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More Yelp? Yes Please! Tips for generating real estate leads on Yelp

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I read Lani’s fine article last week about Yelp as a reputation management tool and I thought I would throw out some of my insight as a Yelp “sort of” insider.

A little background on Yelp.   A couple of years ago they were trying to build up a following in Nashville and approached me with an intriguing offer to write 50 reviews a week in return for a paycheck(something I hadn’t had in a while).  Alas, even though I’d never heard of them, I created my little profile and started cranking out some pithy useful tidbits at a hectic pace.  Now, because I know there has been some criticism of Yelp I want to clarify that I was NOT paid to write good or bad reviews, they did not specify what the reviews should say or who to review.  The parameters were they wanted local flavor and not big chains and they wanted engaging good tips and fun anecdotal reviews. It could be a park, a Dr., restaurant, hardware store, repairman, library anything.  In addition, they suggested I think long and hard before I made a terrible review and absolutely forbade me to write anything negative about a business competitor and/or to write anything related to my personal industry while I was on their payroll.    Sounds pretty ethical right?

After about a month or so and a few hundred reviews in, I began struggling to get 50 reviews in a week and let the gig go.   However, a funny thing started happening.  I would be out and about and often find my friends and acquaintances stopping me to say they had used one of my reviews to visit a restaurant or make a purchase.    Well doesn’t that beat all?  I had seriously taken this on as some side cash and fun because I’m a bit  opinionated but (insert light bulb in a bubble over my head here) I realized Yelp could be a HUGE business tool beyond just my own business page.

Yelp as a lead source:

I continue to use Yelp faithfully to this day and here is what I think makes it just as viable as Facebook and Twitter as a lead source:

1) SEO – Yelp has SEO we all opine for!!  For example if you google the term Ugly Mugs (my fave coffee shop in my neighborhood) they come in just under the actual shop’s site and sometimes they rank ahead of the purveyor google is indexing them for.  Anyway the text and review is mine on page one of Googles page is my review.   Woot – I  love being a neighborhood expert with some first page google ranking teeth in my game!

2)Now that I’m not under the constraint of writing about my industry, this year I intend to write reviews about my favorite vendors for a couple of reasons.  Here is one I did a while back for an appliance company that saved my fanny on a listing.   It was a tremendous opportunity to promote what I do on Yelp while providing useful information to the public.   In addition,  I love to send links of my reviews to the vendors I’ve written them for and let them know I appreciate them and want them to succeed.  It’s pretty darn easy to gain referrals from business associates that you not only send business to but also promote  in a very credible, useful way.

3)Yelp encourages Interaction not isolation.  They have a local public forum you can view from your profile page.  I’ve seen all kinds of great topics including ones about folks looking to relocate in to the area and wondering about neighborhoods.    Yelp Elite – If you write enough reviews and get enough of a following then Yelp invites you to be a part of their Elite Squad and that gets you in the door to all kind of fun events with other Yelp contributors.  Hmmmm… an exclusive audience with people in your community who freely spend time passing on tips about their favorite products and services, wouldn’t that be useful?

4)Yelp integrates with other social networks.  When you write a review you can opt to have it go to your Facebook wall and on your Twitter feed.   I frequently get lots of traction from reviews through both of those sources.  In addition,  Facebook has a similar application to FourSquare so you can download the app to your mobile phone and start checking in all over town.

5) Have you heard of Bling your Blog?  This is a fun little tool provided free of charge.  Yelp automatically maps your most recent reviews and allows the map widget to rest on your profile page.  If you click below your profile name or on the bottom of the map the term “bling your blog” you will be redirected to a page with that map where you can completely customize the color and size of it to match your blog.  It will then generate simple html code for you to cut and past on to your homepage or whatever page you wish it to reside on.   In addition WordPress has Yelp Bar which is a cool little plug in that will display Yelp reviews of your business on your site should you be lucky enough to have any.

Just scratching the surface

Now that I’ve discussed some cool ways to use Yelp (and I personally think I’m just scratching the surface), I want to make some suggestions on how you should not screw up Yelp.  Don’t post bogus, even if they are nice, reviews because over time the site will lose credibility.   Don’t post self promotional things about yourself on Yelp because in time the site will become cluttered with every business hack blindly doing it (a bit like Twitter) and the site will lose credibility.   Don’t get upset if you end up with a bad review or two, conversation is healthy.  Don’t slam businesses for sport or in competition with you because you and the site will lose credibility.

Do be authentic, engaging, yourself, funny, useful, and informative just like we have all been told on other social networking sites.   Yelp is a cool tool with tremendous potential that has managed to stay under the “spam the world with useless content for the sake of posting something” radar.   Go and use your Genius, report back to me on what cool new ways innovations you are creating with Yelp, but for god sakes please keep it real.

Anna Altic – Village Real Estate Services. I’ve called Nashville home for the last 15 years and have been practicing (practice being the key word here) real estate for just over 6 years. In the fall of 2007, I went to a local German Festival that had a home tour, including a LEED certified property, and I instantly became enamored with the idea of eco friendly living (ok, so I’d had a little beer and the dual flush toilet rocked my world). I have since devoted much of my time and energies in to studying and espousing the benefits of better building technology within our local residential market and my proudest accomplishment thus far has been successfully leading the initiative to get over 25 green features added to our MLS search fields.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Karen Goodman

    April 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for the push to get started with Yelp. I had good intentions and signed up last year, but never did anything with it. Just fixed up my profile, and posted some reviews and local pictures. Now to keep it up!

