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Business Marketing

Social Media – The Perpetual Question

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Web2.0 and Social Media Works – I don’t care what the skeptics have to say, but we have proven it and keep coming up with new ideas to implement on a regular basis.  Sometimes I feel like I am preaching to the choir here on Agent Genius because if you are taking the time to read here, it means that you get it and don’t need reinforcing.

Today’s post is different – it’s about questioning your business practices and the way that you may be approaching your options.  So instead of asking if your blogging and social media outlets are working I will ask this:

What would happen to your business if your blog or favorite Social Media Site were to disappear tomorrow?

What if you had no control of keeping that blog live and it went “poof” into cyberspace?  I’m not here to tell you about my personal experience and I’m not here to point fingers, blame others or tell you what blogging platform to choose.  I want to plant a seed to see if you are prepared to face a major problem if it ever came your way.

I know many of you are geeky enough to know to back up your blogs and content on a regular basis but others depend on web-hosts to do it for you.

The question still remains – if your current servers went down tomorrow, or your web-host got sucked into a black hole in the blogosphere….do you have a plan?

Who would you blame?

Blaming others for mistakes or problems is not an option, on the contrary, you would have to blame yourself for making the wrong choice not being prepared … or worse yet, for not questioning and falling into the “naive” category.  Many of us with successful blogs have been discussing how we cannot place all our eggs in one basket, how there are tons of nice people in the real estate blogiverse but it does not necessarily mean that they would have your best interest at hand.  We have also discussed how there are a lot of people out there that seem to know what they are doing, but there is no real way to tell (I know….that one is the most frustrating).

So here I will continue playing devil’s advocate just to make you think and hopefully to help you prevent any future problems with your already successful Internet marketing methods:

  • If you only have one website/blog, what would happen if it would go down from one day to the next?
  • Does it make sense to have several sites just in case?
  • Does an open platform (WordPress or Typepad) make more sense than a proprietary one based on the fact that you would have more control? – This includes sites like Active Rain, other networking sites with blogs, as well as sites hosted on proprietary platforms.
  • Same applies to sites like Flickr and even Yahoo or Google (maybe a bit far fetched….but could happen) ….and God forbid Twitter!
  • Do you back-up your own content on a regular basis or do you trust your web-host to do it for you?
  • Do you know if you own your content, skin, data and could you take it with you anywhere and anytime you choose?
  • Would that content/skin/data be compatible with other platforms?
  • Do you copyright your content?
  • Have you granted rights to that content to the web-host/designer?
  • If you have a Lead Generation System, do you back up those contacts on a regular basis?
  • Are your back-ups safe and easily accessible

DO YOU HAVE CONTROL?

I am not a pessimist and I don’t like to look at worst case scenarios – but the idea is to keep the Perpetual nature of our business going and be ready for obstacles that could come our way (although I really hope they never do).

My job here is done – make sure you have a plan.

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors Miamism.com, PrimeMiamiBeach.com, and MiamismPix.com and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. David Wilson

    December 1, 2008 at 11:17 am

    I totally agree with you! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! We tell our clients this all the time. We push our clients to maintain their own hosted blog, and a separate wordpress blog, that is slightly different. We also get them on all the major social sites, get people talking!

    Great advice!

  2. Tyler, The Wealth Creation Guy

    December 1, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Ines,

    Great Post. You have officially scared the crap out of me!

    Does anyone have any suggestions on great hosting services for WP Blogs?.. I’d like to have a back-up. I currently use HostGator.

    Thanks in advance 😉

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 1, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    David – live and learn…..and then share so others can learn as well 🙂

    Tyler – send me the dry-cleaner’s bill

  4. Monika

    December 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Ines,
    We thankfully always back our site up. If it went down today…I have a back up as of yesterday. I would be be pretty upset if someone fooled around with my livelihood ie my blog!!! We have a (few) wordpress.org sites and I am so glad we went that route. Jay just re-did my site…so we very much just depend on ourselves.

  5. Jim Duncan

    December 1, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Tyler – I use bluehost; they saved my butt a few months ago when some idiot (me) deleted my blog – they pulled a backup from three hours prior.

    Ines – I don’t know about the preaching to the choir analogy – when I was in the choir I was too busy chewing gum trying to not get in trouble during the services. 🙂

  6. Monika

    December 1, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    We also use Bluehost and are very pleased with them.

  7. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Monika – that’s because Jay is DA BOMB!! You guys have it all under control. (glad to hear it)

    Jim – LOL – spit that gum out boy!

  8. Jay Thompson

    December 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    This is a thought provoking post.

    My blog gets backed up daily, automatically (via a plugin) and an copy is sent to me via email and stored on my server (I use Media Temple). In addition, my hard drive is backed up in basically real time via Carbonite (*highly* recommended).

    This is one thing I tell people who blog exclusively on platforms like ActiveRain, RealTown, proprietary sites, even wordpress.com and typepad. You *never know* what could happen. These companies could go out of business, be sold, change their terms and conditions, whatever.

