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Pig Kissing and Your Reputation

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Free Exposure?

If I told you that I could get your name in front of thousands of local, potential customers, for free, would you be willing to kiss a pig in exchange for the publicity? I made that decision this year when I volunteered to raise money for the local county fair. In return, I had stories written about me in the local papers, was covered on local radio, and garnered some name recognition. I also got to stand in the center ring at the Fair and introduce myself to everyone there.

It’s been three months, and I still have people seeking me out to see if I did, in fact, kiss the big, dirty pig. (Seriously, I didn’t ‘win’… so I didn’t have to kiss it. And that was really okay with me when I saw that pig.) But folks that didn’t know me before recognize me now, and the people that I already knew in the community? I had an excuse to call them and remind them I’m still alive (and selling real estate). Some agents told me I was crazy, but to me–it was just good public relations.

Protect Your Offline Reputation, Too

The best listing agents spend tons of time crafting marketing plans to promote the homes they are selling; well thought out, strategic marketing to put each home in its’ best light. How many agents spend as much time and energy to market and promote *themselves* as a brand? Shouldn’t you have as clear a focus on how to put yourself out there, how potential clients should perceive you? All major companies and corporations have someone managing their public relations. As an agent, how are you incorporating a good public relations strategy to manage your public perception and reputation, and help bring in future business? Someone recently said to me that communication all comes back down to public relations…your face, your personal brand, within your community, is what brings you business and success. Beyond guarding your ‘online reputation’, guarding your business reputation and your place in the local community is just as important.

It’s about having goals in mind for how you want to be perceived, and which audiences you want to reach. (While I don’t want to be perceived as a pig kisser, being perceived as supportive to the local fair and 4H programs is a good thing.) Are you trying to place yourself as the expert for the huge active adult community nearby, or are you looking to position yourself as the most knowledgeable agent for first time buyers? You’ll need to have very different activities in mind for each niche market you are working with.

The Long Tail…in Real Life

At REBlogWorld in Las Vegas last week, I learned from Jim Duncan that you can (and should) establish relationships with local media outlets so that they turn to you when they need a quote from an expert. I have also heard successful agents talk about taking the time to get to know the builder’s representatives in different new construction communities: keeping your ear to the ground with them allows YOUR clients to know about good deals before they are gone. Nicole Nicolay talked at Inman Connect about working with your local school’s PTA to meet people and build a network for the long term. The “long tail” is not just an online term…apply it to your offline marketing plan, too.

So I’m not saying everyone needs to kiss a pig to grow their business..but I think it’s important to not get so wrapped up in your online presence that you forget to have a real presence in your local community, too. What are you doing to interact locally?

Heather is a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn, Virginia. She's also the 2008 VARBuzz Blog Brawl Champion, mom to four fantastic kids, and the wife of a golf professional. If she had free time, she'd probably read a good book or play golf. You can find her on twitter, @hthrflynn, or writing on her blog, LoCoMusings.com.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Jay Thompson

    September 27, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I’m bummed my contribution didn’t help you “win” — I would have liked to seen a photo of you and the pig in a lip lock…

    “What are you doing to interact locally?”

    What is weird (to me at least) is that since I started accepting advertising in a limited fashion on my blog, it has opened up connections with local businesses that I never had before. I’ve had some amazing conversations with local business owners (FWIW that vast majority of whom do not advertise on the blog) and really “connected” with several. A couple of those have lead to client referrals.

    I do virtually all my real estate marketing and PR online. But you make a great point Heather – it is really important to connect in the “real world” too.

    Meetup.com is also a wonderful place to find local people that share similar interests.

  2. Nick Bastian

    September 27, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I remember reading about your contest and thought it was a great idea. I bet there were a lot of guys in your community wishing they were that darn pig… Glad to hear the media picked it up, that kind of thing can go a long way.

  3. monika

    September 27, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    LOL…I’m glad you didn’t have to kiss that ugly pig but what a great gimmick for you!

