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Why Wasting Your Time With Foursquare Is Good

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Foursquare - The Stigliano Chronicles

You just became the Mayor of…

If you don’t know what Foursquare is, here’s a brief run down. An app run from your phone, Foursquare allows you to “check-in” to locations in your city (and others if you’re traveling). A “check-in” is like making a public announcement as to your whereabouts. Hey everyone, I’m at Starbucks. Hi friends, you can find me at the Applebee’s on Highway 123. Seems kind of silly if you look at it without any more info. It’s a game. While traveling through your city, you’re checking in, becoming “mayor” (after so many visits, you become Mayor until someone usurps you), and earning badges. Badges are Foursquare’s way of rewarding you for certain milestones. The more badges, the more you’ve done. Each new check-in, entering new places into the Foursquare database, and other things earn you points. See, I told you it was just a stupid game.

Perhaps it’s not though, let’s take a moment and think outside the square. There’s a few things to consider with Foursquare that I’ve come to discover and these little items, make it much more than a game. To make it even better, we can apply it to real estate and our daily business.

Where are you?

Location, location, location. Let’s face it, you’re not always in the office. You’re not always with clients either. Right now, I’m sitting in a Starbucks writing this post. If a client of mine walked into the Starbucks and said hello, I’d stop in a heart beat and enjoy their company for awhile. Random happening, but I’ve had it occur before. We love connecting with clients (and non-clients) in person, it’s (according to most agents I know) the single most important factor in building a strong client base.

So what if you were in the local Starbucks, but your client was next door having a bite to eat. If you knew they were there, would you stop in just to say hello? If they knew you were next door, would they stop in just to say hello? If you’ve been doing your homework and building strong relationships with your clients, I bet the answer was yes to at least one of them. Instead, you’re in Starbucks and your client is next door. No connection made.

Think about what would happen if you’re clients knew where you were and you knew where they were. Sure, you wouldn’t want to go overkill and stalk them throughout the city, but it sure would be nice to be able to have a few more chance encounters on the street.

Who are you?

As you begin appearing all over your city, people will take notice. I have several locals that are now friends with me. We now trade barbs about different places we’re going to take over (being Mayor comes at a price – everyone wants to beat you) and share tips about discounts, things to do, and who has the best pizza in town. We’re socializing. We’re getting to know each other as well, since we often take conversations off of Foursquare and move them to our blogs and places like Twitter. I’m meeting the locals and interacting with them. Real estate 101, no?

Something a little different.

We all like to interact with everyone as we build our real estate businesses, but of course, the real goal is to make sure those acquaintances know we’re Realtors® and we’re there to help them in buying or selling. Foursquare doesn’t really have a way of doing that. Or does it? When people are reading your Foursquare updates, they might know you love to stop into that fabulous Italian restaurant in your town, but do they know what else you do?

Start checking into your office – simple enough, you probably spend a fair bit of time there. But what about checking into subdivisions, listings, title companies, lenders’ offices, etc. Have you thought about all the time you spend in those businesses and locations? With a simple check-in (and add a “shout out” – a short bit of text talking about the place you’re at) you can make sure people remember what it is you do. Staying top of mind is a goal we all share, so why not do it – in a more subtle fashion than ever before.

Checking in to a lender’s? How about “Checking rates with Lender A” as a note? Heading over to the title company? You could say “Heading into a closing on 123 Fake Street. Client is so excited.” New neighborhood you’re investigating? “Have you seen Builder X’s new model homes? They’re gorgeous inside.” Now of course, this is in no way meant to replace all the other check-ins you might do – restaurants, salons, museums, parks, tourist attractions, doctors, stores, and shopping malls. These are an important part of your persona as well. People like to relate to people with common interests. A local friend of mine just noticed I checked in at a gas station across the street from his home. He was excited to see me check-in there as this connects us in a way we weren’t before.

So go ahead play games.

Since Foursquare check-ins literally take about 5 seconds (10 if you type slow), you won’t find yourself sucked into any sort of real time-waster and you might actually have a bit of fun. As well, you’ll be building a database of favorite local spots that you frequent – we all recommend businesses to our clients, there’s little difference to what you would do normally, except that Foursquare gives you a platform to do it on.

photo courtesy of roomjosh

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: CMP.ly 0

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    You are saying this is good for selling real estate?

  2. Matt Stigliano

    November 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Kevin – Based on your question, I’m going to guess you don’t.

  3. Julia Odom

    November 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    I kinda like the idea. Never tried foursquare but I have the feeling I’d like to be mayor (can you ever get to queen status?).

