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Social Media and ROI. One (more) Opinion.

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ROI


What is Social Media?

Well if social media is defined as not only blogging, but Twittering, networking on Linkedin, Facebook, Myspace, bookmarking, as well as commenting and contributing guest blogging, it could be a full-time marketing effort. But lets say it’s only blogging on your own site.

If time is the cost involved, what is time worth and it it worth putting into blogging over other marketing activities?

It’s More Natural For Some

First off, blogging definitely comes more natural to some. I am sort of a blog creeper… I read 100 times more than I write… it’s just what I do. What I don’t do often enough is write. Is that really bad? I guess you could say I am a good listener. As time passes, I see subjects come and go, whats hot and whats not. The great minds are out there sharing insights… then they debate, change, evolve and ultimately the original ‘point’ goes so deep and is debated ad nauseam (at least for this reader). When debates happen, ultimately some brilliant mind comes along and says: “People market differently and some do certain things better than others.” Then the air is released. It’s like Dale Carnegie’s bulletproof argument-killer: “I understand what you are saying, and if I were in your shoes, I probably would feel exactly the same way.”

This is the deep end of social media. Blogging, friending, debating, and supporting. But what about us mere mortals? When your goal is to gain credibility and trust from your prospects by demonstrating your expertise in a blog, then you should write. Right?

Consider This…

Here are 2 issues to consider: Do you have anything to say? Do you really have a lot to write about to your prospects? Are you new to the game? Would spreading your knowledge be like shooting yourself in the foot? If so. You are probably better off spending your time studying and reading what others write… at least for now. I have a close friend who recently broke into the real estate game, and I encouraged him to start a blog. So he did. The result wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. The first posts were salesy, thin, contained too many capital letters and exclamation points, and just didn’t have that ‘soft sell‘ tone. In other words, blogging 101 was not completed. To date he has not gotten one prospect from it. We all start somewhere, right?

This is no different than some corporation starting a ‘company blog’ and doing it all wrong. It ends up being a turn-off because they apply the old ad-copy principals and press release spin to new media. They didn’t take the time to listen before they jumped in. A turned-off prospect after time is spent writing a blog means negative ROI. This brings me to the next issue:

One of the Biggest Factors

Time is a huge factor. I have a list of books that I am trying to get through as fast as possible. I use my “free time” to read those whenever I can. I can also say that reading them is an indirect investment in my business, since they bring me knowledge I can apply in future meetings, marketing initiatives, and conversations. Is the cost of reading zero… no, I lose sleep, time with family and friends as well as time working, or working out. I know that nobody reading this would rather spend an hour writing about real estate instead of sipping a drink by the pool (YEA I’m sure you take your laptop to the pool).

We all have the same amount of time to deal with. Some “natural born bloggers” actually enjoy writing. I’m willing to bet that they can’t wait to run to the computer to jot down a brilliant thought they had in the car. And that simple thought probably turns into a 5 paragraph blog entry in a matter of 15-20 minutes. These are the people who will no doubt get back what they put in.

ROI Varies Depending on…

So ROI can vary widely depending on the person. If you are brilliant, full of ideas, ready to share, efficient, and a fast typer, blogging will probably make you unstoppable. You business will thrive based on the fact that whoever does visit your site will be blown away by your expertise and insights. If you are focused, you will most likely convert a higher percentage of visitors. And then you have the other big benefit: Traffic. The more brilliant your articles are, the more likely you will be linked to. The content you have will be indexed more often therefore you rank for more terms. The more links and the more content, the higher you climb in Google. So you get more traffic, and you convert more of it than the next agent due to your credibility. How sweet blogging is for the elite naturals.

Then there are those who either don’t have ideas, don’t have writing skills, don’t have interesting info, need more time to mull over an article, the timid, the noobs, the jerks, the corny salesmen, the ranters, industry insiders, and the off-topic bloggers, and the folks like me. There could be a negative ROI for these people. It’s not as if it cannot change… but it must be known to be addressed. I guess if you are writing 3 articles a week, seeing a fair amount of traffic, but still not converting anything… you probably need to rethink your social media approach.

How Do You Measure ROI?

We already have seen the case studies about the super blogging agents who get an obvious return on investment due to blogging. To make a catch-all statement on how much blogging can return for agents in general begs many questions. ROI in social media will build on itself. Only you can truly measure it in the end. Is there a formula for measurement? The experts are currently working on it, but so far, no dice.

We all know it’s not a total waste for everyone… but are you willing to take the steps to become better at it? That is the question.

PS: If you are still looking for a measurement strategy, you can start here.

