Five Tried-and-True Tips to Make Your Real Estate Twitter Profile More Engaging

More than half of Twitter’s 317 million users have discovered a new business through the platform, and 94 percent of users plan to purchase a product or service from the brands they follow. There is a huge opportunity to connect with potential clients on Twitter — if you know how to engage your audience.

It’s not a far jump from “engaged Twitter follower” to “loyal client.” The real question is how to engage your followers in the first place. Though there are lots of opinions out there about how to make your tweets more engaging, it’s not as difficult as it seems, and it doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking. A few simple changes might be all you need to see an improvement.

If you’d like to see an increase in your engagement, here are five simple tips that will get you more followers, favorites and retweets.

  1. Use photos and videos
    Twitter (and pretty much every other social media platform and website out there) is dominated by photos and videos. There’s a good reason for that: Tweets that contain images get 150 percent more retweets. If you want to see a dramatic uptick in your engagement quickly, just start sharing photos, videos and GIFs of open houses and real estate tips. You don’t have to become a professional photographer, either. Stock photos, cell phone pictures and any relevant  YouTube videos you come across will work just fine.
  2. Don’t be a robot
    You might be using Twitter to advance your real estate business goals, but you don’t have to sound that way. Don’t be afraid to crack a joke, use slang or talk about your other interests on social media. Clients and peers like to follow, learn from, and — most importantly — work with people who are friendly and interesting. There’s no need to overshare, but let some of your personality shine through your tweets. Chances are, someone in the Twittersphere will relate to you and appreciate your authenticity.
  3. Set your profile’s tone
    Before hitting the follow button, people are going to look at three things: your cover photo, your profile photo and your bio. Beyond just making these elements look and sound nice, you can use psychology to influence how followers perceive you. A smiling profile picture with open body language is warm and inviting, and a witty bio about your real estate firm tells followers the tone to expect in your tweets. Colors are also important. For example, using black on your profile conveys sophistication (although it can come across as intimidating), while blue says you’re trustworthy and loyal.
  4. Make conversation
    If you’re not having a conversation with your peers and followers on Twitter, you’re just shouting into the void. How can you expect followers to engage with you if you’re not engaging with them? Create a conversation by tweeting at followers and responding to them in a timely manner, whether it’s positive or negative. Search hashtags and follow accounts across the spectrum to see what different groups are talking about. And since you’re an expert on the community you serve, stay on top of the news and join the conversation on local comings and goings.
  5. Create your own niche
    There are hundreds of real-estate-related Twitter accounts, from individual agents to property management companies to industry publications. What makes your voice different? Maybe it’s your sense of humor, your informative videos or your expertise on REITs. No matter what your signature is, refine it and use it to carve out your own space in the conversation. When followers know what you’re all about, they’ll look to you for your unique perspective.

Lessons from LSSO: Persuasive Business Presentations – Forget “Best Practices”

We’ve all been in the situation when we’re tasked with creating a PowerPoint presentation and have been instructed to do it a certain way, or follow a certain template. Whether it’s to pitch a new client or present findings from market research, we tend to approach building a presentation a distinct way. But why? We might respond, “Because it’s best practice to do it that way” or “We’ve always done it that way; its best practice.”

LSSO presenter Adam Stock says forget best practice, especially when it comes to design. According to Stock and his presentation, web data has shown that many of the best practices taught – whether in school or in the workplace – are wrong, and the way we present information in business has evolved dramatically. In order to develop a persuasive presentation, the PowerPoint must tell your audience why they should care, why a topic is important or relevant, why they should be involved and what’s at stake – common sense, right? But so many presentations miss the mark.