  4. CTR

    November 26, 2009 at 6:46 am

    I won’t argue that playing ‘games’ =’s good fun – but don’t you think that a highly rated personalised recommendation of your office/service gives you a lot more value & clout as a real estate agent than who has ‘checked-in’ where?

    Just because someone uses your client or office a lot (i.e. has ‘checked-in’), doesn’t mean that I can trust you or will enjoy your service! Location based services like ‘Rummble’ (rummble.com) that are all about providing users with reviews of places and location hook-ups they will like seem to solve this problem a lot better… & you may want to look into seeing if your office is reviewed on there or how to increase its traction on like-minded services?

    Just some food for thought from a fellow office-monger 🙂

  5. Matt Stigliano

    November 26, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Julia – I’ve never seen a queen, but who knows what they in store for the future. I like it because it encourages me to visit new places and engage with new people. It’s simple, fun, and although I can’t say it’s brought me a ton of business, I think it will have a subtle effect on people in the “top of mind awareness” category we all love so much. I spoke with several locals about it after posting this and they agree.

  6. Joe Spake

    November 26, 2009 at 9:36 am

    To quote the tweeting dad in the Verizon commercial: “I am sitting on the patio……”
    Foursquare is interesting and I got hooked in during the NAR convention, but I was also an avid BrightKite user when it started up, and I lost interest pretty quickly.
    The viral nature of Foursquare is amazing. Everyone wants to be my friend. Jeez, I hope none of them are stalkers.
    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  7. Ken Montville

    November 26, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Wow! Another part of social media to deal with. Posterous, Facebook,Twitter and on and on.

    Privacy on the web is an oxymoron anyway but aren’t there times you just want to sit at a Starbucks, have a latte, write a blog post and move on? If I’m at dinner with my wife at Applebee’s, do I really want to advertise to the world where I’m at and to come on by?

    Sure, I know it’s a choice. I don’t have to put down where I am or what I’m doing but like Acitve Rain and anything else that has points or any other goodie, my “inner competitor” comes out and wants to crush.

    The other side of this, is that it allows merchants and vendors of all kinds to track your habits and flood you with spam. Starbucks will be filling your e-mail InBox with the latest music give away or Egg Nog latte special, Applebees will be relentless in letting you know about their special du jour.

    Matt, if you need something like Foursquare to “accidentally” bump into a client there is something amiss.

    Oh. One more thing. What about that client (or non-client) that you would rather avoid for the rest of eternity?

    Just sayin’.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    November 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

    CTR – I don’t think Foursquare is some be all end all of things. The people I know are Foursquare are people I interact with on many other levels. Foursquare is not there to show anyone how “great” I am, but rather to show them that I am a real estate agent. There is no trust built by checking in anywhere – but there are connections made. People want to humanize their experiences with others on the internet and I think this is a great tool for doing just that. It’s the same thing with Twitter – if all I do is talk about real estate, eventually no one will listen. If I talk about life and interact with those around me, they do listen.

    Joe – I messed with BrightKite a bit as well, although I found it to be clunky and a bit of a mess when trying to use it. I also wasn’t as busy back then, so I had no real whereabouts to report. The viral nature of Foursquare definitely is a plus, I’ve “met” a few new locals since beginning to play with it. Knowing locals is what it’s all about for me. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

    Ken – Your opening line makes me wonder how you truly feel about social media. It almost sounds like you feel it’s a burden (I could be reading more into than there really is though). Privacy and me have a storied history together thanks to my time spent in a band. I’ve had my phone numbers posted on the internet, people show up at my door, and even fans call my family. Privacy on the internet doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned, no matter how much you try to hide, someone can find you. If I’m out and want to be left alone, I can be – I don’t need to tell anyone my whereabouts. Foursquare doesn’t force you to check-in, you have to make that decision on your own. Of course, if you find your inner competitor won’t allow you to skip that step, perhaps it’s not a good thing for you.

    I’m sure advertisers will find a way to use this data to their advantage although I’ve had no emails so far. We’ll see where that goes. Not really much different than surfing the web in my opinion though. Everyone’s trying to keep tabs on us these days. One of the interesting uses for businesses of Foursquare is giving the Mayor or even just those checking in specials. One of my local restaurants (an amazing beer emporium) will give the Mayor a free draft when they come in and show that they are indeed the Mayor. I’ve seen discounts and freebies and I think we’ll see this expand. The business know that the word of mouth (through check-ins) is good for them – why would we not think the same?

    I don’t need Foursquare to connect with my clients, but if it connects me one more time than usual, I see value there. As for people I want to avoid? Well, I try not to get in those situations, but if I really must avoid them, I probably wouldn’t be friends with them on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc. If they still found me somehow, I’d handle it politely and professionally.

