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How Does/Will Social Media Further Your Practice

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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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18 Comments

18 Comments

  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

    Benn,

    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.

    Cheers,
    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. https://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_24/b4038404.htm 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.

    Tom

  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 – https://www.twitterlocal.net/stats. 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

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.

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Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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Business Marketing

What you can learn from Ulta Beauty’s marketing mix up with Kate Spade

(MARKETING) Ulta Beauty’s insensitive marketing email surrounding the Kate Spade brand can be a lesson: Be cautious and respond to crisis appropriately.

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Woman typing on computer representing the Ulta Beauty and Kate Spade email scandal

Last week in an email sent to subscribers, Ulta Beauty made light of designer Kate Spade’s suicide. Ulta said the lighthearted connection to Spade’s death was unintentional. The email sparked anger across social media and some national news outlets picked up the story. In an emailed response to the New York Post, Ulta apologized to their customers, their Kate Spade corporate partners, and Kate Spade’s family. They ended by saying they will strive to do better.

Words matter. Messaging matters. Hopefully, we can all learn a lesson from this painful mistake.

Check your tone. It’s one of the early things we teach writing students. The tone should match the content. If the icon you’re using to sell a product ended their own life, perhaps light and fun isn’t the tone you should embrace. Ever. But most businesses won’t be dealing with well-known people whose stories have been shared with millions. It’s up to business owners and those who write their copy to ensure the tone matches the message.

Always have a second pair of eyes look over words going out to the public. Or even a third and fourth. Often those in the creative room are brainstorming messages, reworking copy, and looking for the perfect pitch. And they get it. It sounds good, looks good, is easy to say and share, and, best of all, it will lead to sales. Having a multi-person system in place to check the copy and someone separate to give final approval can help catch the oh-my-God-no great words, but absolutely not pieces of sales copy.

Listen to your customer base and have a system in place to listen quickly. All businesses need systems for immediate customer response in play. Ulta caught their so-called oversight quickly.  But they’re a huge brand and Kate Spade was a beloved fashion icon. The negative response went viral and they had a giant mess to clean up. Companies make messes with their words often, messes that don’t immediately go viral but lead to real pain for consumers. When customers ask you to stop a message, listen to them and act.

Apologies don’t make excuses. If you’re caught in a messaging mess of your own making, I’m sorry goes a long way. If needed, follow that apology up with a plan to show you’re serious about “doing better” and making sure this never happens again.

If you find yourself in a place where a public apology is necessary, consider hiring a crisis manager to help with that plan as well.

Part of business today is constant communication with consumers. Try to have systems in place so you don’t find yourself in a “learning to do better” moment like Ulta. Words aren’t just about sales. They have power. Remember that.

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Business Marketing

Experience Design & Marketing: Where do they intersect, where do they diverge?

(MARKETING) The field of marketing has been around the sun and back, whereas experience design is a newer, but growing field. Where do they overlap?

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marketing trends and experience design

Identify, understand, educate, promise, and fulfill. Is that marketing or experience design? Is it both? The closer we get to marketing in the digital spaces* being truly organic and less about carpeting mobile sites with pop-ups and interruptions, the more marketing and experience design (XD)** start to intersect.

Software experiences used to be only about getting jobs done and the learning curve it took to operate that software was accepted as unavoidable. There was no expectation for ease of use and the competitive landscape was far smaller. The same can be said of marketing; when the pool of offers and services were drastically smaller, you won with volume or referral. Now there are deep expectations for human-computer interactions, expectations of low friction when dealing with a system or entity, and more choices than there are biting Tweets. Volume rarely wins anymore unless the traffic spend is massive or the niche is narrow. Both of these are the result of crowded, loud marketplaces and way more noise than signal. So what did marketing do? What did XD do? They turn to delivering more curated, personal interactions and messages. Those are now driven not by gross demographics and forty pieces of car dealership push cards in my mailbox, but by extrapolated wants and needs taken from human voices and applied to custom outreach.

  1. XD uses ceremonies and activities to discover and define our version of market evaluation and segmentation.
  2. XD prototypes and iterates based on focus groups, unmoderated testing, business requirements validation, and the things they expose. That’s our audience testing.
  3. XD seeks to remove the uninteresting, unused, or unnecessary parts of a decision tree (journey if we must lingo) based on response and introduce a version sans those things to drive closer to the intent and outcome. This is our nurture.
  4. XD uses continuous feedback to improve, refine, and in some cases recommend next steps, products, adjustments, or augmentations. That is our remarketing/retargeting, it’s how we adjust the “campaign”.

And those are only the most obvious fibers of the common thread the disciplines share. Others with a deeper knowledge of both topics can surely add to this list tenfold. The essence of this examination is to ask the question, should marketing and experience design work in tandem? Under one shingle? Can they coexist as a federated faction under the larger umbrella of CX?

They are both a part of a unified journey and the natural progression from first exposure to adoption to “damn I love this thing, I think I’ll TikTok about it” for products and services. That kind of melding could serve a common goal; seamless brand engagement.

The people that consume whatever is being offered don’t see us, the company, the thing, as a cluster of siloed pods vaguely marching in the same direction. They see us as a whole and our disciplines should support that impression.

Marketers and Experience folk– integrate! Learn each other’s wares and purposes, share things that work and definitely those that don’t. XD gang, I mean really combining to achieve specific goals. Don’t just send them a Jake Knapp YouTube, find common goals. And marketing kin, this means more than citing some Sprinklr data and the latest NPS around trending SEO. Wonder Twin into a test and prove machine, use HCD tactics to undercover new copy strategies, and test it with a group in a Pepsi/Coke standoff. I know you are A/B-ing your work, but you can narrow that lane before you traffic it. We can learn from each other, we can benefit from one another, greatly.

I’m betting we can forge something slightly fresher than passing people through our business cotton gin and expecting them to feel like we are one. What are the afterimages that last from the time I see a LinkedIn post, follow to the affiliate, subscribe/buy and actually get something good out of the product? Don’t tell me there isn’t a marketing/design love story in there.

I look forward to following up on this with an actionable plan and (hopefully) killer outputs.

Be well, feel good, and know peace.


*Experience Design as a proper name encompasses exactly what is in the eponymous name; the experience is every interaction, passive or active, through the entire cycle. From the first shred of awareness of a product or service to the lasting relationship made– that is experience in this context.

**I’m not going to call it Digital Marketing anymore, pretty sure we aren’t doing direct mail along with our IG ads

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