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It’s Time For the Real Estate Industry to Get Engaged

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This post was brought about by a thread on my local association blog about whether or not we should be feeding our listings to Zillow.

I’m not going to re-open that debate here. (so let’s try not to hi-jack the comment thread with Zillow diatribes 🙂 )

I want to discuss what I see as a schism developing between the attitude of consumers and the attitude of real estate professionals. I hope that by addressing this issue, the industry can avoid what could be a very messy break-up with the public.

We Need to Change Perspective

By “we,” I mean real estate professionals. It seems to me that, sometimes, industry professionals act surprised, even indignant, at the success of sites like Zillow and Trulia. The objections are many, and they usually begin with something like, “but their data isn’t as up-to-date as the MLS!”

Protestations like that one (and the many others) miss the point, and come from the wrong perspective. As real estate professionals, we approach these sites as, well, real estate professionals. We are comparing it to the tools that we already have available (the MLS). Consumers aren’t can’t do that. They don’t have access to the MLS like we do.

I can hear some of you now, “well sure, but they could go to REALTOR.com.” Of course they could, but again, the perspective issue rears its ugly head. REALTOR.com is a site that displays listing information to the consumer for the benefit of brokers. It is not a consumer-centric site. It is designed entirely around the goal of driving leads to agents and brokers. I’m not saying that this is a necessarily bad thing. When a site is built this way, however, that philosophy will, at some point, become apparent to the consumer. When it does. . .

The Consumer Can Walk Away

The Internet is the land of almost infinite choice. When any of us surfs the net, we get to control our user-experience almost completely. We choose what content we do, or don’t want to see; we get to search for the things in which we are interested in any way that we choose. If we find what we want– great! If we don’t– we move on.

When it comes to real estate-related sites, consumers now have the ability to move on. There is enough choice out there for access to the information that consumers seek that they can move freely amongst these sources and choose the one that best fits them.

Getting the Consumer to Commit

The thing that sites like Zillow, Trulia, RealSeekr, etc. do better than most is that they engage the consumer. By this, I mean that they recognize that the consumer is in control of the experience and they are tailored to enhance that experience, not take back control.

All of these sites offer numerous ways for the consumer to participate in the process. There are comments, there are Q & A forums, there are custom searches, saved searches, heat maps, the list goes on. . . All of these features are designed to recognize the power of the consumer to control the process and make it easier for the consumer. It should also be noted that many of these features encourage interaction between the consumer and the agent/broker. This not only engages the consumer with the information, but the consumer with the professional. That is a good thing for everyone.

What to Do: It’s Time to Pop the Question

Rather than looking at sites like Zillow and Trulia as fight-to-the-death competitors with public MLS and agent/broker sites, industry professionals would do well to learn some of the valuable lessons that these sites offer when it comes to consumer interaction.

Lesson #1: GET ENGAGED!

It is time for the real estate industry to take the plunge, make the commitment, and get engaged with the consumer. For far to long, the industry has talked about engagement, only to have cold feet when the time came to get down on one knee. That cannot continue if the industry wants to remain relevant and grow moving forward. There are far too many potential suitors out there clamoring for the love and attention of consumers for real estate professionals to rest on their laurels and expect consumers to remain committed.

So whaddya say? How about we go pick out a ring. . .

I'm a REALTOR, basketball referee, happy husband, and Community Manager (in no particular order). I have a passion for the real estate industry and officiating, a passion that I try to turn into inspiration on my blog, The Real Estate Zebra. I am also the Community Manager at Inman News. When I'm not blogging here on AG or the Zebra, you can usually find me on Twitter.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Obeoman

    June 4, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Daniel,

    Since most Realtors are not on line, blogging, using social media or a web page,
    they can’t even get a blind date with the 8 out of 10 consumers in the housing market.

    And it doesn’t matter if Realtors embrace consumers.

    Consumers are making the decision and they are going to choose engaged Realtors.

    Steve

  2. Chris Shouse

    June 4, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Daniel,
    Well said and some thought provoking comments. Don’t fight engage:)

  3. Daniel Rothamel

    June 4, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Steve,

    You are right on the money. Consumers ARE going to choose engaged Realtors. As an industry, though, the attitude needs to change. As of right now, however, the individual Realtors out there who take a more engaging attitude are have a major advantage going forward.