  9. Bob Wilson

    November 27, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    There is another side to this, and it is perception as a professional, or lack thereof. I have a hard time believing that the top agent in ANY market is looking at Foursquare as part of their biz plan.

    I know about Foursquare, but I laugh when ever I see agents still playing it now that NAR is over.

    I have a question for you Matt. If most see Foursquare as a game (a safe assumption) and not as a biz strategy, is the value in the off chance of connecting once worth the risk of the negative perception of others who follow you?

    I guess I’m growing weary of all those who keep pushing sm as a biz model for selling real estate who are unable or unwilling to provide real numbers that demonstrate the value or ROI. Oh wait a minute. I forgot that you are not supposed to ask about ROI when it comes to SM.

  10. Matt Stigliano

    November 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Bob – So would you think less of me as an agent knowing that I am on Foursquare? If true, I find that incredibly strange. I’ve always been one that has a problem with the idea of “professionalism” and “perception” based on things of this nature though, so please understand – this is part of who I am and I don’t take offense to it, just don’t understand it.

    Your assumption of what people see Foursquare as (a game) is correct I would say. So let’s play with that assumption. When agents or even Lani and Benn tweet about College or Professional Football, do you think anyone gets a negative perception about them? It’s just a game. In fact, I hate football, yet I still read those tweets. Why? Because they’re people I’m interested in. Would I not follow someone because they mentioned they played the latest Call of Duty yesterday? The answer lies beyond the video game. Are they of value to me outside of Call of Duty? If the answer to that is yes, than I would.

    Professionalism shouldn’t be based on whether or not I like to play games. Professionalism should be based on the standards I uphold myself to and ways I practice real estate. Can I get the job done? That’s where professionalism comes from.

    As you can tell, I’m a bit passionate about the issue of perceived professionalism. If I wear a suit everyday am I any better than the guy in flip flops? Neither of those two things indicate the skill level. As a guy that spent all that time in a band, I know some people might cross me off their list because they’re not comfortable with it. That’s a reality I have no choice but to face head on. Some people will not like me or find value in me because of their perceptions of my professionalism. If they base everything on perception, I may just lose a few potential clients. I’m ok with that.

    The social media for real estate concept seems to be splitting into two camps these days. Those for and those against. It’s beginning to remind me a bit of our country’s political climate – Republican or Democrat. Those on one side seem to see the other side as misguided and foolish. The other side sees the same.

    That’s probably not a great thing for the industry, but I think it’s part of human nature. The whole ROI discussion? I’ve made my points on that several times on several sites. I don’t see how you can quantify it. I’d love to be able to, but I don’t think it’s possible. Of course, ROI can be a tricky thing in a lot of mediums if you ask me, as people might say “I saw your ad”, but what got them to pick up the phone? Perhaps it was the billboard they see everyday for the past 30 days with your smiling face. The billboard created the awareness, the ad just happened to be in front of them with your number on it. Which of those is giving you the true ROI? Obviously, I don’t have either (ad or billboard), but I used those to illustrate my point of my feelings on ROI. Not every case is like that, please don’t misunderstand me.

    Can social media be put through the grinder of ROI? I personally don’t know how. I’ve thought about it, but don’t have a solution. For the people who say (like you did above), that social media fans are “unable or unwilling to provide real numbers that demonstrate the value or ROI,” perhaps the solution is for someone to come up with one. Although the fans haven’t been great at coming up with an answer to that question, perhaps one of the naysayers has an idea. If so, I’ll certainly be all ears. Whoever does discover one will be hailed as a genius for years to come I’m sure.

    I know that the two clients I picked up off of Twitter were solidly thanks to Twitter. One, we talked about nothing but hockey once in awhile. One, we got into a conversation about their thoughts on buying a house. Total time of interaction on Twitter on each of them? Probably under five minutes, but let’s say ten. Two conversations, ten minutes in length (total of twenty minutes). Two clients for twenty minutes of my time focused on them? I’ll take that kind of ROI any day. Did they read other things I had sent out to Twitter? Probably, but that I can’t quantify without being able to read their minds and thought processes.

  11. Bob Wilson

    November 27, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    If you cant put a business strategy through the ROI grinder, then you have to examine the strategy. I know in real estate this is frequently over looked because you are your own boss and dont have to answer to any one, but in almost every other business environment, if you cant defend the strategy with results that can be measured, then either you or the strategy gets sacked.

