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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

Simple way to send text, email appointment reminders to clients

(MARKETING) This new app has tons of automatic tools that help small businesses continue to move into the digital age with ease of use.

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As the world becomes more heavily reliant on automated messaging and computer-mediated communication, we become more reluctant to actually speak to someone on the telephone. While I often find myself in this category, I also feel saddened by what Alexander Graham Bell must think. I digress.

We can certainly argue that a major reason we prefer to text or email rather than sit on the phone is for convenience. We can send a quick text while working, as it’s much more difficult to get away with a phone call on the down low.

That’s why it’s become so popular for places such as doctor’s offices and salons to begin using text and email alerts as appointment reminders. Now, Remindr is getting in on the action.

According to their site, “Remindr.co is a tool for small businesses to schedule automated email and text message appointment reminders. Reduce your meeting no-shows by alerting your clients beforehand. Easily confirm appointments with your customers via text message.”

They proclaim that they’re “great for any business that schedules customer appointments or client meetings,” citing their top use cases as restaurant reservations, nail salons, personal trainers, barbers, tattoo shops, spas, real estate agents, independent car mechanics, and tech sales scheduling customer calls.

This is a win-win as it’s convenient for the customer, but also saves time on the business’s side because it eliminates hours of reminder calls. Additionally, the method supports the reduction of no-shows, which is incredibly important to businesses – especially small ones.

Remindr features include: text message, email, confirmation, reusable templates, schedule alerts, and easy user interface. With text messaging, businesses can send personalized SMS messages to customers from your Remindr phone number.

With email, businesses can send personalized email reminders to their customers through Remindr email addresses. Then, customers can confirm their appointment via text messages or email, and businesses can review confirmations on their Remindr account.

Businesses can create their own personalized reminder templates to pre-fill the reminder form (for example: “Hi NAME! We’re looking forward to your appointment tomorrow (DATE) at TIME. Respond YES to confirm your appointment.”) Reminders can be automatically sent via email or text at a predetermined time.

Remindr provides an easy user interface where businesses can start scheduling reminders instantly, use full-keyboard form navigation, and it is mobile friendly.

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Business Marketing

10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.

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Instagram post open on a tablet

When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.

So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.

  1. Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
  2. Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
  3. Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
  4. Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
  5. Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
  6. Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
  7. Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
  8. Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
  9. Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
  10. Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.

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Business Marketing

7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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low budget marketing ideas

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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