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What is Social Media’s Shelf Life?

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Virtual Real Estate

We’ve all heard them… You know, the Brokers and agents who disparage the use of technology and more specifically social media in your business practice. The conversation is something to the extent of “Get from behind that computer and go sell!” To an extent I agree. I know that technology is a good venue by which to obtain clients, but it is not the end all, be all of interacting with the consumer. The nature of humanity dictates that we interact with one another; that we have fellowship and contact with another person. If we’ve found a way to combine this need for interaction and the consumer’s desire to use technology to increase their knowledge base, than fantastic! If you really are hiding behind the computer and thinking that the cash will roll in, than you’ve missed the mark.

Study of Human Nature

Social Media is a great asset to a practitioner who has grasped human nature and is actually able to identify a consumer’s need. It’s not a good tool for those who still think that Real Estate is a get rich quick scheme. It requires time and patience to develop the necessary skills and knowledge base to properly execute any aspect of this business proficiently. It’s important to always be studying and researching what is happening in our culture, what trends are developing and how to be on the tip of the sword when it comes to progress. I feel that this is the key element to technology and Social Media in real estate. Is there a shelf life to Social Media? Yes, there is to every good thing; but we simply don’t know what that shelf life is. For some, Open Houses are still an effective means for connecting with clients. Open Houses have been around for generations.

Look to the Future

My advice is to use the tools of here and now, but don’t get stuck in a rut of what “is”, thinking that it is what you’ll need to master and then skate by for the next 20 years. Below is a video called Vision of Students tomorrow that I sometimes use in technology courses. I use it because the students are telling us how they communicate and some of the struggles they have while in college. Many people watch this video and say that it doesn’t apply, since those “kids” can’t buy… Go look at the demographics of buyers today and you’ll quickly realize that these college students will be your buyers in the next 5-10 years. Practitioners need to be forward thinking and while maintaining business today, also be thinking about what they’ll need for to prepare for tomorrow!


Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is TheAgentTrainer.com.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Ben Martin, CAE

    June 17, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Social media as we know it will cease to exist eventually, but the consumer expectations it is ushering in will not. Even now I’m wondering what’s next. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I’m becoming somewhat bored by facebook, blogging and twitter.

  2. Chris

    June 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I think we have entered an age of constant change. Those who will not adapt to the changes in society will not succeed. The gap between the haves and haves not, will change to who is technically involved and not involved.
    Spring Hill Real Estate

  3. Jayson

    June 17, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    That’s a good video. I’d say social media is here to stay but that social media will change over the years. It looks like the next step is an all inclusive website with social bookmarking, MySpace/Facebook profile pages, search engines, videos, life management tools and much more.

  4. Frank Jewett

    June 18, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Typical naivete. What are they learning sitting here? They are learning how to learn. How far would anyone here have gotten without the ability to learn? Who here learned by flipping through channels on cable television, which was the internet before there was an internet? What percentage of internet surfers regularly use the internet to learn something of value?

    You could download the entire Java platform in minutes, for free. You could find tutorials and tips that would enable you to implement Java to create your own web applications. Hands up all those who plan to make use of that wonderful, totally free resource any time soon? Me neither. I learn in classroom settings because it helps me focus and it keeps me accountable.

    The internet can be a wonderful aid to learning, providing the information of a thousand libraries in a matter of minutes, but those who confuse the internet with learning haven’t been paying attention. The internet is still more like cable TV (or 900-chat lines) than college. The kids who smiled about the number of Facebook profiles they will read and the pages of emails they will compose are the reason we are no longer competitive as a society. Many of them won’t be able to afford homes because they will have wasted their educational years on social networking instead of learning how to learn.

  5. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 18, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Really comes down to staying ahead of the curve – either you are a real estate leader, a follower, or a non-factor. Do old school techniques still work? Sure. Print ads, open houses, etc still have some success. But if you turn a blind eye toward other options, you are a dinosaur waiting to become extinct.

  6. Matthew Rathbun

    June 18, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Benn – Sorry to hear that you’re getting bored, I thought it might be me. I like Twitter, but honestly I am having issues both reading and writing original posts. I think that writing a local blog is much easier than an industry one. The local areas and growing, changing and gossiping. The industry has the same good and bad points that it’s always had.

