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Are you a Lion in the jungle of today’s technology?

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So here I am part of this amazing group of Genius Realtors thinking…..How did I get here?? <pinch….OUCH!> A year ago I found myself doing what every other “normal” Realtor in the nation is doing.Real Estate Jungle

  • Direct mailings to my “sphere of influence
  • Monthly brochures that cost an arm and a leg
  • Cold calling (no….I never did that)
  • Thousands of letters to expired listings
  • Paying a lot of money for a static website with no presence
  • FSBO door knocking
  • Spending thousands of dollars on local newspaper ads
  • Bus benches
  • Magnetic calendars
  • Victoria Secret gift cards (just seeing if you were paying attention)

And all that for what? Was I seeing results? Was I selling listings? Was I doing a service to my clients? The answer is a big fat NO!

So what makes us Geniuses?? Is it that we are incredibly smart and good looking? (well…maybe that too). Or is it that we are taking advantage of the Web2.o tools that are in front of us?

Greg Swan, is trying out video interviews and did one with one of my favorite people, a non-Realtor that knows a lot about real estate – Jeff Turner from Real Estate Shows. Greg says the following in the interview:

“In the jungle where you are right now…..it is about how you take advantage of the opportunities that you have, anticipating that the world could be radically different 12 months from now”.

We ARE in a jungle and some of us are taking advantage of those incredible tools, some are hiding behind the bushes waiting for the tools to either come to them or to go away. Do you realize that by reading this post you are already ahead of the game? Many people that went to the NAR Convention in Vegas describe the majority of the attendants as being lost and overwhelmed by the amount of options that are out there.

How could people walk out of Seth Godin’s keynote speech before the Q & A segment? I would have had a list of questions longer than my 10 year old’s Christmas wish list!

We blog, we research, we use Trulia, MySpace, Yahoo, Real Estate Shows, YouTube, Facebook, MyBlogLog, Active Rain, Google Video, LinkedIn, Craigslist, podcasts, Twitter, Utters, Jotts…….yada yada yada ……the list in endless.

The reality is that some of these will come and go. We, on the other hand, Genius Real Estate Agents, are here to stay!

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors Miamism.com, PrimeMiamiBeach.com, and MiamismPix.com and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. Mariana

    November 20, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Super rockin’ 1st post, here Ines! You hit the nail on the head regarding the use of technology.

    I often say that this new Web 2.0 doesn’t bring me more LEADS. It brings me more CLIENTS… No cold calling … just folks who know all about me before they contact me. THAT is awesome.

  2. Ann Cummings

    November 20, 2007 at 10:24 am

    “In the jungle, the mighty jungle…”

    This post is pure INES!! I love the ‘old stuff’ list – still doing some of that myself, but I dropped much of it some time ago. I really love a lot of the techie tools out there for us now. And you’re right, some will fade away, but much will not. Those who embrace it will soar and those who don’t, well……

    I like people who contact me regarding real estate feeling like they already know me – that’s a really great feeling and an ENORMOUS business booster for sure!

    Great first post!!

  3. Ines

    November 20, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Mariana – you’re not kidding about “rocking”! : ) WE do get clients not “leads” and we will always be ready to attack any changes in technology…because we bring value to the table.

    Ann- we still have to do some “old stuff”, but it stays in the back burner instead of becoming the focus.

    People do know us through our blogs….what could be better?

  4. Teresa Boardman

    November 20, 2007 at 11:37 am

    I tried being normal once. It gave me a headache so I stopped.

  5. Ines

    November 20, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Teresa….and it’s so darn boring!

  6. Laurie Manny

    November 20, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    What is normal? And whos normal yours or mine, lol.

    a line from a song: Free your mind……the rest will follow…….

  7. Ines

    November 20, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Geesh Laurie, now I’ll be singing that all day!

  8. monika

    November 20, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Ines…I love it! I was at NAR and so many people were clueless and running scared at the same time.
    This morning I taught a web 2.0 class…no one in my class had ever blogged and no one had ever heard of web 2.0 but when they left they left excited. We’ll see what changes they make…if any.

  9. rudy

    November 20, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    i always knew you were a genius ines 🙂

  10. ines

    November 20, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Moni – you saw that too, huh? It’s amazing to think that the Internet scares so many – how they stay in business is beyond me.

    Rudy – YOU ROCK!!

  11. Daniel Rothamel

    November 20, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    I am a Zebra with the heart of a Lion.