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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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Matt Thomson

    May 30, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Interesting perspective. Often times I wish I had just sat back and listened before putting my thoughts to my name in print! I’ve found my greatest blogging success to come from my community blog. Nothing I’ve written pertaining to real estate has generated as much business as the few sentences I wrap around multiple photographs of my town. Nothing can sell Gig Harbor as well as Gig Harbor itself. A picture is worth more than 1000 words in blogging, I think.

  2. Ken Smith

    May 30, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Blogging and ROI aren’t normally in the same sentence. There are so many bloggers that feel everyone should blindly jump in and start blogging and that just isn’t true. For many blogging is the last thing they should invest their time in as they aren’t good at writing and they have other forms of very effective marketing.

  3. Julie Emery

    May 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I resemble wayyyy too many of these remarks. Some of us might actually prefer to be immersed in real estate rather than sipping drinks by the pool, at least most of the time. Sitting by the pool gets boring after awhile and real estate never gets boring, at least, not yet! Blogging was invented for people like me who have too much to say and too many opinions for our own good!

  4. Connie Bensen

    May 30, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for linking to my post! Metrics are a challenge but I think the more important case is that you’re experimenting & trying things. The ROI on that is invaluable.

    Great blog that you have here! Lots of in-depth info – kudos to your efforts!

  5. Jonathan Dalton

    May 30, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    One of my lenders started his own blog yesterday. We met for about 45 minutes, I have him some basic ideas and he’s off and rolling. Where will it go? Who knows … starting is easy, continuing is the challenge. But I give him credit for trying to differentiate himself.

  6. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    May 30, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Carson, I like that you’ve pointed out that blogging is not for everyone. I personally have found other social media streams to have a higher ROI than blogging, believe it or not. Blogging suits the natural writers as you noted while other streams suit natural networkers.

    Some people measure ROI by tracking conversion ratios relating to hours input while others measure ROI relating to percentages of people touched versus people closed. For me personally, it’s more of a “pass/fail” endeavor and when the dollars go down, the scales tip toward fail and the path has to change; when the dollars go up, the scales tip toward success indicating we’re on the right path.

  7. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    May 31, 2008 at 6:32 am

    I am not a good writter but I continue to blog as part of my business plan. Doing real estate 50 plus hours a week gives me plenty of ideas and photos. Most of my blogs center aroound the photos and ideas I was thinking about that day. Its all local to New Orleans.

    Since I have a successful site that generates leads and makes plenty of money it makes it easier to blog as part of the on line plan. Its part of the job which I enjoy. Looks like I make at least $50 an hour to blog and work on the site. Just my take!

  8. Eric Blackwell

    June 1, 2008 at 7:11 am

    @Connie–Great post. Thanks to Carson for linking to it. I teach blogging (among other real estate technology stuff) to our office of 120 agents. I am going to point a few of them to your blog.

    @Carson- Yes, blogging is not for everyone. Out of our 120, about 20 have tried it and there are 3 that are turning and burning. One is kicking MAJOR LEAGUE ROI with it. It ain’t for everyone 9as Ken says…

    Eric

  9. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 2, 2008 at 9:35 am

    A lot of persons get caught up in the latest fad – blogging is becoming “fashionable” so to speak. Others are just looking for a quick fix to aid their business that seems to be dropping off. So, a great many persons are “jumping in” to the blogging community. Blogging takes a lot of effort and time. And just like some persons may make a good living off of cold calling, calling on FSBOs, or whatever – not all things are appropriate and will work for all people. The biggest priority for a blogger should be to write good quality, useful, and original content – and people will start finding their way to you.

  10. Matthew Rathbun

    June 2, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I don’t consider myself a good writer, but once I started reading other folks, I felt a lot better 🙂

    No, honestly it’s a discipline that you grow in over time and as you build confidence. I commented on another post this morning, that folks aren’t going to put effort into blogging will not see a good return; but I feel that’s true for anything you do to market yourself.

    It’s what’s “in” now, I think a good agent is utilizing today’s tools buy also keeping an eye out for tomorrows. Lots of the ideas that are shown on this and other industry blogs are just about blogging. Kelley did one on pre-closing packets. That’s a great tool for agents to start using and isn’t a widely announced item.

  11. Ken Smith

    June 2, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Eric said “Most of my blogs center around the photos and ideas I was thinking about that day.”

    Eric you take some amazing photos and that will keep visitors coming back time and time again. I have never visited New Orleans yet from the photos on your sites and blogs over the years I feel like I know the city. Keep up the amazing work!

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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