Net Neutrality is Over: What Now?

For years, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and a broad coalition of technology and real estate industry partners have urged the FCC to uphold the former rules under which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operate and can do business. “Net neutrality” is the previous consensus position, meaning that internet service providers can’t speed up, slow down or block any websites or applications.

That consensus shifted sharply on December 14th, as the FCC released a plan to repeal provisions ensuring net neutrality and allow ISPs to begin deciding what type of content and sites their customers may access on their service.

Currently, the internet is fairly egalitarian; if you have a connection, a computer or mobile device, and a browser, you can go to whatever website you like. The agreement you’ve entered into with your ISP states that they can’t dictate where you decide to look for news, what recipe websites you’re allowed to access, or, more relevant to Realtors®, where you might look to find your next home. Right now you’re allowed to begin your search wherever you like, and follow it wherever it takes you. You’re just as likely to land on the website of a small local Realtor® office as on a major listing aggregation site like Realtor.com, Zillow or RedFin. You let your wish list, location and other criteria guide your search, and your browser takes you wherever they lead, regardless of the size of the company who’s got the listing.

The loss of net neutrality has the potential to change that experience in profound ways.

Have you ever watched a sports talk show and said to yourself, “These guys are idiots, I could do a way better job than they could!” Now, you may or may not be right about your sports-talk potential, but the way the internet is currently regulated, you have many opportunities to prove it. You could start a blog, a podcast, write analysis for a small sports site, post your thoughts on Twitter or Facebook, or get yourself a nice webcam and post them on YouTube, seated behind a desk wearing a tie, just like the pros.

If you’re good enough and your content is relevant, you can succeed. Countless people in myriad professions and specialties do it every day, and they do it on the strength of a neutral platform, where their thoughts and ideas are just as accessible (just click a link!) as those produced by major media companies with huge advertising budgets and institutional power.

If you think of the internet as if it were cable TV (something you’re likely to get from the exact same company, by the way) right now, you get every channel imaginable for the same rate. You decide what you see. But what if your internet options looked like this?

Image shows internet price packages after repeal of net neutrality
Image via Reddit

This is the future. And in that future, large companies who have the ability to pay will dominate the landscape online, as they do in most other media.  Small and large players in the real estate industry could be affected if internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon create fast and slow lanes of web traffic based on financial arrangements they’ve made with content providers. The mom-and-pop Realtor® office that has the perfect home listed for you (or your next client) might not be able to pay enough for you to see it. Your office’s ISP may decide the MLS vendor you use is not paying enough, and slow their traffic to a crawl. Or it may decide to make your competitor’s advertisements and website load much faster than yours, based on what they’re willing to pay. Under the new rules, there’s nothing stopping them.

Ninety-three percent of NAR members use the internet to conduct and promote business. NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said in a statement:

“Technology is an increasingly important part of the way our membership delivers its services, whether through streaming video, drone technology, or other applications. We remain concerned that a rollback of net-neutrality rules could lead to blocking, throttling, or discriminating against Internet traffic, or even ‘paid prioritization’ arrangements that put small mom-and-pop businesses at a disadvantage in the marketplace. We will continue working with the FCC to share these concerns and ensure a fair and open internet where everyone can succeed.”

It’s a new day on the internet. There is still time to ensure these changes are implemented fairly and responsibly. But a major barrier to those goals has fallen, and time will tell what the consequences are.

What are your Facebook ‘reactions’ telling you?

It’s been almost a year and half since Facebook introduced its expanded reaction buttons (February 24, 2016 to be exact). If you don’t know what I’m specifically talking about by name, you will when you see the buttons below:

As a user of Facebook, I felt these were a great addition to the news feed. The additional buttons give you more specific ways to react to a post. I’m not sure about you, but I always felt a little strange “liking” sad posts such as when a pet died, etc.

So why after more than a year am I bringing this up? I’m bringing it up because I feel there are good insights in those reactions that Realtors® can take advantage of when it comes to creating relevant content for current and future clients. And I don’t think many people are taking advantage of the information that is there.
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Lead Generation Made Easy with LinkedIn

Lead generation just got a whole lot easier with LinkedIn.

If you’re already using LinkedIn’s advertising tools to drive traffic to your website, for example, then you may have noticed the recent option to “Collect leads using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms.”

How do LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms work? It’s simple. When a prospective client clicks on your ad, they will be prompted to fill out a form, which will automatically populate with their information from LinkedIn. Because people tend to keep their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date, this ensures that your lead will be accurate and complete. This solves the common problem of inaccurate, abandoned and incomplete lead generation forms that you may be all too familiar with as an advertiser.