    I wasnt arguing the merits of social media, just pointing out the flip side to your advice of why wasting time was good. Do I think less of you as an agent? Doesn’t matter what I think. The point is many will.form an opinion that may be construed as less than professional. It wont matter how well you do your job because they wont give you the opportunity. If you can afford to write off that business, fine, but that seems to run counter to the whole point of your post – random business generated by playing a game. Again, my point was you could lose more business than you generate. You are clearly good with that, but is seems like less than stellar business advice to me and more of a justification than advice based on experience.

    But hey, Im funny that way. I like proof.

  12. Steve Beam

    November 29, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Been using it for abut a month steady now. I’m burning out on it day by day. It is fun at times but other than that I see no real use for it.

  13. Fred Romano

    November 29, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Seriously Matt… This sounds childish. Want to game? get a PS3 or Wii and have a blast in front of your 52″ 1080p screen. There can’t be any realistic way to connect with buyers/sellers on this site you are writing about (never been there – not interested). Playing games won’t get the phone (or email) to ring.

    And I also have Benn on my Twitter, but I don’t read his tweets about football (which I hate too) because they don’t interest me.

  14. Dan Connolly

    November 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I have to say I agree with Bob. You will never know how many prospects you turn off with foursquare, and I would be willing to bet it could be a significant number. For one thing, telling the world that you are sitting in a coffee shop at 3:00 in the afternoon and are open to having someone drop in and chat, kind of implies that you aren’t very busy.

    When people get going with brightkite or blip on Twitter I unfollow. A little of it is okay but a constant stream of the music that they like, or little maps about where they are….I’m really not interested! Don’t have the time, it’s just becomes annoying noise.

  15. aMY L cavENDER

    November 30, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Matt – thanks for the explanation of what Four Square is. During NAR I kept getting constant tweets of where people were. I think, as with any form of SM, you can benefit from it. My take on SM is it’s a way for people to get to know you. If foursquare is something you enjoy, keep it up.

    There are people that always tweet about rates, or property values. I don’t pay much attention to those. I pay more attention to the “going to the CSU game this weekend” or stuff like that. I have met many people IRL from Twitter and love seeing what people are doing. There are many successful people on Twitter who tweet about what they had for lunch. To me, it doesn’t make me question their professionalism – it makes me like them more.

    I have a time suck on FB called Farmville – yes, it’s annoying and time consuming, but guess what – most of my “neighbors” are past clients of mine. To me, it shows them I’m human. I don’t think it takes away from my professionalism or my ability to get their loan done.

    Someone said it best – SM – you either get it and like it, or you don’t…

  16. Matt Stigliano

    November 30, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Bob – I know what you’re saying about ROI, but what I’m getting at is that maybe it’s time to take a different look at ROI. Not every peg is square. Sometimes, you need to figure out what to do with the round ones.

    As to whether it matters what you think or not, I say it does. You can’t play devil’s advocate and then just up and quit. Believe me, I’m enjoying your thoughts on this even though we don’t see eye to eye.

    I also find it interesting that you live and breath ROI, but can say “many will form an opinion that may be construed as less than professional” – it seems as though you want empirical evidence on one hand, but not on the other. Perhaps there are many out there in San Antonio that have seen I am on Foursquare and suddenly don’t want to work with me. I don’t know that, but I am willing to accept the possibility. I’m also willing to accept the possibility that the people I do connect with through that remember me better than most agents, because we have a connection – whether through a “game” or otherwise.

    And of course, if it ever does become something that I can give you solid proof on, you know I’ll be calling you first. For a long time, I doubted Twitter was ever going to bring me business, but because it has, I have a different view of it now.

    Fred – I hate to be a little offended, but c’mon, that’s a little condescending don’t you think? Especially since you don’t know what it is (“never been there – not interested“). Twitter wasn’t viewed very highly at first as I recall. If you read the article a bit deeper, you’ll see that I think it’s more than a game (wish I had never used that word, as it appears that that and “wasting your time” have been taken quite seriously).

    And if I do sit around occasionally and waste a bit of time playing some video games, does that make me less of a Realtor®? I’m actually shocked at the reaction. I do like video games (but don’t own any for the record, just in case a video-game hating client is out there) – I grew up in the age of video games. I also like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and listen to music a lot of you would hate. But the fact remains the same, I’m still who I am and do what I do…and do it very well.

    Some people like football, some like to hike in the mountains, some collect baseball cards, some love horror movies – should we stop liking these things (or hide them in the closet) because we’re so afraid of the consumer and what they might think?

    My point about Benn and football wasn’t whether anyone read them, it was directed to Bob’s indication that if someone read about me and Foursquare, they might think differently of me. Because I dislike football, should I dislike Benn and Lani? No, of course not. I love those two and I hate when they talk football (mainly because I have no freaking clue what they’re going on about).

