Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0
As I understand it, the primary difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 as it relates to websites is the opportunity that it presents to interact with visitors to your blog and build “connections” to them. Humans tend to connect through communication, which underscores the importance of working towards earning comments if you’re interested in building a “community.”
Without comments, your blog is a web 1.0 website.
As a real estate blog writer, comments from readers should be important to you for several reasons.
• Comments provide an opportunity for you to get to know your readers while they get to know you
• Comments and questions challenge you to better understand your business and your real estate market
• Comments provide important insights (for you and your clients) into how prospective buyers and sellers are feeling about your real estate market
• Comments make it obvious to all who visit your blog that it’s a happening online destination and not a baron electronic wasteland
• Active online discussions deliver lots of user generated content which makes your blog more interesting, and improves your opportunities with search engines
If you’ve convinced yourself that comments really aren’t that important I’m hoping to renew your interest in going after them. If you’ve already had some success at building a “community” through your blogging efforts I’m looking forward to hearing what worked for you in building it. Please share. I’ll start.
Defining your reader
I recognize that there are some writers who have had success at appealing to a broad base of readers. Somehow, they seem to have a knack for generating content that is engaging for both agents and consumers. I’d suggest that these bloggers are our most skilled colleagues and it takes a very special talent to be successful with that approach. If you’re an average writer, like I am, you may be better off to focus tightly. If that’s the case, I’d suggest that real estate consumers are probably the best market to pursue. 🙂
If you haven’t already done so, read Teresa Boardman’s excellent post, “There are Comments and Then There are Comments” which makes some important points about how comments from other agents may do more harm than good.
More here in this Inman News story titled, “Ending the Cycle of Realtor on Realtor Action” that stresses the importance of You Engaging Others (YEO), namely real estate consumers.
Selecting content that will generate discussion
Given my tight focus, every post that I write on my blog must pass the following test. “Is this post potentially interesting to a Saskatoon home buyer, home seller, or home owner?” I know that many agents feel that statistical information is boring but my best discussion building efforts revolve around them. Using statistics provides an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of your local real estate market, and all three of the desired readers that I’ve identified above are interested in them to some degree. Statistics provide an excellent foundation for discussion and they’re fairly easy to write about. I’ve found that a “weekly review” of market activity provides an on-going source of material and a good reason for readers to return regularly. Posts like, “12 steps to prepare your home for showing” definitely have their place, but they’re not likely to result in a lengthy discussion.
We can all use a little help from our friends
Early on, as I was beginning my on-going quest to learn about blogging I came across a post written by Ardell DellaLoggia. I was most impressed by the lengthy thread of comments that followed her post and I told Ardell so. She responded by saying, “Don’t be too impressed. I asked them all to come.” Hmmm. Smart!
The hardest part of getting feedback is getting it started. Consider that initially your readers have no idea who else is reading, if anyone, or how their comments may be received. Why not ask some of your friends to support your blogging efforts and to make some comments on your blog. If your other readers see comments they’ll be far more likely to contribute to the discussion. Asking your friends to say certain things obviously isn’t cool but there’s no good reason why they can’t participate in your community and assist you in building it.
Ask readers to comment
I often meet people who bring up my blog, sometimes describing themselves as fans (blush). I always ask them if they’ve ever commented, and as Teresa suggests in her post they most often say “no.” I always tell them that I’d appreciate their feedback the next time they drop by and I know that these invitations have brought me some new comments. If you can get them to comment once, they’ll often become regular contributors.
Participate in the comments section
Revealing myself in my posts is often difficult because of the subject material I use. I do my best to participate fully in the discussion once it’s underway and this is where I find my opportunities reveal to my readers who I am as a person. I encourage and answer questions, and I ask questions of those who comment. Remember, the same human relations principles apply to online relationships that apply to those relationships you enjoy in your offline life. People appreciate being appreciated. Thank them for contributing, treat them respectfully, and let them know that their thoughts and opinions are valuable to you and others who read your blog. At the same time, don’t hesitate to let problem posters know the rules. While it’s important that your visitors feel free to express themselves, they are on your property and you have a right to set some guidelines.
Consider writing less frequently
Say what? I’ve found that each new post on my blog seems to have the effect of wrapping up the discussion in the previous post. I last posted on Sunday at 11:20 am. At this point, there are 58 comments to the post. If I post again today that discussion would likely conclude with about 65 comments. If I let it remain in the spotlight for a day or two, the discussion will most likely continue for some time and the content continues to grow with little effort on my part. If I have more than one topic that I feel must exist in my archive I will often post them both in quick succession, essentially sacrificing discussion in one for the sake of the other. The post that strikes me a having the better chance to spark a discussion is posted after the other.
I’d love to hear your ideas on how you’ve been successful in getting readers to comment.
Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step
(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.
According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.
Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.
Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.
Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.
While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.
Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.
It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.
Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?
Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.
In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.
It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.
Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today
(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?
Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…
With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.
It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)
This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.
For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
What’s your niche?
If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.
And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.
I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.
I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.
Hop onboard the nostalgia train
If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.
In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.
5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing
(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.
Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.
But Why Email?
Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:
- Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
- Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
- From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
- The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.
5 Tips for High-Converting Emails
If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.
Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:
- Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
- Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
- Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
- Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
- Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.
Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover
Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.
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