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Taking It To The Streets Information Superhighway.

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The Stigliano Chronicles - Taking It To The Streets

They’re only words.

Words. Words are powerful stuff. Words can hurt, elate, destroy, and effect change. They can be designed to do any of these things (and much more) or they can do it without intention. Words can be anything we want them to be. Being a blogger, I’ve become a bit more fond of words lately. I try to mix them up, use them effectively, and make sure their message is clear. I don’t always succeed. More than anything though, is the ability of words to change someone’s mind. To effect change through conversation. To influence decisions based on what you say. Power.

Yesterday was a crazy day here at AgentGenius. If you somehow missed it all (how, I will never understand), a large outcry began over a post by Paula Henry involving Google, scraping, IDX, and as many people felt, the future of internet based listing marketing and whether or not the National Association Of Realtors® really understood what’s going on in the “real world.” I spent quite a bit of the day thinking about all I was reading and the implications of the story. I read through the comments and picked up some insight I had missed and applauded some I had thought of myself. I added my views as well. Anyone that knows me, knows that I think the meat of a post is often in the comments. When you start a conversation, a post can take on a life of its own. And man oh man, did that post have a life!

Powerful words, powerful results.

If you’re out there and not convinced about the power of blogging, you need look no further. The final results of the post won’t be known for sometime, but it brought immediate attention to the issue, brought agents to the comments that you don’t see here on a regular basis (can someone say “call to action?”), and got responses from NAR itself. It opened up a next step process with Jay Thompson and Paula Henry being invited to speak before the MLS Committee next week (at NAR’s expense I might add). I fully expect the two of them will speak with passion, conviction, and the general betterment of real estate in mind. I think they’re both gifted writers and will be able to get their points across. I hope it will effect the change that will prevent this issue from spreading to other boards and associations.

The bigger picture.

Although I hope for the best from all of this, I see something else that I am excited about. Reaction. Conversation. Plans. (And hopefully) Resolution. Have you fully comprehended what just happened in a day and a half? Some of NAR’s members took a stand, voiced their opinions and were heard. This is what I envisioned the social media position at NAR should be all about. Todd Carpenter took a lot of flak as he was first on the scene (and whether or not he was speaking on behalf of NAR, as Jay pointed out, there will always be that association) and even I jumped to conclusions about his answers as I read them. Unfortunately, until the dues-paying members fully trust their own association, I feel Todd will always be a bit of a whipping-boy for the social media sect of Realtors®. Many people know him personally and although I don’t, I’ve spoken to him briefly on Twitter once or twice and know enough about him to know that he’s well respected by many. Regardless of what happens, there was a conversation at least and an opening to more in front of one of NAR’s committees.

With the internet, it’s easy to expect immediate results. Unfortunately, I don’t think those are going to be the first changes we see. I view this as a test of the might of the internet and social media to effect change. Of course, if it fails, we could easily slide backwards at a fast pace. If it succeeds, it should make all us all think of ways to continue pushing the envelope to bring about the changes that we desire. Todd said we need to get involved and I think many did, but perhaps in a new way. I don’t think we’ll see change tomorrow, but I think we may have just seen a glimpse of a possible future.

photo courtesy of alanwoo

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Lee Ellis

    May 7, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    That post is having a good, long life, indeed! Part of that future includes people who have commented, taken action and “met” online to meet in person and continue turning powerful words into meaningful actions. So before hearing Paula’s and Jay’s comments at the MLS Forum, I hope to meet many of you at the “REALTOR Mixer” next Wednesday night at Petits Plats co-hosted with Deborah Madey.

  2. Monika

    May 7, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    We’ll be at Midyear and will attend the MLS meeting to lend support.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    May 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I look forward to hearing all the reports.

    Lee – I had written something for my site that I was considering converting for here, but I decided to go a completely different route. I just thought the idea of what happened as the comments unfolded was worthy of its own mention.

    Monika – I wish I was heading there to listen in.

  4. Missy Caulk

    May 7, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Matthew, this was the power of social media. Our voices were heard, and it could not have happened without the blog and the passion of so many.

    Some folks just “get it” faster than others, the early adopters. I know in my own office and in Ann Arbor in general. Folks are just starting to get on board with social media and very few blog.

    They are totally in the dark on all of this and I dare say wouldn’t have understood most of what occurred. Usually 20% adopt early on and then you hit critical mass. We are not at critical mass for social media yet.

