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The Power of Relationships & Influencers – Industry is the Antisocial Part 2

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Are You The Antisocial?

In part one, we discussed the antisocial at some length, and for good reason. In social media there are two sides of every fence- Industry and those that see themselves as the consumer of Industry.

Serving Salad Inside the Walled Garden

Industry is often perceived as the Big Wall. We’re served exactly what an Industry wants served and nothing more. There is no collaborative relationship in a 1.0 universe, and relationship potential is non-existent. Customer service centers are stationary and one dimensional, they take calls and repeat scripts designed to lump each individual input into a category. The Industry chooses to use the feedback for growth, or it doesn’t– often leaving the consumer cold and unheard. By proxy, the consumer can gauge no influence on the product (negative or positive), leaving a negative mark on the Industry. Multiplied many times over, you can begin to understand how the reputation of a business can suffer within the collaborative social media environment.

As previously discussed, social media is a collaborative universe. Consumers are excited to work with those that offer a collaborative environment around their product or service. Rather than a walled garden, you’re often presented with a decision maker related to the product. A personal relationship is possible, and the consumer can gauge relationship potential.

Feed Me & I’ll Feed You

Early on, due to budget constraints, an Internet startup owner is often the voice within the new media space for the concept. The business owner is looking for input and wants desperately to share their product concept with influencers and gain wisdom from the crowd- exactly the polar opposite of walled Industry.

Perceptions and the Antisocial Elephant

In the case of the real estate space, agents are beginning to understand little by little that by presenting themselves as “REALTOR,” they align themselves inside of the perceived walled garden of the establishment that is real estate industry- a perceived one dimensional world. Social media has allowed individuals to begin breaking down the perception that the REALTOR (NAR) is the antisocial. The antisocial has preached themselves into the red that real estate is X and only X, in an environment where the consumer wants real estate to be exactly about them, they want to influence their experience, and in many cases, they want to influence others. The consumer is seeking a collaborative environment, they wish to be more than a statistic, and are eager to give input and knowledge.

Collaborative Sally

The consumer using the wisdom of the crowd through reviews, forums, and over other conversational media are confirming that they’re not alone in this desire. Millions of others will share information willingly and are socially endorsing not only the product (in this case, a house), but also services of agents they’ve seen that are collaborative in nature. They’ve had opportunity to interact with a person (Sally the agent) in media spaces and have learned that Sally wants to help everyone, Sally helps others freely, Sally refers free material, and Sally isn’t pushing the pontificated message of Industry or advertising. Sally often disagrees openly with the walled garden Industry and does things more like a consumer. Sally thinks like a consumer, and is a consumer, so by definition, is part of the group outside of walled Industry and is socially endorsed to others by the consumer- this is the brilliance of social media, this is a collaborative relationship with valuable potential.

The good news for REALTORS is that many in the profession have opted to maintain a close relationship with the term REALTOR and have embraced social media principles at the same time. This works well for the Association so long as the individual continues to act as Sally does or risks spending social capital granted to the REALTOR brand created by Sally and the Association possibly becomes alienated as antisocial.

Yeah! What the Crowd Said!

This is not a new concept where brand and reputation are concerned, but social media allows for the magnification of messages, both negative and positive as online and offline realities continue to merge. Social capital in new media spaces solidifies negatives and washes away any positives with individuals who rely on the messenger for endorsement and recommendation. In this case, the consumer joining the conversation to gain wisdom from the crowd related to real estate will avoid the antisocial (and those around it) at all cost, and collaboratively share warning with those seeking the same related knowledge, thus the viral nature of expensed capital.

Branded Industry will find it very hard to manage reputation within the one dimensional walled garden as they are often viewed as the antisocial. Disintermediation is taking place where newer, smaller, more approachable collaborative models engage within the new media space- we’ve witnessed this first hand with IDX/MLS issues over the past several years.

Who Are You?

We’re also seeing one dimensional industries join social media spaces on a daily basis designed to pontificate and control the message as opposed to simply correct misconceptions. They are antisocial in nature as they do not outwardly share knowledge and information, relate themselves outwardly as individuals, instead they relate themselves as the company logo or brand and not as an individual speaking on behalf of the brand. The misunderstanding of the collaborative space leaves them pontificating into the red as they’re not interested in the message of the crowd, nor its input to make the product or service better, nor does it give endorsement to those who wish to improve or collaborate- it remains one dimensional in a multi-dimensional universe- nothing more than an advertisement.

Ninja Me This…

I find this to be unfortunate. The concepts of 1.0 models often began at the dinning room table (much like today’s 2.0 startup) and blossomed in the 1.0 world. Heart, soul, and experience was put into the product or service as well as the support mechanisms designed to serve the consumer. Many I’ve met and worked with in the boardroom are defensive when they hear that their companies are actually failing to meet the consumer head on because the bulk of their expense already is in fact customer service- they already believe they are engaged, and that they do listen. Most of the failures of so-called social media “gurus” advising executives can be traced back to their inexperience in either the independent business world or the corporate business world, having only experienced one and not the other. It’s not a personality flaw, rather an inexperience that limits understanding of the walled garden and how to merge the two.

Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?

Reputation management hasn’t become more complicated, it’s gone multi-dimensional, and all Industry can succeed much like Sally the agent, but change and understanding will be necessary. Gone are the days of the bully pulpit of machine, and born are the tiny gears that make up the collaborative space we now know as social media.

Jefe, what is a plethora?

Who will teach these old dogs new tricks? The real estate industry will. The misunderstanding of those outside of real estate is that the industry has one million employees when the reality is that the industry is made up of one million independent business owners that practice real estate and are removing the corporate stigma of the industry brand in their own way; it’s just Sally and about how special she is to those who collaborate with her on their experiences. Although less than 10% of all REALTORS are engaged in social media, we are witnessing in real time the largest hands-on model of how industries can manage reputation, shed the stigma of Industry, engaging the consumer head on- a single collaborative agent engages a single collaborative consumer one at a time, outside of the walled garden where influencers are influenced.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. David Taylor

    January 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I am a Google Adwords Professional in Australia focusing on the Real Estate industry and just wanted to say what a great real estate blog you have.

  2. Ken Brand

    January 7, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Benn, ummm….this is a lot to digest. I’ve read and reread. As a sales manger, leading a team of REALTORS, I strive to point and support them in the direction you speak of.

    I believe they will shine above the mass average by extending their perception beyond REALTOR. I believe one key to success is to be the provider of what ever someone needs. Not the literal provider, but the Go To Person, Problem Solver and Amplifier for what’s needed – home, family, real estate, local lifstyle, etc.

    The beautiful thing about various social media tools/platforms is the ability to share/reveal the personal you. People naturally choose people they like and trust. Sorta like Daniel Pink’s “thin slicing”, I believe people can sense who and what you are by reading what’s been shared in Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.

    As you shared, this freedom of information, crumbles the walls of convention and predisposition…by consumers and colleagues alike.

    It’s a whole new world…I wish I was 30 instead of 52…the future will be so beyond today’s imagination.

  3. Mark Eckenrode

    January 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    good read, benn. i’m going to try and nail down what i see here:

    there’s good old fashioned B2C marketing where the business speaks to and markets to the consumer. sometimes, they even allow the consumer to talk back. it still works, but for many reasons may not necessarily the best method for an agent.

    where we’re at now is C2C marketing. consumer speaking to consumer. as you stated in your first article, you’re a consumer at heart. hell, even Mr. Guerrilla Marketer me is a consumer at heart. for a number of different reasons, speaking as a consumer to your consumers builds a more profitable business and a more trustworthy brand.

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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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Business Marketing

Spice up your remote team building with a fully virtual escape room

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As part of a remote team, team building has become even more of a groan. But this virtual escape room seeks to make a fun and unique challenge for remote teams.

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Woman waving at laptop in living room, on team building activity.

Team building events aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. While some enjoy getting to know coworkers they don’t normally socialize with, others dread the day before it arrives. Plus, there’s always work that needs to be taken care of, and using some of that time to mingle might seem like a waste of time.

Love it or hate it, working remotely has made team building slightly better, maybe? You don’t have to worry about physically being present in a place you don’t want to be. You’re not awkwardly talking to a co-worker whose name you can’t quite remember.

Nonetheless, it also has its downsides. We don’t see each other anymore so it’s easier to not be on the same page, and this makes learning how to work together much harder.

We’re almost a year into the pandemic and happy hour Zoom calls no longer hold the glamour they once did. So, what else is there to do in this virtual world?

Skyrocket Your Team has just the answer for you. This company provides virtual team building experiences through collaborative online escape rooms. The escape rooms are designed with remote teams in mind and can be tailored to accommodate different sized groups.

“If you’re working remotely, Skyrocket Your Team will help your team feel closer together and improve your internal communication,” wrote Co-Founder Jorge Sánchez Hernández. “Our puzzles are designed for teams by adult educators to trigger a set of emotions, feelings, and situations. Everyone sees a different screen and you need to communicate in order to get through the challenges. There is no way to continue without teamwork!”

From the comfort of your office or couch, each team member joins from their own computer and location. The escape room consists of an immersive story about astronauts trapped in a damaged spaceship. By solving puzzles and challenges, the team must work together to repair the spaceship and return to earth.

After hopefully, safely landing your rocket, there is a debriefing session. During this time, teams can share their experiences and discuss what they learned.

Skyrocket Your Team says their new form of team building will bring your company several benefits like:

  • Bringing your team closer together
  • Fostering collaboration instead of internal competition
  • Improving communication across your company

The end goal of the experience is to learn how to communicate effectively by solving the different sets of problems together. And, I think we can all agree that’s a good thing.

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