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Getting Strategic in Social Media Isn’t a Sin



goalTwitter is a relationship tool

Yes, Twitter assists you in keeping in touch with friends, family, and business acquaintances, there is no doubt about that, but so does the telephone.  As a relationship tool, it can be either very helpful, or very harmful to your business depending on the way you’re approaching it, just consider the day we began using the telephone to telemarket the same as we consider using new media to spam- ‘unfollow’ is the new ‘click.’

Some argue that having a strategy in social media is a sin and treating it like a toy is the right way to go, and if that’s truly the case, then that is your strategy.  Being human in social media, not selling, and simply going with the flow as a conscious decision is a strategy.

Define your motive, everyone has them

The bottom line is that with anything you do in business, you should do with a purpose, otherwise, it’s a hobby. Have you ever taken five minutes to read one of the trending topics on Twitter to see just how much consumers care about your online etiquette?   The truth is that they don’t, they’ll simply follow who they want to follow until they don’t.  It only makes sense to engage these folks on a human level to garner some other interest than a product they may or may not buy today.

In fact, for this very reason, most of the businesses I work with outside of real estate are primarily interested in the tribes that form in new media spaces, not individuals.  They’re depending on you to rainmake for them within your own personal tribe of followers through recommendations, blog posts, or mere conversational mentions- this is the overall strategy.

Real estate in social media would in fact be a tribe with varied sects, and it is important to recognize who the influencers are in each and every one of them. Influencers are simply those folks that lead the pack in developing the tribe, in other words, those that follow the tribe leaders and receive the recommendations or take indirect calls to action. Influencers are typically community builders either by trade, or by a natural born gift.  They lead by example, early adoption and/or expertise, or by promoting others that are successful in order to appear credible within the tribe themselves by indirect relation- this is a tactic for growth.

It’s all about the numbers

When you reduce the online real estate space into numbers ($), it’s easy to see why they (as a vendor) would want to insert themselves as an influencer into the space to indirectly sell product, such as a conference, paid online newspaper, seminar, virtual tour, brokerage, or whatever else you can imagine that is destined to land on a Realtor’s to-buy-list. The tactic the vendor uses is to  provide content and other things to buzz about that indirectly bring numbers to themselves, the vendor.

You as an agent practice these same strategies and tactics offline, so it’s not easy to complain.  You spend a lot of time inserting yourself into committees, clubs, charities, government, among other varied tribes for the opportunity to indirectly promote your business- you’re volunteering your time, connections and resources (rather than written content) for an opportunity to indirectly sell your product or service, and you’re now doing this same thing online to build your SEO, to learn, and/or otherwise insert yourself into conversation on the off chance you might influence a transaction.

This isn’t a sin, this is networking, and folks have been doing it for centuries.

Insert Twitter (New Media Spaces)

What Twitter and new media spaces are doing to change a timeless practice is allow you to bundle your tribes together online, not only for vendors, but those within tribes such as real estate and other industry professionals.  You can now mingle with and expand all of your offline networks online, and vice versa at the same time.

As for the strategy, we’ve simply exchanged a business card in the online world for a ‘follow’ and renamed a contact or lead to ‘friend’ and begun the conversation of converting ‘opportunities’ now acquaintances into referral networks and or potential clients.  The strategy is within the insertion of the influencer and the tactic is within the indirect marketing of content as a product, and how we build buzz within the tribe, not the act of making friends.  But I think some will certainly argue that there is even a strategy to making friends, after all, we’re targeting common interests, goals, lifestyles, and we have conversation to vet ideals and standards before making a choice of doing the business of investing time in the conversion to friendship, although even I would agree tactics in this case would be ill advised if you’re seeking a long-term friendship.


Some in the real estate world spend a lot of time preaching semantics for attention, in fact, show me one person who says they join a committee because of their passion and I can show you 10 others who joined it for referrals. Show me an agent who blogs about real estate for fun and I’ll show you 10 that blog for conversion. Show me someone who really argues the philosophies behind networking, and I’ll show you semantics.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Ken Brand

    October 1, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    A thoughtful approach, as you’ve shared is WISE.