    Dan – Working in a coffee shop is not a crime. Nor is working in the office. What’s the difference between being in the office at 3 PM and Starbucks? I’ve got everything I need in both. In fact, I could be sitting at home doing work too. Sometimes I work on my phone as well, which means I could be literally anywhere. With a career as a real estate agent, I am not bound to a desk (one of the things I love about it) and I’m also not bound to 9 to 5 (one of the other things I love about it). I can work late at night, early in the morning (sometimes I’m up at 4 AM), or during regular business hours. I work when my clients need me and I work when they’re asleep. Somedays I work in a nice professional outfit and right now (well I just did it) I’m sending emails to clients and I look like hell (I’ve been at the doctors half the day, what do you expect?).

    *****

    My point is that the concept of “wasting time” and “game” seem to be the sticking points here and yet my points are exactly the opposite. “Wasting time” is about a minute of my day total (and that’s if I stop into a bunch of places on a busy day). A “game” is a social connection that I don’t view as a game, but as a way of creating top of mind awareness. Ask some of my local Twitter followers and Foursquare friends what I do for a living – bet you they’ll know – even if we’ve never discussed real estate. That’s what I’m after.

  17. Matt Stigliano

    November 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Amy – You said it best with “it shows them I’m human.” That’s how I feel about social media in general. I’m not a robotic selling machine that only wants to talk about real estate. I do love to talk about it and help people buy and sell it, but there’s more to me than housing stats and CMAs. It’s the little things that connect me with people…which in turn allows me to show them what I can as a real estate agent.

    I was quoted in an article today in the North Bay Business Journal and I think it sums it up nicely:

    Mr. Stigliano agreed. “Twitter has been useful to me,” he said. “I try not to make it too much about real estate, just get to know the locals and have them know me.

  18. aMY L cavENDER

    November 30, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Matt – I think another thing about SM is people are so scared out there right now, the constant negative statistics and “the world is going to end” – bringing out our “humaness” might just help people feel more comfortable dealing with professionals they have had a chance to meet on a different level.

    I have a “friend” on FB that honestly I don’t know. I’ve had the discussion with people about why would you allow someone that you don’t know…guess what, she emailed me on FB last night, apologized that she emailed me on FB but would love to talk about buying a house.

    There are so many different ways to market or brand yourself – one way is not going to be right for everyone. I have defended myself on my twittering and Facebooking for over a year now. ROI – I have successfully closed 2 loans via Twitter and people on FB and Twitter know what I do for a living. If aMY L cavENDER isn’t obvious enough. 🙂 Our local weatherman even tweeted me to refinance his house. I could keep going but will save it for another day.

  19. Jeff Turner

    December 1, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Bob, first, I want to say that I am not a Foursquare fan. Mainly because a few people I know cheat. They know who they are. So, I’m not even going to begin to argue the merit or lack of merit to investing time in Foursquare.

    That said, I always find it funny when someone says, “Oh, we’re not supposed to talk about ROI with social media.” I’m not sure who made that rule, but I’m thinking it was somebody who doesn’t understand the nuances of marketing ROI or what should be measured in the first place.

    The problem I see with this discussion is that the product real estate agents sell is not an impulse buy and the decision to use one agent over another is not a low consideration decision. If they were, we could focus on conversion alone and be done. But they’re not. So, the focus on conversion to the exclusion of all other objectives is simply wrong. In real estate, the conversion is proceeded by multiple touch points of exposure. Advertising, email, a phone call (what is the ROI on your phone, btw), social media, etc. Each exposure, each touch point, plays a significant role in getting the customer from awareness of the “product”, whether that’s a house or an agent, to the intention to “buy.”

    The key to evaluating the merit of any tool is understanding where that tool fits in the acquisition, persuasion and conversion cycle. Focusing on conversion alone will simply result in a lack of investment in acquisition- or persuasion-oriented initiatives. Just as a unbalanced focus on acquisition initiatives will result in a lack of investment in conversion tools and behaviors.

    Marry that with the absence of a clear marketing goal and poor to no analytics and you have a recipe for disaster.

  20. Bob Wilson

    December 1, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Matt, I dont understand the argument you are making. You started off by saying that playing foursquare could result in generating random business. I made the point that it is just as likely that it could turn some potential clients off – a zero sum game not counting the time suck.

    Twice you have come back and said that you are fine with the prospect of losing business as as result. Doesn’t that make my point?

    If you have so much business that you can afford to risk the loss of some for the hope of those who may never be, then I guess it doesn’t matter. But as sage business advise, I disagree that this is a good idea, which the title suggests.

