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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

Facebook pays $52M to content mods with PTSD, proving major flaw in their business

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook will pay out up to millions to former content moderators suffering PTSD to settle the 2018 class action lawsuit.



content moderators

Facebook’s traumatized former content moderators are finally receiving their settlement for the psychological damage caused by having to view extremely disturbing content to keep it off of Facebook.

The settlement is costing the company $52 million, distributed as a one time payment of $1,000 to each of the 10,000+ content moderators in four states. If any of these workers seek psychological help and are diagnosed with psychological conditions related to their jobs, Facebook also has to pay for that medical treatment. They pay up to $50,000 per moderator in additional damages (on a case-by-case basis).

Facebook also will offer psychological counseling going forward, and will attempt to create a type of screening for future candidates to determine a candidate’s emotional resiliency, and will make one-on-one mental health counseling available to content moderators going forward. They will also give moderators the ability to stop seeing specific types of reported content.

According to NPR, Steve Williams, a lawyer for the content moderators, said, “We are so pleased that Facebook worked with us to create an unprecedented program to help people performing work that was unimaginable even a few years ago. The harm that can be suffered from this work is real and severe.”

Honestly, this job is not for the faint of heart, to say the least. Like the hard-working, yet not unfazeable police officers on Law & Order SVU, seeing the worst of humanity takes a toll on one’s psyche. Facebook’s content moderators are only human, after all. These workers moderated every conceivable–and inconceivable–type of disturbing content people posted on the 2 billion-users-strong social media platform for a living. Some for $28,800 a year.

I wouldn’t last five minutes in this role. It is painful to even read about what these content moderators witnessed for eight hours a day, five days a week. While Facebook refuses to admit any wrongdoing, as part of the agreement, come on, man. Graphic and disturbing content that upset someone enough to report to Facebook is what these people viewed all day every day. It sounds almost like a blueprint for creating trauma.

This settlement surely sets the precedent for more class action lawsuits to come from traumatized content moderators on other social media platforms. The settlement also shows this business model for what it is: flawed. This isn’t sustainable. It’s disgusting to think there are people out there posting heinous acts, and I am grateful the platform removes them.

However, they have to come up with a better way. Facebook employs thousands upon thousands of really smart people who are brilliant at computer technology. Twitter and YouTube and similar platforms do, too. They need to come up with a better plan going forward, instead of traumatizing these unfortunate souls. I don’t know what that will look like. But with Facebook’s sky-high piles of money and access to so many brilliant minds, they can figure it out. Something’s got to give. Please figure it out.

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Social Media

Twitter will give users a warning before a harmful tweet is sent

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter is rolling out a new warning giving users a chance to edit their tweet before they post “harmful” language, and we aren’t sure how to feel about it.



twitter warning

Twitter is testing out a new warning system for potentially offensive tweets. If a tweet contains language Twitter deems “harmful,” Twitter will pop up with a warning and opportunity to revise the potentially offensive tweet before posting. The warning mentions that language in the tweet is similar to previously reported tweets.

If internal alarms are going off in your head, congratulations, you are wary of any censorship! However, if you read a tweet spewing with bile, racism, or threatening violence against a person or institution, do you report it? Do you want Twitter to take it down? If you said yes, then congratulations, you want to protect the vulnerable and fight hatred.

If you are wary of censorship, yet want to fight hatred and protect the vulnerable, welcome to the interwebs! It’s a crazy and precarious place where almost anything can happen. Despite decades of use, we’re still navigating our way through the gauntlet of tough decisions the proliferation of platforms and ease of use have given us.

First, how does Twitter gauge a potentially harmful tweet? According to Twitter, the app responds to language similar to prior tweets that people have reported. Twitter, like Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms, already has hateful conduct rules in place. In fact, Twitter has a host of rules and policies intended to protect users from fraud, graphic violence, or explicitly sexual images.

Their rationale is detailed, but explains, “Our role is to serve the public conversation, which requires representation of a diverse range of perspectives.” However, they “recognise that if people experience abuse on Twitter, it can jeopardize their ability to express themselves.”

We’ve heard stories of teenagers–or even younger children–killing themselves after relentless bullying online. The feeling of anonymity when insulting a living, breathing being from behind a computer screen often causes a nasty pile-on effect. We’ve seen people use social media to bully, sexually harass, and threaten others.