    As Lions, we should be aware of our pride (I know, bad pun) both literally and figuratively. One of the core underlying principles of Web 2.0 is the creation of relationships and community. We must also be aware that while we do a lot of talking amongst ourselves, talking out is equally as important. That is what I love about my fellow AgentGeniuses!

  12. ines

    November 20, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Daniel – and a great Zebra at that!

    Pride can get in the way of anything – didn’t HUBRIS bring down Julius Caesar?

    I totally agree that community and relationships are key to what we do and although we are talking amongst ourselves, the consumer is also reading and learning. I’m glad to be a part of AG.

  13. Mariana

    November 20, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    I am completely normal. So there. (https://youtube.com/watch?v=tVzAnm9QYtc)

  14. ines

    November 20, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Mariana – thanks for the laugh – now I’ll have that visual in my head and I’ll crack up all by myself.

  15. Laurie Manny

    November 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Mariana, Now that is what I call spitting nails! LOL

  16. Wade Young

    December 1, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I wrote a blog entitled “How to turn FSBOs into listings.” You can find it at:

    https://blog.mariah.com/2007/11/how-to-convert-fsbos-into-listings/

    It details a strategy of providing FSBO tips to FSBOs so that they later think of you when they wind up listing. It’s worth reading if you have spent time knocking on FSBO doors.

  17. ines

    December 1, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Wade – I love links when they pertain to the article at hand. Can you tell me how your FSBO tips relate to web2.0 technology?

  18. Wade Young

    December 1, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    One of your bullet points was FSBO door knocking. Since you’ve spent time doing that, I thought that you might be interested in my strategy. Just trying to be helpful.

  19. Ines

    December 1, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    I’m just giving you a hard time Wade – you make good points in your blog, but the whole idea here is how we do things differently.

    How would you have felt if an agent offered to include your FSBO listing on their website or their on-line marketing?

  20. Wade Young

    December 1, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Yes, things are done differently now — yet of course to be proven if it is effective. When I have asked people point blank if they make real money from efforts like blogging, the answer is no or they skirt the question. One of the top posters on Active Rain wrote in his blog that he only got three deals from all of his blogging efforts. He would have done much better using the old strategies. Whether or not these Web 2.0 tactics are effective is highly questionable until someone steps up and starts giving numbers.

    I read a post today about a woman who is doing direct mail to get reverse mortgages. She gave out real numbers — mail this many cards, get this response rate, get this many loans done. I know people who have built big businesses based on the old strategies. I have yet to meet someone build a big business based on the new strategies.

    Your post says that one year ago you were knocking on FSBO doors. My point being that the old strategies work if done properly. Perhaps there are new ways to implement the old strategies until the new strategies prove themselves successful.

  21. Ines

    December 1, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Wade, where have you been? If you would have asked me the same question 7 months ago when I was only blogging on Active Rain and not seeing any results, I would have agreed with you. The ROI on the blog was not paying off and that’s why I had to reassess what I was doing and what changes I needed to make.

    I realized that I was not blogging for my audience, that I had not narrowed down who my customers were and that I was writing posts for other agents.

    I think everyone here in Agent Genius is seeing results. 80% of my business is coming from blogging. Just this week I signed 3 listing agreements from my blog. One of them a FSBO who called me on the blog and did not want to deal with the pushy agents that had dropped off information for him and called him constantly to try to get his listing.

    No cold-calling here, no FSBO strategies and no newspaper ads. Our customers are getting results and we are getting business from our blog.

  22. Ines

    December 1, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Oh – and I am sure that the rest of my Agent Genius colleagues will jump in here to tell us their results.

    Do you think we blog just because it’s fun? I think most of us are too busy to blog just because we like to.

  23. Benjamin Bach

    December 1, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    I wrote 3 deals this week from people I’ve met off of my blog. One of them is buying his 2nd property through me, the other two are both buying other property this month as well.
    The relationships I’ve formed with people I’ve met on my blog are real, and they’re profitable for all parties involved!

  24. Benjamin Bach

    December 1, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    “If you would have asked me the same question 7 months ago when I was only blogging on Active Rain and not seeing any results, I would have agreed with you. The ROI on the blog was not paying off and that’s why I had to reassess what I was doing and what changes I needed to make.

    I realized that I was not blogging for my audience, that I had not narrowed down who my customers were and that I was writing posts for other agents.”

    WOW – thats a powerful statement.