    If I woke up tomorrow to find my hosting company had gone belly up, or burned to the ground, I could have my blog up and running in less than an hour.

    I like that piece of mind. Since my business depends almost totally on the Internet, it’s critical that I maintain as much control over it as humanly possible.

    Now should the Internet go away, I’d have to rethink a lot of stuff. (Don’t laugh. While the Internet isn’t likely to go away, it’s almost certainly going to morph and change — it’s never really standing still, and those using it shouldn’t either.)

  9. Kevin Tomlinson-Miami Beach Real Estate

    December 1, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    That’s really scary. I’m happy I have two sites in the engines.

    Really, really scary

  10. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 1, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Jay – some are smarter than others and you my friend are always willing to share….thanks for that (SMART)

    Kevin – scary only the first time….then you learn.

  11. Mack

    December 1, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Unfortunately about a year and a half ago my site was with Advanced Access and it along with about 30,000 others went down for almost a week. Ouch!!! When it happened for a second time (Shorter term this time) I had to say goodbye. I have all the pages of my site backed up but the problem with these 2 outages was server related. I did the only thing I could think of that made good sense, I changed hosts and platforms and could not be happier. I hope no one has to go through what I went through but having the backups made the move much easier.

  12. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 1, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Mack – thanks for sharing – can’t even begin to fathon not having an Internet presence for a week. OUCH!

  13. Missy Caulk

    December 1, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Ines, I assume my host backs up and assumes is the word I give you tonight. In the AM I will call and check and if not make other arrangements, No, not talking about my AR blog but my WP one.

    Thanks for getting me to do what I know I need to do.

  14. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 1, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Missy – If all else fails and I get one single person to double check their back-ups, then it was well worth it.

  15. Jay McGillicuddy

    December 2, 2008 at 4:53 am

    Ines,
    We have experienced being hacked and our site went down due to a WordPress upgrade meltdown. We were down for two weeks as I tried to get my previous hosting company to fix it. They couldn’t and that is when we changed to Blue Host.

    We changed to Blue Host because they got us up and running in a few minutes and we weren’t even there customer at the time.

    Monika has addressed our backing up on a regular basis.

    I am glad we are self hosted and I love WordPress as I can do a lot and I have full control.

  16. Thomas Johnson

    December 2, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Great post, Ines. I have assumed that my vendor is backed up. Since our vendors are not banks subject to a Paulson bailout, well, you know about assume.

    It makes an ASS of U and ME.

  17. Lisa Sanderson

    December 2, 2008 at 10:11 am

    I really don’t have time for all this realistic, be-prepared, girl scout nonsense, Ines, so please stop harassing me. 😉

  18. Jeff Bogert

    December 2, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Ines,

    It is funny how the universe works sometimes. I have a my browser close in the middle of an “automatic” upgrade to WP 2.65 resulting in some funky display issues in IE and you have created the timeless but always necessary backup, backup, backup post.

  19. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 2, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Jay – I’m sure you are ready now if it ever happens again – I hate that we learn from our mistakes instead of being ready from the start.
    (love the avatar btw)

    Thomas – I’m sure you will check on your vendor now 🙂

    Lisa – LOL

    Jeff – definitely necessary….can’t say it enough.

  20. Jay McGillicuddy

    December 2, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Ines, if we didn’t make mistakes then we would never learn anything.

    It is a hard lesson to learn but when we learn from our mistakes we come back twice as strong, as I am sure you will do, with no problem.

    You are a great blogger and real estate agent so that is why you will succeed.

  21. SharonAlters

    December 2, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Ines, this is important. We think that the hosts back up everything so why should we worry but even they can fail.
    I’m putting a back up hard drive on my Christmas list!
    BTW, enjoyed seeing your presentation at the Web 2.0 Panal at NAR with Jeff, Teresa and Cyndee.

  22. Mariana the Wagner

    December 2, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    yeah. that sucks. i’m going to stop talking now.

  23. Ines

    December 2, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Jay – we do come back stronger. I just wish for people to learn from my mistakes so they don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through.

    Sharon – thank you!! there are plugins also to back up your stuff on your own server or someone elses – there are plenty of options out there, and I’m glad you enjoyed the panel – it was a lot of fun.

    Mariana – shut UP!

  24. Ann Cummings

    December 3, 2008 at 5:50 am

    Hey Ines – oh how painful those lessons have been. And I can’t even quantify what I’ve learned through the kind of messes you’re talking about. One thing I am doing is taking more control of my sites, and will never again be that totally dependent on something proprietary or something I don’t have far more control over.

    Lessons learned and now going forward….

    When I grow up, I want to be like Jay & Monika… 😉

  25. Ines

    December 3, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Hey Ann – makes us stronger and better people…what we’ve learned in the past 2 years is pretty amazing, no?

  26. Jay McGillicuddy

    December 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you Annie. LOL

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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