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You probably need free advertising, Google Maps says ‘we can do that’

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Google maps have been making a lot of great improvements, and added features. The newest one is free advertising to help during COVID-19.

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Google Maps, perhaps in an effort to promote a new style of demarcation, is allowing qualifying businesses to advertise for free until September of this year. While this decision–contrary to what it may look like–doesn’t stem from a desire to stimulate the economy during a pandemic, it raises some interesting applications going forward.

The actual rationale behind Google Maps’ decision to halt ad fees until September stems from the tech company’s introduction of smart pins to Google Maps, so while the free advertising period seems timely, it’s reasonable to assume that the end goal is a more widely implemented usage of this feature by the end of the year.

The feature itself–pins that address services and location-based options such as delivery or curbside service–stands to help promote businesses’ specific attributes in order to help delineate between competing services. From a purely accessibility standpoint, promoted pins are great thinking; imagine your last road trip with this level of available and easy-to-find information.

From an advertising perspective, providing as much information as possible via quasi-tags while avoiding overcrowding your interface is a huge boon in favor of businesses who use these pins.

It’s worth noting that the change and resulting ad forgiveness seems directed toward smart campaign users, which may affect one’s ability to access the promoted pins if their account or campaign isn’t set up using Google’s specified parameters.

Google also said that, starting July 1st, small- and medium-sized businesses who qualify for ad credits will have those credits applied to the appropriate accounts with no future action needed. While this is a separate initiative, it seems like a more relevant piece of information for anyone who doesn’t fall into the “smart campaign” category while seeking aid during the COVID-19 crisis. If you fit Google’s criteria for a credit, look for that in the coming months.

Pushing out information that can ensure the safety and accessibility of the people accessing one’s business is the logical next step for Google Maps, and it’s reasonable to assume other location-based services will begin to follow suit. Apple Maps, for example, has a similarly expanded version of the bare-bones one finds when searching for a site.

As businesses find ways to promote in a post-pandemic world, we’ll most likely see more innovation in this regard.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Real Estate Technology

Google Nest: A sneak peek of the new and improved version

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) The secretive Google Nest speaker has been leaked. It looks fantastic and sleek–but will it sound better?

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There’s no denying that Google Nest has done a lot to make the modern smart home accessible and easy to set up, but the common consensus remains that the system doesn’t quite meet the audio demands of many users. Thanks to leaked photos of a new Google speaker, it seems that those demands are to be addressed.

The photos originated from a regulatory establishment in Japan, and while there isn’t anything to see in the way of press from Google as of now, it’s clear that the device is the upcoming Nest speaker associated with Google’s smart home line.

Google Nest–an amalgam of the aptly named Nest and Google Home–is a series of smart devices poised to turn any house into a fully functioning smart home. While the Google Home setup includes a hub that includes built-in speakers to report various metrics and information depending on your preferences, the actual sound fidelity was, reportedly, somewhat lacking.

And, even though the Nest Mini improved upon Google Home’s audio flaws, it still left something to be desired–a space that, ideally, the Nest speaker will fill.

9 to 5 Google also points out that the sound disparity between different iterations of the Nest Mini shows vast improvement in terms of audio output and overall quality, so it seems appropriate to assume that the Nest speaker–with larger dimensions and more advanced architecture than the the most recent Nest Mini–will vastly outshine Google’s audio solutions thus far.

As for the speaker itself, Google seems to have grown away from both the conical Google Home device and the Google Home hub in favor of an oval, cloth-covered speaker that seems reminiscent of the Nest Mini’s overall presentation. There are a couple of design updates, too–the mute button is now a switch, and there’s a lot more rubber on this rendition of the speaker.

Users will be able to use a standard wall outlet to power the speaker, a design choice that may raise some questions since it detracts from the otherwise sleek presentation.

Google has yet to list the speaker on its website, but it’s worth noting that the Google Home, formerly listed alongside the Nest Mini, is no longer available. If you have a smart home endowed with Google products and you’re looking to upgrade, keep an eye out for the Nest speaker in the coming months.