    Have you read Good to Great? Jim Collins talks about the Flywheel concept… it may take hundreds of turns of the wheel with no movement to get the flywheel to take off. While it looks like there are no results, they are right under the surface.

  25. Ines

    December 1, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Benjamin – I love when people recommend books – I will definitely take it on. And you may be right…..I might have been planting seeds at that time. But the truth is that I did some real soul searching and real business scrutiny at that time.

  26. Wade Young

    December 1, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    If there were true geniuses here, none of us would be here. So we’re all here to learn, first of all me. Where have I been? Not blogging; that’s for sure. Perhaps I am not up to speed. I appreciate your forthright numbers. I want to hear more of it. If what you say is true, I’m wrong. I encourage (and I mean this sincerely) for your colleagues to share their own testimonials. I need to hear that Web 2.0 works. I know traditional strategies work, but does blogging work, for example?

    And yes, people blog because it’s “fun.” People also run for Student Class President even though it yields no girls or money. They do it out of some sort of internal need. People do blog for self-fulfillment. I know about those cats. Who blogs for business? Indeed that is the question. I am short on mouth and long on ears, so I will await your colleagues’ response.

  27. Shailes Ghimire

    December 1, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Wade,

    I just read through your comments and I know exactly what you’re talking about. In fact I wrote a post on this very blog a few weeks ago wondering about Social Media Production Efficiency (SMPE) Ratio or ROI as you may call it.

    In Q3 of this year I generated 25% of my INCOME from blogging and the use of social media. However, that is only one quarter. This quarter has been slower, but the mortgage business is slow across the board. However, I do get quite a bit of applications from blogging and all of them are now in my drip campaign. I have one hot lead right now from Canada – that is promising and once that comes through the numbers will be off the charts. I hope to generate at least 40% of my business from blogging in 2008. I don’t believe that is unrealistic.

    I think blogging in Real Estate is young yet and developing. We’re still refining our strategies to make it work better. Someone will hit the jackpot and will hopefully share the story. Quite honestly – I hope to be that guy in due time.

  28. Ines

    December 1, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    Wade – it’s not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. Blogging is not for everyone and for me it’s taken a lot of reading, studying, modifying….and can guarantee there is more to learn and more changes to come.

    I’ve been sharing as I go along – in Active Rain and now here. The beauty of this medium is that the more you give and put yourself out there, the more you get back. I do warn you about feeling vulnerable at times, but that’s part of it.

    Shailesh – thanks for the back-up….I am only beginning to know peole here.

  29. Mariana

    December 2, 2007 at 12:16 am

    Wade – There is a business model for everyone, but times are a’changing and people want to be more involved in the “conversation of real estate” than merely SOLD a house.
    Web 2.0 is offering that conversation and empowering the consumers … Something that many old-schoolers are afraid of. Like giving consumers what they actually WANT will make our profession disappear? (To that I say, “Ha!”)
    No, I am not implying that YOU are afraid of the change toward consumer empowerment in real estate, just that the professionals who choose to be a part of this whole Web 2.0 thing EMBRACE this change.
    My Numbers:
    About 80% of our business comes from the internet. Of that, a large chunk of that is because of our blogging (in one form or another). These numbers are rough, as blogging has only been a part of our business for a little over a year. However, here is our data since March 2007:
    • 12 Listings Taken
    • 10 Buyers
    I used the following criteria to come up with these numbers:
    1.People who FOUND us from our Blog (Active Rain and our Other Blog), or
    2.People who were referred to us because their agent found us from our Blog (Active Rain) or
    3.People who were “on the fence” about whether they should use us to list and/or buy, but decided to use us after we sent them to our Blog.

    What’s more, because of my Blogging, I rank top of Google Page #1 for MANY search terms that bring me an average of 5-8 GOOD leads a week. Effective Blogging = Awesome SEO.
    To me, blogging is a VERY viable business tool. I am an avid time-blocker, and so I measured the ROI from the time I spent chasing FSBO’s and Expireds vs. the time I spent blogging. Results? ROI is MUCH better with blogging. And I actually LIKE it.
    However, like I started this comment… There is a business model for everyone, and blogging is not always the answer for every agent.

  30. Wade Young

    December 2, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Thank you all for real numbers. I asked and I received. After hearing your numbers and comments, I hold out hope.

    Mariana-
    You are right about blogging and SEO. That is the real value as I see it — the link love and the exchange between colleagues. Most blogs are dull, but I have learned as well, so sitting through the dull has been worth it. Getting the link love is a big benefit to being involved in blogs.