  4. Missy Caulk

    September 27, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    This is the first year I haven’t had kids in high school where it was so easy to network, volunteer for homecoming float building, prom committee, you name it.
    I am going to have to get out in more unnatural environments, going to a Chamber meeting on Tuesday. It was so, so easy when my kids were younger.
    Many at the school know I blog, (on Saline Schools and events) so now they are bugging me to buy a place on the scoreboard for 3500.00 for 5 years, ouch… I don’t like that kind of branding, what are your thoughts?

  5. Jonathan Dalton

    September 27, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    What I do in the community doesn’t translate too much too my business. One transaction in five years at my shuel, and my presidency probably costs more business that it creates. Coaching YMCA is another thing, but that’s never paid off in anything other than skin-cancer to come from walking around in 112 degrees yelling at kids who can’t hear me.

    I’ve debated starting a beagle meet-up but the time’s a little thin.

  6. Jay Thompson

    September 27, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    “I don’t like that kind of branding, what are your thoughts?”

    My gut instinct Missy is the odds of someone seeing your name on the scoreboard, writing it down, going to the site when they get home, and deciding to use you as their agent, are remote.

    Networking at school events is vastly more personal than a name/site/number on a scoreboard. Besides, at least at my kids high school, the audience in the seats consists of 85% students, and 15% parents. Half of which are band parents that arrive shortly before halftime and leave immediately after. The demographics of a high school football crowd don’t seem to fit well with real estate.

    In other words, I suspect the ROI is low.

    Then again, some people swear by billboards which are much more expensive and require a similar effort on the lead/prospect/visitor/potential future clients part.

  7. Cheryl Johnson

    September 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    To Missy, 3.5K would be a little too rich for my taste, too. But whatever, it’s not your name on the scoreboard that matters. It’s the parent or Board member that ~sold~ the advertising to you remembering what a great, smart, generous person you are….

  8. Steve Simon

    September 28, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Don’t flame me, I think charity and giving back should be done; but not to further your business.
    First I think without any additional follow-up your name on the back of a “Softball Fundraising T-Shirt” does very little to garner you any business in the community. To me the reputation you want to establish for business purposes should be “professional, hard working, successful, knowledgeable about my field”. Being known as a “Pig Kisser”, or an easy touch for team advertising, will in my opinion get you on the short list for those looking for a “Cow Milker”.
    Which as I started off saying, “Is not bad, it’s good to give. Just be giving because you want to help not profit from it…
    Just my thoughts 🙂

  9. Bill Lublin

    September 28, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Steve; I don’t want to flame you, but I think you should be kissed (though not by me)
    Networking is networking – and to me that’s working the room – charity or good deeds should be done because you want to do them or they need to be done. And except for the way you feel when you help someone, they really are their own reward.

  10. Rich Jacobson

    September 28, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I think you need to balance the two, both online and offline branding/reputations. And they both need to be the ‘REAL’ deal. I’ve seen way too many ‘online’ personalities who claim to be one thing, but in reality, are something entirely different.

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    September 28, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    …before meeting my amazing wife, I kissed a lot of pigs. I had no idea there was money to be made doing so – had I only known!

    Seriously, the most successful agents I’ve worked with have sat down with a consultant or media adviser and established a way to get their name out. Unfortunately, we’re still trying to convince agents that not only is it ok to ask for business – it’s a requirement. The best way to “ask” for business is to show you’re willing to work for it and to educate the consumer as to why they need it. Public relations is an important part yeah

    We have given several agents lists of media contacts for our area in the past. Unfortunately we only see very few use those lists.

  12. Paula Henry

    September 28, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Matthew – LOL – you probably just won points with your wife 🙂

    Wherever you give your time or resources, I believe you must have a passion for it. I have a special place in my heart for children. Last week is was a donation for Juvenile Diabetes because in my previous life as a Licensed Day care provider, I took care of a child who had Type 1 diabetes.
    I also donate to Riley Childrens Hospital because they once took care of my son when he was a baby. I advocate for causes I believe in; because I have passion for them.

