A Tale of Two Blogs
I am pretty new to the bologsphere or blogiverse or blog-o-rama (pick your favorite) so I jump around a little to see different approaches to blogging and to see what different topics seem to have some “buzz”. Imagine my surprise when, in a short time, I run across two blogs in two different locations, about two completely different subjects that strike me as nasty– nothing that I think is worthy of a second thought and yet they both stuck in my mind. As they whirled around in there, I finally realized what it is that keeps me coming back to both of them. It seemed to me they both exploited the blogging platform to make the writer’s pet position seem superior by denigrating the subject of the post.
The First Tale
In one of the posts, written on Redfin’s site by Carol Hian was a post about Kris Berg and her husband, agents in San Diego who worked for a competitor whose business model was more traditional. The post I read by Ms. Hian was condescending, sarcastic, cruel, and written from a position of unwarranted superiority.
I understand that this blog was a response to a blog by Kris Berg about Redfin regarding a new service they were introducing called “Redfin Select”where buyers could be taken on tours to see homes by Redfin’s agents. That blog used the USDA meat grades as an analogy to the Redfin Service, and was critical of Redfin’s new service. I could understand why an advocate for Redfin would want to respond.
I don’t know either of the agents involved, and they are a continent away from my market. Yet I found Kris Berg’s blog to be less offensive to my sense of fair play. In her blog, she discusses a business model, not personalities. Agree with her or not, the conversation is about how a company does business, not about personalities. The rebuttal should be the same.
In Ms. Hian’s blog, the attack felt personal. The author calls them Barbie and Ken, and castigates the Berg’s efforts in organizing a canned food drive, faulting them for not providing “can openers, a cooktop and plasticware”. She goes on to say
Barbie and Ken have accrued quite enough wealth of their own and could easily throw a gracious party. Yet, they choose to feed on the wealth of others instead
This was, I understand to compare the canned food drive to a party organized by Redfin as a thank you to their customers and clients.
The reaction of the blogging community was pretty quick. By the time I had read the blog, the author had been dismissed from their position at Redfin, and the company’s CEO had written a blog apologizing, though the offensive blog was left up in the interests of transparency . Though the blog is still there, a disclaimer has been added to the top of the blog explaining that this was a post that was not in keeping with the company’s policies.
And Another Attack Began
So a little later, I come across a blog on the BloodhoundBlog by Barry Cunningham reviling NAR . The post, entitled “The National Association Of Realtors Announces That The Typewriter Is State Of The Art Technology” was an unwarranted , and more importantly inaccurate attack on NAR and 2007 President Pat V. Combs.
This post mocked NAR and Past President Combs for a video posted on a new website called NAR Confidential which NAR ” designed to educate our membership about technology-related topics and investigate how NAR can best use Web-based technology to communicate with members.” Loosely translated, this was a new communication initiative – an experiment.
The fact that NAR has set up a website utilizing streaming video, soliciting videos from members, podcasting to iTunes, and using a Commoncraftexplanation of Podcasting to help members understand the podcasting process is laudable, but not the focus of the post I read. There are no Kudos to NAR for trying to reach out to the members in an inventive manner. Instead the focus of the post is about the presence of a typewriter in the office of an NAR Past President.
When Pat is not donating her time to improve the industry as a member of NAR, this 37 year veteran of the real estate industry is Vice President of the 2nd largest Real Estate company in Michigan. That makes her company pretty succesful in their marketplace don’t you think? In a video showing the technology being used by one of her offices, she shows us electronic lock boxes, laptops, desktops, faxes, copiers, color printers, multi-function (copier/scanner/fax) machines, and a typewriter, discussing how all of these things are used by the agents in her very successful company.
Cunningham’s blog states,”There you have it. For all of us who did not know, it is the typewriter that no real estate agent can do without because you simply can not fill out forms in any other manner. Ummm…okay“. That isn’t what was said in the NAR video (though this fiction does make for better reading then the reality).