  21. Matt Stigliano

    December 2, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Bob – I have no choice but to be fine with the idea of some prospective clients liking me. I’m a realist, not everyone is going to think I’m the one for them. I was talking specifically about my time in the band in the one mention:

    Some people will not like me or find value in me because of their perceptions of my professionalism. If they base everything on perception, I may just lose a few potential clients. I’m ok with that.

    I am ok with that. Why? It sounds a bit crazy, right? I don’t think so. The fact is not everyone will think I’m _____________ (fill in the word). If I attempted to perfect myself in order to be acceptable to all people, I’d wind up having to be too many things at once. I really don’t think anyone can think they’re not putting someone off in some way.

    People are passionate about different things. When we’re passionate about things, we’re bound to turn someone off with what we like.

    My point was not that I don’t want the business, my point was that I can’t be all things to all people. I will lose clients because of this or that from time to time. I’m ok with that. I will do everything in my power to to open myself up to a potential client to allow them to make their decisions, but I won’t apologize for who I am in order to get their business. I wouldn’t expect them to do the same for me either.

    Perhaps if we could quantify how many people I am “losing” I could see things from your point of view, but from where I sit, I just can’t see it the same way.

  22. Matt Stigliano

    December 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Sorry, first line should have read “I have no choice but to be fine with the idea of some prospective clients not liking me.

  23. James Malanowski

    December 2, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    I’m cross-posting this comment I put up on Jeff’s Zeek blog since the subject started here and will not be seen by others participating in the conversation …

    Some things are just social.

    I think that says it all right there. I’m more than just a real estate broker. I don’t have an “online persona” that is separate from myself. I am who I am, and if I want to play games in my free time, then damn it I’m gonna. I cant help it if a potential client doesn’t agree with how I spend my time. In fact, it’s probably better if I lose that client because we probably won’t get along anyway.

    ROI is needed for something that is a pure investment in your business – if it ain’t working, then stop dumping your money/time into it and move on. Social Media is such a broad world that there is no way you can measure the ROI for each individual BS little thing that you may be doing. I find most RE sales people are splitting their time on SM between the personal and professional (ie: being social for a time and then blasting out tweets on their new listing or updated market stats). Unless you separate your focus between accounts specifically for work or fun you really can’t have an accurate measure.

    To me, the whole point of SM is the interaction with people (both personal and professional) and, hopefully, the gain in mind-share. I can easily calc the ROI on a post card campaign, or a specific website designed and funded to draw clients in but when someone says “I was looking for a local agent and you’re all over the internet” that is priceless.

    Google never forgets … I’ve googled my name and came up with comments I left on message boards 10 years ago that had nothing to do with business. If a client asks me for a resume or more info about me I’ll point them to Google and they can find out a lot more than I may even remember myself.

    Jeez, if I was worried about the ROI of everything I did I probably wouldn’t even get out of bed. Be yourself, have fun, clients will come. Measure what is measurable and what deserves to be measured … but remember, some things are just social. (I love that!) 🙂

  24. Ari Herzog

    December 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    May i ask you a question from someone who’s a foursquare mayor of several places and is considered a “superuser” in the application developer’s words? What’s your take on broadcasting Foursquare checkins to Facebook and Twitter? I don’t send it to FB but go back and forth on sending to TW; your thoughts?

  25. Matt Stigliano

    December 21, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    James – I thought I had left a comment back to you, but apparently not. Perhaps AgentGenius ate it because it was hungry that morning. Anyway, I like your take on it – social is an important aspect of all of these new toys and tools. I disagree with people who think that you can’t build social connections through the internet as I have and will continue to do so. I will also continue to take them offline. Jeff’s a great example. I had nothing but the ultimate respect for him and thought of him as someone I would turn to when I had a question. The night I met him in real life, it was like we had known each other for years. We built that on the idea of social media as a connector. Had I just met him that night, we may have just said hello and done nothing more. Instead, every chance I had to chat with him, we found ourselves engaging in conversations – some that were continuations of things we had discussed before online.

    Ari – I selectively broadcast to Twitter. I make a determination each time I check in somewhere. Some places I won’t broadcast because I don’t think any cares. Some places I know some people won’t care about, but others will. Some are purely for strategic reasons (checking into neighborhoods when I’m previewing homes, checking into to real estate rated places, the office, etc.).

  26. Mike Mueller

    March 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I’m not a FourSquare user but I love the idea.
    It’s another breadcrumb…

    Talking to Ken Cook on the radio show yesterday he mentioned that he had a great 4sq success story. He had been using it here and there. As usual he checked into his office. “ABC Mortgage” – it took seconds to do (as you mention) He then received a message from someone on 4sq that had no previous engagement with him – they stated they had a few mortgage questions and was he free?

