFUL. Gossip isn't all Zillow has going for it. This is useful stuff. Here are just two examples
• Do you understand income tax considerations of rental properties?
• What to do if your home doesn't sell.
• Moving? How many boxes will you need? Use our cool, new Moving Box Estimator Widget to find out.
• How to protect yourself from rental scams.

5. Their Facebook page is fresh, interesting, and interactive. Just to "be there" is to join in. For example, how about these options to get involved and comment?
• Good morning, weekend warriors! Tell us your locale and present real estate status.
• Is there a home in your neighborhood that has been on the market forever? What do you think the reasons are?
• How is the water consumed in your home?
• What is the costliest home system/structure failure you’ve ever faced?

6. Zillow is out front in social media with its own YouTube channel. This one features Zillow's Performance Engineer talking about Zillow's performance on mobile apps. This is content sharing at its best.

6. What else, you ask? How about Zillow's new real estate blog, Curbed. Or in Zillow words, "For the first time, Curbed readers can search for local and national listings directly from Curbed National and all of Curbed’s city sites [Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.]. The Zillow search experience gives Curbed readers direct access to a comprehensive selection of real estate listings alongside Curbed’s witty and insightful coverage of the country’s most vibrant urban centers."

Yep, the copywriters are at it again. Who said words don't count? In Zillow's case, you can take them to the bank.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

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