    If I were recognized for doing so, great, but the reward is in the giving for me.

    I do agree we need to be active in our community to know what is going on. Find something you love and it will be obvious. Business is a by-product of the activity you love to do anyway.

  13. Cyndee Haydon

    September 28, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Heather – I loved reading about original post about your Pig Kissing Opportunity and think you made a great point here about connecting in our communities. We are lucky as Missy said because our kids are still school age and we homeschool so there’s a close network of a couple of hundred families locally that all participate in an online forum and in weekly co-ops where we all pitch in so it’s been a great way to help our and get to know others. We also are active in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and our church. It is important to balance Online and offline – still think that Pig Kissing was brilliant – just saying (gotta keep my eyes open for something like that with great viral marketing ability – loved it!)

  14. Mark Voorheis

    September 29, 2008 at 7:14 am

    “What are you doing to interact locally?”

    I’m a big fan of walking my neighborhood, and I try to do it at least twice a year. Walking around and handing out something…usually this time of year trick or treat bags with my name/contact info on them. People always want me to stop and chat about the market. How’s it going, where do I think it’s going, etc. I think it is a great way to set yourself apart from all of the other agents mailing into the neighborhood. People have had a chance to meet you face to face.

    As for the discussion above about advertising in school/church/charity publications…I have always made a point of advertising in my church bulletin. I don’t think that people who don’t already know me will necessarily be swayed by the ad, but there may be people who do know me, but didn’t know that I was a Realtor. This type of advertising helps me make sure that people who would consider doing business with me know that I am in Real Estate. I have had plenty of calls from my church bulletin ad.

  15. Mack

    September 29, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Did someone say “Lipstick on a Pig”?

  16. Heather Elias

    September 30, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Jay: it was not a pretty pig, the pic would not have been attractive! Will have to check out meetup.com, thanks for the tip!

    Nick: the other contestants thought I was a lock to win it because of the paypal account I set up to take donations! I was grateful for all the media coverage, for sure…

    Monika: I was glad too when I saw it! (they didn’t really clean him up at all!)

    Missy: I agree with Jay, I think for that cost it isn’t really going to reach your target audience…

    Jonathan: Hmm, beagle meet up? Let me know how that goes for you… 😉

    Cheryl: I think it’s a bit expensive, too!!

    Steve: no flaming! Honestly, I didn’t think that I needed to point out that community service was a good thing in and of itself, outside of the benefits it could bring your business. That’s just a given!

    Bill: agreed. It’s wonderful when you can enjoy your work and help the community at the same time… (and kisses for you, too!)

    Rich: exactly! If you aren’t genuine that will be evident no matter how much sugarcoating is put on top! 😉

    Matt: I believe that real estate agents as a whole don’t work with the media enough to shore up our perception and image as an industry…

    Paula: I love this, “Find something you love and it will be obvious.” Exactly!!!

    Cyndee: It sure caught attention! It also gave my sphere of influence a way to jump in and help me do it, too…made it their project as well as mine.

    Mark: Great to see my biz partner jumping into the conversation here on AG! (everyone wave hi to Mark, please!) I love your point about making sure that people who know you, know that you are a Realtor, in a low pressure way. That’s hitting the nail on the head!

    Mack: Nope, nobody said that at all… =)

  17. Jeff "I Should Have Donated More" Turner

    October 10, 2008 at 12:52 am

    You already know how I feel about this topic, but I couldn’t let your first post here pass without leaving a comment. All I know is I should have donated more. All this community exposure for you is nice and all, but I wanted to see you kiss the pig.

  18. A Coffey - Maximum Referrals

    June 5, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Interesting post, especially the social networking aspect of this. It’s funny, we have cells, texts, tweets, email, and more ways than ever to get in touch with people… and STILL can’t reach people when we want! 🙂 We need to stop hiding out behind the techno-stuff and get back to old fashioned face-to-face interactions.

