Social Media

Is social media a tool in your toolbox, or is it your brand?

Google+ is being shut down on April 2, 2019.

And I know what you’re thinking: What in the hell is Google+ ?

a screenclip from support.google.com showing the end is near for Google+

All kidding aside, Google launched Google+ in 2011 as a competitor to Facebook and Twitter, and by seamlessly integrating with Google Photos (a la Instagram), Hangouts, and Youtube, there was reason to believe Google could become the online monopoly.

Hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to see this didn’t work out so well for the big G. But at the time, the interface was excellent - so much so that the people who used it loved it. And it had the full backing of Daddy Google.

Use the Big Free Tools, Man

Back in 2011 and 2012, there were tons of articles extolling the benefits of Google+, many of which recommend using G+ as your only online presence. After all, they would write, not only is the platform capable of hosting everything you’re already doing - you get Google’s tech support and priority placement in search results.

Oops.

Imagine your online presence today if you spent a couple-few years building a tribe (including lots and lots of created content), only to have that platform - and all your content - deleted from the internet.

It can happen to anyone

Is Facebook going to be around forever? Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest? What about Amazon? Etsy?

It’s difficult to think about some of these massive companies going away. And they probably aren’t. But what about this…

  • Any company can change their guidelines, platform, indexing results, bandwidth limitations, or whatever - at anytime. And you won’t get a say in it.

  • What happens if your account gets banned, blocked, or accidentally deleted?

  • What if you want to move your brand to a different platform - newer, younger, better with video or photos, smaller, larger … whatever.

Build your own Brand

Use every tool available to help spread the word. Stay in front of your tribe where your tribe congregates. Yes - that all makes perfect sense. But…

Own your own content.

Build your own website.

Host your own blog, videos, podcasts.

And then link out to any social media platform you want. Or all of them!

Just don’t build your entire brand around being dependent on them.

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- Chris Butterworth

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A monthly e-Newsletter is a great way to stay in front of your sphere of influence without using social media at all - it’s a great way to build your brand without being dependent on the giants. 8DollarFarming offers a full-featured turn-key eNewsletter service at an affordable price - check it out and let me know how I can help..!

 

The World is Changing Fast

Each week there's a next-new thing. Another social media network. An update to your phone. Photos are auto-tagged with facial recognition. New features to learn in ARMLS. A new app wants to be your lead source.

Do you have to learn it all? Are you going to be left behind if you don't?

B 180621 - pathway.jpg
 

Let's slow down for a minute and take a deep breath.

June Reflections

June, for me, is a month of reflection. It's my birthday month - a time to take stock in where I've been and where I'm going. It's Father's Day month - when I think about the impact my Dad had on me and the impact I'm having on my kids. And it's my Dad's birthday month - he passed away a few years ago, and I still think of him often, especially in June...

What Really Matters

Let's be honest: does it really matter what platform you use to stay in touch? Will you lose a relationship because you tweet a snap from instabook instead of some other connected app?

One of the things my Dad did really well was the way he talked with people. He talked with everyone, but he rarely talked about himself - sort of Dale Carnegie style, although I don't think he ever read that book, it was just his way. He was the exact opposite of a "self promoter."

Dad was friendly and respectful to everyone, although he wasn't a natural extrovert. And he was genuinely interested in hearing how you were doing. (Genuine being the key word there.)

The thing is - even though he didn't talk much about himself, he was really well liked.

The World Isn't Changing at all

Technology is getting faster. Google and Amazon know what you want before you do. People's attention spans are getting shorter.

But they're still people.

And people like others who treat them well. Who respect them. Who are friendly towards them. And who are interested in them. It's the same as it was 30 years ago (and 30 years before that.)

Take the time to build genuine relationships, and you won't have to shout-chat faster and louder than the others bragging about themselves - your people will come to you because they know you'll take care of them.

- Chris Butterworth


Ps - One way to stay in touch with your sphere of influence is to send out a monthly eNewsletter. (or twice-monthly!) If this sounds like a good idea but you aren't sure how or you don't have the time, I'd love to help - hit reply and let's talk!

