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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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Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.

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Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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