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Business Marketing

Simple ways to improve your organic reach on Facebook

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Facebook continues to make businesses and pages pay to play, but businesses still have a shot of improving their organic reach, according to experts in the field.

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Facebook open on laptop with white desk and small potted plant, open to organic reach.

Facebook organic reach is not dead, but you will need to work harder to get eyes on your pages. Here’s a rundown of what experts are saying will help you reach your audience. Facebook is still the top social media platform that marketers use and where consumers tend to look for and follow brand pages. So don’t despair!

Those running Facebook business pages have been seeing ever diminishing returns on their effort at getting their content in front of their audiences and fans, especially since around 2016. Yet Facebook remains the #1 platform for building an audience. Once upon a time, Facebook was incredibly fertile soil to grow our entrepreneurial and creative gardens in, at little to no cost to us. Many businesses are seeing a drastic reduction in reach, meaning that a tiny percentage of people are seeing our posts, even among those who follow our pages.

Have you ever heard something like, “The first one’s always free; that’s how they get you”? This has long been a business philosophy to hook prospective customers, used by savvy marketers and drug dealers alike. Facebook went and took that to the next level, introducing an easy-to-use platform where almost anyone could find and engage with their target audiences of customers, fans, members, and more.

Of course, there had to be a reckoning, and now that Facebook has more than 2.6 billion active monthly users worldwide, they continue to change the rules. Consider the amount of users and the amount of posts being made, and it makes more sense that Facebook tries to narrow the audience for any single post to a reasonable chunk. Otherwise, our brains would explode (okay, my words, not an actual medical opinion). Really, you don’t need to reach everybody, because not everybody is interested in what you’re offering. You need to reach the right people who are going to engage and build a smaller, engaged loyal group of diehard customers.

Community is key
Here are some of the latest tips and best practices to increase organic reach in 2021, provided by Facebook pros. Mark Zuckerburg keeps bringing up the concept of community, and the algorithm favors engagement, not only on Facebook, but across platforms. Nobody wants products and services constantly jammed in their faces.

This is a conversation, not a one-way portal into your customers’ brains and wallets. A constant barrage of salesy content, urging people to buy buy buy, grows real tedious real fast. “If you build it, they will come.” Only instead of a baseball field in the middle of nowhere, work to build a community.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you creating conversations?
  • Are you using your platform to act as a resource and provide helpful or inside information in your niche or area of expertise?
  • Are you asking your audience what they want and would like to see more of from you?
  • Are you taking current events and trends into account, reacting to local/national/world news at all, and creating timely posts?
  • Are you using a variety of post types (photos, videos, links) and taking advantage of Facebook’s built in post tools?
  • Are you taking data into account for what content people are responding to favorably and when?
  • Do you ever invest in Facebook ads or boosted posts for important content or events?

Find the answer to these questions to reevaluate your strategy, work on promoting a dialogue with your audience, and ideally you will see more engagement on your pages, fruitful interactions that ultimately lead to loyal customers and bigger sales.

Create Conversations
Zuckerburg himself comes back to this point repeatedly in his regular updates on the state of all things Facebook and how the algorithm works, saying Facebook will “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” Not every industry lends itself to deep thoughts, but it can be simple enough to engage your audience with community questions. People love giving their opinions or talking about a shared interest.

Community questions can be fun, lively, and create fun interaction between your audience and the business. A simple This or That question posted on one of the background color templates can get the conversation started. If people don’t have to invest a lot of time to answer, then great! Depending on the industry, these can be easy one-offs: Red wine or white? Beach vacation or mountains? TikTok or Reels? Mac or PC? Harley Davidson hogs or Kawasaki crotch rockets? Early bird or night owl?

Hot takes, unpopular opinions, are another way to get people chatting. I’m not espousing trying to stir up controversy here, unless that is appropriate for your business, but people get emotional as all get out for something as simple as pineapple on pizza or beans in chili. What’s a popular or common opinion in your field? How can you introduce a hot take to get people chatting? For an entrepreneurial page, you could put out a hot take on a cluttered desk, or making lists, or standing desks.