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Real Estate Technology

Instagram now allows you to pin comments

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Instagram introduces pinned comments; with this feature comes possibility for positivity in an overwhelmingly negative space.

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Bad press is forthcoming and constant in any industry, and social media often bears the brunt of such negativity. Perhaps that’s why Instagram, following in YouTube’s footsteps, now offers the option to pin comments under posts.

Pinning a comment typically refers to placing said comment at the very top of the comment section (say “comment” one more time, I dare you). However, Instagram comment-pinning doesn’t just apply to the comment section itself: Any pinned comments will appear directly under the post when scrolling, negating the need to open the thread at all.

This is incredibly handy for anything from highlighting positive user reviews to calling out a voice that mimics or adds to the message you hoped to send with your initial post. In fact, the applications here are virtually endless; Lifehacker even suggests using the pin feature to update followers on winners of virtual give-aways or other competitions, for example.

To pin a comment, you’ll need to use the Instagram mobile app on Android or iPhone. Once at the comment you want to pin, you can swipe from right to left over the comment and then tap the thumbtack icon that appears. Keep in mind that you can’t pin a comment from your feed–you’ll have to open the comments section by tapping the top comment before you can adjust anything.

Removing a pinned comment is as simple as swiping left and then tapping the pin again.
You can’t use the Instagram website to pin comments, but that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given Instagram’s limited functionality on desktop. Both iOS and Android users should be able to access the pin feature immediately, but if you find your Instagram app doesn’t allow it, try updating and restarting. Instagram is set to roll the feature out universally, so you shouldn’t have to wait.

Being able to call attention to community voices is especially important in 2020, and Instagram’s implementation of this feature couldn’t be more timely. It’s clear that there are substantial marketing and outreach implications for pinned comments, but this is also a chance for users to highlight culturally significant standpoints or alternative positions where appropriate. As people begin engaging with this feature in earnest, we can only hope to see it used in such a capacity.

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Real Estate Technology

Send personalized, automated texts to your customers with Respond Flow

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Respond Flow is the new “Mailchimp of SMS”, allowing you to easily automate personalized text conversations with your customers.

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CRM Respond Flow

CRM solutions in 2020 are all over the place, but one factor among them has not changed: the engagement aspect. This is something that Respond Flow, an SMS-based CRM tool, hopes to address by helping you craft realistic, convenient messages to make your customers feel valued.

Respond Flow is, self-admittedly, the “MailChimp of SMS”. This means that they cover everything from your location-based phone number to your marketing resources and strategies, all of which are available from an easy-to-use dashboard.

It’s a lofty comparison to be sure, but while Respond Flow doesn’t incorporate the web-hosting aspect of customer management that one finds in MailChimp, it more than makes up for that discrepancy through customer engagement, thereby earning its place in the CRM line-up on principle.

Respond Flow also leans into the personalized communication style that many brands have embraced in the last few years. Perhaps one of the most obnoxious aspects of any automated communique is that feeling of being just another number on a list; this is something the company is clearly aware of.

Instead of making customers feel like cash resources, Respond Flow allows you to reach out to or engage with customers at all hours–a process for which you can control the parameters from your Respond Flow dashboard. The best part of this system is that Respond Flow allows you to create lists of customers that, based on your interactions with them, enables custom content depending on those customers’ preferences.

Respond Flow also boasts a bevy of other features that make your life substantially easier. These include everything from social media integration and mobile app support–you know, the things you expect in 2020–to the aforementioned list feature and some customization options to help customers feel like you’re actually talking to them one-on-one. Keyword integration and formulaic messages based on customer responses are, of course, part of the deal as well.

Similarly, you can set up different location-appropriate numbers for each of your brick-and-mortar locations that use Respond Flow, thus affording more credibility to your communications with local customers. It’s a subtle touch that is sure to save you countless hours, headaches, and cash along the way.

Currently, Respond Flow offers a two-week free trial. If you’re interested in checking out a new CRM solution, consider giving this one a shot.

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