Category Archives: Social Media

Video Power

My better half and I are trying to sell the house we lived in for our first 12 years in North Carolina, and let’s just say the process is different than our past house sales have been in the past. Probably the biggest change has been that there are far more things we, as owners, can do to help market the house. Among them is cultivating our house’s Zillow listing.

Our realtor set up the listing, but once it was set up we ended up writing a lot of the copy and adding some of the unique selling points for the house and neighborhood. When we bought the house the online tool all the realtors were using was Listingbook, which was pretty cool for that time, but we were completely dependent on the realtor to make any changes we felt were needed. With Zillow we’re able to do it ourselves, which is great because we’re the party with the greatest interest in getting everything right.

Unfortunately, there haven’t been any takers on the house, but this last weekend we learned exactly how powerful video can be. Zillow allows you to post a video on your listing and we had a video we’d shot a while back, but you have to use Zillow’s app to actually record the video so we didn’t have a video on our listing for quite a while. This past Saturday we were at the house and I took a few minutes to walk around the house shooting the two minutes of video that Zillow’s app allows, and then uploaded it while we were still there. The result? Views and saves of our house listing spiked big time.

The result? Views and saves of our house listing spiked big time.  Here’s a graphic showing the daily numbers going back a month:

170425 Zillowstats30Day

The traffic on our listing is represented by the green bars, the average traffic for houses like ours is represented by the blue line chart behind the green bars. The second highest day is the fourth bar from the right, which was last Saturday when I uploaded the video in the afternoon. The highest day was the next day, Sunday, which is also one of the very few days our listing exceeded the average.

We’ve had some small traffic increases in the past when we logged in to edit some text, but as a rule we were getting between 6-12 views a day with one or two saves a week – a save is when someone saves the listing in the Zillow app so they can come back later or get alerts when a listing changes – and nothing really moved the needle much until we posted the video. As you can see from this graph showing the last week the video made a massive difference, and keep in mind that the video was shot using my phone in about 15 minutes with no editing.

170425 ZillowStats

Now, if only we could convert that traffic into buyers!

The Victims of Memes

There are many things to love about social media, among them the ability to easily stay connected with friends and family, and there are many things to loath about social media, among them the ability to be repeatedly annoyed and angered by your friends and family and their friends a family. This is especially true when it comes to “big” events, like elections or mass shootings, that stoke emotions and raise the heat in the proverbial kitchen. Those events also tend to motivate “meme” makers to come up with a combination of images and text that, purportedly, reflect the beliefs of a segment of society and are easily shareable by members of the “tribe.” Here’s an example that was recently shared on Facebook:

Memes

If you hate Hillary Clinton, or consider yourself a conservative, you might look at this and nod your head in agreement and then with less thought than you’d give to picking the color of socks you’re going to wear you click “share” and let the world know you think this sentiment is right on. Fair enough; you’re entitled to your opinion. However, if you unpack this meme do you really think it’s fair?

Is she filthy rich? The average American would say so. Is she white? Our eyes tell us she is. Is she nominally Christian? Depends on who gets to determine where the line is between nominal and fully invested. If you think you’re a true Christian and are qualified to make that judgment then please remind yourself of the whole “throwing the first stone” thing. Does she get donations from big corporations? Undoubtedly, but who doesn’t in her position? Voted for the Iraq War? I assume there’s a record of it, and I seem to remember she did.

Now here comes the trouble, “I am everything liberals hate, and yet I am the one they want. If that’s not mental illness, what is it?” These two sentences epitomize what’s wrong with our state of discourse in this country, and why memes like this truly suck. Some points:

  1. Painting everyone in a group with a broad brush with a definitive statement like this is just wrong. I guarantee you there are plenty of liberals who don’t hate rich people, or white people (hell, there are a LOT of liberal white people) or someone voting for a misbegotten war. Just as there are plenty of conservatives who DO hate rich people, white people and people who voted for a misbegotten war.
  2. Ridiculing people on the other side of your debate will almost certainly create acrimony. Simply put, we can debate gun control reasonably up until the point we start calling each other names or questioning the others intellect or morals. Then we just have a fight and nothing constructive gets done.
  3. Reflexively sharing these things just makes the sharer look lazy. Have a point? Make it yourself. And this isn’t as much about the funny “shares” that you’ll see around an issue, unless of course it’s funny because it belittles those on the other side of the table. Here’s a simple test: if the meme is funny because you’re laughing AT your opposite, then it’s only funny to you. If you’re laughing WITH them, then it’s probably okay, but ridiculing your opposite only means you’re making yourself a part of the problem rather than the solution.