Sure, these conversations may start out superficial, but who knows? When people begin interacting on your page more, they begin seeing more that you post, and that’s when you can introduce something a little weightier, asking them to share their expertise or advice on a relevant topic.

Become a resource
Whether your business is a science journal, digital marketing, interior designing, or a Texas Hill Country resort, your business and your audience is unique. Real estate agencies have become good at this, so we’ll use them as an example. If you are selling or leasing properties in Austin or San Francisco, sell the area. Don’t only post the properties you’re selling or agent profiles. Post those, yes, but also post industry news and local attractions.

When people are interested in moving to a new city or a new neighborhood or investing in opening a business there, they need to know why the area is attractive. What is the business climate? What are the financial perks associated with living there? What is the area known for (local restaurants, live music hiking trails, swimming holes, no traffic)? Has the area made a list for quality of life, affordability, great job prospects in X industry? Sharing blogs, articles, infographics, videos, and photos highlighting any of these can help your page serve the interests of your target audience. This is a good thing.

Ask your audience
This is a simple tip for keeping things closer to your audience’s interests, helping you identify areas where your page may be lacking–and opportunities for growth, and keeping the conversation going. Be careful not to overuse this one, but it’s an important tool.

  • Try a simple question, such as “What would you like to see more of on this page?”
  • Create a poll, which is much faster to answer, and helps you narrow answers down to what you really want to know.
  • Similar to the community questions, ask them to share something that has helped them. A classic example would be “What is the best entrepreneurial advice anyone has even given you?” Or “Please share some tips to fight procrastination.” Or “What is the top time-saving tool you use in your business (or for scheduling)?” Having your page followers (and hopefully others) chat with each other this way is helpful for them and for your organic reach.

Take current events and trends into account
This one’s simple: Read the room. This goes both ways. If there is renewed interest in, say, downtown lofts or sea shanty dances on TikTok, can you use this momentary heat to bring interest to your page? On the other hand, if there is a natural disaster, tragedy, or financial crash that has caused great suffering in an area? That’s a good moment to review your scheduled posts and delete or postpone anything that could be unintentionally triggering or offensive.

Some types of businesses are better suited to jumping on the latest trend. Do you have a bar or restaurant with a fairly young, social media savvy crowd? Go ahead, Photoshop that Bernie-Sanders-in-mittens image sitting on your patio (only if you can do it as the trend is hitting). Are you targeting an area that has recently been hit by extended power outages? I’m sorry to tell you, but this is not the time to promote that popup restaurant where diners experience eating in the dark.

Mix it up and use native Facebook tools
Of course you want to stay on brand, but please don’t get caught in a rut where all of your posts are one type. Consistency is one thing, but beware that this doesn’t turn into monotony. Assess where you can change things up. Add photos, videos, links to relevant blogs and articles, or community questions. Different people respond differently to different types of input. Use all the tools at your disposal to generate interest, draw people in, and get them reacting to and engaging with your page.

Facebook and all social media platforms have built in tools. They want you to use them. Often, this is a Facebook effort to capitalize on a similar, competing app. Trust me when I say, you will get brownie points (higher reach) when you take the time to use these native tools. Facebook Watch, Facebook Live, Facebook Stories, even using a background color template from the Facebook options, are all ways to show Facebook you’re paying attention and want to optimize the tools they are giving you.

Use provided data
You need to be able to look for patterns, evaluate the factors that made a particular post popular, and know when your customers and followers are likely to see your page and interact with it. Facebook provides a number of insights in the platform, but there are numerous external marketing tools you can purchase or sometimes use for free (depending on how many pages and platforms you are running, and how in-depth you want your data to be).

Posting willy nilly is not the most effective way to be. Decide what data is useful to you and make time to study it, and be willing to make changes to your content strategy based on the data. Like many other aspects of marketing, expanding your organic reach is a mixture of art and science, a balancing act of intuition and cold, hard numbers. Use them.