    Mind you he had a profile, he had his links, but it wasn’t as if he was Pimping “Come see Ken Cook for all your Mortgage Needs!”. Instead he now had a warm introduction to a potential client who followed the breadcrumbs.

    * Breadcrumbs are everywhere. When you all commented on this blog most all of you added the info into the “Website” box. I’m never amazed at how many people follow that link back. Hooray for Breadcrumbs!

  27. Steve Mattison

    March 4, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Matt, you are sharing and handling the questions very professionally. You do come across SM as a real person and following people like Mike Mueller, Jeff Turner, Ken Cook and you among many others, has taught me how to get google juice and thereby clients in a way I could have never dreamed of on my own, thanks and keep up the brave blogging!!!

  28. Matt Stigliano

    August 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Was looking for this article to reference for something new I'm writing and wound up reading through all the comments. This was written almost two years ago – things change over time. Crazy.

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Social Media

This non-judgmental app can help you switch to a plant-based diet

(SOCIAL MEDIA) There are many reasons people choose plant-based diets. If you’re looking to try it out, this app helps you stay on track.

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No Meat Today, a judgement-free plant-based diet tracking app.

The interest in plant-based proteins continues to grow. Healthline suggests that Americans are shifting toward plant-based meat substitutes because of shortages in the grocery store due to the pandemic, but there are many reasons to make the switch.

Plant-based proteins are considered more sustainable than traditional meat. Nutritionally, plant-based meat alternatives are often healthier. Regardless of the reason, if you’re one of the many Americans who are changing your diet, there’s a new app that can help you stay on track without making you feel judged if or when you do eat meat.

Your companion to eating less meat

No Meat Today is an app available in the App Store. You can get on a waitlist in Google Play. It’s a fun app that asks you, “Did you eat meat today?” You can even define what meat means to you, red meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs and/or dairy. As you eat less meat, your “planet” attracts cows. The design is simple, “don’t eat meat, get a cow.” If you eat too much meat, your cows go away. There’s no judgement if you lose a cow.

The creator, Arnaud Joubay says, “I’m not here to tell anyone what they should do, only to offer a friendly app to those who want to do the same.” It’s recommended to look back at your history to decide whether you want to eat meat or not.

Reviews

The app was just released earlier this year. Most of its features are free, but you can pay $4.99 for all the features for one year. There have been some very cute cows released for special days. In the App Store, reviews are positive, but the caveat is that the creator asks you to contact him first if you if your review isn’t 5-stars. It’s a cute app that can motivate you to eat less meat.

Here’s the link to the product page.

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Social Media

Twitter insights to engage more customers this holiday season

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter wants to help you prep your marketing for the first COVID holiday season by sharing findings on what customers care about.

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Man on laptop open to Twitter, considering his holiday shopping with Christmas tree behind him.

The year 2020 has been a year like no other. None of us expected to be confined to the inside of our homes, but here we are. And now, more than ever, the holiday season is something most of us are looking forward to, even if we have to spend it apart. And social media like Twitter will be a key part of that.

So, to get a sense of what consumers expect this holiday season, Twitter UK has shared some insights to help brands better strategize on their holiday campaigns. Twitter’s official partner, Brandwatch, analyzed tweets from March to September to find out “people’s opinions and biggest concerns.” Here are Twitter’s findings.

Compared to previous years, people have already started asking for and have begun giving gift ideas and recommendations to each other. According to the data, mentions of Christmas started to increase in March. Between March 1 and September 30, there was a 10% increase in mentions compared to last year. So, brands should definitely start kicking off their marketing campaigns sooner than later.

The pandemic has undoubtedly influenced how we spend our money and has altered how we are able to have family time. According to the Brandwatch Twitter data, 59k people are discussing how family gatherings will be impacted by it. So, brands should be mindful of this, and incorporate messaging that reaches out to everyone. Messaging that makes family and friends feel connected, even if they are spending the holidays alone.

Another thing to consider is combining your efforts with local businesses. Making purchases from small and independent businesses is something that has been heavily highlighted since the beginning of the pandemic. With Christmas drawing near, this couldn’t be more important in people’s minds. Twitter has seen a substantial jump in people saying they will be holiday shopping locally. By partnering with a local business, both small and large companies can benefit from sales.

Also, health and safety were and still are at the top of everyone’s minds. A lot of people on Twitter are saying they will do all their shopping early. This will help them avoid the large crowds of last-minute shoppers.

As a result, companies should start preparing themselves to receive early shoppers. Part of preparing is making sure all health and safety measures are in place. Brands should follow all CDC guidelines and make sure they continue to be transparent with customers. Sending out a simple safety message through social media or email will go a long way.