    Chris,

    I’m glad you were provoked. Now, go provoke others!

  4. Natalie Langford

    June 4, 2008 at 9:35 am

    I’ve embraced Zillow and Trulia with every appropriate listing. When not residential, I turn to commerical sites. Anything beats sitting on my rump waiting for business to come to me. At the end of the day, the goal is for my listings to be found, shown and sold. If I end up with clients as a result of my being engaged, I’ll be doing the Snoopy Dance!

    Recently received an invitation to a brokers open where the listing agent has dared us all not to come because he has no door prize and no food and only has a house to sell. I checked out the property. 223 days on the market, 1 photo (our mls lets us do 30 for free) and when I Googled the address, all that popped up was some random blog that only displays some cut and pasted list from an unidentified source…You’re right – get engaged, damn it!

  5. Julie Emery

    June 4, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Make love, not war!

    You can stick your head in the sand. You can resent the heck out of the way the world works. But in the end, the only way to win is to get ahead of the curve and stop playing catch up!

    We tell our sellers that they can’t keep trying to catch up to a falling market. What are REALTORS and NAR doing with techology?

  6. Bob

    June 4, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I think many are using the term “engagement” in the military sense.

  7. John Lockwood

    June 4, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Can’t we just go steady?

    I’ve always treated Zillia and Trulow like what they are: something that bloggers care about. I don’t care what NAR’s doing. I just do my own little obsessive-compulsive publish or perish gig, and clients find me that way.

  8. Frank Jewett

    June 4, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Do Zillow, Trulia, et al replace the open house? Agents traditionally claim open houses are a complete waste of time because the odds of a buyer walking in are low. Are the people using those websites lookers or buyers? I guess the response is “Who cares? It’s free publicity!”

    Has anyone here looked at Walmart classifieds, the new Craigslist? More free publicity, especially for foreclosures that aren’t listed on the MLS. I guess banks are counting on consumer engagement, too.

  9. David G from Zillow.com

    June 4, 2008 at 10:24 am

    @Daniel,

    Yes, we do!

    Great post.

  10. Barry Johnson

    June 4, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Daniel can I make a toast? Thank you for being the one to write this!

  11. Bill Lublin

    June 4, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Daniel;
    I can’t get engaged, I’m married 😉

  12. Benn Rosales

    June 4, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I hear comments aren’t working- checking it out… disregard

    if anyone else is having this issue, please email me benn[@]agentgenius.com

  13. Jim Duncan

    June 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Benn – Why are you trying to keep English majors out of the comments with the higher math?

    Daniel, et al. – How can we reach out to those who don’t read/write blogs? Those of us in this space typically ‘get’ it, but the majority don’t and have their heads in the collective sand – wishing we could go back to the days when we were the gatekeepers.

    We need the majority (even if it’s only 51%) to recognize that we all need to change, but how do we get to them?

    Maybe these internets are just a fad …

  14. Candy Lynn

    June 4, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    “All of these sites offer numerous ways for the consumer to participate in the process. There are comments, there are Q & A forums, there are custom searches, saved searches, heat maps, the list goes on. . . All of these features are designed to recognize the power of the consumer to control the process and make it easier for the consumer. It should also be noted that many of these features encourage interaction between the consumer and the agent/broker. This not only engages the consumer with the information, but the consumer with the professional. That is a good thing for everyone.”

    Great example of what I call “stickiness” in a site. Get them there, keep them there & keep them coming back!

  15. Benn Rosales

    June 4, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    @Jim Math is part of the requirement for mariage licensing.

  16. BawldGuy Talking

    June 4, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Consumer oriented? Engage the consumer? What does that mean when boiled down to its essence?

    A certain Mr. Shaw puts it this way: ‘Consumers aren’t looking for agents, they’re looking for a home.’

    I’ve said the same thing, but differently forever: People in general, whatever the agenda, want RESULTS. The rest is what makes those pretty balloons in Del Mar stay in the air. 🙂

    Keep bringin’ it Daniel. As usual, you’re callin’ ’em as you see ’em.