Twitter cites research showing women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other vulnerable populations are more likely to stop expressing themselves freely when someone abuses them on social media. Even Kelly Marie Tran, who played Resistance fighter Rose Tico in Star Wars, took down her Instagram photos before taking a stand against haters. And she had Jedis in her corner. Imagine your average person’s response to such cruel tactics?

We’ve seen hate groups and terrorist organizations use social media to recruit supporters and plan evil acts. We see false information springing up like weeds. Sometimes this information can be dangerous, especially when Joe Blow is out there sharing unresearched and inaccurate medical advice. Go to sleep, Blow, you’re drunk.

As an English major, and an open-minded person, I have a problem with censorship. Banned books are some of my favorites of all time. However, Twitter is a privately owned platform. Twitter has no obligation to amplify messages of hate. They feel, and I personally agree, that they have some responsibility to keep hateful words inciting violence off of their platform. This is a warning, not a ban, and one they’re only rolling out to iOS users for now.

I mean, in the history of angry rants, when was the last time a “Hey, calm down, you shouldn’t say that” ever made the person less angry or less ranty? Almost never. In which case, the person will make their post anyway, leaving it up to masses to report it. At that time, Twitter can make the decision to suspend the account and tell the user to delete it, add a warning, or otherwise take action.

Every once in a while, though, someone may appreciate the note. If you’ve ever had a colleague read an email for “tone” in a thorny work situation, you know heeding a yellow flag is often the wisest decision. This warning notice gives users a chance to edit themselves. As a writer, I always appreciate a chance to edit myself. If they flag every damn curse word, though, that will get real annoying real fast. You’re not my mom, Twitter. You’re not the boss of me.

This isn’t your great granddaddies’ book burning. This is 2020. The internet giveth; the internet taketh away. It’s a crying shame that evil creeps in when we’re not looking. Speech has consequences. Users can’t edit tweets, so once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even if they delete a tweet within moments of posting, anyone can screenshot that baby and share it with the world. Part of me says, “Good, let the haters out themselves.”

Twitter has shown itself to be open to differences in opinion, encouraging freedom of expression, and has opened up a whole new line of communication for traditionally underrepresented populations. They are a private company, and their rules and policies are posted. What, you didn’t read the terms of use? Gasp!

It’s Twitter’s rodeo, after all. This warning gives users a quick, added heads up to posting something that will likely be reported/removed anyway. For better or worse, Twitter’s still leaving it up to users to post what they want and deal with the potential fallout. Hey, I have a great idea! How about we all be respectful of each other on the internet, and Twitter won’t have to come up with this kind of thing.

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Social Media

Yelp adds virtual services classification to help during COVID

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Yelp constantly adds new classifications for how to find a business to meet your needs, now because of COVID they have added virtual services.



Yelp virtual services

Yelp is making efforts to accommodate businesses whose operations are adapting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Several new features will help businesses display updated services.

The company has added an information category titled virtual service offerings. Business can display service option such as classes, virtual consultations, performances, and tours. Yelpers can search for businesses based upon those offerings.

Yelp has already noticed trends where users are incorporating virtual services into their business profiles. In an report by TechCrunch, Yelp’s head of consumer product Akhil Kuduvalli said “With these new product updates, businesses of all types that are adapting and changing the way they operate will be able to better connect with their customers and potentially find new ones.”

Virtual services in categories like fitness, gyms, home services, real estate, and health are already increasing in popularity. Yelp intends to showcase businesses that are providing those services by creating new Collections.

Once business owners update their virtual service offerings on their Yelp for Business profiles, we will surface those updates to consumers through new call-to-action buttons, by updating the home screen and search results with links to groups of businesses offering these new virtual services, as well as surfacing them in other formats like Collections,” said Kudvalli.

Also in the works is a curbside pickup category for restaurants. Additionally, Yelp introduced a free customized banner for businesses to post updates on their profiles. About 224,000 businesses have used the banner so far.

Yelp hasn’t stopped there. It’s made its Connect feature (which allows businesses to share important updates to all Yelpers on their profile and their email subscribers) free to eligible local businesses as part of the Yelp’s commitment to waive $25 million in fees to support businesses in need during the COVID-19 crisis.

During COVID-19 businesses and consumers need all the help they can get, and thankfully Yelp is there to – help.

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