The truth is that during the tour Pat makes the comment, “I think all real estate offices have typewriters because there are a lot of forms and a lot of deeds and a lot of things that you have to prepare, that you can only do on-site on a typewriter that you can’t do on a computer” At the same time a balloon appears on the video that says “the first commercially successful typewriter was invented in 1867 “. Now I consider myself technologically savvy, and no one loves new toys or applications more then I, but I have to reveal a terrible truth to the world – I own a typewriter! And I don’t care who knows it- Is that really so terrible? In our company, we found out a long time ago, that having new technology doesn’t mean you need to get rid of all the old technology- sometimes you do need those things.
I don’t know what Mr. Cunningham’s issue is with NAR. On BHB he is listed as a “Real estate Broadcaster and Investor”. I only know what I have read of his, and he may have some background which makes him an authority on what it takes to run a successful real estate office or a large Trade Organization. But he seems to have very little first hand information on the workings of NAR or diversity of the business operations of its members. In response to one of the comments on the post that asks his relationship to NAR he says ,”I don’t have a relationship with NAR nor do I desire one”. Its a shame that this articulate writer feels that its better to criticize NAR then it is to contribute to an organization that does so much for our industry.
As I said, I’m the new kid here, and he seems to be well known as a blogger. But picking on NAR is easy because its an organization, and organizations that are not designed for the specific purpose of communicating in this arena don’t have a blogger alarm that goes off every time that an inaccurate comment is made. Maybe posts like these are just about creating controversy, but I don’t believe that controversy for its own sake helps anyone. I do think in this type of arena, you might recognize someone of something for their efforts rather then jumping to criticise or denigrate the effort that they made.
Can’t we all just get along?
Look, I’m a fan of controversy, and I’m not saying that anyone should abandon their position or that reasoned articulate disagreements are not enjoyable to participate in or to observe. Nor do I think that NAR, or any company, agent or business should be exempted from discussion or above criticism, but I do think that there should be some standards.
It is so easy to take swipes when you speak as an individual on the Internet. And so much harder for someone to respond on behalf of a company or an organization. After all they need to be not only articulate but well reasoned and factual, because they are not speaking for themselves, they are speaking for the larger group and therefiore have an obligation to act responsibly. As we saw from Ms. Hian’s dismissal, individuals speaking on behalf of an organization need to be mindful of that organization’s position before they begin to rant.
I think all of us need to be balanced. Not impartial, but balanced. As I said earlier, I don’t know much about the participants in the Hian controversy so I’ll use the NAR situation to illustrate my point since I’m more familiar with that.
I am a big supporter of NAR. I believe in the organization, and its role in making the industry better. I believe that our staff is exceptional and that they work diligently to improve the industry and provide meaningful and important services to the membership and the public. I also believe that the individuals who volunteer are are working hard to keep the organization effective and bring a tremendous amount of practical real estate experience to their efforts at NAR. I also believe that most people that criticize the organization often do so from an abysmal lack of knowledge about the organization. But none of that means that someone else can’t have a valid viewpoint, or that we might not have an articulate and respectful disagreement.
All I ask is that if you quote somebody or something, don’t paraphrase them unless you identify it as your paraphrase. When you take a position, articulate the position and your suggestion for reaching some objective. Try to acknowledge the position of the other party even when you disagree, and demonstrate some understanding of the challenges of the person or company or agent or organization even if you oppose them.
It might be easier to write something negative or critical, but I have to believe that well reasoned, substantive discourse provides more for all of us. I think that our readership deserves more then a sharp staement that has form without substance.
Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.
Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.
Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.
In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!
Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:
- background remover tool
- templates based on popular product niches and themes
- design bundles for your website/store, social media
- annotation tool
- upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
- 1 click brand application
- & much more!
“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.
Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.
Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!
This new Chipotle location will be fully digital
(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.
A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.
To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.
The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.
It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.
Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.
As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.
For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.
Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think
(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.
We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.
For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.
In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.
In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.
You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.
How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.
If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!
In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.
So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:
- Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
- Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
- Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.
Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.
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