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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

Twitter branches out into voice chat – what could go wrong?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) We’re learning more about Twitter’s forthcoming audio chat rooms, but what is Twitter learning about moderation?

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Twitter open on a smartphone on table next to a cup of warm brown tea.

Twitter wants you to talk more with more people. Like, actually form words. With your mouth.

In November 2020, the micro-blogging giant announced it’s testing its new Audio Spaces feature, which allows users to create audio-only chat rooms – making it what Wired calls a copycat of the new and buzzy Clubhouse app.

Twitter itself hasn’t released many details, but tech blogger/app-feature detective Jane Manchun Wong has been tweeting some of the deets.

How it works

Here’s what we know about the private beta version, according to Wong: Users create a chat room and can control who is admitted to the group, whether it’s the public, followers, or followees. Group size is currently limited to 10. Members can react with a set set of emojis: “100,” raised hand, fist, peace sign, and waving hand. Spaces conversations are not recorded, but they are transcribed for accessibility. It uses Periscope on the back end.

One thing that’s not clear: The actual name. Twitter’s announcements have been calling it Audio Spaces, but the product’s handle is @TwitterSpaces.

It’s Twitter! What could go wrong?

The big gorilla in the chat room is moderation – as in, how do you keep humans from being terrible on Twitter?

We can all be forgiven for skepticism when it comes to Twitter’s aim to keep Audio Spaces safe(ish). Twitter can be a toxic stew of personal insults and even threats. Interestingly, Twitter is starting its test by inviting users who are often targets: Women and people from marginalized groups. Great idea! Who better to help craft community guidelines?

Requiring platforms to shut down hate speech and violent threats is having a moment, and Clubhouse is already in the controversy mix. Even as invite-only, the app has had some high-profile failures to moderate with threats toward a New York Times reporter and a problem anti-semitic conversation. It seems likely Twitter is paying attention.

Also on the safe(ish) side: The space creator is all powerful and can mute or kick out bad actors. Spaces can also be reported. Then there’s the transcription, which sets Audio Spaces apart from similar apps. Chat transcription was aimed at accessibility but, TechCrunch suggests that might help keep things civil and appropriate if people know their words are being written down. Hmm. Maybe?

Also… Why?

It doesn’t appear that there was a groundswell of demand from users, but Audio Spaces at least is something different from the feature pile-on making the social media big dogs start to look the same, as in Twitter’s also-new Fleets, Instagram’s and Facebook’s Stories, Snapchat’s… Snapchat. (See also Instagram’s Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight, TikTok’s… TikTok.)

Clubhouse does appear to be hugely popular in Silicon Valley – and it has the investment capital to show it – so maybe there’s something to this audio-only chat thing. But we’ve already seen pandemic-fueled Zoom-happy-hour-fatigue, as users have gotten frustrated with too many people talking at the same time. Video chat can give users at least a few more clues about who is talking and who might be about to talk. Audio-only chat seems like it could quickly devolve into a chaotic cacophony.

But, Twitter says, conversation will flow naturally, and it advises users to “be present.”

“Just like in real life, the magic is in the moment,” it says.

It’s beta testers will surely have a lot to say about “magic” and “moderation.”

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Social Media

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.

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Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Social Media

Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.

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Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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