Consider paying to play
I know, I know, this story is about organic and not paid reach, but the fact is strategically paying for a Facebook ad or boosting a post to highlight a launch, event, special deal, or other important news will bring more people to your page. If the other tips, tools, and best practices referred to here are in place, once they find your page, you have the ability to keep their attention through organic means.

Keep on truckin’
These tips should help you expand your page’s organic reach. More importantly, they should help you build and support a community, earn loyal followers and customers, and generate positive buzz about your business. Keep working on becoming a resource and sharing helpful information. Have fun with it and experiment with new media and types of posts. Know yourself. Know your audience.

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Business Marketing

Buffer’s four-day workweek experiment: Boost or bust?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) After trying out a four-day workweek last year, Buffer is moving forward with the format going into 2021, citing increase in productivity and work-life balance.

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Man working in office with headphones on, making use of flexible four-day workweek.

The typical five-day workweek is a thing of the past for Buffer, at least for now. The company has decided to implement a four-day workweek for the “foreseeable future.”

Last year, the company surveyed its employees to see how they are dealing with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and the anxiety and stress that came along with it. They soon learned employees didn’t always feel comfortable or like they could take time off.

Employees felt guilty for taking PTO while trying to meet deadlines. Juggling work and suddenly becoming a daycare worker and teacher for their children at the same time was stressful. So, Buffer looked for a solution to help give employees more time and flexibility to get adjusted to their new routines.

Four-Day Workweek Trials

In May, Buffer started the four-day workweek one-month trial to focus on teammates’ well-being. “This four-day workweek period is about well-being, mental health, and placing us as humans and our families first,” said Buffer CEO and co-founder Joel Gascoigne in a company blog post.

“It’s about being able to pick a good time to go and do the groceries, now that it’s a significantly larger task. It’s about parents having more time with kids now that they’re having to take on their education. This isn’t about us trying to get the same productivity in fewer days,” Gascoigne said.

Buffer’s one-month trial proved to be successful. Survey data from before and after the trial showed higher autonomy and lower stress levels. In addition, employee anecdotal stories showed an increase in worker happiness.

With positive results, Buffer turned the trial into a long-term pilot through the end of 2020. This time, the trial would focus on Buffer’s long-term success.

“In order to truly evaluate whether a four-day workweek can be a success long-term, we need to measure productivity as well as individual well-being,” wrote Director of People Courtney Seiter. “Teammate well-being was our end goal for May. Whether that continues, and equally importantly, whether it translates into customer and company results, will be an exciting hypothesis to test.”

Trial Results

Company Productivity
Buffer’s shorter workweek trials showed employees felt they had a better work-life balance without compromising work productivity. According to the company’s survey data, almost 34% of employees felt more productive, about 60% felt equally as productive, and only less than 7% of employees felt less productive.

However, just saying productivity is higher isn’t proof. To make sure the numbers added up, managers were asked about their team’s productivity. Engineering managers reported that a decrease in total coding days didn’t show a decrease in output. Instead, there was a significant output increase for product teams, and Infrastructure and Mobile saw their output double.

The Customer Advocacy team, however, did see a decline in output. Customer service is dependent on customer unpredictability so this makes sense. Still, the survey showed about 85% to 90% of employees felt as productive as they would have been in a five-day workweek. Customers just had to wait slightly longer to receive replies to their inquiries.

Employee Well-Being
With more time and control of their schedules, Buffer’s survey shows an increase in individual autonomy and decreased stress levels reported by employees. And, the general work happiness for the entire company has been consistent throughout 2020.

What’s in store for 2021?

Based on positive employee feedback and promising company results, Buffer decided it will continue the company-wide four-day workweek this year.

“The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week,” wrote Team Engagement Manager Nicole Miller.

The four-day workweek will continue in 2021, but the company will also be implementing adjustments based on the pilot results.

For most teams, Fridays will be the default day off. For teams that aren’t project-based, their workweek will look slightly different. As an example, the Customer Advocacy team will follow a different schedule to avoid customer reply delays and ticket overflow. Each team member will still have a four-day workweek and need to meet their specific targets. They will just have a more flexible schedule.

