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Taking your Online efforts Offline – Part III

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One month after Inman Real Estate Connect, most of us start forgetting what we learned and go on with our routine.  A post like this one that tells you about my presentation may sound like any other Yada Yada Yada…..but listen up – you may get something from it.

Part I of this series talked about rewarding your sphere with your online influence and it reminded you to keep it real.

Part II talked about being creative, branching out your blog and creating a brand that makes an impact and is remembered.

In Part III I want to talk about taking all those efforts and actually focusing on F2F (Face to Face) meetings that will strengthen connections and make your efforts tangible.

Easier said than done

Tweet-ups are HOT now and someone somewhere is trying to arrange some kind of Twitter get-together now.  Let me tell you that it’s easier than it looks and it doesn’t matter the size of the group either.  With the help of TweetDeck I have managed to group my Twitter followers into different categories and this helps me follow different types of conversations at the same time.  I have my local followers, I have my close Twitter friends and I recently created an architecture group to follow even another type of conversation.  (Rick does think I’m crazy, just in case you were wondering).

So one night I posted a photo of a mojito on TwitPic and a local follower said, “when are we having mojitos, Ines?” – one thing lead to another and we arranged a Miami Mojito Tweet-Up 3 days later.  10 people showed up and we had a quaint but very powerful get together at a local bar in South Beach.

What’s amazing about this small event is that I felt so much closer to each one of these individuals.  Their tweets were meaningful, I went out of my way to re-tweet and pay more attention to what they had to say and our relationship was strengthened.  This applies to any F2F type of interaction.   From this small tweet-up I received a call to participate in the local social media events, to participate in a case study on the use of social media for business and was even featured in a business directory in the UK….and the best part is that we enjoyed mojitos and had a great time!

F2F can be achieved from any of the social media outlets – think of individuals with like-minded interests and make it happen.

No Face to Face Effort is too Small

The next type of F2F interaction without actually sharing the same physical space is video.  Although we are seeing more people use video today than we were seeing 6 months ago, I cannot stress how important and how easy it is to use video on a day to day basis.  There are so many platforms out there that make this possible and you have no excuse NOT to use these.  Here’s a few:  Seesmic, Skype, Facebook, TokBox, EyeJot….please go take a look, you will be surprised how easy it is to use these.

Jeff Turner was telling me a few months ago how surprised he was that Facebook Video was so underutilized – I began following his lead and leaving Happy Birthday Video Messages and from one message to a Venezuelan friend from my childhood I actually sold a vacation home here in Miami…..that easy!!  Video happens to reinforce that connection when actual F2F is not possible.  (I personally don’t know what I would do today without Skype…..we video chat with people from all over the world….a truly amazing tool).

What are others doing?

Linda Davis from Eastern Connecticut Real Estate Blog and who has had a well established real estate business sends a newspaper to over 6000 homes in her market area.  Because Linda’s customers are not web savvy, her blog provides content for her newspaper.

Linda was the same person who said in the last Bloggers Connect in San Francisco, “If your Real Estate Business sucks, blogging is not going to help!” – ( I *heart* Linda).

Our own Mariana Wagner, with powerful on-line as well as off-line marketing, incorporates some traditional methods with technology.  She has a newsletter that pimps out her blog, she still does door knocking in her neighborhood, has neighborhood picnics and if you haven’t received or at least seen a “@MIZZLE sticker”…. then you should consider removing the rock from over your head.

St. Paul’s only Teresa Boardman could not be left out of my presentation.  If you know anything about T, you know that she loves photography and will find her with camera in-hand at all times.  Teresa has managed to document the whole city and gets called by her community to use and display her photos.  In addition to that and with the use of Flickr groups, she goes on “photo walks” and achieves F2F with like-minded individuals (or at least people with the same passion for photography).

Joe and Rudy accomplished the ultimate F2F event ever with their Blog Tour USA in 2007.  To think that they actually toured the US and met hundreds of bloggers from all over the place.  I personally felt a connection when they came to Miami and was so glad we got to spend quality time together.  I’m not telling you to go tour the US, but I am telling you there are no boundaries.

