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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

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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