    For me, it’s a broadcast platform, fun, learning, sharing and keeping my mind and my eyes on the future. The thing is, nobody knows what new unexpected feature will make Twitter and all this new stuff, a killer, must have.

    If we wait around until it’s proven evident, then we’d be behind the curve, scrambling to rush through a crowded doorway. If we engage now, we’ll be in the party room, while others jostle to get in.

    There’s been buzz about recent lists of “who to follow”. Imagine the power or whatever when Twitter enables this Sharable List Feature. What then? Where then? And, what’s next?

    Thanks Benn

  2. Matthew Hardy

    October 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Since SM began, I’ve been saying that many proponents, while bashing the very concept of selling, are in fact, doing exactly the same thing by other means. A rose by any other name… and a little like Michael Moore deriding capitalism while getting rich off it.

    I also felt that good ol’ fashioned money-making would clarify the thinking of many — leave it to Benn to calm the consternation of the still-confused. We enter into business relationships to give and get value. And that’s good. Benn’s right, it’s “networking, and folks have been doing it for centuries.” My bet is that when all the SM gurus are old and gray, they’ll be chuckling at some new generation who is *sure* their new semantics are better.

  3. Joe Loomer

    October 1, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I must confess that I took the advice of an otherwise brilliant tech geek and focused on Facebook vs Twitter because this person believed (based on late 2008 stats) that Twitter’s lack of additional features would destine that site to fail in the long run.

    Now, according to – Twitter’s user numbers are up an eye-popping 802.7% this year, while Facebook has posted an impressive 196.79% increase.

    Since none of the folks like my daughter’s fellow 9th graders have bought a home from my Myspace efforts (down 4.78%), I think I’ll have to finally reverse my rectal-cranial inversion and GET HOT ON TWEETING!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  4. Matt Stigliano

    October 3, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Benn – I think the problem with “strategy” isn’t so much with being strategic as it is with lacking “fluidity.” People expect that their strategies (whether good or bad) will work. They spend their time crafting it and then let it loose on the world.

    My Winning Strategy
    Do A 10 times a week
    Do B three times a week
    Do C once a week, but twice when B provides results
    Do D as often as possible, but never on weekends
    (…and so on…)

    What we often miss is that B may have become the “uncool” thing to do, so now B is actually working against you. Because C relies on B, now we have two items that may not be providing results. Instead of dropping B in favor of doubling our efforts on E (which is what is working best right now), we stick with our strategy.

    When it fails, we don’t question the strategy, we question the product/effort we built our strategy on. When we allow for fluidity in our strategies, we create what sometimes may not look like a strategy, but there is calculated thought and effort behind it – a strategy. A strategy is only as good as the outcome it produces. If your strategy sucks, so will your outcome. If your strategy needs a shift in order to produce the outcome you’d like, then you need to take that shift rather than saying “I have a strategy and will continue to work it until it produces the outcome I planned for it.”

    I’m actually dreaming up a post that will apply to this in some sense revolving around my recent “Get Me To REBlogWorld” efforts. Not only was it a contest that I wanted to win, but I also saw an opportunity for a small experiment.

  5. Benn Rosales

    October 3, 2009 at 10:26 am

    @rerockstar Most of the raw dive-in strategies I’ve seen are more like hourly investments per week, that being said, most will go far beyond that plan initially because that strategy has no real strategy to convert. Multi-tier strategies tend to work more more effectively and it’s hard to see that before you’ve dropped 50 hours in a month into a given network- suddenly you’re right, it’s the networks fault.

    Looking forward to your case study!

  6. Benn Rosales

    October 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Matthew, you said “Since SM began, I’ve been saying that many proponents, while bashing the very concept of selling, are in fact, doing exactly the same thing by other means.”

    We’ve bashed overtly selling anything and still remain firm on that point. To log on and say buy my product is just a commercial ad, but to simply remain present and add value within the community gives your brand staying power and appreciation from the community. Over time I have a feeling that this approach will be overrun with businesses that simply don’t understand that it’s not what you said, it’s how you delivered it that gets you hung up on. Even I have given into a telemarketer with the right approach, just like agents still enjoy success from calling expireds.