 

OPGS - Staying True to Your Audience

Other Peoples' Good Stuff (OPGS)

I read a lot of online content; this is some of the best stuff I've read this month. It's the stuff that's thought-provoking and worth sharing, even though it might not tie exactly into this blog's normal themes.

 

image credit - flickr clement127

 

 

ESPN Firing Over a Hundred Employees

This article was published last spring, but I've kept it around because I think the story matters.

ESPN added social/political commentary to many of their stories and shows over the course of the last few years, thinking that it was what people wanted. Unfortunately for them, it wasn't.

First of all, their audience wanted to come home from a long day's work and watch a game, simple as that. They didn't want to hear a social commentary about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee. (and secondly, at least half of those who didn't mind hearing the opinions didn't agree with those opinions!)

In the end, ESPN let a vocal minority of social warriers (ie: a few twitter users and those with a cause) dictate their programming, rather than staying true to their primary audience.

 

In search of the minimum variable audience

From Seth Godin's blog. Seth reminds that when we try to please everyone, we rarely please anyone. He advises:

The solution is simple but counterintuitive: Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it's the simplest way to matter.
When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.
And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.

Do you really need to advertise to everyone who might be searching for homes online? Why not choose to have a major impact on / influence over the few hundred people who already know and trust you?

 

Why social media failed

I get a weekly email from Chris Brogan, and it's usually one of the more thoughtful pieces I read each week. Unfortunately I can't link to this email online, because it's only an email and not a webpage. I'm going to link to Chris's site, and I encourage you to subscribe to his weekly email.

Chris wrote a couple months ago about social media, and why it isn't what it's cracked up to be. I'm going to over-simplify below:

3 Parts to Social Media

1.) Volume wins?

The social media companies need volume, and early users benefited from having lots of volume and lots of clicks/likes. Unfortunately, this changed over time to "fill volume by churning out lots of blather and drivel," and quantity exploded while quality became hard to find.

2.) Revenue wins?

The social media companies are trying to make money, so they tuned their models to maximize revenue. This means content providers have to pay to be seen in most cases. "Content is king" is a quaint concept from a long ago time.

3.) Communication wins!

We've been told there's value in producing tons of content. There isn't.

We've been told to post daily, to use clickable headlines, to add a great image, and to write lists. Stop it.

Social media is just a bunch of software. Storytelling is a core human endeavor. Tell great stories that resonate with the people who matter to you (and to whom you matter to them!)

If you aren't making money from social media (or good connections which later become money), why are you so driven by it? Get back to more social and less media, and watch your income grow.


Staying true to your audience is a big deal - big enough that plenty of experts our there are noticing. But it's harder than ever to do, mostly because there are so many distractions and so many "how-to" articles which forget to mention this simple concept.

Stay true to your audience, and stay connected with them. And if you want help staying connected, give me a shout - I'm pretty good at it!

- Chris Butterworth

What your email address says about you - part 3

Part 3 - The Hidden Meaning

Several years ago my business partner received an email from an out of state buyer - a doctor moving to the Phoenix area who wanted help finding a home. His email address was:

drevilleroy@whatever.com

image credit - flickr clement127

 

I caught his name immediately: Dr Evil Leroy.

I thought it was hilarious, and wondered if Dr Leroy was a huge Austin Powers fan. (If he was, we were going to have a lot of fun looking at houses together!)

It turned out his name was Dr Andre Villeroy, and his email address was supposedly Dre Villeroy, not Dr Evil Leroy.

But first impressions are hard to shake, and I still think of him as Dr Evil Leroy today.

You be the judge:

  • drevilleroy
  • dre villeroy
  • dr evil leroy

Hidden names are more common than you think

Hidden meanings don't just happen to unsuspecting doctors. Here are some actual companies' websites which are active as of today:

  • www.whorepresents.com - this site shows which talent agents represent which talent (who represents). It's not a gift site for women who sleep around - get your mind out of the gutter!
  • www.ladrape.com - this is the website of a French bedspread designer, La Drape. What did you think they did?
  • www.speedofart.com - I think this is a portfolio site for an artist (speed of art), but I can't stop seeing pictures of bubbles in the olympic swimming pool.

