Virtual tours are only as effective as the marketing plan supporting them. Two elements will make your virtual home tours reach home buyers online where they live: solid real estate photographs and well planned syndication to major sites.
More often than not virtual tour companies don’t take you through the entire process. Some may host your tours offering additional listings on sites like Realtor.com or Youtube. Smart real estate agents are beginning to understand how to market virtual tours on their social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. They know that referrals from other agents in their friend networks can lead to additional buzz about their properties.
1. Choose a virtual tour provider that offers free syndication to major real estate sites. Make a list of 15-20 major site where you would like your tours to be linked to and make a marketing plan to either have your tour company syndicate them for you, or some you may need to list yourself.
2. You will need a MLS compliant link (no contact information) as well as a second tour link with all your contact information, picture, bio, website and email.
3. Most MLS’s want the host address (not the video file). Upload the http:// address where the tour is hosted. Once on your local MLS, real estate search sites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com should pick up the video along with the MLS pictures and property description. TIP: You can go to many of those real estate sites and write an article about how you are using virtual tours (or any other topic that you have expertise in) and include links to your listing.
4. Blogging is a great way to stay in touch with your customers. You can include property pictures and links to your properties on your blog for enhanced “SEO optimization” (Google loves it)!
5. Realtor.com is the top rated home search engine site so not a bad investment to buy an annual “showcase listing.” If you have a “Showcase listing” simply upload the flash video file to your listing. Or, if your VT company has an agreement with Realtor.com they can upload the file or host address http:// for you. If you don’t have a Showcase listing ask if your virtual home tour company can upload it. Realtor.com charges them $20 to list to a non-showcase listing and they need to be an approved provider.
6. Lastly, and most important, if you have a website, embed your listings on it. On the listings page have the individual tours attached to each listing. Use a multi-player to show all of your tour listings as a playlist. The real advantage of embedding is that visitors don’t leave your site to the host site. Keep visitors on your site by embedding a playlist.
Resources: Following is a list of top social and real estate sites that may be of help getting your listings and virtual tours seen online. Inevitably, I have missed some so please feel free to reply with additional sites: realtor.com, local MLS, trulia, zillow, youtube, googlebase, facebook, twitter, homes.com, homegain.com, realtytrac.com, realestateabc.com, relibrary.com, househunt.com, merchantcircle.com, realtytimes.com, totalrealestatesolutions.com, realestate.yahoo.com, homebuying.about.com, realestate4.com, real-estate.com, realestate.com, hud.gov, foreclosurestore.com, realtytrac.com, realestate.msn, mynewplace.com, homeinsight.com, moving.com, move.com, homes-inc.com, forsalebyowner.com, owners.com, fsbo.com, realtor.org, homesandland.com, newhomesource.com and bestplaces.net.