Companies who follow this format understand that output expectations will be further defined by area and department level. Employees who aren’t meeting their performance objectives will have the option to choose a five-day workweek or might be asked to do so.

If needed, Fridays will also serve as an overflow workday to finish up a project. Of course, schedules will be evaluated quarterly to make sure productivity is continuing to thrive and employees are still satisfied.

But, Miller says Buffer is “establishing ambitious goals” that might “push the limits” of a four-day work week in 2021. With the world slowly starting to normalize, who knows when a four-day workweek might reach its conclusion.

“We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day workweeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals,” wrote Miller.

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Business Marketing

Should your content management system go headless?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) You may be familiar with your typical content management system, but had you heard of a ‘headless’ model? Let’s dig into it together.

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Person using content management system with hands on keyboard and small bit of desktop visible.

At some point, you have probably worked with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. If you haven’t already, you at least know that this computer software is used to manage website content.

But, have you ever heard of a headless content management system before? We didn’t. So, we set out to find out what it’s all about and how beneficial, or not, it can be for your company.

What is headless CMS?

Unlike your classic CMS, headless CMS is a back-end only content management system. It decouples where your content is stored and authored (body) from the front-end where your content is displayed (head).

This CMS isn’t tied to a particular output like a web page. Content is transmitted as data over an application programming interface (API). It’s a content repository that delivers content seamlessly to any device.

Benefits of Headless CMS

More versatile
Headless CMS isn’t your classic “monolithic” CMS so you aren’t constrained to an all-in-one system that might work for websites but not mobile devices.

Content is consumed by customers in more than one place now. Headless CMS provides a more versatile way to deliver multi-channel content to websites, Android and iOS apps, and even IoT (internet of things), like a smartwatch or in-store kiosk.

Businesses will benefit from this because only one back-end is needed to manage and publish content for different services and products.

No need for specialized developers
Developers aren’t tied to a specific programming language or framework. A developer can choose between using Javascript, PHP, Ruby, or any language they prefer.

If you already have a talented developer, you don’t have to scramble to find someone else who specializes in a specific system or language you are moving to. Your current developer can do the job for you in the best way they know-how.

Better Security
Security is important. Not being married to the front-end, headless CMS has a security advantage a regular CMS doesn’t. Usually, content provided to a headless CMS is read-only, and the admin portion lives on a different server and domain.

With the back-end detached from the presentation layer, there is a smaller target area to attack. Also, layers of code can be used to hide the content-delivering API making it safer than a traditional CMS.

Real-time collaboration
With two separate systems, content editors and web developers can work concurrently. This shortens a project’s timeline and helps get your product and services to market quicker. Also, content editors don’t have to spend more time creating the same content for each system. Designers and developers can take care of that.
Downsides of Headless CMS

As with anything, headless CMS isn’t perfect and isn’t for everyone. It has its disadvantages.

More technical
Little technical involvement is called for in a traditional CMS. As a result, the tool can be picked up quickly by almost anyone.

A deeper understanding of CMS, coding languages, and front-end technologies is needed when using headless CMS. You must have a developer that can build the web or app just for you.

Increased maintenance
With the body separated from the head, there are two systems to maintain. Implementation and maintenance could potentially become complex.

Bigger price tag
Building a system from scratch costs time and money. With a traditional CMS, there is one account, and, most likely, one payment. With headless CMS, you’ll have multiple payments for the CMS, a developer, and the infrastructure running your website or app.

Your custom CMS also isn’t coming from a pre-built content management system. All that hard work takes time (and patience) to get it done right.

Conclusion

Headless CMS lets you create a unique user experience and allow for cross-platform publishing, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all content management system.

Before you jump ships, take inventory of all your content needs. Does your content need to be published on different platforms? Will a simple stand-alone website work for you? Only you can decide what works best with your business, but we hope this information helps.

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