The Baroness of Hyde Park

Marki Lemons-Ryhal has used her social media skills to connect with just about everyone in her Chicago neighborhood.

January 10, 2014

Marki Lemons-Ryhal
(pictured, center)
Keller Williams Realty, C.C.G.
Marki Lemons Unlimited
Foursquare profile
Facebook profile

What’s special about your community?

My community, the neighborhood of Hyde Park, represents the best of Chicago because I can walk to Lake Michigan, take one bus to the airport, take one bus or train to downtown, and there is always free street parking available.

How long have you lived in Chicago?

I have lived in Chicago for 43 years, 5 months, 9 days, and counting. With the exception of living in Iceland for a summer and going away to college, I have always had a permanent Chicago address.

What is your absolute favorite thing about your community?

What I love about hanging out in Hyde Park is that people speak to one another and are comfortable with debating politics while laughing and hugging one another.Hyde Park is a big melting pot, and thanks to the University of Chicago, I believe every race, nationality, and religion is represented here.

How do you use social media to show your love of your community? What do you share on social media and why? What has the reaction been from your followers?

Social media is a part of my daily life, and I believe in working mobile. I show love for my community by checking in to locations using Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook. On Yelp, I have 1,311 check-ins, which earned me the badge of “Baroness” for the Hyde Park community. Via Foursquare, I’ve accumulated 2,578 check-ins and 67 badges. (A badge is a digital reward for checking in at a location a certain number of times.) I’m a foodie, so I love to share food, and I always give credit for great service.

Check-ins connect me to the community and to business owners. People share, like, retweet, and comment on my posts. I have closed transactions as a result of check-ins, not to mention discounts, bottles of wine, and a free loaner car for a week.

How do you use your social networking skills to advance your real estate business? How does connecting on Foursquare and other platforms show your strength as a real estate professional?

Today, there are more mobile devices on earth than there are people, and everyone is connected to social networking applications via their mobile devices. I’m always where the customer/client is, whether physically or via the cloud. I receive a referral daily as the result of social media. Consumers tend to use Facebook to connect, and businesses use LinkedIn and Twitter. Foursquare and Yelp put me in the community and give me name recognition, especially if a person has searched for a restaurant — they will see me online, and then they click on me to see how active I am. Once they see my other online collateral, they feel comfortable in knowing that I’m knowledgeable about the community and real estate. I personally research every new restaurant I’m going to eat at, and I have connected with people globally based on their online visibility and positive responses.

How would you suggest other real estate pros use social media to get more business?

Real estate professionals have to first talk in terms that people actually search for. I would start by searching keywords to see what searches are being performed, and then I would incorporate those keywords into my social media strategy. I also use Feedly to ensure I receive current articles on my keywords as they happen, and I share those articles with my online community. In addition, I develop my own content with those keywords, and I share consistently. It is a lot easier to be found when people are actually searching for you. Once you are consistent and delivering content that people want, the engagement starts to happen. Then you need to respond, follow-up, and convert.

If you were meeting up with a client, where might you go?

I would meet them at Pizza Capri, located at E. 53rd Street and S. Harper Avenue. Max, the owner, has been in Hyde Park since I was a teenager, and he has always ensured that I receive quality service and a great product. The tables are big so we can spread out, and the complimentary bread and oil are a great starter.

If I were having a breakfast meeting, I would go to the Pancake House, located at E. 47th Street and S. Lake Park Avenue, where Kat is my regular waitress. She is the absolute best server on the entire south side of Chicago, and their pancakes will not disappoint you.

What do you see when you look out your office window?

When I look out of my office window I see new construction that is taking place at 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. We are getting a Walmart and several new stores, which will be the start of commercial development and community growth.

What’s a perfect day in Chicago to you? What would you do?

There is no place more perfect than Chicago in the summertime. I prefer to walk during the summer months, and my perfect day would be spent on 53rd Street between Lake Park and Woodlawn avenues. First, I would catch up with old friends and business owners whom I have known my entire life. I would start with breakfast at Valois, where you could run into the barbers from Barack’s old barbershop (Yes, the president and I have gotten our hair cut together). If I’m in need of some bling (or even if I’m not), I’m going to run in to Supreme Jewelers, where the ladies are always going to show me the prettiest earrings. As I walk west, I could always take in a matinee at the newly-remolded Hyde Park Theatre while I sneak in a huge caramel apple from Kilwins, which is located next door. If I’m still hungry after the show, I can always pick up a pizza from Giordano’s, Edwardo’s, or Medici for the kids and be home in less than 10 minutes.

Graham Wood
Senior editor

Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at