And finally – Agent Genius Extraordinaire himself, Benn Rosales.  Benn admitted to me that he uses no print media at all.  His efforts vary from coffee socials small in scale and he uses social media to help others and in return they often pay it forward.

It goes back to the concept of using your on-line influence to help others without expecting anything in return.  The ultimate goal for anyone using the Internet and Social Media to market their business is to achieve some sort of real, live connection.  Social Media is about keeping it real, about being genuine and about not having a hidden agenda.  Transparency has reached a new height and you will be outed if your motives are contrived.

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors Miamism.com, PrimeMiamiBeach.com, and MiamismPix.com and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    February 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Ines, this is so true, they were planning a Detroit tweet up and I posted I couldn’t come as I was going to be in Norfolk, VA that weekend visitng my son.

    A few minutes later I got a DM from someone in Norfolk they were having one that weekend and invited me to come.

    Love all the videos you and Jeff are doing on FB. You can tell the folks whose birthdays they are having are wow’d.

  2. joseph ferrara.sellsius

    February 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    A smiley face will never replace the real thing. (And I’d much rather hug you in person.)

    Rudy and I learned a lot from the meetups we did around the country– I remember one of our first in Laguna Beach w/Jon Washburn, Laurie Manny, Brian Brady, Loren Nason and a whole band of bloggers who showed up to share food, drink, good conversation and laughs. Those meetups were the inspiration for the cross country Blog Tour (we visited over 30 cities & went 10,000 miles). There was nothing better than seeing all the folks we had met online. It helped us forge deeper connections, that remain to this day. (and one day the videos will be revealed– right Rudy?) And Ines, thank you for making our time in South Beach even hotter than that 103 degree day (remember Miami Ink?).

    Nothing is definite yet, but there is an around the world blog tour brewing.

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    February 2, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Missy – it’s the little things that make a difference and people do remember. Going out of your way isn’t that difficult and makes it so worth it. I for one have loved every minute of our get togethers IRL – with you and Christa, of course 🙂

    Joe – you ROCK! I still remember you and Rudy walking into the ocean at South Beach with your Bermudas with sweat rolling down your face! 🙂 PRICELESS!! and can’t wait to hear what you cook up with an “around the world blog tour”.

  4. Monika

    February 3, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    We recently had a NH tweet up and it was a blast! I can’t wait for the next one. Ines will you be attending RE Bar Camp in VA next month?

  5. Linda Davis

    February 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    As a matter of fact, I finalized my newspaper today – my annual state of the market issue. I’m of the “there is more than one way to skin a cat” philosophy. And Now I have lots of material for my blog after writing it.

  6. Ines

    February 3, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Hey Moni – tweet-ups can only be good 😀 (unfortunately I will not go to the VA REBarCamp) but I will be at RETechSouth in March (Atlanta).

    Linda…I can’t say it enough….you are DA BOMB!

  7. The Harriman Team

    February 3, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    If I had to pick one agent in Connecticut to be like when I grow up, it’s Linda! If all goes right, we’ll be meeting her this Friday night for the first time at a tweet-up at our Mohegan Sun casino. It’ll be our first tweet-up so we’re looking forward to that! We were in Hawaii last month and had a tweet-up in Waikiki that was actually set up for us, but we had to miss it due to flight changes. That bummed us out big time. How often do you have a chance to attend a tweet-up in Paradise?

    Oh yeah…me have no @Mizzle sticker…rock on head hurt like hell…

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Business Marketing

Restaurant chains are using COVID to masquerade as indie food pop ups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese appear on delivery apps under aliases. Is this a shifty marketing scheme or a legitimate practice?

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chuck e cheese pizza

Restaurants have pivoted hard to stay alive during dine-in shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are selling grocery items like eggs, flour, and yeast (check out the pantry section at the Brewtorium!) while others have created meal kits so families can cook up their restaurant favorites at home.