    If anyone wants to connect on yelp, I'm:

    https://karenstl.yelp.com/

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Business Marketing

Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.

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jack of all trades learning

When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).

We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:

Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:

  1. Online Community Manager
  2. Virtual Assistant
  3. Digital Marketing Expert
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. App Developer
  6. Web Analyst
  7. Blogger
  8. Social Media Manager
  9. UX Designer

We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.

The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”

In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
  • Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
  • Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
  • What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)

If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.

The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The top 10 hard skills are:

  1. Blockchain
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Analytical Reasoning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. UX Design
  6. Business Analysis
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sales
  9. Scientific Computing
  10. Video Production

There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.

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Business Marketing

Coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

These tools customize your Zoom calls with your company’s branding

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Zoom appears to be here to stay. Here are the tools you need to add or update your Zoom background to a more professional – or even branded – background.

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Zoom call on computer, but there's more options to customize.

If you haven’t had to deal with Zoom in 2021, you may be an essential worker or retired altogether. For the rest of us, Zoom became the go-to online chat platform around mid-March. For several reasons, and despite several security concerns, Zoom quickly pushed past all online video chat competitors in the early COVID-19 lockdown days.

Whether for boozy virtual happy hours, online classes for school or enrichment, business meetings, trivia nights, book clubs, or professional conferences, odds are if you are working or in school, you have been on a Zoom call recently. Many of us have been on weekly, if not daily, Zoom calls.

If you are the techy type, you’ve likely set up a cool Zoom background of a local landmark or a popular spot, a library, or a tropical beach. Comic-con types and movie buffs created appropriate backgrounds to flex their awesome nerdiness and technical smarts.

Many people have held off creating such an individualized background for our virtual meetings for one of any number of reasons. Perhaps it never occurred to them, or maybe they aren’t super comfortable with all things techy. Many people have been holding out hope of returning to their offices, thus seeing no need to rock the boat. I’m here to tell you, though, it’s time. While I, too, hope that we get the pandemic under control, I am realistic enough to see that working or studying from home will continue to be a reality for many people for some time.

Two cool, free tools we’ve found that can help you make your personal Zoom screen look super professional and even branded for business or personal affairs are Canva and HiHello. While each platform has a paid component, creating a Zoom background screen for either application is fairly simple and free.

Here’s how:

Canva is the online design website that made would-be graphic designers out of so many people, especially social media types. It’s fairly user-friendly with lots of tutorials and templates, and the extremely useful capabilities of uploading your own logo and saving your brand colors.

Using Canva, first create your free account with your email. It functions better if you create an account, although you can play around with some of the tools without signing up. The fastest way from Point A to Point B here is to use the search box and search for “Zoom backgrounds.” You now can choose any one of their Zoom background templates, from galaxy to rainbows and unicorn to library books or conference rooms. Choose an inspirational quote if you’d like (but really, please don’t). Download the .jpg or .png, save it, and you can upload it to Zoom.

To create a branded Zoom background in Canva, it will take slightly more work. It was a pain in the butt for me, because I had this vision of a backdrop with my logo repeated, like you see as a backdrop at, you know, SXSW or the Grammys or something. Reach for the stars, right?

OK, the issue with this was that I had to individually add, resize, and place each of the 9 logos I ended up with. I figured out the best way to size them uniformly (I resized one and copied/pasted, instead of adding the original size each time (maybe you’re thinking “Duh,” but it took me a few failed experiments to figure out that was the fastest way to do it).

Once you have your 9 loaded in the middle of the page, start moving them around to place them. I chose 9, because the guiding lines in Canva allow me to ensure I have placed them correctly, in the top left corner, middle left against the margin that pops up, and bottom left. Same scenario for the center row.

Magical guide lines pop up when you have the logo centered perfectly, so I did top, middle, and bottom like that, and repeated for the right hand margin. Then I flipped them, because they were showing up in my view on Zoom as backward. That may mean they are now backward to people on my call; I will need to test that out! Basically, Canva is easy to use, but perhaps my design aspirations made it tricky to figure out.

Good luck and God bless if you choose more than 9 logos to organize. Oh, and if you are REALLY smart, you will add one logo to a solid color or an austere, professionally appropriate photo background and call it a day, for the love of Mary. That would look cool and be easy.

HiHello is an app you can download to scan and keep business cards and create your own, free, handy dandy digital business card. It comes in the form of a scannable QR code you can share with anyone. Plus, you can make a Zoom background with it, which is super cool! It takes about five minutes to set up, truly! It works great!

The Zoom background has your name, the company name, and your position on one side and the QR code on the other. The QR code pulls up a photo, your name, title, phone number, and email address. It’s so nifty! And the process was super easy and intuitive. Now, If I took my logo page from Canva and made that the background for my HiHello virtual Zoom screen, I would be branded out the wazoo.

Remember there are technical requirements if you want to use HiHello on a Mac. For example, if you have a mac with a dual core processor, it requires a QUAD. However, on a PC, it was really simple.

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