When people think of presentations, TED Talks typically pop into mind. While engaging, TED Talks are not suitable for business presentations. Business presentations need to be able to weather challenging and often contradictory conditions, so…

  • They need to be designed so that they can be easily shortened
  • They need to stand on their own without explanation
  • They need to be non-sequentially accessible and adaptable

To build a persuasive presentation, we have to understand brain processes. Working memory is the most important function, but very limited, and to optimize working memory, presentations need to include better graphic and instructional design. Working memory can process both words and pictures at the same time, and our visual learning system is 100 times more efficient than our hearing. Stock points out that we should use verbal and visual channels, including pictures with word-based explanations, and place labels as close as possible to the corresponding graphics.

Presentations should also follow these rules of thumb:

  • Remove all marks that don’t support your idea
  • Provide a consistent format so people know where to look
  • Don’t use decorative fonts
  • Break information into manageable chunks – one concept per slide, four bullets per slide
  • Begin presentations with your recommendation or point
  • Ensure that your message is clear on EVERY slide
  • Slide titles should be phrases that communicate your message
  • Use simple, straightforward language
  • Use charts to communicate quantitative information
  • Each chart should have a message (not a topic)

Data has shown that 30% of the time we’re not focused, so creating the most effective and visually stimulating presentation will help get your message across effectively and memorably.

Lessons from LSSO – Common Sense Should Be Common Practice

At this year’s Legal Sales and Service Organization (LSSO) RainDance Conference, there was no shortage of memorable takeaways. Keynote speakers dove into diverse topics, from how to be distinctive in order to win business to how to master a PowerPoint presentation. Over two days, a common thread was woven throughout the presentations: “Common sense” is not always “common practice,” but it should be.

For legal marketers, business development is often a pain point, and strategies to win new business often become confusing and jumbled. As Rick Davis discussed in his presentation “Are We Distinctive? Creating Compelling Experiences to Win More Business,” a good question to ask ourselves is “Does our business development approach reflect the way we serve?” The answer more often than not is no. So, how do you showcase who you really are to make your business distinctive from all others?

Davis mentions several key factors that clients are looking for when it comes to decision-making and what firms need to know when pitching their work. Potential clients want to be “wowed,” to know you are ahead of the curve, and to know why they should choose you. If your firm doesn’t answer any of those questions, then it’s time to change the way you play the game. Here’s how:

  1. Be Distinctive – This requires at least three characteristics: chemistry fit, relevant perspective, and collaborative style. Not all are necessary at once, but being able to identify a common thread will get your foot in the door.
  2. Get in Early –The notion of getting in early is common sense, but knowing what “getting in early” actually means and how a firm can accomplish this is not common practice. Understanding the client decision cycle is the first step. Put out receptors and listen to what the firm is saying or feeling. This may not yield concrete needs at first; maybe the firm hasn’t identified those “needs” yet, but understanding that there’s “motion” going on is the first step. This is the time to get in early, set up coffee or lunch to talk with a member of the firm, and start listening.
  3. Give a Glimpse – When you get in early, you have the luxury of forming a rapport within a potential client. They may not be able to articulate their exact needs, but at this stage they have probably articulated what is wrong. This is where you step in and show them what you can do for them. Address what is isn’t working and give examples of what you can do. Giving a glimpse will allow a potential client to visualize things, and help build an experience. An experience is much more memorable.
  4. Get their Fingerprint – You need to get a fingerprint on a client. All of the steps above will open the doors to a dialogue. What do they need? What is their pricing? What is their engagement approach? You also need to determine what your value-add is, and this can only be understood by asking! Ask what they need and what they are looking for – don’t assume.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Persuasive Business Presentations – Forget “Best Practices”

You Get What You Pay For: Penny-Pinching on Your Website May Cost You in the Long Run

The cliché “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” couldn’t hold truer when it comes to your website. Your website is typically the first point of contact prospective clients have with your offerings, which is why it is critical to make a good impression.

Websites that are not user-friendly, are not optimized for mobile devices, are outdated, or that look cheap will certainly make a lasting impression – but not the one you want. So, what are the earmarks of a strong website? Below are some tips.