  17. Brad Coy

    June 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Well put Daniel. I’m always curious as to the motives of those who still think that having control over the inevitable log-jam release of information is working somehow to their benefit.

    Consumers have gained more traction than ever in the past few years due to the web. Real Estate will not be the exception. Get educated as to what the details are, what your clients are looking at, and how they are using this information. I have found that they are much more educated for doing the groundwork for you, this makes the difficult parts of your job as a Realtor much easier when it gets to the real challenging work of buying and selling a home.

  18. Ricardo Bueno

    June 4, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Confession: I’m one of the ones who used to give Zillow a bad rap by saying “but their data isn’t as up-to-date…”

    But that’s slowly changing. I’m getting involved. Though slightly more with the likes of Trulia and their Q&A forum. It’s like you said and we’ve discussed this before, consumers want to be with someone who’s “out there” (so-to-speak)…someone who’s engaged.

    If networks like LinkedIn, Trulia’s Q&A, Active Rain, etc. are going to allow me to be top-of-mind with more and more contacts, I’m there. I’m mean hey…it works!

  19. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    June 4, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    When everyone has something it becomes worth less. Its the ones that can be inovative and come up with new ideas. Realtor.com had it by themselves and got nothing. The major brokers in our area have sites that share the info. Local people will tend to go to those. Very few people in this market have heard of tuwillo or Zulia.

  20. Daniel Rothamel

    June 4, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Jim,

    I think that reaching those who DON’T currently blog or aren’t on Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever, is something that needs to happen. That is something that might have to be accomplished through more traditional means such as education classes, presentations, etc. I tell people all the time, whether they blog or not, that I need more agents out there like you and the agents found here at AG. That would make my job a whole lot easier. There is a change in philosophy that must take place. It will take time, but we need to do whatever we can to speed up that process.

  21. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 4, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    The biggest issue I have with 3rd party sites isn’t what their business model is today, as much as it is what is their business model TOMORROW?

    Are they going to establish themselves as the “real estate leader”? If so, WHEN and HOW MUCH much are they going to CHARGE those very REALTORs that made them the real estate leader in the first place – by the real estate agent providing listings, content, advice, etc on THEIR site?

    I view their “free” advertising now like a crack dealer giving away free samples. Once the industry, and consumers recognize the 3rd party site as the “real estate leader” – then they can ream the real estate agents with advertising costs, and selling back leads.

  22. Bob

    June 4, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Once the industry, and consumers recognize the 3rd party site as the “real estate leader” – then they can ream the real estate agents with advertising costs, and selling back leads.

    The industry had their shot and missed the mark. Can’t blame a smart business person for building a mousetrap that attracts more mice, regardless of who owns the cheese.

  23. Frank Jewett

    June 4, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Jennifer, the dirty little secret of Web 2.0 is that it is Web 1.0 all over again. Most websites can’t charge because the barriers to entry are too low, the competition for market share (rather than profits) is too great, and with no geographic limitations, clients are free to jump ship at any time.

    Don’t like ActiveRain, jump to RealSeekr. Don’t like RealSeekr, there are a dozen alternatives. Don’t like any of those, wait a month and another will emerge. We saw what happened to Zolve when they tried to monetize their platform. It went from expensive to cheap to free in less than a month.

    Do you think it will be any different with listings? Walmart.com’s classified section has almost twice as many listings as my MLS. Can they monetize that. Probably not, since the same listings are on at least a dozen other sites if not more. Aggregators are bleeding market share to each other. None has enough of the right eyeballs to force you to pay to list on their platform… except the good old cable company MLS.

  24. Russell Shaw

    June 5, 2008 at 12:39 am

    That may be the PR. One of the dumbest things NAR ever did was to give REALTOR.com to Homestore. The site, as it exists now is actually designed to make money for Move (formerly known as Homestore). Driving leads to agents is way down on the list of importances. Selling agents the ability to “enhance your listings” and banner ads and zip code exclusives, now that is important.

    If REALTOR.com actually did what they really should have done – Zillow, Trulia or any of the endless other sites designed to compete with them wouldn’t have made it out of the starting gate. Not one of them. If REALTOR.com had really been driving leads to agents instead of attempting to line their pockets at the expense of agents (all the while with NAR executives blindly “overseeing them”) every agent in America would have found REALTOR.com a very worthwhile website.