Think this is an over reaction? You’re free to disagree, but I would argue that every one of these memes adds one more pixel to the mural of distrust we are painting on the giant wall that our country is quickly becoming.

 

Civility and Intelligence

Here’s a quote from a post at the AVC blog on the importance of civil and intelligent debate that hit home when I read it this morning:

I was reminded of that when I read Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments on Antonin Scalia, in particular this part:

We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion.

and this:

Maybe the most important part of the title to this post is the word civil. Without civility (and respect), it is hard to have intelligent debate. Respecting those with opposing views, working to understand them, and listening closely to them is the key. Even if they don’t change your mind, they can reshape how you discuss and present your views. And that can make all the difference in the world.

The scary thing about the current state of political discourse in America is the very real lack of civility. As much as we’d like to think this is a modern phenomenon, we actually have a long history of pretty nasty behavior during the political silly season. Check out this political cartoon about Lincoln:

civilityLincoln

Source: HarpWeek

That’s some pretty nasty stuff by any measure. What’s new to our elections these days is the ability of any one person to create or spread nastygrams like this via their social media channels, with nary a thought to whether or not it’s true. With the click of a button they can share personal attacks on candidates, falsehoods about a candidate’s past and beliefs, or launch character assassinations on political candidates or members of a political party faster than you can say “fact check.” It’s truly becoming an overwhelming cacophony of negative, schoolyard name-calling that is drowning out increasingly fruitless attempts at civil discourse.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, check out these images I found in just five minutes of scrolling through my Facebook feed:

So what commonalities do you find in these images? What I see are personal attacks and name calling with no attention paid to the stated policies of the candidates. How, pray tell, does this advance the cause of the Union in any way?

Now I do understand that much of what people share are things they consider funny. Many of the memes poke fun at the generalizations the sharer has about the folks on the other side of the fence, and normally I wouldn’t be such a stick in the mud about it since I enjoy a good joke as much as the next person. However, when you see people share literally dozens or hundreds of these memes that do nothing but insult people with a different set of beliefs then you have to come to the conclusion that they truly feel that their opposites are stupid, lazy, cruel, etc. When you begin to believe that then you inevitably come to the conclusion that there’s no room for honest debate, and quite frankly you begin to not care what they think because all you see are personal attacks completely divorced from the issues.

So maybe you think I’m overreacting and that I should just ignore what I’m seeing on my social media channels. I might agree except that I think our current crop of political leaders, both liberal and conservative, from the local level to the national level, are exploiting these sentiments and profiting from our separateness. Until we can find a place to have civil and intelligent debate they’re going to play us for the suckers we are.

In other words, folks, we have met the enemy and it is us.

ConvergeSouth Labs – Soooo Many Options

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So I’ve written the past couple of days about all the options that are available to ConvergeSouth attendees during the various session time slots. Well, I have to tell you that the “Labs” in the 1:45-3:45 slot are REALLY going to test my decision-making ability because I truly want to see all four. Once you read the descriptions below I think you’ll feel the same way:

Podcast Lab (Mike Dell of Podcast Help Desk) – An active podcaster and consultant for the past 10 years, Mike Dell, from Podcast Help Desk, helps people with the technical side of podcasting. For the last 6 years he has been the lead tech support for RawVoice Inc., parent company of the podcast services company Blubrry.com. He hosts a bi-weekly folk and bluegrass radio show on community radio station WNMC, and is the fill-in news announcer (and sometimes guest) on the morning rock radio show, Omelet and Friends on WKLT FM in Traverse City. In his spare time he enjoys Banjo Picking and Ham Radio.

In the podcasting lab, Mike will give you the best non-geeky explanation of how podcasting works and take you through the hardware you will need for recording. (Both good-enough and the best). We will also cover setting up the dreaded RSS feed, Website (adding podcasting to WordPress) and keeping iTunes and other podcast apps happy with your show. We will cover the best practices for podcasters. When you leave you will have a checklist of items you need to record your first episode and get it listed in iTunes and other directories. If there is time, we will do a Q & A about anything podcasting.

YouTube Lab (Stephanie Carls) – Named a “Twitter Powerhouse” by The Huffington Post, Stephanie Carls shares her passion for social media and technology online and focuses on the ways both are changing the way we live and share information. With her creativity in her videos, she has even landed features in The New York Times and NBC News.

Frequently asked to participate as a spokesperson or digital correspondent, Stephanie has enjoyed working with Cottonelle, Chevrolet (as video host for 2012 SXSW Interactive Festival, Marketwired, Nike Women, Hallmark, GoPro, Nexersys (appearing on CBS “The Doctors“) and more.

In the YouTube lab, Stephanie will give you the extra push and knowledge you need to start your own video presence. Whether that is for yourself, your business, or even both, she will cover how to set up your YouTube channel and begin your journey creating your videos. Equipment needs as well as best practices for publishing and creating your presence will be covered.