After the user fills the form they will land wherever your ad was directed–your website, eBook or webinar sign-up page, for example. You can then export your leads directly from LinkedIn into the CRM or marketing automation platform of your choice.

Learn more in this video from LinkedIn:

 

We want to hear from you

Have you experimented with LinkedIn advertising in your real estate practice? What do you think of their new Lead Gen Forms? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you love the ‘Like’ Button? If so, Proceed with Caution

Close-up of business group keeping thumbs up

Have you ever heard of “Like farming?” No? Neither did I until very recently (not that it’s new.) I thought it might be a good idea to spread the word on what this practice is and why you should be aware of it the next time you’re scrolling through your Facebook news feed.

What is “Like farming?”
Here’s a good definition from ThatsNonsense.com:

“Facebook like-farming, in its simplest sense, is the process of attempting to get likes, shares and followers using exploitation, manipulation and/or deception.”

What this really means is that any time you like, comment or share something that you don’t quite know where it comes from, you’re at risk for being farmed.

Once these posts get a lot of “likes,” the scammers behind the posts are then able to start posting spam that shows up in your news feed or links to more malicious sites that might try and steal your personal and/or financial information.

What Can You Do?
The simple answer is really read what your scrolling past and understand where it comes from before hitting “Like.” Don’t fall for the emotional photos or posts that tug at your heart strings and ask you for something such as “help me reach one million likes” or “comment on this photo and see what happens.” The list goes on.

And finally, just because you like something doesn’t mean you have to “Like” it.

For more information, here are some good articles the explain the scam in greater detail.
Everything you need to know about Facebook Like-Farming by Craig Charles, thatsnonsense.com
Don’t click ‘like’ on Facebook again until you read this by Kim Komando, Komando.com
Why You Should Be Careful About What You ‘Like’ On Facebook by Amit Chowdhry, Forbes.com

Digital Marketing Ideas for the Holidays

Confident female designer working on a digital tablet in red

The winter holidays can be a slow time in real estate, especially in the Northeast. Buyers and sellers can go into hibernation and forgo battling the weather. Perhaps you’re planning on taking some time off too.

Still, the winter is not the time to let potential clients forget about you. Instead, take the holiday month to boost your digital marketing strategy with these ideas. The boon of any digital marketing plan is that a little work in advance will allow you to relax and take that much needed time off for the holidays.

Get local

Winter is the perfect time to advertise your local brick-and-mortar business, if you have one. This is the time when many people are home for the holidays, restless, and out walking around shopping or exploring the town. Luckily, Facebook offers a local awareness feature that targets audiences when they’re near your business. This is also a great option to get more people aware of your Facebook business page, where they have the opportunity to follow you and interact with your business in the future.

promote-local-business_screenshot

Get in the spirit

If you do launch a local awareness ad mentioned above, be sure to treat your visitors and curious locals to some holiday cheer. Consider offering coffee or hot cocoa to passersby, or offer free gift wrapping to shoppers if your office is in a busy downtown area.

Let people get to know your story

The holidays are all about connection. Launch a digital campaign that shares your story as a business, how you got into real estate, or why your community matters to you. Showcase yourself, your colleagues and employees to position your business as real and human in the digital world.

Use strong visual elements

Any digital advertising campaign launched during this time will be competing with all the mistletoe and mouth-watering recipes in peoples’ newsfeeds. Make sure any social posts you deploy are bold, visually compelling, and comply with the design guidelines for that platform. (For instance, you can find Facebook’s advertising guidelines here.) Consider using stock photography if you don’t have any professional photos or video at your disposal.

What the 2016 Presidential Debate Can Teach Us About Live Video

People at a Political RallyTonight is the first of three 2016 Presidential Debates, and if you’re not at home in front of the TV at 9 p.m., don’t worry because you can pretty much stream it anywhere. Social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google have all taken up the opportunity to get a chunk of the 100 million expected viewers tonight. Those are Superbowl numbers.

What’s more interesting is that there will be a chance for viewers to ask questions via social media directly to the candidates. These viewer-generated questions may or may not be read, but it gives the average American social media user a chance to engage in the election process like never before. It also puts the pressure on the candidates to speak in such a way that will come across on social media. It’s likely that both candidates will have come to the debate tonight prepared with “tweetable” quotes and catchy sound bites.

When preparing for your next live video, it might be helpful to take a note from the Presidential candidates and come prepared with a few crafted points you want to make in a way that people will remember. Also, live streaming will allow your viewers to ask questions in the comments, so take some time to answer those. If you’re filming the live video yourself in selfie mode, you’ll be able to see the questions and comments pop up as they’re entered below your video. Otherwise, set aside time for questions and have the person filming read the questions aloud to you then.

Your success (and the 2016 President’s) may depend on it.