Meanwhile, a few large chains have been busted for re-branding their kitchens to sell more meals. A reddit user in Philadelphia reported that they ordered pizza from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings thinking it was a local business they had yet to try, only to learn it shared a kitchen with Chuck E. Cheese. As it turns out, Pasqually is a member of Munch’s Make Believe Band, the terrifying mascot band led by murine bad body Chuck E. Cheese. Pasqually is the confusingly human drummer (and Italian pizza chef?), joined by lead canine guitarist Jasper T. Jowls, sweetheart chicken Helen Henny on the tambourine and vocals, and the dinosaur? Closet monster? D-list muppet? Mr. Munch on the keys.

Though this inter-species band should be disturbing enough for us all to rethink our childhood memories of Chuck E. Cheese (let’s be honest, Disney World should be the only place allowed to have adults parading around in giant mouse costumes) what’s more upsetting is the competition it creates with locally owned restaurants. In West Philadelphia, there is another restaurant called Pasqually’s Pizza.

Chuck E. Cheese is not the only restaurant re-branding to save their hides. Applebee’s has launched a “brand extension” called Neighborhood Wings. Customers can order larger quantities of wings (up to 60!) from Neighborhood Wings, but not Applebee’s. You know, for all of the large parties people have been hosting lately (thanks COVID-19).

This restaurant run-around is further evidence of the noise created by third party delivery apps. GrubHub, Postmates, and others have been criticized for taking huge commissions from already low-margin restaurants, and providing little added value to profitability and industry worker wages. Using these platforms as a means to build shell restaurants for large national chains is just another example of third party apps doing a disservice to both its clients and customers.

Of course, Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese are franchises. If one wanted to go out on a limb for these brands, it could be argued that they are indeed ‘local’ businesses if their owners are local franchisees. The third party apps are simply another platform for businesses to gain a competitive edge against one another within a specific customer segment. Furthermore, consumers should hold themselves accountable for their patronage choices and doing their due diligence when investigating new pizza and wings options.

Nonetheless, it behooves all of us in this pandemic to get to know our neighbors, and build relationships with the small businesses that are the lifeblood of a community. Restaurants exist thanks to local customers. Try placing your order directly on their website, or give them a call. I am a restaurant worker, and I truly am happy to take your order.

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Business Marketing

Restaurants might actually lose money through Grubhub and similar services

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Restaurant owners are asking themselves if third-party food delivery apps are nothing more than a good, old-fashioned shakedown.

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grubhub site

If you haven’t seen the GrubHub receipt that has everyone outraged, you probably should. It exposed the food delivery apps for their unreasonably high commissions and excessive charges to the restaurants (on top of the changes to the consumer).

Many people, in an honest attempt to support local restaurants while staying home and safe these days, have started ordering out from their favorite small, local eateries. And they should! This could be the lifeline that allows those restaurants to survive being closed for upwards of a month. However, if they order through a third-party food delivery service, they need to know that a good chunk of their money goes to the service, not the local business. Plus they are paying extra for the service.

It’s a big bummer, to say the least, a bamboozle some might say. Why would restaurants agree to use these services at all, then, if they aren’t beneficial? Well, they initially served the purpose of helping smaller restaurants and food trucks sell to a wider customer base without having to incur the cost and manage the logistics of offering delivery. Not all of the charges are immediately apparent, either, although I am sure they are in the business agreement.

GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats all charge eateries a commission between 15%-30% to even work with them. This is for the most basic level of service. When GrubHub, for example, wants to stimulate more sales, they may offer a deal to consumers. This could be a dollar amount or percentage off of a customer’s order or free delivery.

Everybody loves a deal, so these promotions are effective. They drive more sales, yay. The restaurants, however, incur the full cost of the promotion. You would imagine GrubHub would share that cost, but no, they don’t. If that weren’t unscrupulous enough, GrubHub then charges the business the commission on the full, not discounted, price of the order. Unctuous, right?

Sure, restaurants have to opt in for these specials and other promotions the third-party apps are marketing, so they know there’s a fee. Yet, if they don’t opt in, they won’t appear as an option for the deal in the app. It’s deceptive, feels like a bit of extortion to me. All of these delivery apps have some sort of similar way to rack up fees. For a mom-and-pop food truck or restaurant, the commissions and fees soon eat away at the already small profit margins restaurants usually have.