    Frank – I too, see them as spoiled brats, but so did the generation before us as they reflected. The issue is that their sphere of influence is evolving just as this class is and they’ll be in a workforce with the same mentalities over time. I think the internet has it’s advantages for relaying information, but I still think a good old fashion classroom with a good instructor is the best learning environment. Even movies and TV shows about the future still have kids sitting in classes together. I just don’t think humans (as a majority) will get over their need for interaction… Good points!

  7. Benn Rosales

    June 18, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Fyi, Ben Martin wrote that comment, not Benn 😉

  8. Matthew Rathbun

    June 18, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Whoops! I actually knew that…. it was force of habit 🙂

  9. Bill Lublin

    June 18, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Provoking Post my Commonwealth Chum! 😉

    When I see things like this I feel really old.

    Not because the conversation is so new, but because it is not. The ONLY thing that is constant is change. And the debate over the new versus the old is part of a dialogue that goes back to Socrates complaining about the kids in Ancient Greece. The more things change the more they stay the same –

    I would disagree with Ben, Social Media is a catch phrase for the use of technology to facilitate a process that is as old as man, and a basic part of our herd instinct – networking and communicating. We can’t confuse the medium with the message (regardless of McLuhan’s comment that the medium is the message)- Whether it be parchment, snail mail, e-mail , twitter, blogging, or telepathy Benn will communicate. Though the medium might change, his desire to know more and share what he knows continues. What we do electronically changes the scope and speed of our communications, but not the content as much. And its the content that is most important. Can anyone tell me that Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” is less important then this post because it was printed on paper? (Please note the nod to the great Commonwealth of Virginia)Or that the Magna Carta had less impact because it was written on parchment?

    I enjoyed the video, but the concept that something as basic as needing to accept change is new is a pain – even though I think its true – I’m just amazed that everybody isn’t aware of it yet – can’t we get the word out?

  10. Frank Jewett

    June 18, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Matthew, I realize that throughout history, each generation has complained about the decline of civilization even as civilization kept marching forward. At this point in our history, I see a critical difference. We may still have the best universities in the world, but the young people taking full advantage of those universities are immigrants or the children of immigrants. The ability to use the internet to learn Java is real, but the young people using it that way are in Bangalore, not Boston. If you’re trying to look ahead to your client base ten years from now, look at building bridges to highly skilled, highly paid immigrants, because they will be driving our economy. This will be a challenge for an industry that has historically been led by the perspective of old, white men.

  11. Bob

    June 18, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    We may still have the best universities in the world, but the young people taking full advantage of those universities are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

    That has always been the case. We are a nation of immigrants.

  12. Frank Jewett

    June 18, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Bob, I think you’ll find the split towards immigrants and first generation children of immigrants is more dramatic now than it has been in decades. The post-boomer generations have been complacent.

  13. Bob

    June 18, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Frank, I think complacent is an apt description. We tend to expect opportunity to land in our lap while others seek it.

    Confucius say, “Man who wait for Peking Duck to fly into mouth will soon starve.”

    I think this applies to the narrow 2.0 mindset of some agents as well. The one that says “If I blog, they will come”.

  14. Frank Jewett

    June 18, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Bob, several local brokers have expressed frustration with agents whose marketing plan consists of a website and/or blog and waiting patiently by the phone.

  15. Missy Caulk

    June 18, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Matt, that is a powerful video. As a mother of 3 in college…I would have to agree with alot of it, especially buying those 100 and 200 text books that rarely get opened. Then sell on Amazon for 1.2 price.

  16. Bill Lublin

    June 18, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    We may still have the best universities in the world, but the young people taking full advantage of those universities are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

    SO three out of four of my my Grandparents were immigrants –
    Their children, went to those colleges, My Mom – Pennslyvania College of Optometry, her sisters , University of Pennsylvania, Derexel University,
    Their Children, Penn State, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Rutgers, Temple University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania (again) (and married two immigrants who also attended those schools)
    Their Children; Yale, Princeton, Syracuse, ….
    I think I can stop… these immigrants provided several Doctors, Lawyers, Economists, Business Owners, Professors, Artists, – So what’s the point when you say

    look at building bridges to highly skilled, highly paid immigrants, because they will be driving our economy

    What is new or insightful about that ? The immigrants and children of immigrants in my family helped drive the economy. With the exception of the Native American Population who isn’t an immigrant here? (And even they may have migrated from Asia over the land bridge) –
    Tacky Frank – just tacky

  17. Frank Jewett

    June 19, 2008 at 3:46 am

    Bill, I was referring only to the first generation of immigrants and their children, not every single generation that ever descended from an immigrant. You also seem confused about my purpose, which wasn’t to criticize or denigrate immigrants, but to point out that more recent immigrants are driving the economy.