    We find the biggest failure in sm right now are folks that do not remind others that they are in fact open for business. Even consumers do not want to bother business people that appear to busy with their business- it’s just human nature. Subtle reminders from agents to followers that they do in fact practice and are interested in helping is a good thing, but again, it’s a nuance, not a written script nor a new semantic the same way it happens offline.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    October 3, 2009 at 11:36 am

    @BennRosales – I think everyone likes to put a step-plan strategy to work. Do A, get B; get B, do C…perhaps there’s a bit of human psychology in there. We like structured result-based plans? Either way, I admit, I didn’t get Twitter at first. Your very own wife made me join and pushed me to use it more and more. Look back in time and you can see at first I was just using it to “chat” – overtime, I began to understand why I was chatting and what the effects were. I then learned how to bring in elements of business without the “pick me pick me” shouts that I think will never go away. I am still building a “strategy” and learning what works and doesn’t work – both for my business and for me (I don’t want to be anything other than genuine in my social media efforts – if it doesn’t fit who I am, I won’t do it).

    One of the things I think Twitter (specifically) could benefit from is getting rid of the “What are you doing?” tagline. It’s one of the things I think helps make people not understand its potential or use. When it started it was okay to tell everyone you were “about to read a book, brush my teeth, then go to bed.” While you still see that and do it, it is not the core of what Twitter has become (in my opinion). Perhaps this would help people get a strategy together instead of thinking “why does anyone care about the fact that I had spaghetti for dinner.”

    In reference to your comment to Matthew, I wonder what your opinions are on what makes a good reminder to other that we are open for business. When Matthew said:

    Since SM began, I’ve been saying that many proponents, while bashing the very concept of selling, are in fact, doing exactly the same thing by other means.

    I immediately thought of my Flickr experience (getting dumped for commercial use). We are all selling something. Not just real estate agents. Everyone. We may just be selling ourselves, we may be selling a product or service, we may be selling our connections and friendship. We are all after something. How we do the selling varies greatly, but I do believe every step in life is some sort of transaction – some with short term payment, some looking towards the long term. We give, we get…it’s one giant transaction.

  8. Benn Rosales

    October 3, 2009 at 11:47 am

    @rerockstar Glad you asked, and it’s all about just answering the question on what you’re doing-

    for example, tweeting a time daily that you block for walk-ins at your local starbucks and tweeting it and supporting it on your website

    If your plan is to work in a builder model over the weekend, mention it throughout the week, and support it with your blog where you provide pictures and things

    If you have an open house, do the same

    Mention often where you are showing for the day if you’re specific to a neighborhood

    Mention that you are on your way to listing appointments

    Mention that you just met with a buyer and are stopping at X location to hang out for a while

    There are many ways to use the ‘what are you doing’ tagline for your business, and why I hope they keep it. It gives you a very human and natural way of displaying that you are in fact in business today.

    Last but not least, if someone mentions to you they’re going to buy in 6 months, set an appointment now and make sure they don’t mean ‘in 6 months or when someone finally tells me it’s a good idea to do it today’

    Tweetdeck offers ways of pooling buyers and sellers into one category, anyone that even mentions buying or selling, make sure you group them and then follow up through conversation letting them know you’re available to answer questions.

    I’m only spelling these out for folks that need real concrete ideas, I’m sure you do most of this already.

  9. Matt Stigliano

    October 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    @BennRosales – Excellent food for thought there. I do employ some of those, but in thinking about, perhaps not on a consistent enough basis. Now that I see how you view “what are you doing” I may have to retract my earlier statement. My focus on the tagline is more about why people don’t “get” Twitter. I think I may rethink some of my strategy and perhaps use some of these a little more often than I do.

    As always, thanks for the ideas – if there’s one thing I would say is best about AgentGenius it is just that – the solid information that gets shared here is invaluable to any agent – new or not.

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Social Media

Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.




Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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Social Media

Can you legally monitor your employees’ online activities? Kinda

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are they ways you are monitoring your employees online even legal? Did you know there are illegal methods? Yep.



remote workers

Edward Snowden’s infamous info leak in 2013 brought to light the scope of surveillance measures, raising questions about legality of monitoring tactics. However, the breach also opened up broader discussion on best practices for protecting sensitive data.