    I’m happy Paula and Jay are getting to go. Todd is a great guy and I’m glad he is there.

  5. Matt Stigliano

    May 7, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Missy – It really served as a prime example of the power of social media and being able to get involved. I saw it mentioned in several places (so it was spreading news) and could see how it was being passed from one person to the next and then to their “friends” and then on and on. I think the whole post/comments could be printed and shown to anyone who says, “I don’t get social media.” If that doesn’t explain it, I don’t know what will. AgentGenius became the town hall of the RE.net for a meeting on the new plans for our town. Arguments were made, discussions were had, and solutions were proposed.

    I wrote this about an hour ago – I forgot how to hit “submit” apparently.

  6. Joe@Augusta GA Homes

    May 8, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Matt, As an agent who has invested a significant amount of time and money in to moving my site up in the Google rankings, I hope and pray that the NAR talking heads shut those heads up long enough to open their ears to Paula and Jay at this meeting. As a dues paying member of NAR, I cannot believe they would classify the #1 search engine on the planet this way – to the detriment of our clients. I have fought tooth and nail to move my rankings up the Google ladder, and the last thing I want is to turn off that money stream because of archaic rules that do nothing to help my clients sell their home.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    May 8, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Joe – I agree that its shocking to see that Google would be classified as any thing other than a search engine. I do hope that Paula and Jay are well received, listened to, and have enough time to get their points made. I know they will do a great job, I just hope that it goes well.

  8. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    May 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I hope so as well. As a blogger, I can’t think of two people I would rather have represent our community than Jay and Paula. Good luck, guys.

  9. Paula Henry

    May 9, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Matt – I am only beginning to get back to look at all the posts written in support of the post I wrote. What has happened here is truly the power of social media. It’s true, there are many who do not understand and many more who don’t want to. The point is, those of us here who do understand have the power to reach across boundaries we would not have otherwise had.

  10. Paula Henry

    May 9, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Austin – Thank You!

  11. Matt Stigliano

    May 10, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Austin – It is good to have such great representation. I have admired them both for their blogs in the past, but now I have more reason to. I wish them the best in their travels. I just hope that NAR will truly listen to what they have to say.

    Paula – With the bazillion emails, posts, and comments you’ve probably generated, I’m sure you’re swamped so I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by here. You’ve been given a heavy burden because of your post, but luckily, I know you can take it on. I have full faith in you and Jay and wish you the best. Imagine this had happened ten years ago, it would probably happened quietly and never been seen by most. Thanks to your post, the word is spreading and people are reacting.

  12. Valorie Stover

    May 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Glad this is going to be heard by NAR and thanks to Jay and Paul,a know they will serve us well.

    Social media gets the word out faster than any the old gossip line ever did.

  13. Matt Stigliano

    May 12, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Valorie – It was fast. Although your mention of the word “gossip” brings up a good point too. It’s easy to spread rumors, false claims, gossip, lies, and sow discontent a lot faster than ever before. Everything always has a down side to it I guess.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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women-owned business

Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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Opinion Editorials

How to increase website engagement

(EDITORIAL) A website is vital to any business, but customer engagement guarantees success. Check out these powerful tips to boost engagement.

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Having a website for your business isn’t enough. If you want to grow your company, you need to maximize this digital asset by increasing user engagement. The question is, where do you begin?

What does healthy website engagement look like?

Launching a website is one of the quintessential first steps in building a business. It’s a new company’s way of saying, “We’ve arrived! See, we’re legit!” But the problem is that very few entrepreneurs and business owners know anything about building websites. So they use a drag-and-drop web builder to throw a few elements together and develop a site in a few hours.

Simply having a website isn’t enough. If it’s only a placeholder for your brand, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach people and move them from awareness to purchase. You don’t need a website – you need an engaging website.

What is user engagement?

“Put most simply, user engagement is when visitors to your site appreciate your content enough to stick around, absorb, and convert,” web design and UX optimizer Rob Wells writes. “Most importantly, when user engagement is high, you’ll find that your audience becomes more loyal. You’ll notice more return visits and higher conversions, because your website simply works.”

Signs of high user engagement include reading and absorbing content, organic comments on blog posts, social media shares, watching videos, above average time on site, high click-through rates, and low bounce rates. We’ll tell you more about how to achieve these “wins’ in the following section.

