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Some Old Rules Still Apply

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It doesn’t take much reading here on Agent Genius, or on other web sites aimed at real estate professionals to notice that our world has changed a bit in the last few years.

There are new “web 2.0” ways to market our listings and ourselves. One big difference between internet marketing and more traditional marketing is that internet marketing is less expensive.

I think by removing cost barriers some new problems are cropping up that no one is talking about. In the past an agent would buy a marketing program and use it. We could spend thousands on it, but before deciding to make an expensive purchase we would do a little research. After we made the purchase we would track the results. Smart agents will stop using products where there is expense and little or no ROI.

Many of the products we use on the internet today are free, or inexpensive. We write blogs, and join social networks, and use electronic flyer’s and web sites. Once the cost barrier is removed there really isn’t any reason not to experiment with every gadget, doodad and web site that comes along. (I know I do – when I have time)

The problem is, the social networks and blogs can be very time consuming, taking time away from revenue generating activities. They can also steal valuable family and personal time. That is the true cost of our newer marketing techniques.

We need to treat social media and internet marketing sites the same way we used to treat expensive marketing programs. Do some research, test the product and measure the results. If the results are not there it is time to move on.

Just because we can join social networks, start blogs and use some really cool internet based programs does not mean that we should. Keeping up with what is going on and even learning how to use new technology is a great idea, but spending hours each day on the internet “keeping up” might not be the best use of our most valuable and expensive resource, time.

Looking at “must join” networks like Active Rain, I see people spending hours online writing and commenting. Out of close to 60,000 members there have been some success stories. The success stories are quickly turned into “featured posts” so that everyone sees them. They write the same posts over and over again, and they get featured over and over again. That is what keeps the network going and growing.

The people who have not been successful, which is a much larger group than those who have had successes, either go away, or stay on and assume that success will come soon. Either way we don’t hear much from them or about them.

Not everyone has the same success with blogs or social networks. Not all social networks are equal and writing blog posts is not for everyone. My point is we should not be afraid to experiment and learn, but we should also keep track of how much time we are spending on the free internet services and hold ourselves accountable for measurable results. If the results are not there it is time to move on.

The neat new watchamacallit that one of our blogging buddies just wrote a glowing review of may have little or no value when it comes to building a business. Some products don’t have any practical application for real estate practitioners for revenue or lead generation.

Failure on the internet can be expensive, even when the programs are free.

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. joe Peffer

    November 26, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Well Said Teresa. It is soooo easy to lose your entire work day with this new gadget or that blog post or last week’s Carnival. ROI is a tough nut and it mostly involves live follow up to make all the tech work.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to use potential tools like twitter and utterz for client building.

  2. Chris Lengquist

    November 27, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    An excellent post. Discussing AR you are probably about 99% right. I have really, conciously dialed down my participation on AR not because of a lack of success, but just the opposite.

    My other blog keeps me busy. Both from a logistical and a money in my pocket point of view. And money in my pocket is what it’s all about.

    On AR I found that points was the driving force for a great many people and that just didn’t interest me. So I stop in now and again. But really only to say “hi” to those I got to know.

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Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.

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Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.

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Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.

Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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