No company wants to end up with a data breach situation on their hands, but businesses need to be careful when implementing monitoring systems to prevent data loss.

Monitoring your employee’s activity online can be a crucial part of safeguarding proprietary data. However, many legal risks are present when implementing data loss prevention (DLP) methods.

DLP tools like keystroke logging, natural language processing, and network traffic monitoring are all subject to federal and state privacy laws. Before putting any DLP solutions in place, companies need to assess privacy impact and legal risks.

First, identify your monitoring needs. Different laws apply to tracking data in transit versus data at rest. Data in transit is any data moving through a network, like sending an email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requires consent for tracking any data in transit.

Data at rest is anything relatively immobile, like information stored in a database or archives. Collecting data at rest can fall under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which typically prohibits unauthorized access or disclosure of electronic communications.

While the SCA does not usually prevent employers from accessing their own systems, monitoring things like Gmail accounts could get messy without proper authorization.

Who you’re tracking matters as well regarding consent and prior notification. If you’re just monitoring your own employees, you may run into disclosure issues. Some states, like Delaware and Connecticut, prohibit employee monitoring without prior notice.

The ECPA also generally prohibits tracking electronic communication, but exceptions are granted for legitimate business purposes so long as consent is obtained.

Monitoring third party communications can get tricky with wiretapping laws. In California and Illinois, all parties must be notified of any tracking. This can involve disclosures on email signatures from outbound employee emails, or a broad notification on the company’s site.

Implied consent comes from third parties continuing communication even with disclaimers present.

If you’re wanting to install DLP software on personal devices used for work, like a company cellphone, you could face a series of fines for not gaining authorization. Incorrect implementation may fall under spyware and computer crime laws.

With any DLP tools and data monitoring, notification and consent are crucial. When planning monitoring, first assess what your privacy needs are, then identify potential risks of implementing any tracking programs.

Define who, where, and why DLP software will apply, and make sure every employee understands the need for tracking. Include consent in employee onboarding, and keep employees updated with changes to your monitoring tactics.

Protecting your company’s data is important, but make sure you’re not unintentionally bending privacy laws with your data loss prevention methods. Regularly check up on your approaches to make sure everything is in compliance with monitoring laws.

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Social Media

How to spot if your SEO, PPC, social media marketing service provider is a con-artist

(BUSINESS) When hiring a professional, did you know there are actual questions you can ask to spot a con-artist? Too often, we trust our guts and go with the gregarious person, but too much is on the line to keep doing that with your business.




In this day and age the cult of positive thinking and “the law of attraction” are still very much alive and well in the business services industry. Here are a few simple questions that you can ask prospective business service providers to help you gauge if they are the real deal or just caught up in the fad of “say yes to everything,” or “outsource everything” being populated online by countless “thought leaders” and cult gurus.

Lots of people will ask, “What’s the harm of people trying to make something of themselves?”

Well, I’m here to tell you there is a huge harm in taking risks with a client’s money and manipulating people into trusting their “expertise” when they have none.

Business owners: Due diligence is more important than ever these days.

There are whole communities of people helping to prop each-other up as experts in fields they know nothing about while outsourcing their tasks with little or no oversight into the actual work being done on your behalf.

It is nearly impossible for you to tell if this is even going on. Don’t worry. I am here to help you avoid a con-artist.

How? By showing you how to weed out the bad actors by asking really simple questions.

This set of questions is perfect for people who need to distinguish if the expert they are talking is really just an expert in bullshit with a likeable personality.

Why do these questions work? Because people who are into this kind of stuff are rarely hesitant to talk about it when you ask them direct questions. They believe that what they are doing is a good thing and so they are more open to sharing this information with you because they think by you by asking that you are also into similar things.

It is a fun little trick I picked up while learning to do consumer polling and political surveying.

