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Are You Connecting to Your Community?



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Connecting to Others

I love Twitter, Linkedin, ooVoo, and Facebook as ways to connect with those around me! These applications have allowed me to connect with real estate agents all across the United States, Canada, and parts unknown. It was great, getting open, honest feedback from agents not in my market area. All of a sudden, I am reading about best practices, ways to advertise, other points of view, great technology to use, and so much more.

In March of this year, I noticed something. Despite having these great real estate connections, I have very few local ones. I realized I needed to incorporate these tools in to my practice to find clients, since we all know “real estate is local.” Spending time on these tools were great, however they were not bringing me any business.

What is an agent to do?

One of the first things to change and implement, connect with local folks on Twitter, not to sell them, but to get to know them. I started searching Twitter for people who lived in communities in my metropolitan area of Columbus, Ohio. Then I narrowed my search for my home town, Delaware, Ohio. Ironically, the only other Twitter user was a real estate agent (just my luck!). Then I moved out to communities with in a 20 mile radius. This started working, suddenly I was connecting with new friends in the area and talking about Central Ohio, what we do, getting together and yes, real estate.

This is great for new friends, however, is there more?

Yes, there is! If you are using social media, odds are your family, friends you lost contact with; old colleagues may be using it too! My search turned to phrases to find people from high school, marching band (yes I was a “band geek” if ya have sumtin to say about it allow me to remind you I am 6’ 4” and 270 lbs! ;^) ), alumni from drum & bugle corps I marched with, friends from former employers, and old summer camp acquaintances. The list goes on and on and on!

Wow, it’s been forever. What are YOU doing?

Suddenly, my contacts are growing exponentially. People I had not spoken with for over 15 years are connecting with me and each has the same question, “What are you doing?!?!?” What a great segway to passively tell them, “Hey, I sell real estate!”


When I start connecting with family and old friends, I do not use a canned response. These are people I want to reconnect with first and foremost, catch up with, and get reacquainted. They do deserve more. With that said, I usually start off telling them about my wife and son, age’s, plus any major life changes we have made (like starting kindergarten), where I am living, mutual friends I’m in contact with, and any news (try to stay way from gossip) of folks we have not heard from. Then, moving on to my career just becomes a natural part of the conversation. I tell them I am a real estate agent working for Minister Realty. I do not try to solicit a sale, a listing appointment, or referrals. That conversation will come up organically in later conversations. Remember, you are connecting with people that were once a part of your life in some way. Have a reunion and do not be a salesperson.

What’s the effect?

In most cases, by the 2nd or 3rd contact you may find out that “We are looking to buy a house” or “My parents want to move,” or even “We just bought a home 3 months ago.” If you do receive the latter response, its ok, life happens and we can not sell to everyone. Hopefully, you will receive one of the former responses, but if not, give it time. Not only have you connected with an old friend, you now have a potential client. At that point, let them know you will always give them superior customer service.

How are you connecting with family, old friends and co-workers?

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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  1. Genuine Chris Johnson

    September 24, 2008 at 11:20 am

    to what end though, man.

    Is it a fun distraction from doing real work? I’m talking about the, more than old friends.

  2. Chris Shouse

    September 24, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Rocky that is a great way to connect with friends from the past and meet new ones. Thanks for reminding me there are more ways to connect than sending out postcards.

  3. Rachel

    September 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Don’t forget that social media tools are usually free (other than the time you spend) and don’t use environmental resources like traditional print media most realtors use. 🙂

  4. Ben Goheen

    September 24, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve been noticing the same thing lately, all my twitter friends are Realtors. I have to ask – what drum corps did you marched with? I’m an alumni and have recently connected with a lot of former members on Facebook.

  5. Chris de Jong

    September 24, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Great article Rocky, I know exactly where you are coming from when you mention local connections. I personally started using Twitter in order to connect to my friends and colleagues but soon started adding members of our local tech community.

    One thing led to another, and now we have a great community and are even holding a city-wide BarCamp tomorrow! 🙂

    @Genuine Chris – As far as being a “fun distraction” from work, leveraging services like Rocky mentioned are entirely what you make of them. Sure, it is fun to send random links and pictures of lolcats to everyone, but I know many people (myself included) that have used social media to help them build their RE business – be it meeting new customers or increasing your exposure.

  6. Rocky VanBrimmer

    September 24, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Chris, there are many ways to interact with people you meet on social media. However you can not go in to it thinking you are going to “sell them” and they will use you, just because. The great thing about web 2.0 is the “block” button. You can control what you see. I will be going in to ways to connect and interact with 2 follow pieces on this.

    Chris, I have a post boiling about old school and new skool real estate. Great point.

    Rachel, EVERYONE loves FREE!