These insights from Twitter are specific to the UK, but should still be considered. No one knew we’d still be where we are now. However, the holiday season is still something people are excited about. And, brands can take these insights to help maximize sales.

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Social Media

10 Snapchat Ad tips to increase engagement for holiday shopping season

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As holiday shopping draws near, Snapchat offers helpful tips to help business owners make use of their advertising and branding tools.

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Woman holding phone open to Snapchat chat window, casually dressed with journal and coffee nearby.

The holidays are basically here, and Snapchat wants to make sure you get the most out of your Snap promotions. The company recently released its “Snapchat Ads Best Practices: 10 Tips to Help Increase Ad Engagement” post. With these pointers and advertising best practices, Snap hopes to help companies “build visually appealing ads that drive quality engagement and high return on investment for your business.”

So, let’s get into the tips!

1. Choose the right ad format for your goals
With a lot of advertising options, Snap says you need to select the right ad type that will better align with and help you meet your business goals.

2. Showcase your product front and center in your ad creative
Displaying a fullscreen video or image of your product will encourage a viewer to want to engage more. As a result, it is good to include a ‘hero’ message at the beginning that has all relevant information, such as offers and specials.

For eCommerce purposes, products should be featured “front and center to drive purchase intent.” For apps and games, include the app’s UI, features, and benefits in the ad. Meanwhile, local businesses should highlight the services or products their business specializes in.

And, always remember to make sure your creative meets Snapchat’s ad specs so your ad can be displayed flawlessly.

3. Make your ads feel native to Snapchat
No one likes intrusive ads that scream at your face telling you to buy a certain product or service. To prevent this from happening, Snap says your ads should “mirror the bite-sized and linear storytelling of Snaps” already on the platform. These non-intrusive ads should be kept short at around 5-6 seconds. And, Snap says these more “conversational ads” get viewed more fully than polished ads do.

4. Drive urgency with relevant messaging
Don’t overcomplicate the message. This will just get people to swipe away. Instead, make sure relevant information is at the beginning and is easy to understand. Placing your messaging within the first 2 seconds is preferable.

5. Design for sound on
Despite what you might think, silence isn’t better. Snap says that about 64% of Snapchat ads have the sound turned on. And, an effective way of including sound in your creative is by using a customer testimonial. Spoken testimonials help viewers understand and better relate to the brand or product.

6. Link your ads properly
Make sure users are being directed to where you want them to go. You don’t want them clicking on a broken link. Or worse, someone else’s content. The right link is crucial for impressions and conversions. Here are Snap’s recommended “attachment types depending on advertiser goal.”

  • Drive online sales by using Web View Attachments. These pages instantly load for the user and are available in Snap Ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.
  • Drive app installs by using App Install Attachments. Snapchatters will be able to swipe and download your app. Using ‘Install Now’ or ‘Download’ as a CTA, Snap says you will have strong conversion rates.
  • Drive app engagement/app visits by using Deep Links. These links will bring existing users back to your app. At the same time, any new users will be directed to the app store to install the app. Deep Links can be added to Single Image or Video ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.

7. Test ad creative and try new ad formats
Testing something is a pretty good idea when it comes to anything. Snap emphasizes this, and says testing can give you “insight into what content resonates most with your target audience.” They recommended testing your ad creative for about 2-4 weeks using different formats. After you’ve gathered enough information, you can determine the winning format that is best for you.

8. Use goal-based bidding to bid towards your desired action

  • Goal-based bidding “allows you to optimize towards a specific action that a Snapchatter is most likely to take, such as installing your app, watching a video, or completing a purchase.”
  • Snap has several bidding strategies, and it recommends using Target Cost Bidding.

9. Broaden your targeting
After you’ve been running your ads for at least a couple of weeks, Snap says to consider broadening your target audience. Snapchat has several different targeting options. Some of the categories you can expand on are geo, gender, age ranges, and languages. Expanding your audience will allow you to get more impressions.

10. Understand your audience reach to optimize
Finally, make use of Snap’s Audience Insights. These insights provide Snapchat with data like demographics, interests, locations, and devices overview. By knowing this information, you can better understand your audience and create content that is tailored to them. Content that will ultimately maximize your advertising efforts.

Overall, Snapchat understands that “mobile advertising is a key component to any digital marketing strategy.” By offering us these tips, they are reminding us of some things we already know, and telling us how they can help us achieve our advertising goals.

With the holidays around the corner, Snapchat says they can help you reach a large and engaged audience for just $5 a day with their offerings. So, what do you think of Snapchat’s tips?

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