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Right to be forgotten: Should our past on the internet be eradicated?

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) With the infinite memory of the internet ever present, can or should your right to be forgotten exist or is memory the key?

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They say that everyone deserves a second chance – but with the Internet creating a permanent record of so many of our actions, it’s quite possible that mistakes from the past could come back to haunt us for years to come. Recent high-profile examples have included Kevin Hart stepping down from hosting the Oscars over homophobic tweets from years gone by, or Representative Katie Hill being forced to resign after her ex-husband leaked compromising revenge porn photos to conservative news sites.

Several countries around the world have varying degrees of success or failure implementing the “right to be forgotten” – that is, the legal right for people to ask for information about themselves to be removed from search engines.

The right to be forgotten is controversial. On one hand, victims of revenge porn and other slanders, like Katie Hill, have very little recourse to repair the ongoing damage to their careers and reputations. Others feel that people with a criminal record, especially for nonviolent and petty crimes, shouldn’t have to answer for their past mistakes forevermore.

Others argue that allowing people to remove information about their past infringes upon freedom of expression and could lead to censorship and the ability for history to be inaccurately rewritten.
In the United States, we lean towards the right of the public to access information. However, in countries around the world, the right be forgotten is gaining a foothold. For example, the European Data Protection Directive protects the right to be forgotten by requiring search engines to provide a process whereby a person can ask for links about them to be removed.

In fact, Google has an entire Advisory Council dedicated to making such decisions by weighing the harm done to the individual against the rights of the public to know. As of 2014, Google has removed over a million URLs from its search results (webpages aren’t expunged from the internet – just from the search engine listings, making sites difficult, but not impossible to find).

Some of the decisions have been controversial, such as a case where a doctor had removed links to articles about malpractice in his past. Nonetheless, many countries feel that the right to be forgotten should be protected, and in recent years France has put pressure on Google to remove contentious links not only from Google Europe but from all of its search engines internationally.

In the United States, there’s not much legal precedent for the “right to be forgotten.” So what should you do if you really want to erase incriminating links about yourself?

First of all, if you are a victim of revenge porn – don’t worry you’re not alone. Organizations like Cyber Civil Rights, Without My Consent, and BADASS Army can help guide you through the steps to get the content removed, deal with the emotional damage, and potentially take legal action, as posting revenge porn is against the law in many states.

And what if you want to vanish from the web just because? Lifehacker has a pretty comprehensive guide on how to “wipe your existence from the Internet.” This includes making private or completely deleting your social media accounts, emailing websites and asking them to take your name down, and opting out of people search sites. They even recommend a paid service called Delete Me which will, for a price, troll the Internet on an ongoing basis for content about you.

For now, there’s not much legal protection in the U.S. for the right to be forgotten and erasing something once it’s been posted may or may not work. We can’t necessarily control what reporters, public records, and exes say about us online – but we at least start by being careful with our own content and thinking twice before posting.

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Real Estate Marketing

The modern-day horror story of no-reply emails (hint, don’t use them!)

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may be easy to set up and distribute for customer service, but it may actually be creating a problem with a simple fix.

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emails ugh

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Real Estate Marketing

Try these 7 tips if your brand or business design feels out of date

(MARKETING) Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past?

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Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past? Here are 7 things to consider about your design style:

1. Sans serif or not? With 4K in full effect, serif types are coming back into vogue. A serif typeface is one with small lines attached to the end of a letter.

Sans serif typefaces, those without those small lines, were introduced for readability on mobile devices which used to have much lower resolution.

2. Are you constantly changing colors to keep up with trends? Although the “best” color for marketing changes annually, it’s not really about what color you use. It’s about consistent design with color saturation.

3. Where do you work? Sitting at a desk waiting for inspiration is a thing of the past. Get out in the world and work on your tablet to enhance your ideas and take pictures to bring more elements into your design.

4. What’s your perspective? Look through your social media account and look for variety in your photos and posts. Find a new angle for photos and text to give more interesting content.

5. Are you using trends to brand your company? Coloring books have been the hot ticket item in 2016 and 2017, but the population has already moved on to the next thing, so why would you hop on an old trend and send out branded coloring books?

Use trends in marketing, but not for branding.

6. What’s your design style? Flat design is a trend that is going by the wayside. Get one step ahead by using elements to add depth to your site.

7. Do your templates look like templates? WordPress is great for small businesses, but when you use one of the templates without any customization, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Spend a few dollars and get some help implementing your own images and graphics to fully adapt your site.

This assumes that your site has already been on the cutting edge. We’re still seeing a number of small businesses who don’t have much content about their business.

Having a website is vital in today’s economy, and even if you’re the only one in your community that provides your service or product, you cannot expect to stay on top by just having a minimal website.

Make it a part of your marketing strategy to update your site weekly and keep your customers engaged.

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Real Estate Marketing

Hiring a real estate photographer is critical in spite of smartphones

(MARKETING) Regardless of budget, a professional real estate photographer is a must-have partner in today’s photo-savvy social media landscape.

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Mobile phones take great photos now. Anyone who spends a decent chunk of change for the newest iPhone or Android phone can take beautiful shots. But still, with real estate listings, we see crappy cell phone shots or pictures that may not be awful, but simply don’t capture the beauty of a home like a photographer can.

Let’s face it, you may be able to grab an amazing shot, but photographers can take something hideous and make it beautiful (as seen in the “ugly location photoshoot challenge” – seriously, nothing proves the value of a professional photographer more than this challenge).

When it comes to your business, your listing photos are a lot like your headshot on your LinkedIn – it’s your chance to make a solid first impression for potential buyers. You know that.

You want people to be captivated by the image they see enough to come see the property in person. And while you may be able to get some basic shots on your iPhone XS, you’re not going to be able to do what a real estate photographer can do.

Dallas real estate photographer Terry Wolfe tells us why professional photographers offer you more for your real estate listing and what they can do that a phone can’t.

1. The right tools – Real estate photographers know what tools to use for the job. Specifically, the use of wide angle lenses to help open up a room and not make it appear small like a cell phone camera would.

2. Know-how – The photographer knows how to display and frame the shots to show what is marketable and what stands out about the home. It’s what they do. They can make small rooms seem bigger, make dark rooms standout, and make the image closer to how they will actually experience it. The photographer thinks about how people will live in that space and what to focus on.

3. Post Production – The work done in post-production to help ensure the shots follow a consistent image and convey the necessary atmosphere. This is technical knowledge that most people with iPhone or other camera won’t be able to do.

TL;DR – nothing replaces an expert.

Much like how you would hire an HVAC specialist for your AC or a roofer for your roof; professional photographers are technical experts who know what to do, how to do it, and can do it in a way that ensures quality.

A home is an investment, and marketing listings is a major piece of business – don’t skimp out on the images to help make it shine.

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