    Ben, I marched Limited Edition in Columbus Ohio, Dutchboy from Kitchner/Waterloo Ontario, and Bluecoats in Canton Ohio.

    Chris, someone just recommended an RE Barcamp in Ohio. As well, love your point to my good friend Chris!

  7. Toby & Sadie

    September 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    I’m going to back Rocky on this one. There is more ways to skin the perverbeal client.

    Is Web 2.0 a great way to connect with people? Yes. Is it just as easy to miss the mark and waste your time and efforts? Yes.

    I am not good (yet) at social media networking, but sitting for an hour with Rocky and it becomes obvious that he has a plan. I’m developing mine, not there yet but soon.

  8. Rocky

    September 24, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    So says the one person from Delaware Ohio on Twitter! LOL, Thanks Toby!

  9. Paula Henry

    September 24, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Rocky – I just had an old friend connect with me today on Facebook. I do need to keep up with the Twitter crowd in my area, though.Thanks for the motivation!

  10. Genuine Chris Johnson

    September 24, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    There is a part of 2.0 that is highschoolish and cliqueish. People feel offended when they have bad ideas & bad plans you attack, and get all huffy. That is the part I can do without. I don’t monetize people, but I do want to extract recreation and value from what I do online.

  11. Lisa Sanderson

    September 25, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Rocky: Good point about connecting with locals-this is something I’ve been *trying* to work on. Tweetdeck makes it kind of easy by letting you set up feeds based on keywords. I find it helpful in spotting potential new friends on twitter without a huge amount of searching. Haven’t figured out how to automate that on facebook yet. Also, I’ve reconnected w/a few high school people too…unfortunately it was through myspace bleh.

  12. Tim McDonald

    September 25, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    As we initially hooked up on Twitter (as realtors) I have been able to take some great ques from you and this article hits it on the head. I have been asking myself, as I get started, how do I find more local connections? While I’ve experimented a little, you provide some great options to “meet and greet” others in the local area without them all being realtors.

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Business Marketing

Video is necessary for your marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As technology and social media move forward, so do marketing opportunities. Now is the time for video content social media marketing!



video content

As an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard the phrase “pivot to video” countless times over the last few years. It’s the path a lot of media companies are on, but even brands that aren’t directly talking about this pivot have increased their video production. This shift stems in part from studies showing users spend more time on pages featuring video content. Social media has also played a significant role, and recently, new social platforms have made the pivot to video even more important.

Snapchat and TikTok are leading the social video sector as emerging social media platforms, but the audiences for these platforms skew especially young. The content on these platforms also tends toward the meme-worthy and entertaining, raising the question: are these platforms a good use of your time and resources? The answer depends on your industry, but whatever your field, you can certainly learn from the pros dominating these new platforms.

The promotional angle

One of the primary ways that businesses use video content across platforms is by creating promotional content, which range widely in style, cost, and content, but there are a few strategies that can really help a promotional video succeed.

First, a great promotional video hooks the viewer within the first few seconds. Social media has shrunk everyone’s attention span, so even if your video is on a longer form platform, the beginning has to be powerful. Having a strong start also means that your video will be more flexible, allowing it to gain traction across different platforms.

Audience matters

What you’re promoting – what your business does and who it serves – plays a critical role in what kinds of video content you make and what platforms you use. TikTok is a lot of fun, and it’s playing a growing role in business, but if your entire audience is age 30 and up, there’s not much point in trying to master the form and build a viewership there. You need a sufficient youth-heavy market to make TikTok a worthwhile investment, but Snapchat, which also serves a youth-heavy market, might be a different story.

Even if you don’t intend to make heavy use of Snapchat, the platform recently made a big splash in the video sector by opening up its story tools to other platforms. That means businesses will be able to use Snapchat’s tools on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they may already have an audience. It will also make crossover content easier, allowing you to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. You may never download Snapchat proper, but you may soon be using their tools.

It’s all about strategy

However you choose to approach video content, the fact is that today video is a necessary part of your content marketing strategy. In part this is because, while blogs aren’t going anywhere, and short-form social media is definitely ascendant, both make use of video, but that’s not the only reason. Video is so powerful because it’s deeply personal. It makes your audience feel that much more closely connected with you and your brand, and that alone is enough to change buying patterns.

Another key advantage of video is that, consumers genuinely enjoy well-made videos. Unlike blogs, which most users will typically only seek out if they need information, there are brands out there who are known for their video content. They’ve found a way to hook viewers and make them feel like they have two products: entertainment and whatever it is they actually sell. You, too, can do this with enough creativity and today’s social media tools.

It’s critical that you don’t let your brand fall behind on video right now, because if you even stop for breath, you will be left behind. As TikTok and Snapchat have made clear, video doesn’t stop for anyone. At this point, video isn’t the future of social media or ecommerce – it’s the present.

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.



Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.



Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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