There are scores of other examples floating around the web showing hidden meaning hashtags and website names.

Your email address is your Ambassador of First Impressions. It tells a story; it lets people know who you are before they ever meet you. The local part (part 1 of this series), the email domain (part 2 of this series), and any confusing or misleading phrases - they all work together to make that first impression.

What does your email address say about you? If it doesn't tell the right story, you might want to consider making a change.

- Chris Butterworth

What your email address says about you - part 2

Part 2 - Email Domain (the second part, after the @)

Last time we talked about the first part of your email address. This time let's take a look at what impact the second part of your email address can have on your clients' first impressions.

image credit - flickr clement127

 

Fair or not, many people make assumptions about you (including your technical and communication abilities) based solely on your email's domain. Since most email domains fall into a few different categories, it's easy to separate them out for comparison:

1.) Your Own Domain -

This is where your email domain typically matches your own website.

  • @8dollarfarming.com
  • @thephoenixagents.com
  • @butterhomes.com
  • @chrisbutterworth.com

These people are professionals. They may or may not be tech-geniuses, but they run a serious business. They have their stuff together, and know what they're doing.

2.) Company Provided Domain -

This is where your email address matches your company's name and/or website.

  • @danschwartzrealty.com
  • @thompsonsrealty.com
  • @realtyonegroup.com

The vast majority of people won't bat an eye. You're a real estate professional working for a real estate company and have a real estate company's email domain - nothing unusual there.

A small percentage of people, however, may wonder why you would want to tie your email address to the company, thus making it much more difficult to move in the future. Does this maybe give a sense that your aspirations aren't as high as some other Realtors'? And maybe, if you're content to simply "work for the real estate company", you aren't going to work as hard as somebody who is working for himself?

3.) Cable Providers -

These are the email addresses the cable companies give you when you pay for internet access each month.

  • @cox.net
  • @comcast.com
  • @centurylink.net
  • @qwest.net

These email domains give off a less tech-savvy vibe, both because not many tech-type people use them, and because you're putting your livelihood at the mercy of the companies who are notoriously bad at keeping customers happy. Also, you don't always get to take your email with you if/when you move, which may be a cause for lost repeat and referral business down the road.

These domains aren't bad, inherently, but I wouldn't recommend using them to run your real estate business.

4.) Free Providers -

These are the email domains, usually web-based, that you can sign up for, for free, and access your email from any computer that has an internet connection. The popularity of each service has come and gone over the years, although many of the domains keep their email services active even after the domain itself has fallen from grace.

  • gmail
  • yahoo
  • icloud
  • live
  • hotmail
  • aol
  • prodigy

Most of these providers run through a life cycle of "That's a common, popular email address", to "That email address seems a bit outdated, bro", and then eventually to "Dude, your email address is for dinosaurs."

These emails offer great benefits - they are location-independent and job-independent, while also being free. But you'll want to be careful about tying your business to a service which can become outdated over time.

Today, gmail has managed to retain most of its "common, popular" status, and even has a bit of tech-savvy connotations with it. The rest of the list is in various stages of decline, or already dead.

Think I'm crazy? Check out the infographic below, published by the oatmeal:

Remember, there isn't necessarily a right or wrong email address, per se. But you are a Realtor, and you want your email address to help let people know what a great Realtor you are. Keep this in mind when choosing a domain to provide your email address.

- Chris Butterworth

Missed Part 1 of this series? Read Part 1 here.
*Update - here is a link to Part 3 of the series.

one year ago - Blogging on a Schedule

I love blogging as a business tool. It doesn't even matter how many readers you have - a whole bunch, or just a few. Either way, It's a great platform to share your knowledge, personality, opinions, and expertise with anyone who might be trying to decide whether or not to give you a call.

Last year I wrote a post called Blogging on a Schedule, where I looked at the advantages of a blogging schedule compared to a "post whenever you feel like it" approach.

image credit - flickr james box

 

If you've considered blogging as a marketing tool, or if you've started blogging but have had difficulty gaining traction, I recommend giving this post a read...

- Chris Butterworth