    Having a site that is “good for agents” doesn’t mean “bad for consumers”.

  25. Russell Shaw

    June 5, 2008 at 12:41 am

    >>REALTOR.com is a site that displays listing information to the consumer for the benefit of brokers. It is not a consumer-centric site. It is designed entirely around the goal of driving leads to agents and brokers.<<

    That may be the PR. One of the dumbest things NAR ever did was to give REALTOR.com to Homestore. The site, as it exists now is actually designed to make money for Move (formerly known as Homestore). Driving leads to agents is way down on the list of importances. Selling agents the ability to “enhance your listings” and banner ads and zip code exclusives, now that is important.

    If REALTOR.com actually did what they really should have done – Zillow, Trulia or any of the endless other sites designed to compete with them wouldn’t have made it out of the starting gate. Not one of them. If REALTOR.com had really been driving leads to agents instead of attempting to line their pockets at the expense of agents (all the while with NAR executives blindly “overseeing them”) every agent in America would have found REALTOR.com a very worthwhile website.

    Having a site that is “good for agents” doesn’t mean “bad for consumers”.

  26. Barry Cunningham

    June 5, 2008 at 5:52 am

    I hear a lot of agents who spend a lot of time bi#tching about the likes of Trulia, Zillow, Zolve and all the other likes out there and I really wonder what’s the problem.

    I have owned a few other “businesses” and never thought my competitors were “stealing” my business, they were beating me at what I did. I had 2 options…actually 3.

    1. Keep going on my current course and be satisfied with my declining market share.

    2. Quit..close up shop….or my choice…

    3. Step up my game and COMPETE.

    The Zullia’s of the world are in business. Realtors are in business (I think)…instead of having the continuing discussions about your market coimpetitot, why not step up your game and compete?

    If any of the services or competitors in your market including other Realtors are exploitable, then by all means tell the public why they need to utilize you INSTEAD of your competitor.

    Of course, this means that one would actually need to be IN “business” and run their operation LIKE a “business”. (i.e. spend money to overcome their competitors)

    It’s a pretty simple business accumen. Yet so few Realtors follow or even know what to do. Other than Russell, who has from what I understand become an institution in Phoenix, how many other Realtors know or are even capable of establishing themselves as THE agent in a market.

    His success did not come by accident.

    I applauded Daniel’s post here becasue he recognizes that your competitors have already ENGAGED the consumer. Why haven’t you?

  27. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 5, 2008 at 8:53 am

    @ Bob >>”The industry had their shot and missed the mark. Can’t blame a smart business person for building a mousetrap that attracts more mice, regardless of who owns the cheese.”<>”Don’t like ActiveRain, jump to RealSeekr. Don’t like RealSeekr, there are a dozen alternatives. Don’t like any of those, wait a month and another will emerge. We saw what happened to Zolve when they tried to monetize their platform. It went from expensive to cheap to free in less than a month.”<<

    Bouncing from place to place only works if all have equal visibility and exposure.

    If a site shows up as #1 in the search engines for critical keywords, it has greater exposure. And, they can charge handsomely for it once they are secure in their position.

  28. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 5, 2008 at 9:03 am

    @ Barry – Most agents do NOT run their business like a business because quiet frankly, the barrier of entry into the field is so low, that just about anyone that has failed at multiple other jobs can take a 2 week class, pass a test – and BAM! They are now a “real estate expert”.

    This is evident in the extremely high failure rates of 80% of new agents getting out of the business within a year. And 90% getting out within 3 years.

    I have nothing but respect for Zillow, Trulia, and the rest. They have some extremely good persons on staff – that make Bill Clinton look like he’s tongue tied.

    It really comes down to that a lot of agents do not understand HOW they are helping Zillow & Trulia out compete them in the marketplace – and that later on down the road, there will be a greater price to pay for any short term gains they perceive that they are getting now.

  29. Barry Cunningham

    June 5, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Jennifer..you absolutely get what so many others do not. They simply do not understand how to run a BUSINESS. Look at who the CEO’s and heads of Zillow and Trulia and Homegain are…that should really give people a clue.