5 Tips for Boosting Engagement

Every website developer, marketing guru, and entrepreneur has their own formula for boosting engagement, but there are a few tactics that everyone can agree on. If you want to see immediate results, start by doing the following:

    1. Make it About Your Target Audience: Too many businesses make the mistake of shaping their marketing messages around themselves. They mistakenly assume that customers care about them, when the truth of the matter is that customers only care about themselves.If you want to boost engagement on your website, start by transforming your messaging. Make it about your audience. Make the customer the hero of their own story. You’re just there to guide them along and point to solutions (products and services) that may help them get from where they are now to where they want to be.
    2. Tell Stories: Cut out the sterile corporate lingo and breathe a little life into your copy. Mission statements are lame. Tell stories!The Ward & Barnes, P.A. website is a perfect example of how storytelling can cause engagement to soar. They actually include client stories, testimonials, and quotes on their homepage. This helps visitors connect with the brand and immediately establish a feeling of trust and goodwill.
    3. Eliminate Distractions: “According to research by Google, people judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th to 1/20th of a second,” Website Magazine notes. “Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that visually complex websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than simpler sites.”Stop with the complex websites and sophisticated designs. You’re not a web design company – there’s no need for all of these bells and whistles! Eliminate distractions and simplify every page to one specific focal point. Anything more means you’re actually competing against yourself.
    4. Empower Your CTAs: Every page on your website should have a call-to-action (CTA). And when creating these CTAs, always ask yourself one simple question: “Why would anyone click this?”If you’re asking for an email address or sale without providing clear and direct value in return, you’re missing the point. You have to compel people to follow through.One of the best ways to empower your CTAs is to offer something in return – like a free eBook, a discount code, or a product sample. When there’s an enticing reward, people will be much more likely to follow through.
    5. Go Visual: The brain processes visuals much faster than text. Use this to your advantage by integrating visual content into your website. This means video, graphics, and original images. Skip the stock photos! However, don’t overdo it. Remember to keep it simple and avoid unnecessary distractions. Quality over quantity works every time.

Turn your website into a lead generating asset

Transform your website from a branded placeholder into a powerful, lead generating asset that procures leads, and converts them from curious visitors into profitable lifelong customers. This process can take time, but you have to begin somewhere. Start by leveraging the tips in this article and analyzing the data. Based on the numbers, you can optimize, iterate, and improve over time.

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Opinion Editorials

Idea: Color-coded face masks as the new social contract to combat COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) Americans must come together on a new social contract if we have any hope of permanently reopening the economy and saving lives.

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social contract: color coded wristbands covid-19

A church in Texas used a stoplight color-coded wristlet system to help churchgoers navigate the new social awkwardness of closeness. Those with green bands are comfortable with contact including high fives, yellow bands indicate someone who wants to talk but not touch, and red is for someone interested in keeping their distance altogether.

In pre-pandemic America, basic social cues were sufficient to communicate these feelings, and most violations of them were annoying but not harmful. We now live in a world where daily banalities like grocery shopping and shaking hands with a new acquaintance are now potentially dangerous – for you and those you care about.

So what is the way forward?

Humans are social beings, and much of our survival is reliant on our relationships to, and interactions with, other humans. A way forward is critical. But our brains are trained to find and read faces in an instant to assess emotion and whether that emotion indicates a presence of a threat.

Not only has this pandemic challenged our innate notions of community and safety, the scientifically healthy way forward is to cover most of our faces, which is staggeringly counter to our understanding of a threat. It is now impossible to tell whether a sunglassed-masked stranger walking into a restaurant is a robber or just a person who was walking in the sun.

But because we are humans with large brains, we are able to adapt. We are inherently compassionate and able to emotionally understand fear in others and ourselves. We are able to understand both science and social grace. In this case, the science is straightforward but the social grace is not.

Governor Abbott of Texas announced the second closure of bars and reduction of capacity in restaurants last Friday in response to the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases statewide. During the press conference he said: “Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can.”

It is this shared responsibility that we must first embrace before any meaningful reopening can proceed.

We must accept that for the indefinite future, we have a new normal. We have to adapt to these new social codes in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors. Color-coded bracelets, masks, hats, choose your accessory – this could be a way forward.

First, we must agree these measures are necessary. And we shouldn’t take them because a politician told us to or told us not to – many people feel that our government has failed to provide us with coherent guidance and leadership considering a broad social contract.

We should adapt them because if you are not free, I am not free. We can do this together.

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