The Questions:

  • Who influences you professionally?
  • Do you follow any “thought leaders” “gurus” or coaches? If so, who?
  • What “school” of thought do you ascribe to in your profession, and where do you learn what you know?
  • Are there any industry standards you do not agree with?
  • How do you apply the services you offer to your own company?
  • Can you please tell me the background of your support staff and can I see their CV’s?
  • Do you outsource or white label any of the work your company does?
  • May we audit your process before buying your services?
  • May we discuss your proposed strategies with others in your industry to ensure quality?
  • Would you be open to speaking with an independent consultant that is knowledgeable about your industry about your proposals?
  • Can you show me examples of your past successful jobs?
  • Do you have any industry accepted certifications and how many hours of study do you do in a year to keep your knowledge up-to-date and current?
  • How many clients have you had in the past?
  • How many clients do you have currently?
  • How many clients are you able to handle at one time?
  • How many other clients do you have that are in the same industry as my company?
  • How long is your onboarding process before we start getting down to actually making changes to help solve the issues my company is facing?
  • Can you explain to me the steps you will take to identify my company’s needs?
  • Have you ever taken a course in NLP or any other similar course of study?
  • Have you ever been a part of a Multi-Level Marketing company?
  • Fun. Right? Well, we aren’t done.

    It is not just enough to ask these questions… you have to pay attention to the answers, as well as the WAY they are answering questions.

    And you also have to RESEARCH the company after you get your answers to make sure they ring true.

    You cannot keep accepting people at face value, not when the risk is to your business, employees, and clients. There is little to no risk for a person who is being dishonest about their capabilities and skill sets. They will walk away with your money, ready to go find another target for a chance meeting that seems amazingly perfect.

    Do not leave your business decisions to chance encounters at networking events. Research before saying yes.

    No matter how likeable or appealing the person you are speaking with is.

    How do you research? Easy. THE INTERNET. Look at the website of the company you are considering working with.

    • Does it look professional? (do not use your website as a standard for professional unless you have had it done by a professional)
    • Can you see a list of their past clients?
    • Do they effectively tell their story as a company or are they just selling?
    • What do their social media profiles look like? Do they have many followers? Are they updated regularly?
    • Do they have any positive reviews on social sites? (Yelp, Facebook, Linkedin, etc)

    You can also do some simple things like running SEO Website Checkers on their websites. There are tons of these online for free and they will give you a pretty good indicator of if they are using best practices on their websites – you can even do this research on their clients’ websites.

    Also, if you know anything about SpyFu, you can run their website through that to see how they are doing their own online marketing (the same can be said for their clients if they are selling this service).

    Facebook also has a cool section that shows you ads that a Page is running. You can find this info connected to their business Page as well as the Pages they manage for their clients as well. None of these things automatically disqualify a potential service provider, but their answers the question of “why” things are the way there are might be very illuminating to you as a business owner.

    This may seem like a lot of work, and it can be if you do not do these things regularly and have them down to a system, but the cost of not doing these things is way too high. A con-artist is born every day, thanks to the internet.

    You have a right as a business owner considering services from a vendor to ask these questions.

    They also have the responsibility as a service provider to answer these questions in a professional manner. Sometimes the way in which they answer the questions is far more important than the actual answer.

    If all of this seems too overwhelming for you to handle, that is okay.

    • You can ask one of your staff in your company to take on this role and responsibility.
    • You can hire someone to come in and help you with these decisions (and you can ask them all the same questions as above before taking their services).
    • You can reach out to other business owners in your network to see if they have recommendations for someone who could help you with things.
    • Heck, you can even call up companies that look like they are doing as well as you want to be doing online and ask them who they are using for their services. Try successful companies in other industries as your competitor won’t likely be interested in sharing their secrets with you…

    What is important is that you are asking questions, researching, and ultimately making sure that you are doing as much as possible to ensure making the best decision for your company.

    Final thoughts:

    “But, Jay, what’s wrong with taking a risk on an up-and-comer?”

    The answer to that is NOTHING. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance on someone. Someone being green doesn’t make them a con-artist.

    The issue I am raising is in the honest portrayal of businesses and their capabilities. It is about honesty.

    I am a huge fan of working with people who are new and passionate about an industry. But I only work with people who are honest with me about who they are, what they can do, and how their processes work.

    I have worked with tons of people who are still learning on the job. It can be quite educational for a business owner as well.

    Just make sure they are being honest about everything up front. You are no obligated to give anyone a chance when it comes to your businesses success, and it’s not right that someone might manipulate you into doing so.

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