    It reminds me of Ray Kroc and hamburgers. Too many people, even to this day, think that the McDonald’s business model was based upon fast food. Those in business know it wasn’t.

    These discussions about the Trulia’s and zillow’s of the world are nonsensical. And you are one of those who gets it.

  30. Jed Lane

    July 30, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    No where in any of the comments is it stated that most of us are members of NAR. It is a member run organization and if you want to engage the industry work on the local committee that is addressing MLS issues.

    This is turning into much more than a comment so I’m going to another platform to post and then submit to Daniel.

    We need to take control of our own destiny and use the data set that is ours to drive traffic back to us and not through a third party that wants to charge us for the leads generated or placement acheived.

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Business Marketing

Simple ways to improve your organic reach on Facebook

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Facebook continues to make businesses and pages pay to play, but businesses still have a shot of improving their organic reach, according to experts in the field.

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Facebook open on laptop with white desk and small potted plant, open to organic reach.

Facebook organic reach is not dead, but you will need to work harder to get eyes on your pages. Here’s a rundown of what experts are saying will help you reach your audience. Facebook is still the top social media platform that marketers use and where consumers tend to look for and follow brand pages. So don’t despair!

Those running Facebook business pages have been seeing ever diminishing returns on their effort at getting their content in front of their audiences and fans, especially since around 2016. Yet Facebook remains the #1 platform for building an audience. Once upon a time, Facebook was incredibly fertile soil to grow our entrepreneurial and creative gardens in, at little to no cost to us. Many businesses are seeing a drastic reduction in reach, meaning that a tiny percentage of people are seeing our posts, even among those who follow our pages.

Have you ever heard something like, “The first one’s always free; that’s how they get you”? This has long been a business philosophy to hook prospective customers, used by savvy marketers and drug dealers alike. Facebook went and took that to the next level, introducing an easy-to-use platform where almost anyone could find and engage with their target audiences of customers, fans, members, and more.

Of course, there had to be a reckoning, and now that Facebook has more than 2.6 billion active monthly users worldwide, they continue to change the rules. Consider the amount of users and the amount of posts being made, and it makes more sense that Facebook tries to narrow the audience for any single post to a reasonable chunk. Otherwise, our brains would explode (okay, my words, not an actual medical opinion). Really, you don’t need to reach everybody, because not everybody is interested in what you’re offering. You need to reach the right people who are going to engage and build a smaller, engaged loyal group of diehard customers.

Community is key
Here are some of the latest tips and best practices to increase organic reach in 2021, provided by Facebook pros. Mark Zuckerburg keeps bringing up the concept of community, and the algorithm favors engagement, not only on Facebook, but across platforms. Nobody wants products and services constantly jammed in their faces.

This is a conversation, not a one-way portal into your customers’ brains and wallets. A constant barrage of salesy content, urging people to buy buy buy, grows real tedious real fast. “If you build it, they will come.” Only instead of a baseball field in the middle of nowhere, work to build a community.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you creating conversations?
  • Are you using your platform to act as a resource and provide helpful or inside information in your niche or area of expertise?
  • Are you asking your audience what they want and would like to see more of from you?
  • Are you taking current events and trends into account, reacting to local/national/world news at all, and creating timely posts?
  • Are you using a variety of post types (photos, videos, links) and taking advantage of Facebook’s built in post tools?
  • Are you taking data into account for what content people are responding to favorably and when?
  • Do you ever invest in Facebook ads or boosted posts for important content or events?

Find the answer to these questions to reevaluate your strategy, work on promoting a dialogue with your audience, and ideally you will see more engagement on your pages, fruitful interactions that ultimately lead to loyal customers and bigger sales.

Create Conversations
Zuckerburg himself comes back to this point repeatedly in his regular updates on the state of all things Facebook and how the algorithm works, saying Facebook will “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” Not every industry lends itself to deep thoughts, but it can be simple enough to engage your audience with community questions. People love giving their opinions or talking about a shared interest.

