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Demonstrate expertise- embed a forum on your blog in ten seconds flat

talkiForums are frequently seen as passé and as a thing of the past, but some markets, especially in the Midwest still need forums because consumers understand them and are too passive or nervous (or not committed enough) to pick up the phone to ask an agent. If you’re already using a forum like CityData or engaging in Trulia Voices, perhaps you need a forum on your own website?

This article was originally published on April 22, 2010.

Demonstrate your expertise by inviting conversation back to your own safe haven and help people locally. On a public, third party forum, when someone asks a real estate question about your market in Seattle but a Miami lender chimes in, maybe you need a place to invite people to.

We’ve learned about a new embeddable forum that takes only a few seconds to install on your blog. If you know how to embed a YouTube video, you can do this.

Here are the steps:

  1. Create a new page on your blog.
  2. Go to Tal.ki and copy the automated, unique embed code.
  3. Paste the code into the body of your new page.
  4. Save the draft and preview it.
  5. In preview mode, the forum will allow you to be the administrator by being the first to log in (with Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Google or a bevy of other sites) and you don’t even have to create a new password or account anywhere.

Easy enough? This is all free and doesn’t require a computer science degree. There are upgrades offered, but a simple real estate forum for local real estate should do just fine on a free account. And if you’re really fancy, they also launched a WordPress plugin worth checking out (although we have not tested it).

Forums as communities

Why not call the page, “Of course I want to be your Realtor, but you can ask me questions even if I don’t end up representing you. This is a safe place.” Use something to suit your personality, but you get where I’m going with this. “Ask a broker” or “ask the historic homes specialist” or “let’s talk about Amarillo, y’all” would all be great forum titles.

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Remember, forums are like any community and take work to get people to attend and adopt, so be sure to tell locals about it, add it to your email signature and be responsive to all questions or comments.

What you see for the first time when you embed:

new forum

Use one of these credentials to sign in as an administrator:

aea703b025e13d3c76967163086b9924

1ccd640ed969e4df0cce2fcdb6cda246

Basic and clean, this is what the forum looks like:

0259288899513cc69d932b2f76db53b7

What users (including you) will see when posting a question:

c99e5c330201c963860e679368a6cc93

What the question looks like once posted:

76d9f7935388705791e6891c2cb1b661

You can customize your avatar and add a signature:

3000ede0e778d4e8387e662f5b7e7808

Avatar options:

7dc3f37cc000b5183561700b448e6747

See all of your members at a glance:

cee27e5ff94b553e7c88873a0f43e54a

Your administrator control panel:

4ce06a92414517a4fd52a752b88f7edb

Although we have not currently opted to use Tal.ki on AgentGenius, it is perfectly suitable for a local real estate blog. We’re not affiliated with Tal.ki and we don’t even know anyone there, but this is a pretty cool tool we wanted you to know about.

What will YOUR forum be called?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Marty Martin

    April 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Who knows; this kind of thing done correctly might even help your search results. Just sayin… 😉

  2. Benjamin Bach

    April 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Looks cool – thx Lani!

    • Lani Rosales

      April 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

      Let me know if you use it, I’d love to see one in full swing!

  3. BawldGuy

    April 22, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I’ve always wondered about hosting a forum, but frankly, every one I’ve seen is populated far too much with crazies lookin’ for controversy. Also, as an investment broker, the #1 weak point I’ve observed is the blind leading the blind. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Lani Rosales

      April 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

      The great news is that if it’s on your own site, you have control. Make sure your site’s Terms of Service (TOS) cover abuse. Don’t edit forum commentary, just keep or delete, so if the trolls show up, delete their commentary (some forums’ moderators will keep the comment but delete the words and insert “[comment deleted]” so readers know there WAS something there.

      For investment, you could use it to answer basic questions, especially about vocabulary. It’s an extension of your blog and it can be less intimidating for some people than commenting on a blog. Getting started, you might ask Twitter people to come ask questions that they think you won’t know the answer to- challenge people! 🙂

  4. BawldGuy

    April 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Thanks — another project. 🙂

  5. Michael Bertoldi

    April 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    This is extremely interesting! I’ve looked at wordpress plugins for forums but this one seems much easier. Would you say the quality is worth the ease of installation? Get what you pay for kind of thing or it works as well as any other forum?

    • Lani Rosales

      April 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm

      Many forums are still running 1993 html with that ugly grey and standard tiny font, so it’s ahead of the pack of MANY. I think it’s fine, I can’t tell if it tries to mimic your CSS or not, but it’s a pretty clean look and embeds inside a page, so you don’t have to direct people to another URL and you get the SEO benefit of it being on your site.

      Might be a good use for a FAQ. If no one’s asking questions, simply post questions as yourself, “recently a client asked me what the property tax rate is for Williamson county” and answer it yourself! I wouldn’t advise doing this the whole time, but it’ll help get ya started! 🙂

  6. Karen Goodman

    May 2, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I really want to thank you for this post. When I started my first website about 3 years ago, I originally planned to include a forum. The template site didn’t allow it, and then I was convinced it would take too much time to manage one, so I stopped looking for options.

    I just embedded a forum into my community website. It’s perfect for a site that is about trying to connect people in a particular part of town. I just launched the site a few months ago and haven’t spent a lot of time trying to get it traffic, so we’ll see if this helps.

    I’m not sure if I’m going to put one on my main website yet. I’ll probably try it here first and see how it goes.

    FYI…it does automatically sense your color scheme and matches the colors, adjusting the font color as needed based on the background.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2010 at 9:53 am

      Karen, that is awesome news! I hope you’ll email me or come back to this post and let us know how it goes!! 🙂

  7. John Wake

    January 2, 2011 at 3:07 am

    Regarding search engine rankings, I doubt these forums would have much if any effect on rankings since the forum is really hosted on tal.ki’s servers.

    FYI, I understand the folks behind WordPress are focusing NOT a new version of WordPress but on their newish, free forum software BuddyPress. I can envision a host of plugins to BuddyPress to make specialized forums (I’d love to have a Yelp-like restaurant review forum on my community real estate blogs). Although I can’t imagine anything being easier than tal.ki.

    • Bob Wilson

      January 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Tal.ki has a pay version that allows for a cname. That is the package where they tout SEO benefits.

      Where the content is hosted isnt as important as how it is displayed. If the code is visible in the source code in a manner in which a SE can crawl it, it can have SEO value, although it isnt going to be enough to improve any rankings to much of a degree.

      • Bob Wilson

        January 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

        Took a closer look at one on a site and the free version wont add any SEO value at all. That will cost you $6.95 a month for the cname. They offer a fullblown package for $59 a month, but for that money, you would be better off buying forum software that you have complete control over on your own server.

        IMO, the free version is good enough to do what Lani suggested. The “Ask the Broker” and FAQs ideas are excellent.

        BuddyPress isnt meant to be forum software, its for building a community.

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