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RISMEDIA, March 14, 2009-Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Zillow…is your head spinning 121_leadwebyet? In an online world full of blogs and social networking communities, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the wealth of free resources available to real estate professionals. Here, Spencer Rascoff, chief operating officer of Zillow, offers his take on how agents can manage and expand their online footprint successfully:

According to the National Association of Realtors, 80% of home buyers start their real estate search online. Therefore, it’s increasingly important to make your presence as a local real estate expert known across multiple online platforms.

Here are three daily social networking strategies to maximize your ROI online:

1. Automate: Reputation management is crucial as social media gains in popularity. To stay on top of online activity, set up Google and Yahoo! alerts for your name (yes, your name) and for the neighborhoods and areas in which you’re interested (e.g., “downtown San Diego”). Once completed, you will be alerted to online conversations that mention you or areas you cover. Make an effort to respond each time your name surfaces and add value by engaging in the conversation. Yet another way to stay connected is to subscribe to e-mail updates for blogs and online threads that pertain to your audience.

2. Think local: Carve out a niche for yourself as a local expert by providing answers to local real estate questions. On Zillow, agents can display their local expertise by using Zillow Advice to provide answers to local real estate questions in specific geographic locations, and subscribe to e-mail alerts when someone has asked a question about their designated areas. Since two-thirds of Zillow’s 5.5 million users each month are in the market to buy or sell in the near future, this is an excellent way to connect with a qualified and motivated local audience.

3. Promote your profile: Where is your next client “hanging out?” Chances are it’s somewhere online. Set up a profile for yourself in popular directories, such as LinkedIn and Zillow, to ensure that you are seen in the same circles as your clients. Also, ask your clients to rate your performance. This will build an online arsenal of testimonials to showcase your expertise.

Implementing these tactics will streamline your online efforts and connect you with the audience you’re most interested in.