    As Shailes has said, there is a jackpot yet to be hit. I think that there is something to blogging. I think that there needs to be a better platform than blogger or wordpress. The blogs are a bit cumbersome to get around in, particularly for the consumer. Until a more user-friendly platform emerges, I suspect that no one will hit the jackpot.

  31. Laurie Manny

    December 2, 2007 at 1:44 am

    Wade,

    I listed 3 properties this last week, all short sales. I have a double end offer in on one of them, buyer was a referral client. I referred out 9 buyers and am working with 3 of my own. I have another dozen or more buyers to refer out and a shortage of competent agents to refer them to and 5 more buyer leads came in today. All but one of the listings came straight from my blog, the other from a past client referral. Do I think blogging works? You bet I do!

  32. Ines

    December 2, 2007 at 7:02 am

    Mariana and Laurie – thanks for bringing your stats out here. I think there are many out there that are hesitant and may not see the light at the end of the tunnel and it helps to hear success stories.

    Wade, I also recommend that you talk to some successful Bloggers in the loan industry like Brian Brady and the X-broker…..their business models are completely different, but their numbers will astound you. There are plenty out there that are getting great results.

  33. john harper

    December 2, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Blogging has evolved from fun and interesting to challenging, hard work, interesting and fun.

    I follow over 70 blogs to keep abreast of what is happening in real estate, business, technology and communities we serve. This alone takes 1 to 2 hours a day depending on the amount of comments I leave.

    There is no shortage of ideas or topics, just time to post on 6 blogs I write for.

    Evolving technology represents another challenge. Two Web 2.0 assets I am now incorporating into our marketing efforts are Utterz and Spresent (www.xxxx.com for each) This is the first listing we are using Utterz on. The incorporation of client and neighbor interviews into the listing has received many favorable comments.

    Spresent is presenting me with a few challenges. Mainly, synchronizing an audio track hosted elsewhere with the flash presentation.

    We, generally, receive 2 to 3 leads a day from our site that incorporates direct response marketing. The blog represents 70% of our traffic (organic search). We are recognized as leaders and innovators in our markets with the use of technology in real estate.

    Our online marketing efforts are beyond what anyone else in the area is doing by a factor of 3 or more. I spend 5 to 7 hours a day on a computer to make it happen.

    I don’t know how solo agents do it all, but my hat is off to them. We just merged our team with another very successful team to position ourselves for more international real estate transactions and to increase our business focus locally.

    Things change – change or die.

  34. John Harper

    December 2, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Looks like I screwed up the link and I can’t seem top edit the comment to correct it so here it is:

    https://www.theharperteam.com/blog/our-team/fantastic-family-home-ideal-for-entertaining/

  35. Ines

    December 2, 2007 at 9:24 am

    John – I just checked out your utterz and real estate shows and I have to commend you for your creativity. We may have the tools within our reach, but it’s how we use them to our favor that really matters.

    The home owners’ interview and neighbor interview is a fantastic idea.

  36. Benn Rosales

    December 2, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Wade, my stats from blogging this year is 3.2 million in additional sales. I’ve been blogging since March.

    2.0 is not the only answer, it’s a re-application of old standards with new methodologies. I do not believe that the 2.0 approach actually totally is the one way to do all things. I think you have to balance new with old. Your mailers today aughta look and sound like your blog or 2.0 site- modern. I think the willingness to let a buyer or seller walk because you’re willing to simply answer a direct question is an honest approach to business in general- you’re not being a corny canned salesman only telling someone what they want to hear.

    We’re absolutely not geniuses here, you’re right, the point of ag is to learn and what we’re debating here are variable approaches to the same goal. We’ve vetted out a lot of things that are wastes of time, and brought about new ideas for the future- I am really glad we have people like you that make us take a second look- it’s how we grow.

  37. Ines

    December 2, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Benn – I think you would agree that we all have different reasons to blog, although ultimately we have the same goal.

    I started blogging because the traditional methods were not getting us results. We were spending more and more on marketing and seeing less and less sales. Could we attribute this to the slowing down of the market? Absolutely!

    But as our markets change, so should our strategies. What makes us geniuses here is not our IQ or what we do for a living, it’s the concept of being able to scrutinize our business models and make changes accordingly. Changes that will benefit us as well as our customers.