Tumblr Sites for Beginners (Ashley Hallenbeck of The Coraddi) – Ashley Hallenbeck is a designer and aspiring jack of all trades. She is the current Director of Promotions for The Coraddi, digital design and animation instructor at The Center for Visual Artists, and is a self-proclaimed sticker genius. She wholly believes that all small businesses can and should have a strong online presence, and that it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to achieve than they might think.

With $15, a little bit of sweat, and minimal tears, you can have a website up and running in a day. No short-codes, no monthly fees, no bologna; Tumblr is the perfect unlikely alternative to WordPress. Its interface is basic enough for beginners, while still being flexible enough for experienced webmasters!

What’s All the Fuss About Squarespace? (Melody Watson) – Few topics elicit more enthusiasm from Melody Watson than coaching Squarespace users to tell their stories online. Discovering this platform literally changed the course of her professional life; she left her community college webmaster position to freelance. Melody collaborates with small business owners, non-profits, and artistic professionals around the country.
Are you looking for a versatile, sophisticated tool that comes with 24/7 support and the canvas on which to create nearly any kind of site you can envision? Do yourself a favor and consider Squarespace. During this lab you will learn about:

  • Selecting the ideal template for specific site needs,
  • Choosing the appropriate kind of page for offering different types of content,
  • Formatting content,
  • Adding photos and graphics,
  • Site-wide design vs. page-based layout and design,
  • Drafting blog posts,
  • Connecting social accounts,
  • Adding a form and collecting the gathered data.

Content that doesn’t fit into the session time-frame will be provided in supplemental resources.

Impressed? I thought you’d be. So if you STILL haven’t registered but would like to you can do so here. Hope to see you there!

ConvergeSouth at 10:45 is Going to Be Happening!

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So yesterday I wrote about a tough choice I have to make – which of four great sessions would I choose to attend during the 9:30 time slot at ConvergeSouth? Well my decision is made for me during the 10:45 slot, but if you attend you’ll have to make a choice. So here’s what you have to choose from:

How to Attract, Engage and Convert With Social Media Marketing (Angela Levine of Connect Marketing) – What if there was a system to help you identify a lot of the right people for your marketing message, find them online, get them to give you their email address and eventually convert a portion of them into customers? Many business owners would be happy with JUST getting an email address – let alone one of a pre-qualified lead. Angela will show you a system for using content creation and harnessing the power of two content delivery channels to attract, engage and ultimately convert your target audience.

Field of Dreams – Great movie, terrible content strategy (Ryan Neely of SFW) – “Content is king!” “Brands are publishers!” With all the buzz about content, how can you go wrong? Before you get busy blogging, join Ryan Neely as he walks through what goes into a successful content strategy, essential questions to ask before you get started and examples of different content strategies that have proven effective.

Design in the age of Dribbble (Nick Jones of Tiny Goat) – As designers, we’re living in a time of unprecedented access to inspiration. Sites like Behance and Dribbble provide us with a constant stream of styles to quote, and frameworks like Material Design give us endless shortcuts from blank screen to finished product. So has all that access watered down design? In this talk, Nick Jones will explore the nature of inspiration and try to answer that question. This talk should be part debate for design partisans, and part survey course for design fans.

Okay, this next one is being led by yours truly so you will be forgiven if you skip it – caveat emptor and all that.

Partnerships + Creativity + Social Tools = 150,000 Meals (Jon Lowder of PTAA) – How does a local trade association with a staff of three manage to raise enough money and collect enough food for a local food bank to provide 156,000 meals to the hungry and generate great PR in the process? With creativity, volunteer engagement, partnerships with local media and other organizations, Google docs, social media and a lot of sweat.

So, that’s just one hour of the day at ConvergeSouth and as you can see there’s a lot of “there” there. This really is a great event so if you haven’t already I do recommend you register and attend. Full registration details can be found here.

Why You Should Join Me at ConvergeSouth

Let’s just make this short and sweet: you really should make time to attend ConvergeSouth next Friday at Wake Forest University. Why? It’s the best event in the Triad for learning about:

  • The ever evolving online social world and how it can impact your business
  • Content strategy
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Podcasting

That’s just for starters. The afternoon features hands-on DIY labs dedicated to:

  • Podcasting
  • YouTube
  • Tumblr websites
  • SquareSpace websites

This is a fantastic venue for anyone interested in learning how to build their businesses/non-profit organizations or their careers using the tools of the trade in today’s world. If you’d like to attend I can set you up with a special 25% discount so just reach out to me via email or in the comments. Hope to see you there!