  • Easy to digest – Visitors should not have to search through layers of content for the information they need.
  • Easy to read – Trying to be overly unique by choosing a creative font or contrasting colors will only result in visitors struggling (and then giving up) on reading your site.
  • Easy to navigate – Less is more, so stick to a few main tabs.
  • Cleanly designed – When you over-design, your message gets lost.

Here are some other indications that it might be time to update your website: there is poor conversion of visitors, the site runs slow, your brand or message has changed or evolved, or worst of all, you are embarrassed to have people visit it.

How Much to Spend on a Professional Services Website

If your site only needs content updating, then paying a professional for a quick fix is perfectly fine. But this should be limited to minor updates, such as revisions to content, updating new team members’ bios and minor changes. If you need big changes, trying to make them on the cheap is penny-wise and pound-foolish.

While you don’t want to break the bank, failing to invest in your site will almost certainly cost you more in the future. We’ve seen this happen far too often. In an effort to save money on the front end, too many businesses attempt to go with the aforementioned quick, Band-Aid fix. Time and again, businesses end up paying more on the back end to fix early mistakes than they would have paid to have it done professionally from the start.

There are no hard and fast rules for how much you need to pay for your website, but there are some general guidelines which can prove helpful when considering your budget. Developers may break their fees down in a myriad of ways depending upon factors such as setup fees, monthly maintenance/updates, number of pages, functionality, whether it’s a custom or template-based site, if Search Engine Optimization is included, and other considerations.

Finding the Right Developer

Don’t be afraid to ask for bids from multiple developers. A good rule of thumb is that if a price seems too good to be true (meaning it’s significantly lower than other bids), it probably is. It’s also highly advisable to ask for referrals to developers from colleagues, peers, or other professionals who have a site you like.

Getting Value Out of Video: Dos and Don’ts for Law Firms

According to the National Law Review, people watch nearly 5 billion videos online every day. Videos are no longer optional—they’re an important part of any marketing strategy. However, it can be difficult to determine whether an investment in video is worth it, especially since it tends to be expensive. When done well, video can be an effective tool for converting leads. Done wrong, it’s a waste of money.

If you’re embarking on a video project and you’re not sure where to begin, start with these basic dos and don’ts to get the most value out of your investment:

Do keep it brief
Even though videos are wildly popular, people aren’t willing to watch them for more than a few minutes at most. Condense and simplify your message as much as possible. When you’re in the storyboarding process, keep in mind that there are a billion other things that your viewers can click on and it takes mere seconds to lose interest. It’s crucial that you get the most important point across almost immediately.

Don’t be a talking head
Videos can and should be engaging and dynamic. Don’t waste an opportunity by sitting behind a desk and talking at the camera. Think about how you can show your firm in a creative way, whether that’s through humor, interesting camera shots or an emotional connection. If you must talk to the camera, try standing up or walking around to create some action.

Don’t skip the fundamentals
No matter how well-thought-out your story is, if your video quality is low it will undermine your message. Good lighting and sound are key. If you’re making a video in house, you don’t have to spend a fortune on professional equipment, but you should do a test run to make sure that the lighting is good and the sound is clear. If you’re working with an agency, check their portfolio before you hire them and ask to see footage in the editing stage, before you’re surprised with a sub-par video.

Do keep it lighthearted
Video is a fun, creative medium, so tell a story to match. People hire people, not robots or slick salespeople, and younger generations especially are skeptical of any overt advertising. Formality does not come across well online, so ditch the self-promotion and allow your firm to show a bit of its fun side.

Do share videos with decision makers
According to Forbes, 65% of senior executives say that watching a video prompted them to visit a vendor website. Well-done videos can be very persuasive—in fact, many professionals say they prefer watching a video to reading. Get your video in front of the people who need to see it by any means necessary, whether that means boosting it on social media, adding a link to your email signature or bringing it on the road to conferences and speaking engagements.

