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How Does/Will Social Media Further Your Practice





You Tell Us

(Friday Question of the Week)
What are your general thoughts on Social Media- does it work, can it work, what does your broken crystal ball tell you? Fad or Phenomenon?

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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  1. Genuine Chris Johnson

    May 16, 2008 at 8:37 am

    My take is a little different. I want to GET something (i.e. contact information/permission) in exchange for value. I intend to build a great database of people through social media sites and take the conversation with me, and do it in my space, on my terms.

    I want to be a resource on Facebook, and I want to help people…but it’s disingenouous to pretend that you don’t want anything. I want 100% of all mortgage questions in my place, on my turf, in places I have as much control as possible.

    That might not be realistic. So what I want to do is nudge people in that direction through Facebook Group activity, etc.

  2. Shailesh Ghimire

    May 16, 2008 at 9:06 am


    Social media works because it’s based on human relationships. Ours is a relationship business. Many of my college buddies read my mortgage blog because they see my updates on Facebook and Twitter. Local media calls me to ask about economic events affecting the local mortgage market, because they find stuff on my blog very useful. Real estate agents I’ve never ever heard of call me (not me calling them) with their buyers because they want a “solid” opinion. This is all possible because of social media. ROI? There is plenty of it, but the greater reward I’m finding is my increased brand equity? Once you have sufficient brand equity – customers come to you. Great place to be.

  3. Bill Lublin

    May 16, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    @Genuine Chris I agree that Social media aimed at increasing our businesses needs to have specific purpose and ROI but as a neophyte I find it a great networking venue where I have not only been exposed to a lot of interesting views and people, but also found technology tools to provide indirect benefits, as well as some very enjoyable personal encounters (and that has value too!)

  4. cindy*staged4more

    May 16, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    For me it does. Because if I wasn’t social networking, I would’ve never met you! 😉

    But anyway, as a stager, it makes it easier for me to meet people in the real estate circles and connect with like minded real estate professionals (who are mostly agents. Most stagers seem are not into social networking). I am very addicted to social media, I am just fascinated by it. For me it’s all about experimenting and testing new waters.

    But again, like Bill, Genuine Chris pointed out, there are a lot of noises out there. So it takes time to really concentrate what you want to accomplish via social networking. If there is one thing I learned from corporate America nonprofits (yes, there are such thing. A very very dark place.) is to track all your efforts and see if your ROI is worth it. Same with social networking. There are no definite ROI yet, but I think it also has to depend on how people play with it.

    Cindy 🙂

  5. Carson

    May 16, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    My left ball tells me that it is growing, but I’m not convinced that social media as we know it is as important for the average consumer. You have to have a reason to use it for it to be regularly used. Real estate agents, brokers and vendors are all over it b/c it is a way to ‘get your name out there, network with peers, share opinions, brag, and most important of all, learn.

    If you have no agenda or “passion”, why would social media be a big deal for you? In 2005… I was in college, freshly single, and discovered myspace. I thought …whoa this is a great way to meet girls for free. And it WAS. Back then, just being on myspace was a good reason to ‘holla’ for a single. After a while, the fun wore off. And eventually, everyone and their mom (literally) was on. Suddenly you had to have a good reason to introduce yourself or risk being labeled a creep. The novelty of being a part of the site, and simply sharing that in common, was gone.

    What happens when small businesses everywhere – I mean everywhere – adopt the social web? There will be a rift. Early adopters will have the system down and the following to become ‘celebrities’ in the new media age.

    Tila Tequila was nothing but a struggling model/musician (and not the other way around) back in the early days of myspace. I remember that she had amateur photoshop work (really lame) on her photos. We watched her rise to myspace stardom. And now, well shes on MTV. But it didn’t come easy. I saw an interview early last year where she said that she spent 12+ hours per day commenting and interacting on Myspace.

    So my point is. Social media for business will not be a novelty, it will be a norm. Those who are on the train early can simply build a network of ‘peers’ (not customers) that will help springboard their credibility in the future. It’s a great way to learn, and a fun way to network, but needs to be utilized efficiently in order to make it a good investment (in therms of time).

    I’m not talking about writing (blogs), I’m talking about socializing. Most surfers are readers, not participants. It’s the ones that are willing to stick their neck out and add .02 cents that are noticed and remembered. Which can be interpreted as brand equity. Will you be the next Tila Tequila of real estate? Only time will tell.

    But I guess my only point is… It’s only attractive if you have an agenda. Building a business is an agenda. But the folks buying houses (happily employed and no agenda) will not be spending tons of their time clicking around trying to learn about who is who in the wide world of real estate. Their is typically a flurry of interaction and “friend adding” at the beginning of one’s trip down the social media road, but it eventually fizzles down to very casual use (maybe log in to check your inbox and pageviews or feed once in a while). And if they are, it’s to have fun and post pics, spy on friends, etc. Not research market conditions.

    All of us go through phases. My passion moved from design to photography to traveling to music to working out back to web design, SEO, then back to travel in a matter of 2 years. Those activities demand most of my attention (when not working) and I consider myself an internet junkie. Regular people are not into it as much as we are. It sucks. Most customers are not interested in real estate information until the second they need to buy, sell, invest.

    The way to build business in new media is to stop trying to sell, brag, or pick fights and start simply making friends. Expertise can only take you so far. I don’t care how right you are, I don’t want to recommend or do business with a jerk or a know it all.

    I might be wrong but this is just what I’m feeling at the time.

  6. Carson

    May 16, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Whoa sorry for the long comment. My mind was swimming in all directions. haha

  7. Daniel Rothamel

    May 16, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Real estate, like any service profession, always has and always will be a relationship business. Social media can help make the relationship building process more efficient and scalable. As others have pointed out, there is also a tremendous educational benefit to social media. The wisdom of crowds is definitely in play when it comes to social media. Does it always work perfectly? Not quite, but it works better than relying on only your immediate circle of relationships.

