COM0015 Post 4: Out of the Box

Empty Box

We’ve been outside the box for awhile now…(Photo credit: z287marc)

As I read more and more about reaching out to customers in different ways, I feel less like any of the social media is truly ‘out of the box’…unless the box is the computer. I feel like social media is humanizing online interactions. The focus is moving away from the ‘sell sell sell’ mindset and more towards providing online interaction and good content.  Yes, there’s a few bad eggs that use the Internet to hide behind keyboards and pass judgements, but those are more on the person to person level. In terms of online marketing, the purpose is moving to information and engagement.

I recently read an article that stated that search engine optimization was dead and it was now about online audience optimization.

“OAO allows online publishers to leverage their greatest assets—their wealth of high-quality content—to create a consistent web-wide presence, and generate consistent new and repeat visitors”

mediashepherd.com

I think that while some part of me knew that already, it was ingrained in me to create content targeted at SEO rankings rather than audience engagement. Now the further I walk down the social media path, the more I recognize that this is true. We saw that LEGO made an online advertisement that was emotionally targeted to people who grew up playing with their products. What was surprising to me was that they didn’t even track it’s effectiveness with regards to sales. They just wanted to rekindle the love of their brand. Even in an online forum, it is the building of relationships that is the major goal, just as it always has been here…outside of the box.

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COM0015: Professional Networking, Now and in the Future

handshake isolated on business background

handshake isolated on business background (Photo credit: SalFalko)

Although I wouldn’t consider if to be a fully rounded strategy to networking, I do have some habits that I try and maintain. I am trying to cultivate a fairly large following on my social media. However, I am targeting those people who are local first. Real estate is generally a local market. Most people don’t ask for a realtor to refer them to another realtor where they are thinking of buying, although that would be completely possible. People who are buying residential say, “I’m buying here, I need a realtor from here.” So, the first thing to do is to network with local businesses. Although I am not a realtor, I’ll be running the social media for an entire realty brokerage, so it is important that they be connected.

Once I’ve created the first members of this network, I can interact with them via social media. For example, I’ve been interacting with local businesses by responding to their tweets, or mentioning events that they are having on our Facebook page. By creating a sense that we actually care about what is going on in the community other than what we are involved in, people are more likely to return the favour, broadening our reach. Since I am not the ‘face’ of this particular company, attending events under the banner of the brokerage is not as possible. However, for my other business, I would certainly try to attend as many local events as possible. I really enjoyed the event that I attended for credit in this course, and I now know where to look for more like it.

In the next six months to a year, I intend to post regularly on all the social media related to both my business and the realty brokerage. I will also constantly be interacting with as many local businesses as possible on social media. I will encourage the members of the brokerage to interact in person when they can, by attending local events and functions. Once I become more comfortable, perhaps I can even create webinars or tweetups for local businesses or clients.

Although social media is informative and allows you to touch a wider audience, I really believe that nothing can beat in person networking. The trust that can be built in person, face to face, is incredible. There is no substitute. Finding the people you want to network with though, is done well through social media.

COM0015 – Strong and Weak Organizations

Paul Rushforth Team screenshot

Paul Rushforth Team screenshot

Since I have been following a lot of trends in the Ottawa real estate market, I decided to look at examples of brokerages that are leveraging or wasting their social media potential. The first example is the strong organization of Paul Rushforth Team. The brokerage isn’t even linked to any well-known realty brand, but does very well. They are using Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and LinkedIn regularly. On their Twitter feed, they are mixing new information with interactions and engagement. On their Facebook page, there is a great mix of engagement, information and listings. They also use their accounts to cross-post. For example, I found You Tube videos on their Facebook site, leading me to their channel. They also showcase each of these connections on the home page of their website, along with blog postings organized by reader they may appeal to. It seems they have a very effective system going for those social media previously mentioned. The Paul Rushforth team also runs a Podcast radio show for those who like to listen as information is presented to them. The only place they may benefit from an increase in effort is their Pinterest page. They only have one board and the board only has property videos.

