Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

Don’t Write Off the Old Internet Yet

Nowadays, you’d think there’s nothing more to do online than social networking. But don’t count out the power and potential of the Old just yet!

What’s the old internet? It’s the place where we were all busy making money and spending time building customer relationships before social networks burst upon us. You remember it, right? The vast collection of websites, search engines and email communications that had us focused on one very important factor in successful :


Content used to make us a lot of money. We used content to attract customers. We needed it to engage and interest them. We leveraged it to get them to contact us – or we made it the focus of interacting with them in weekly e-newsletters. Content made our services appealing and our products interesting. Content made our communications meaningful. We even visited other websites – having not yet become so self-profile-centric – because they had some good content, too.

There was a time when internet content was king.

Today, the content of one’s breakfast bowl, the geo-position of one’s body or the missed-shot of the sports game have become the common content we serve up online. Certainly social networks offer great methods to interact and engage.

But not so much, if the content of our interactions bores, or worse, annoys.

While there’s much opportunity – perhaps desperate need – for the content in social media interactions to improve, the good news is that plenty of value and financial reward can still be found in great content on the Old Internet. While it’s tempting to spend every second social networking, it’s still important to continue pursuing a content strategy liked we did when the internet was about what we said, not that we just said something…

Revisiting listing content. After a decade of effort enhancing listing content, social media has reduced property marketing to the newspaper days. Status updates and tweets promote new and price reductions with all the excitement of a truncated classified ad. Some people even scan their newspaper and upload it as a photo to their profiles. Alas, after spending so much money on property-specific URLs, Twitter reduces such long-links to abbreviated That’s why it’s more important than ever to double-down on the content of our property portals. If and when we can get the consumer’s attention, they must have a compelling, content-rich experience. Otherwise, it’s all text-messages and tweets – boring as hell when it comes to content. Quality descriptions, well-shot photos and – gasp! – video content is more important than ever.

Other listing content. It’s hard to remember, but there was a day when the online experience was about other people’s content, not ours. In the Old Internet era, we built opportunity around third-party content. The best example remains for-sale-by-owner content. Such data remains a treasure trove of potential business: Who can resist a list of consumers who are actively trying to sell, and could certainly use a REALTOR’s help? Not to mention additional properties to show ¬†buyers, potential new listing clients, even out-of-area referrals. Third party content created opportunities to pounce on “found leads” rather than waiting for them to come to us. It was simple, if crude, but it worked, relying upon traditional skills like “search” and “email.” Sometimes, we’d even pick up the phone. In today’s market, for-sale-by-owners could use our help more than ever. And great FSBO content can still be found in the backwaters of the Old Internet.

Email content. Almost older than Old Internet itself, email remains the dominant communication tool. Overall, effectiveness effectiveness remains unmatched when it comes to informing consumers and building relationships. Social media won’t surpass email to create relationship-based opportunity until the quality of the conversation improves. Email remains like that other “old” technology – letter writing – and we’d never write to a past client to tell them about our favorite YouTube video or airport delay. In the of real estate, email marketing will require an even higher form of content to earn the trust of the potential customer, but it will continue to be the best person-to-person selling tool for years to come.

Amidst the noise and attention of social media, it’s not surprising to see Old Internet activities falling by the wayside. Savvy salespeople will likely find the useful intersections of the two tool sets – creating great content on websites, communicating it both by email and social media updates. But while the amount of content uttered and amassed by social media is out-pacing the classic world wide web, it may be the ability of the Old Internet to deliver better quality content that keeps it vital to our marketing strategy. Our content, not just our destination, must fuel the quality of our customer interactions.

After the novelty of a new technique wears off, we often find that, as it always has been, when it comes to attracting customers, content is still king.

  • Jennykotulak

    I totally agreee with what you say here. Especially your last sentence.
    “After the novelty of a new technique wears off, we often find that, as it always has been, when it comes to attracting customers, content is still king.”
    I find that so many REALTORS are so busy Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. that they are forgetting about keeping their real estate websites up to date with fresh content. Blogging is also a great way to get “Google juice” but it's important to marry if up with your website. You are also correct about photos and video being the way to go to attract consumer's attention. Blogging and real estate websites allow consumers to “know you” before they decide if they want to work with you or not.

  • Great post Matt. I agree the “Old Internet” is not dead…but social media needs to be used to proliferate your content to the places people are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. The agents or companies who stop developing good content are going to quickly realize that they made a mistake! Great photos, videos, virtual tours, e-mail marketing, blogs (community info) need to be combined with “just because” info such as 365 Things to Do in…

  • Great comments, Jenny – totally agree! You have to deliver the goods before they buy!

  • Great point! There is a place for “quick content” but at the same time, if you can't demonstrate your knowledge, it's hard to convince a consumer you can do the heavy lifting for them. So it has to be a combo, like you say!

  • Matthew, I agree. Content is still king. In my travels I meet up with so many agents who have some amazing content on hand but unfortunately it is often sitting in files, letters or in old printed newsletters or articles. A lot of it is still sitting on their hard drive in Word Documents.

    Social Media & Blogging software has provided the perfect platform for agents to share this content with so many more people than ever before.

    It's a shame to see so much of it go to waste.

    Also, effective email marketing campaigns are still a critical part of an agents marketing strategy. When you think about how Facebook & Twitter drive most of their traffic to their site a lot of it is directed to them via permission based email notifications.

    Provide good content on the web and give people a compelling reason why they should to opt-in to receive more of your communication and then the relationship & trust will build.

  • Great – definitely a great point: We often have content in our files, from our Association or NAR, from our company or Brand, from our own managers, that just sits there and never gets “pushed” through our marketing channels. As for email, it's still the biggest online marketing success by volume and by market segment, so it will be a power-sales-channel for years to come. Thanks for commenting!

  • In my opinion, the problem isn't with forgetting the “Old Internet” and replacing it with the “New Internet”. The “New Internet”, including social media and social networking, was developed to go hand-in-hand with the content driven tools already available. Sometimes it's the content that attracts a consumer, and sometimes it's the Facebook and Tweets that get people interested, but both work together to KEEP the consumer interested.

    This article is a great reminder not to stay stuck on just one tool. The most effective communication is using all tools to keep a consumer interested and up to date with ALL types of information.

  • Thanks, John, for your comments. I completely agree! Once the “faddishness” of social media passes, we’ll need to use both new/old tools to keep the consumer engaged.

  • Thanks, John, for your comments. I completely agree! Once the “faddishness” of social media passes, we'll need to use both new/old tools to keep the consumer engaged.