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Lies, Damn Lies and Blogs…

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“It was on a blog, so I don’t know if it’s actually true…”

So said Rush Limbaugh last week.

I’m not knocking Rush Limbaugh here. I’m trying to understand what this says about bloggers and the new media in which they operate.

As a blogger this statement took me aback for a while. Considering that I blog about mortgages in particular (real estate in general), credibility is very important to my success. However, while my blog in and of itself my be reliable, factual and very informative, the quality of other blogs has an impact on my efforts. After all, if Visitor Doe doesn’t trust the information on blogs, then I’m fighting an uphill battle to gain trust on my blog. That is why all serious bloggers need to take their credibility and reputation seriously.

I think blog credibility varies by industry. In a purely opinion driven field like politics creditably is as good as your opinion. However, in an industry like ours, then opinion is not the driving factor. Facts, analysis, research all play into the credibility of a blog.

We all know that content is king. If you break it down a bit, credibility drives the quality of your content. And it is my belief that credibility is really what allows you to build the relationships you need to increase your business. I have never responded to people whom I don’t find credible and I don’t expect my readers to do anything differently.

I used to think blogging was just about me and my opinions. However, as I have interacted with the visitors to my blog the more I realize it’s really about credibility. The posts and articles that bring the most response are those that I spend time researching and analyzing. To date my opinion and speculation hasn’t paid the bills.

To follow up, the blogger in question that Rush mentioned was credible. I just wish the credibility of the information wasn’t instantly questioned just because it came from a blog.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, 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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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Bob in San Diego

    January 21, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I’m trying to understand what this says about bloggers and the new media in which they operate.

    While blogs are a great source of information, since anyone can put one online in a matter of minutes, the adherence to traditionally accepted journalistic ethics and standards is anything but a given.

    The question of bloggers as journalists has been raging since the 2004 political season. In our industry, blogs are generally just a step above forums, and the advent of sites like ActiveRain have done nothing to change that perspective.

    I recently sent a client to a lender’s site. When he saw that it was a blog, he dismissed it out of hand.

  2. Jeff Brown

    January 22, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Political blogs must put up with being compared with some that can only be described as propganda. Moveon.org comes to mind. It’s equally true for some on the right too.

    To be fair, Rush says that about blogs because of the many falsehoods printed on political blogs — lies he and others have documented as false.

    He also gives credit where it’s due.

    The most famous example is the blog-caused downfall of Dan Rather, which speaks for itself.

  3. Toby & Saide

    January 22, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Why can’t blogs be trusted? Because we all have different goals with them. I used to be in a Strat-O-Matic baseball league and reported on our league wide blog that a pitcher was out for the season with an injury.

    Suddenly it pops up on another person’s blog as a trackback.

  4. Doug Quance

    January 22, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Blogs are only as good as the writers who contribute.

    I remember reading some trash on a local real estate blog and thought, “what on Earth is this guy talking about?”

    So I researched the author and discovered that he was not only new in the business – but he had done less than a handful of transactions.

    And to think that someone might believe that crap…

  5. April Groves

    January 22, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Not everybody is as ethical as you, unfortunately. We do a lot of surfing in my house – some of the trash out there is unbelievable. My oldest is starting to do research online for school…one of the first lessons we have to teach her is you can’t believe everything that pops up on a google search.

  6. Benn Rosales

    January 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    April, damn, you just said a mouthfull, you must be exhausted.

  7. Shailesh Ghimire

    January 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Good points. The ease of the exercise makes falsifying easy.

    Bob in San Diego:

    Wow, it’s unfair that the borrower dismissed the lenders blog. I think if he were able to just become a bit acquainted with blogs he may feel differently. However, his reaction speaks volumes and I wonder how much that plays a role in goal conversion.

  8. Bob in San Diego

    January 22, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    My client is no dummy. He has worked inside the Beltway for decades. He helps under-developed nations set up their tax code. He rejected it out of hand because he is familiar with blogs.

    I think it has everything to do with conversion. He found me online, but my blog is not the face of my site, just an integrated aspect of it.

  9. April Groves

    January 22, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Bob,

    You raise an interesting point about the front site…I think I’ll blog it 🙂

  10. Robert D. Ashby

    January 22, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Blogs in our marketplace should be used to build credibility and bring education to the consumer, depending on what you are trying to do with it. I have several blogs, each have a different focus, but all designed to build credibility in each aspect.

    One reason I do not blog regularly on AR anymore is the lack of quality content as amatuers and point mongers took over the site. The posts there became hard to manage and outside of a small percentage, even harder to find quality content. I did a mortgage week in review and decided to try and find quality content from bloggers I did not know already. Of all of the posts, only 2 were worth mentioning. Very sad.

  11. Jeff in Hawaii

    January 22, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    It is amazing how poular all thois blogging is becoming. Bloggers are getting more and more powerful.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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skilled worker

The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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