Remax Canada's Facebook fan page

Remax Canada’s Facebook fan page

I found it difficult to find another strong organization that is working social media across the board. I found that the head office of Remax Canada is doing very well. Similar to Paul Rushforth Team, they have many different social media accounts and on their homepage, they have a whole section called ‘media newsroom’. This is where they have their blogs posted and anyone can look at commercial investor reports divided by province. Something else I found very impressive was that they had their Twitter and Pinterest accounts linked right on their Facebook fan page beneath the cover photo. Even though I found the Rushforth team accounts impressive, I thought this was a marvelous idea to promote across the platforms.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, it is not easy to find a real estate firm or company that is not at all using social media. Realtors are well aware that social media is one of the best things to ever happen to the real estate industry. I’ve been looking at Exit Realty Matrix for this and other classes, as they are in need of a social media boost. They had someone working for them in social media and set them up with numerous accounts. The only thing worse than not having any social media accounts is not maintaining them regularly. Exit Realty Matrix, and the ‘Tessier Team’ in particular, is doing okay as far as their Facebook account goes. Apart from the occasional contest, they tend to inundate subscribers with listings. Product information is only one of many things that should be included in your feeds on any social media platform. Their Twitter has barely been touched for months, their Pinterest either and their blog has been laying dormant since March 28th, 2013. They have all the tools and are not using them. Their strategy should be one of a multiple pronged approach.

–       They have already taken the first step I would recommend, which is to hire someone new to do their social media. I’ll be starting in the new year. 😉

–       monitor other sites for latest in real estate news and create their own content with similar information

–       start creating general content that would be of interest in their business to consumer aspect

–        keep a steady stream of content on all platforms

–       follower seeding

–       looking at their metrics to see what works and what doesn’t

 

Tessier team's lonely blog

Tessier team’s sleepy blog

If they start by taking these few steps, their currently ‘napping’ social network will get more traffic and increase their visibility. In real estate, a company needs to look impressive, at the top of their game, while maintaining a genuine connection with customers. Social media is one of the best ways that they can achieve all this and sell houses.

COM0015: Assignment 5: Event Participation

I participated in New Entrepreneur of Ottawa Networking event on September 24th, 2013. This event was a trade show of services to help entrepreneurs get started or get that final push to starting their businesses, as well as a talk on how to attract and retain customers. Although I was not in need of any help starting a business, I always like to hear of new ways to attract customers and different strategies on how to retain them.

As most of the services there were for startups, it was difficult for me to find someone to talk to that was not there to start their business or trying to help someone to start one. I did however, find Jarrod Goldsmith, an

Me at the NEON event

Me at the NEON event

entertainer in Ottawa. In speaking with him, I found that he was planning to host a networking event in October at Lago Bar & Grill called ‘e-Sax’, or ‘The Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience’.  His event will take place October 9th, 2013. I had previously met Jarrod at the Ottawa Wedding show. He manages a group of saxophonists who play at events and I was there as a wedding photographer.

“It doesn’t matter where you are with your business, we could all use some networking.” – Jarrod Goldsmith, NEON event Fall 2013

I couldn’t agree more!

My husband also attended the event, he is a magician and owner of BirthdayPartyMagic.ca . So he was able to meet Jarrod and we all talked about the importance of creating a strong network. After speaking to Jarrod, we sat down to listen to the lecture of the keynote speaker, Harpreet Singh of Zoho Consulting.

Mr. Singh delved mostly in to the importance of networking in marketing and business.

Mr Singh addressing the crowd.

Mr Singh addressing the crowd.

“Nothing can beat networking, it’s all about building a relationship.”

–       H. Singh, NEON event Fall 2013

He stressed the importance of having a holistic approach to marketing. You can’t just focus on telling your customers and potential customers about the services you offer. Informing them is important, but you must also engage them and energize them. It is all about perception. If they perceive the value of your services, it doesn’t matter what you charge. By having a holistic approach, you will be perceived as a well-rounded expert in your business and be sought out.

After Mr. Singh, we listened to three different Ottawa local business owners and how they started their businesses. Each of them had a different approach to what they were doing, which made sense since they were all in very different trades. Andryi Azarov is the owner of Canaflora, an online flower shop, Francois Desnaulniers owns Accurate Shelving and Amira Abdalla is the owner of two Shopper’s Drug Mart stores in Ottawa. By sharing their experiences, the audience was able to ask questions related to where they want their businesses to be in a few years.