Community questions can be fun, lively, and create fun interaction between your audience and the business. A simple This or That question posted on one of the background color templates can get the conversation started. If people don’t have to invest a lot of time to answer, then great! Depending on the industry, these can be easy one-offs: Red wine or white? Beach vacation or mountains? TikTok or Reels? Mac or PC? Harley Davidson hogs or Kawasaki crotch rockets? Early bird or night owl?

Hot takes, unpopular opinions, are another way to get people chatting. I’m not espousing trying to stir up controversy here, unless that is appropriate for your business, but people get emotional as all get out for something as simple as pineapple on pizza or beans in chili. What’s a popular or common opinion in your field? How can you introduce a hot take to get people chatting? For an entrepreneurial page, you could put out a hot take on a cluttered desk, or making lists, or standing desks.

Sure, these conversations may start out superficial, but who knows? When people begin interacting on your page more, they begin seeing more that you post, and that’s when you can introduce something a little weightier, asking them to share their expertise or advice on a relevant topic.

Become a resource
Whether your business is a science journal, digital marketing, interior designing, or a Texas Hill Country resort, your business and your audience is unique. Real estate agencies have become good at this, so we’ll use them as an example. If you are selling or leasing properties in Austin or San Francisco, sell the area. Don’t only post the properties you’re selling or agent profiles. Post those, yes, but also post industry news and local attractions.

When people are interested in moving to a new city or a new neighborhood or investing in opening a business there, they need to know why the area is attractive. What is the business climate? What are the financial perks associated with living there? What is the area known for (local restaurants, live music hiking trails, swimming holes, no traffic)? Has the area made a list for quality of life, affordability, great job prospects in X industry? Sharing blogs, articles, infographics, videos, and photos highlighting any of these can help your page serve the interests of your target audience. This is a good thing.

Ask your audience
This is a simple tip for keeping things closer to your audience’s interests, helping you identify areas where your page may be lacking–and opportunities for growth, and keeping the conversation going. Be careful not to overuse this one, but it’s an important tool.

  • Try a simple question, such as “What would you like to see more of on this page?”
  • Create a poll, which is much faster to answer, and helps you narrow answers down to what you really want to know.
  • Similar to the community questions, ask them to share something that has helped them. A classic example would be “What is the best entrepreneurial advice anyone has even given you?” Or “Please share some tips to fight procrastination.” Or “What is the top time-saving tool you use in your business (or for scheduling)?” Having your page followers (and hopefully others) chat with each other this way is helpful for them and for your organic reach.

Take current events and trends into account
This one’s simple: Read the room. This goes both ways. If there is renewed interest in, say, downtown lofts or sea shanty dances on TikTok, can you use this momentary heat to bring interest to your page? On the other hand, if there is a natural disaster, tragedy, or financial crash that has caused great suffering in an area? That’s a good moment to review your scheduled posts and delete or postpone anything that could be unintentionally triggering or offensive.

Some types of businesses are better suited to jumping on the latest trend. Do you have a bar or restaurant with a fairly young, social media savvy crowd? Go ahead, Photoshop that Bernie-Sanders-in-mittens image sitting on your patio (only if you can do it as the trend is hitting). Are you targeting an area that has recently been hit by extended power outages? I’m sorry to tell you, but this is not the time to promote that popup restaurant where diners experience eating in the dark.

Mix it up and use native Facebook tools
Of course you want to stay on brand, but please don’t get caught in a rut where all of your posts are one type. Consistency is one thing, but beware that this doesn’t turn into monotony. Assess where you can change things up. Add photos, videos, links to relevant blogs and articles, or community questions. Different people respond differently to different types of input. Use all the tools at your disposal to generate interest, draw people in, and get them reacting to and engaging with your page.

Facebook and all social media platforms have built in tools. They want you to use them. Often, this is a Facebook effort to capitalize on a similar, competing app. Trust me when I say, you will get brownie points (higher reach) when you take the time to use these native tools. Facebook Watch, Facebook Live, Facebook Stories, even using a background color template from the Facebook options, are all ways to show Facebook you’re paying attention and want to optimize the tools they are giving you.

Use provided data
You need to be able to look for patterns, evaluate the factors that made a particular post popular, and know when your customers and followers are likely to see your page and interact with it. Facebook provides a number of insights in the platform, but there are numerous external marketing tools you can purchase or sometimes use for free (depending on how many pages and platforms you are running, and how in-depth you want your data to be).