It’s simply wrong, so wrong. But wait, there’s more! Another nasty, duplicitous practice GrubHub (specifically GrubHub) has implemented, with Yelp’s help, is to hijack the restaurant’s phone number on Yelp. This means if you look up your favorite restaurant on Yelp, and call in an order from the Yelp platform, your call will actually go to GrubHub instead. And get this–they charge the restaurant even if you pick up the order yourself, not only for delivery.

These third-party companies have even started buying up domain names similar to the restaurants to further fool patrons into ordering through them. They also have added restaurants to their platforms, even if the restaurants haven’t agreed to work with them. They seem willing to do anything to get a cut of restaurants’ hard earned dough (and ours). Loathsome! How are these scams even legal?

It happened to me recently. I kept trying to order for pickup at the restaurant, but somehow the order kept going through GrubHub. Bamboozled!

RVB bamboozled

This boils my blood and breaks my heart for these restaurants. In my other life, I am a blogger for a hyperlocal blog whose sole purpose is to highlight, celebrate, and promote local everything. I’m also the internal marketing chair for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, where we work with local restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and such to promote them and help raise their visibility in the community.

I only bring this up, because I’ve sat with these restaurant and food truck owners, listened to their stories, seen the fire in their eyes as they talk about their recipes. They’ve regaled me with stories of how they got started, what inspires them, and when they had their first successful day. It’s delightful to see the intensity of their enthusiasm for sharing good food with people and how much of themselves they put into their restaurants.

In the original post that lifted the curtain on this shady practice, the Chicago Pizza Boss food truck owner Giuseppe Badalamenti, says the money he got from his GrubHub orders was “almost enough to pay for the food.” Badalamenti had participated in some promotions, which admittedly reduced his cut dramatically, yet the whole premise came as a shock to customers who have been spending their dollars to keep these local businesses afloat. Then here comes the third-party apps, poking a hole in the floaties.

It comes across as downright predatory. Thousands of people have sworn off these apps in favor of calling the restaurant directly for pickup if you are able. This way, you ensure the business you want to support gets the full bill amount. You can get the restaurant’s number directly from Google Maps or the business’s social media or website. This is the best way to help your favorite places stay in business.

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Business Marketing

TikToks new augmented reality ads seeks new audiences

(BUSINESS MARKETING) TikTok product developers hustle to roll out a new augmented reality brand effect to compete with Snapchat and Instagram.

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augmented TikTok

TikTok is getting ready to launch a new ad feature to level the playing field with Snapchat and Instagram. The unofficially named “AR brand effect” will allow TikTok users to incorporate augmented reality brand advertisements in their videos. The ads will create visual effects that interact with the filmmakers’ physical environment as if it exists in real life. The ads will include music that can be played over the film.

TikTok also offers an ad product called Brand Effect, a 2D advertisement filter that users can add to their videos. The in-house product development team at TikTok created this feature for a reported cost of $100,000 according to Digiday.

Snapchat already has its AR brand experiences called the Sponsored Lens and Word Lens, which allow brands to create augmented reality filters to advertise via Snapchat’s users and their interactions with friends.

Snapchat charges anywhere from $50 to $500,000 for augmented reality advertisements. The lower tier starts with a 10-second ad between videos that users can choose to “swipe up” and interact with. The higher tiers get advertisers a day-long spot with a Sponsored Lens.

Though the efficacy of this advertising strategy appears to be hit-or-miss, the creative opportunities for advertising to a wide audience is attractive enough to keep this product development relevant. TikTok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin clocked in two billion downloads in the month of March. Its users skew young with 41% between the ages of 16 and 24, and its global following boasts 800 million users worldwide.

TikTok is moving with adept agility to roll out new products to keep its increasingly large user base engaged. “They are doing it a lot quicker [than competitor social media platforms],” media agency Starcom told Digiday. “Their ability to scale and move forward is frightening, really. If they get it right they’re going to be a huge player in the next six months to a year.”

TikTok is also working on new ad products that allow advertisers to connect with prominent influencers. With the future of stay-at-home orders looking to turn into an interminable cycle, it will be telling to understand how these advertising strategies will effect e-commerce and digital brand experiences.

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