To Get Results, Woo the Gator Brain

Going before a judge for parole? Your chances of getting what you want will increase if the judge has a full stomach, according to a study done in Israel. No matter how much we’d like to think we make decisions based on critical, rational thinking, it’s often – more often than we’d like to think – based on our gator brain, the reactive, emotional aspect of our thinking which is a remnant of our reptilian heritage. How we can woo the gator (as in alligator) brain was the subject of Yale Professor Zoe Chance’s keynote at the recent LMA conference.

To capture this part of the mind, we need to focus on three things. First is ease: You have to make it easy for people to do business with you; make it easy for them to say “yes.”  Think about how you can eliminate obstacles, and recognize that it’s not just about price.  Amazon isn’t the cheapest around; it’s just the easiest around. And keep humor in mind, as humor is great way to get past resistance.

Attention is also important in terms of wooing the gator brain. No matter what we say about multitasking, the gator brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. How you capture attention at the moment of decision-making is critical. Consider the “when” – when is somebody going to be making a decision about using my service – and grab their attention at that time.

Implementation questions are also important and engender commitment.  Zoe used the example of exercising and how implementation increased when people were asked questions, such as “When will you exercise?” “Where will you exercise?” and most importantly, “What will you do if you an encounter an obstacle to getting it done?”

Lastly, to get the emotional brain’s attention you need to foster trust. Not only do you need to build trust, you need to understand how not to lose it and how to fix it if you do. Study after study shows that clients and customers can become even more loyal after an “oopsie,” if you implement a strong save. In addition, an important question to ask is, “What would it take…What would it take for you to switch providers?” This empowers the prospect, which can shed a positive light on you and your service.

VR for Marketing: Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

There’s so much buzz around the world of virtual reality (VR), and industries such as hospitality, tourism, real estate, entertainment and sports are beginning to adopt this immersive video to grow their customer base and even recruit new talent. Major brands like IKEA, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are already utilizing the medium, but it’s key to understand when the right time is for your brand to jump on the bandwagon.

The technology needed to create VR experiences – headsets and cameras to produce content – is evolving and becoming more accessible thanks to Google Cardboard and VR apps, but it’s still a long way from widespread adoption. The IKEAs and McDonalds of the world have the resources and user base to make their foray into VR a success, but for smaller companies VR at this stage might only provide the ‘cool’ factor.

As a marketer, you should harness the tools and technology that make the most sense for the industries you serve, and can provide the ROI you’re looking for, but do your homework before dropping some cash on the technology. Most marketers don’t need to worry about jumping on the bandwagon just yet since the technology can be expensive and the content is limited, creating two big hurdles that are a challenge to overcome.

The good news is that it’s still early in the game for VR, and it would behoove you and your brand to keep your finger on the pulse of the evolving VR landscape, technology and content, preparing you to move into VR seamlessly, and when the timing is right.

So, when do you know the timing is right?

  • When your brand is trying to ‘sell’ a tangible experience – there’s no better way than to show your customer base, and creating 360 degree video would make the most sense.
  • Showcasing a product experience – if you’re trying to show customers that your product is better than a competitor’s, showing the user experience in VR elicits more emotions.
  • When you need to educate the consumer – when you want to tout how something is made or the story behind a product, VR can create a dimensional experience, and consumers love a good story, especially if it’s visually appealing or pulls at the heartstrings.
  • Meaningful events and experiences – if you want to convey how spectacular your events are, VR can make the consumer feel as if they are actually there and can create a powerful emotional experience.

Don’t utilize VR just because you can and everyone else is doing it; use VR for certain experiences that require consumers to connect with the brand and that evoke emotion. You’ll get the most bang for your buck.

 

 

 

 

10 Quick and Timeless Digital Marketing Tips

Let’s face it: creating and maintaining an effective digital marketing strategy is hard. It’s mostly because the digital landscape is always changing. New trends, social media platforms and viral campaigns are popping up all the time, and it can be difficult to know where your business fits in, which trends to jump on and which ones to skip.