Posting willy nilly is not the most effective way to be. Decide what data is useful to you and make time to study it, and be willing to make changes to your content strategy based on the data. Like many other aspects of marketing, expanding your organic reach is a mixture of art and science, a balancing act of intuition and cold, hard numbers. Use them.

Consider paying to play
I know, I know, this story is about organic and not paid reach, but the fact is strategically paying for a Facebook ad or boosting a post to highlight a launch, event, special deal, or other important news will bring more people to your page. If the other tips, tools, and best practices referred to here are in place, once they find your page, you have the ability to keep their attention through organic means.

Keep on truckin’
These tips should help you expand your page’s organic reach. More importantly, they should help you build and support a community, earn loyal followers and customers, and generate positive buzz about your business. Keep working on becoming a resource and sharing helpful information. Have fun with it and experiment with new media and types of posts. Know yourself. Know your audience.

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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

Should your content management system go headless?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) You may be familiar with your typical content management system, but had you heard of a ‘headless’ model? Let’s dig into it together.

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Person using content management system with hands on keyboard and small bit of desktop visible.

At some point, you have probably worked with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. If you haven’t already, you at least know that this computer software is used to manage website content.

But, have you ever heard of a headless content management system before? We didn’t. So, we set out to find out what it’s all about and how beneficial, or not, it can be for your company.

What is headless CMS?

Unlike your classic CMS, headless CMS is a back-end only content management system. It decouples where your content is stored and authored (body) from the front-end where your content is displayed (head).

This CMS isn’t tied to a particular output like a web page. Content is transmitted as data over an application programming interface (API). It’s a content repository that delivers content seamlessly to any device.

Benefits of Headless CMS

More versatile
Headless CMS isn’t your classic “monolithic” CMS so you aren’t constrained to an all-in-one system that might work for websites but not mobile devices.

Content is consumed by customers in more than one place now. Headless CMS provides a more versatile way to deliver multi-channel content to websites, Android and iOS apps, and even IoT (internet of things), like a smartwatch or in-store kiosk.

Businesses will benefit from this because only one back-end is needed to manage and publish content for different services and products.

No need for specialized developers
Developers aren’t tied to a specific programming language or framework. A developer can choose between using Javascript, PHP, Ruby, or any language they prefer.

If you already have a talented developer, you don’t have to scramble to find someone else who specializes in a specific system or language you are moving to. Your current developer can do the job for you in the best way they know-how.

Better Security
Security is important. Not being married to the front-end, headless CMS has a security advantage a regular CMS doesn’t. Usually, content provided to a headless CMS is read-only, and the admin portion lives on a different server and domain.

With the back-end detached from the presentation layer, there is a smaller target area to attack. Also, layers of code can be used to hide the content-delivering API making it safer than a traditional CMS.

Real-time collaboration
With two separate systems, content editors and web developers can work concurrently. This shortens a project’s timeline and helps get your product and services to market quicker. Also, content editors don’t have to spend more time creating the same content for each system. Designers and developers can take care of that.
Downsides of Headless CMS

As with anything, headless CMS isn’t perfect and isn’t for everyone. It has its disadvantages.

More technical
Little technical involvement is called for in a traditional CMS. As a result, the tool can be picked up quickly by almost anyone.

A deeper understanding of CMS, coding languages, and front-end technologies is needed when using headless CMS. You must have a developer that can build the web or app just for you.

Increased maintenance
With the body separated from the head, there are two systems to maintain. Implementation and maintenance could potentially become complex.

Bigger price tag
Building a system from scratch costs time and money. With a traditional CMS, there is one account, and, most likely, one payment. With headless CMS, you’ll have multiple payments for the CMS, a developer, and the infrastructure running your website or app.

Your custom CMS also isn’t coming from a pre-built content management system. All that hard work takes time (and patience) to get it done right.

Conclusion

Headless CMS lets you create a unique user experience and allow for cross-platform publishing, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all content management system.

Before you jump ships, take inventory of all your content needs. Does your content need to be published on different platforms? Will a simple stand-alone website work for you? Only you can decide what works best with your business, but we hope this information helps.

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