    I have learned about products and techniques that are directly benefiting the way I practice business, and the service that I can offer to clients and customers. That is a good thing.

    Social media as a whole is benefiting our industry in that it is putting pressure on the industry to change. Such pressure would not have been possible 10 years ago. It is very possible that social media, and the effect that it is having on business in general, will affect the next major changes in the real estate industry on a number of fronts: MLS systems, professional standards, business practices– you name it. Social media has the potential to influence all of these areas.

  8. Ricardo Bueno

    May 16, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I’ll be brief…

    Social media allows you to be more authoritative so that when you speak, people listen. Just look at Agent Genius, The Mortgage Reports, Bloodhound Blog, Mortgage Rates Report, Lenderama, etc. When they write, we’re all ears! Think of the opportunity that presents when faced with a new client.

    It also helps streamline our marketing processes. There are only so many hours in the day and yet a blog is available 24/7 to address and answer questions…

  9. Larry Yatkowsky

    May 16, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Listening to all you guys has made me a hell of a lot smarter. Thanks to all of you!

  10. Tom Vanderwell

    May 16, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I’m with Larry on that one. You guys are awesome.


  11. Kevin Boer

    May 16, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    To the extent that it enhances the relationship side of the business, it will be successful. ‘Nuff said.

  12. Benn Rosales

    May 16, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Kevin, how? How does it, has it, or will it? I’d love to hear you share a success story.

    @Tom, Larry thanks, you guys are swell fellows and @cindy, fantastic point! The rest fantastic thoughts.

    Anyone have other specifics?

  13. Charles Woodall

    May 16, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Carson made some great points. If I may add a bit…

    Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all great, but I think we as real estate practitioners need to also pay attention to local social sites. For example, there is a discussion board here locally that has thousands of participants. By contrast, I have only found a couple of Dothanites on Twitter. Also, there is a local online community that has had nearly a thousand members sign up in just a few short weeks of existence. Compare that to just a handful of Dothan folks with profiles on LinkedIn.

    I understand the appeal of the “big” social sites, for the reasons Carson mentioned. But I see a far larger number of prospective clients on the local sites. Spending time participating in the local online communities and building relationships there has already lead to some business, and in the near term will likely lead to more than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn combined.

    I know if these sites exist here in Dothan, then just about every medium size market in the country has something similar. Agents (and brokers too!) would do well to become involved and start making friends in these online communities.

  14. Benn Rosales

    May 17, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Charles, that is a great point!

  15. Eric Blackwell

    May 17, 2008 at 11:41 am

    @Charles–Those local communities yield relationships. Those relationships will be the rolodexes of the present and future. I am not sure that social networking with be THE way to find relationships that turn into clients, but they will be A way to make it happen.

  16. Charles Woodall

    May 17, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Completely agree with you Eric. Social networking will be A way to find clients, and as time goes by, more and more relationships will be born in some online environment. Five years from now, how many of our clients will we be able to say we first met online? Hard to say, but I am certain the percentage will be higher than it is today.

    One thing is for certain. Agents that participate in these online communities, and by participate I mean geniune interest, not blatant selling, will be better producers of business.

  17. Suzy

    May 17, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I agree with Charles that local is where it’s at – I’m a real estate agent in Knoxville, TN, and as much as I love meeting people from all over, Knoxville is my market. I have met lots of very cool people in my area through TwitterLocal – And as someone else mentioned, these are not necessarily clients and I’m certainly not hard selling these folks. What I am doing is becoming more active in my community and networking on a daily basis with people I would otherwise never have met.

  18. Jeremy Hart

    May 17, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    While I participate in social media because I enjoy the conversations and the topics and the – gasp – friendships that have been created, I truly participate because I learn something. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something that can be directly applied to my goal of being the best real estate professional I can be. It’s sounds like a cliche’, I know, but it’s absolutely true – the biggest thing social media does in the advancement of my business is it helps me learn. Being able to draw on that wealth of knowledge and experience is invaluable.

    Tried to do this comment in 140 characters or less, but realized it just wasn’t the same. Social media is about education. Plain and simple.

    Wait, there you go – there’s 140 characters!

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.



Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.



Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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Apple sues recycling company for reselling products instead

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Apple products stacked together to be sent for recycling.

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That’s good, right? Nope, says Apple. The tech giant had been paying the company GEEP Canada to take apart and salvage materials from its devices sent for recycling. But according to a lawsuit by Apple Canada, GEEP Canada actually refurbished and resold more than 100,000 devices it had been paid to dismantle.

“At least 11,766 pounds of Apple devices left GEEP’s premises without being destroyed – a fact that GEEP itself confirmed,” Apple says in its complaint, as reported by The Verge.

The recycling firm denies wrongdoing and has filed a third-party suit that says “theft happened” but it’s not on them because it was 3 “rogue” employees who stole and sold the devices for themselves, not for the company. They want those employees to pay, alleging that they hurt the company’s business. However, Apple says, those 3 employees were actually senior management.

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It’s not just paying for services and materials they did not receive that upset Apple. Resales of refurbished devices hurt demand for new products, created potential safety issues for consumers, and damaged its brand, the suit alleges, according to The Logic. The company is asking for roughly $22.7 million in addition to the money GEEP made from resales. GEEP wants the employees to pay, alleging that they hurt the company’s business. GEEP is now part of Quantum Lifecycle Partners, which says they have nothing to do with all this.

Could/should these devices have been refurbished? “Products sent for recycling are no longer adequate to sell to consumers and if they are rebuilt with counterfeit parts they could cause serious safety issues, including electrical or battery defects,” Apple told The Verge.

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