However, now that digital has secured a permanent place in every marketing plan, there are some common digital marketing concepts that have proven to be useful no matter what hashtag is trending. Here’s 10 of them courtesy of Convince & Convert:

  1. Have a plan and a reasoning behind it. Set short- and long-term goals, measure progress and results, and make adjustments when necessary.
  1. Don’t be a social media micromanager. Keep social media guidelines short and give the people posting some creative freedom.
  1. Use video, but use it mindfully. Be aware of your followers’ time and attention spans.
  1. Have a purpose. Provide some sort of benefit to your followers and readers, whether it’s valuable information, humor or inspiration.
  1. Don’t force it. Jump into the conversation when it feels natural, and allow clients and followers to decide how they want to interact with you online.
  1. Put social media in the budget. Yes, technically social media is free—but you should be paying someone to manage your accounts effectively.
  1. Know what your clients think of you. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to research the terms and phrases they’re using to talk about you online.
  1. Offer value on your blog and across all your digital platforms. Explain how your services make your clients’ lives better, and use real-world examples.
  1. Take chances methodically. Don’t shoot down any out-of-the-box ideas immediately—just test them first before committing.
  1. Remember that you’re a human being, not a marketing robot. Interact with your followers accordingly.

Not Sure What Your PR Team Does? Here Are Five Things to Know

According to the Public Relations Society of America, the official definition of public relations is, “a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics”. If that doesn’t mean much to you, you’re not alone. PR professionals often joke that we have no idea how to explain what we do to our friends and family.

PR is a vital but often misunderstood promotional tactic, which boils down to “persuading an audience”. If you’re considering hiring a PR firm but you’re not sure if it’s worth it, or if you already have a PR team but don’t know what they actually do all day, here are five basics to know.

  1. Public relations isn’t advertising.

If you’re looking for a magazine ad, a radio jingle or a TV commercial, at most PR firms you’d be out of luck. All of that falls under advertising. Instead, PR is centered around “earned media”; the process of developing an interesting story and convincing reporters to cover it without paying for the exposure. As consumers grow more skeptical of traditional advertising, earned media plays an important role in your marketing mix because it’s verified by the media and, therefore, more trusted by consumers. Plus, PR is typically much less expensive than paid advertising.

  1. PR professionals have many tools at their disposal.

If we’re to believe movies and TV shows, PR professionals must spend their time schmoozing with celebrities and planning parties, right? While there are some PR pros who might spent some of their time doing those things, the vast majority of PR jobs are much broader (and much less glamourous). In a typical day, a PR pro might write a press release, conduct research, develop a blog post, reach out to reporters or create a social media strategy; ultimately with the goal of generating positive publicity for clients.

  1. PR relies on the media.

Earning media coverage is the cornerstone of PR. And according to public relations pro Robert Wynne, the only two ways to make it into the news are to create a story or follow a story. No matter how much you beg, plead or bargain with a reporter, in the end it’s up to them (and their editor) if they want to write about you. So when your PR team shoots down your story idea or says that making the cover of the New York Times is a little too lofty of a goal, it’s nothing personal. It’s actually a good thing; it means that your PR rep understands what kind of stories pique reporters’ interest and successfully make the news cycle.

  1. PR isn’t just social media.

While social media can play an important role in PR, it’s not going to replace traditional media anytime soon. Your PR team can help you develop a social media strategy and manage your online presence; however, it shouldn’t be their only focus. Instead, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should be used to enhance other PR activities and expand the reach of media coverage.

  1. PR is measurable (even if it’s not perfect).

Most CEOs don’t have the time to understand the nitty gritty of what their PR team does, and that’s O.K.; so long as the results are measurable and positive. While measuring the impact of PR can be tricky, it is possible. And it certainly doesn’t mean that businesses should skip PR in favor of marketing tactics that are easier to track. Measuring something intangible like positive sentiment will never translate into numbers easily. However, you can get a good idea through press clips, media impressions, surveys, website traffic and social media mentions.

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