  38. Benn Rosales

    December 2, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Could not have said it better myself…

  39. Jonathan Dalton

    December 3, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    One buyer strictly off the blog. Another listing strictly off the blog. How many others have been influenced but not necessarily off the blog directly is hard to say.

    Google love is easy to document

  40. Jeff Turner

    December 12, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Ines… I’m late to this party, but I’m glad I came. Most of the new “tools” we all talk about as being the new Web 2.0 will indeed come and go. It’s not the tools that make the difference. It’s the person behind the tools. It’s the need to learn and grow that lives behind the tools. It’s the desire to build relationships in the most effective ways that will end up winning in the long run. This has always been the case and always will be. Great first post here!

  41. Ines

    December 12, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Jeff – better late than never!…coming from “tool boy turner” himself who has the perfect balance of using technology and creating relationships, means A LOT!!

    I can speak for myself when I say that I have a lot to learn, but we have to be open to all those changes and we need to stay on top of technology (so please don’t stop sharing all those great new gadgets with the less geeky types like myself)

  42. Ryan Hukill

    February 6, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Ines, I missed this one the first time around, and have been MIA from AG for some time now, mostly due to all the new business web 2.0 is bringing me. You made some great points here that I often ponder myself. It’s amazing how many agents are just afraid to even TRY to adapt. Their loss, our gain!

  43. Ines

    February 7, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Ryan – nice to have you come by and glad to hear you are getting lots of business – and you can say that again…..”our gain”.

  44. Brian Requarth

    February 7, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Ines, this is an awesome blog post with outstanding comments. I am scheduled to put on several presentations in March and this summer about the benefits of real estate blogging for local NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate) chapters and this blog post is a gold mine of information to help communicate what blogging is all about. Saludos!

  45. Ines

    February 7, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Brian – I’m going to have to get it together and find out more about NAHREP (Brian Brady was the first one to mention it and then Diane Aurit). Gracias por tu visita.

  46. Brian Requarth

    February 7, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    You should check out their website http://www.NAHREP.org (we designed it). I just signed an agreement with them to integrate their member base (14,000) in our Hispanic real estate portal, VivaReal.us. Basically all their members will have their own profile and blog (Acitve Rain style). Also, on VivaReal.us we are going to be featuring a few nationally recognized bloggers (bilingual). The bilingual blogging platform will go live in mid April. I will keep you posted as I think you are a good fit for our real estate section https://www.vivareal.us/guias/comprar/.

  47. Ines

    February 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Brian – thanks for the site and I remember looking at vivareal back when I wrote this post https://agentgenius.com/?p=477
    Definitely keep me posted!

  48. John Lockwood

    February 8, 2008 at 9:08 am

    I try to strike a balance between being a luddite and being a cheerleader.

  49. Ines

    February 8, 2008 at 9:18 am

    John – balance is always good, but I am confident that once you start seeing the results, your “luddite tendencies” will disappear

  50. John Lockwood

    February 8, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Yes, that must be it.

  51. Robin

    June 12, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    ““In the jungle where you are right now…..it is about how you take advantage of the opportunities that you have, anticipating that the world could be radically different 12 months from now”.

    This post was written in November. Just 8 short months agao. With the DOJ v. NAR settlement, Google’s advances, Trulia’s gain of market share, who knows where we will end up. To survive in the jungle you need survival skills.

  52. Holly White

    June 13, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    @Robin – and how you get those skills is by utilizing the tools that we have right here. I am realizing more and more that being a part of the real estate blogosphere is more valuable than getting a PhD.

  53. ines

    June 13, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Robin – nice observation! Things have certainly changed in 8 months – also look at Twitter and all the new tools out there and where we stand as agents as opposed to 8 months ago. I can tell you that our own business has come a long way – survival skills and hitting the virtual pavement!

    Holly – the tools offered by the RE blogosphere are priceless. The best part is that people are so willing to share what works…it’s not such a rough jungle after all.

  54. Susan

    June 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    >>>>@Robin – and how you get those skills is by utilizing the tools that we have right here. I am realizing more and more that being a part of the real estate blogosphere is more valuable than getting a PhD.<<<<<

    Holly, you got that right. There is a ton of knowledge here and people willing to share. My problem is finding the time!

  55. ines

    June 28, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Susan – Rick and I were discussing the other day that the knowledge I’ve acquired in the past 2 years on-line is like getting a degree. Time is a nice challenge (for everyone) – you are not alone.

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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