I will absolutely attend another event like this in the future. It is a chance to network with like-minded people in a learning environment, for free. In fact, I’ve been browsing EventBrite looking for similar events that my husband and I can attend. Since we both own our own businesses, it is important to stay informed and explore new ways of connecting and marketing ourselves. As Mr. Peter Stewart of Entrepreneurship Services said during his introductions to the evening, “There can be lots of great ideas, but if you don’t have customers, you won’t be successful.” Networking, holistic marketing and social media integration with a holistic approach means that people feel like they are being informed and energized rather than a target of business purely for sales.

My husband and I listening intently.

My husband and I listening intently.

COM0015 – Blog Post #1 Social Media Tools and Sources

154 Blue Chrome Rain Social Media Icons

154 Blue Chrome Rain Social Media Icons (Photo credit: webtreats)

The Internet is completely cluttered with social media, so it can be very hard to keep track of the updates and posts that are actually of interest to someone. My two favourite tools to keep me updated are HootSuite and my Facebook feed in general. In my business, I use HootSuite to track all of my social accounts. This allows me to monitor what my accounts are doing, who they are interacting with, who I need to reply to. Since my business is photography, I use mostly Facebook and Twitter. Facebook allows me to post pictures as well and keep them in different albums on my fan page.  I have my Facebook account linked to my Twitter so that everytime I post on my fan page, it automatically posts to my Twitter account as well.  I find that with the help of HootSuite to monitor my business accounts, I can spend time on my personal Facebook feed and Twitter to find the news that interests me. I look at the ‘trending’ section of Twitter to see what is going on. I appreciate hashtags and use them frequently so that perspective brides searching for #Ottawa #wedding #photography can find me with ease. I also scroll through my Facebook feed to see what stories are cropping up among my friend and business circles. Being directly connected to people I have a shared history with, or have met at mutually interesting events keeps me abreast of news that I would like to hear about.  I also receive updates from fan pages I’ve liked. With functions like these, it is obvious to me why Facebook is the giant in social media.

I also have an account with YouTube. This allows me to post slideshows of my works for my clients to share and to entice perspective clients. ( See www.youtube.com/jbphotocanada ) You Tube, or links to sites from Facebook to You Tube videos, are where I tend to find most of the news that interests me.  In fact, just today while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed I stumbled upon a TED event video. It was a young man talking about his fantastic idea to clean up the oceans of all the plastic waste that is clogging it up. (see below) This is something I never would have heard of without the Internet and my Facebook feed. You Tube allows for embedding video on to web pages, making content literally come alive. Although some You Tube submissions must be taken with a grain of salt, reposts from established broadcast channels make it so that an audience can catch almost anything they may have missed. By subscribing to a You Tube channel like the TEDxtalks channel, gives me access to the content I want to see. I prefer to watch news through You Tube as I don’t have cable or satellite. You Tube also allows me to watch videos that are educational and can help me with professional development.

Though it sometimes clutters my inbox, I do also like to sign up for newsletters. I, myself, use the free service MailChimp to keep my subscribers informed. To my business, keeping in touch with my clients through newsletters is paramount. Newsletters also keep me well informed of events that are of interest to me. For example, I subscribed to a newsletter that informed me about Creative Live, as service I never would have heard about otherwise. Creative Live allows you to watch experts in the field of marketing, photography, graphic design and more, give workshops over the Internet. Even more fantastic, is that these events are free to watch. Or, if you like to watch them repeatedly, you can purchase the event after you’ve seen it. Creative Live has helped me hone many of my photographic skills and I continue to watch segments today.

Newsletters may seem old fashioned, but they are also a great way to get free information from people hoping you will purchase what they are selling. I think the key to a good newsletter is not to go for the sale, but rather to have a goal of informing your subscribers. I subscribe to a few social media ‘guru’ sites that send out tips on how to maximize my social media. Once I am done with them, I delete them and always unsubscribe to any that I feel are not serving me well. My e-mail is the one thing I check every day, without fail. Having information delivered to me in this way is very convenient.

I prefer Facebook feeds, Twitter trends, You Tube and newsletters primarily because they are something I can scroll during the time I choose. I can search through my Facebook feed for either the top stories of the most recent. As I previously stated, using hashtags I can see the stories that interest me. You Tube is delivered to me on both these fronts and newsletters are sent straight to my inbox. All of these sources keep me well informed and my interests fed.

Jennifer Walker