    Here in Santa Clara County we have a very diverse population. Our organized real estate community is also diverse with Asian, Indian, Hispanic, and other affiliate groups modeled along the lines of affiliate groups like the Woman’s Council of Realtors.

    In my time in the industry, several people have privately questioned the purpose of these affiliate groups, posing the rhetorical question “What would they say if we formed a white men’s association of Realtors?”

    I didn’t have the nerve to point out that such organizations have existed for decades, from NAR to the state and local AORs. Affiliates like WCR formed because the needs of their membership were being ignored by the old white men running the business.

    Perhaps it has gotten better, but insiders tell me that we still have a long way to go and I believe it because the rhetorical question above is a direct quote I’ve heard on more than one occaision.

    What does this have to do with my earlier comments?

    Old attitudes about other cultures aren’t going to be competitive in the 21st century, at least not here in Santa Clara County. People who look down their noses at Asians, Indians, and other recent immigrants are going to be missing out on some of the most talented and successful members of our society.

  18. Bill Lublin

    June 19, 2008 at 3:56 am

    @Frank;
    Point taken – (I unruffle my feathers and apologize for the misunderstanding) – And I would agree with you, but I think that the “New Americans” have always had the best work ethics, because they usually come from harsher environments, and may not have had the opportunity to improve their situations before. Perhaps they are just more appreciative of what a wonderful place we live

    I agree with your comment about Associations. I belong to NAHREP as well as NAR (no I’m not Hispanic, but you don;t need to be to join, I’m just supportive of Hispanichome ownership – Helck – I think everyone should own real estate) The Greater Philadelphia Association of REALTORS is a charter member of NAR founded in 1908. In my time I have seen the first Female President and the First African American President (whose term was the year before mine IN THE 1990’S). And thank Goodness things have gotten some better – but there are savants and fools of every type-

    Guess we just need to keep working at- But it was fun trying to remember everyone’s schools and brag on the family a little bit 😉

  19. Frank Jewett

    June 19, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Here’s the citation I couldn’t find when I first responded to this post:

    “Two-thirds of the Ph.D.s in engineering awarded by U.S. universities went to non-U.S. citizens.” – Forbes

    Tying it back together, the attitude depicted in the video above is not the attitude of an over-achiever being held back by an antequated educational system, but rather the attitude of the spoiled brat who hasn’t made the connection between the ability to learn and the ability to achieve. Such people may well spend a disproportionate amount of their time on Facebook. They are falling behind.

    Am I disappointed? Nope. It’s human nature.

    I’m grateful that immigrants still see this country as the land of opportunity. We need their desire because our own is lacking, as shown by the statistic above. The forward thinking Realtor should spend as much time developing an appreciation for other cultures as she or he does learning how to blog and tweet.

  20. Frank Jewett

    June 19, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Bill, I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to find the Forbes quote when I first responded. It probably would have helped illustrate what I was talking about. My great grandfather used to say “shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations”, which was his way of describing how work ethic leads to opportunity which leads to success which leads to complacency over the course of a few generations. When I looked at that video, I saw ignorance and complacency. College isn’t about learning to sit in a seat, it’s about learning how to study, analyze, and learn because your ability to do those things will determine your success over the course of your life.

  21. Bill Lublin

    June 19, 2008 at 5:07 am

    Frank – Your Great Grandfather was a smart guy! And I agree completely with your analysis of the college opportunity, but let’s not forget the rest of the experience – football, bars, and parties (I was the Penn State guy obviously!)
    😀

  22. Jay Thompson

    June 19, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Thought I’d add something deep and profound to the conversation here:

    That video kicks ass.

  23. Sue

    June 20, 2008 at 7:50 am

    That was a good video… Obviously those kids are future home buyers and look how they spend their time! I believe its important to keep up with technology. Some of the old school ways work, but the real estate future seems to be constantly changing and evolving. The statistics and comparisons were interesting, really makes you think. I think I got lots more sleep than 7 hours when i was that age…Sad that only 18% of teachers knew the kids name.

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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

10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.

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Instagram post open on a tablet

When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.

So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.

  1. Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
  2. Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
  3. Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
  4. Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
  5. Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
  6. Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
  7. Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
  8. Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
  9. Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
  10. Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.

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Business Marketing

Unpopular opinion: Coworkers are not your ‘family’

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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