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You wake up on Tuesday morning, sit down with your morning cup of joe, open your laptop and immediately go to Facebook like 90% of the rest of the world.  When you login you notice a lot of crazy wall posts and private message from your friends talking about videos posted and links messaged by you overnight that contained viruses.  Then it hits you before the caffeine can get into your system… You've been hacked!

You can take certain steps to prevent this from happening, so here are 5 Facebook Safety Tips for Realtors. 

1.  Turn on Login Notifications.  This awesome feature notifies you when your account has been accessed from a different computer or a new device.  Do this – go to "Account Settings" and click on the "Security" icon on the left.  Click on "Login Notifications"  and then select your notification method (email or text or both), and click "Save Changes" button.  Facebook will send you a notification and a link to boot the intruder out.  

2.  Enable Secure Browsing.  While you are in the security settings, go ahead and select "Secure Browsing".  Click the box "Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) when possible" and then click on the "Save Changes" button.  Now Facebook will use an encrypted connection instead of a standard one making the information you send on Facebook more secure.  This is important when using an open wireless network because it will prevent hackers from stealing your Facebook network connection or eavesdropping on your communication.  

3. Change Your Password.  Change your password frequently.  I know, I know! It is a pain in the rear, but if you get alerts about someone accessing your account after doing #1 above, then your account has already been hacked.  Make sure your password is easy enough for you to remember, but also add upper and lower case letters, as well as number and characters.  Also remember to logout of Facebook, especially when you are not on your own computer.  Closing the web page or exiting the browser does not log you out, and thus makes your account accessible.  

4.  Be Cautious.  Don't fall for the scammer's tricks.  They are getting VERY clever these days.  If you suspect someone is up to no good or that something seems fishy, then go to snopes.com to do your research before clicking on a link or sharing it with your friends.  Also remember to logout of Facebook, especially when you are not on your own computer, so when the next person uses that computer to access Facebook they will see you already logged in.  

5.  Use Anti-Virus Software.  I probably should have made this the number one tip, but it is really the number one thing you can do to protect yourself from not only Facebook hackers, but from hackers in general.  Pay the money for the annual subscription/renewal.  It will be well worth it!  As extra added protection you can go to AVG.com and download their free anti-virus software for basic protection. Do it now, please! 

Taking just a few minutes and a few precautions to protect yourself on Facebook can save you from enduring countless headaches and heartaches that come from having your account hacked.  Follow the steps above to have your Facebook friends still love you tomorrow when you wake up.  If you have some additional safety tips to add, please do so below so we can all benefit from your knowledge.  

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Twitter for real estateYou can't deny it any longer… Twitter is happening! If your target market is first time home buyers then you probably need to start learning this platform from top to bottom and using it to capture leads (about 15% of the 18-49 age group use Twitter).  Twitter is very unique with a language all of its own – (#)hashtag, (@) at sign, (RT) retweets, and most of us haven't taken the time to learn it and don't know how to use it for our real estate business.  Spend some time learning it if you don't already know it.  Once you learn it well enough, then here are 5 ways to generate real estate leads using Twitter. 

1. Start by Creating a Community of Followers.  When someone follows you on Twitter, they are telling you that they are interested in hearing what you have to say.  Focus on giving your followers what they want to hear.  They followed you knowing you're in real estate, so give them real estate news, advice, tips, etc. that you know they will enjoy.  Don't be afraid to mix some personal tweets in with your business tweets.  A good mix is about one personal tweet out of every ten tweets. 

2.  Strike up a Conversation and Retweet Your Followers.  If someone has retweeted an article that you posted or wrote, then send them a direct message to thank them and ask them what they liked about the article.  By doing this you can determine what your audience is really interested in.  Get to know your followers.  Retweet their tweets.  Trust me, they will start to pay attention and you will see the Twitter snowball start rolling downhill. 

3.  Make Yourself Retweetable.  Try to keep your tweets to fewer than the allowed 140 characters so that there will be more of a chance.  A retweet starts like this "RT@username", (for example RT@stratusmgmt), so if your Twitter handle is 11 characters long then you want to make your tweets no longer than 125 characters to allow for the "RT", the space and your username.  Making your tweets easy to share will help to further your messages. 

4.  Find Tweets in Your Area.  Since most Realtors are selling homes in their local areas, you will want to find tweets from your area.  The very powerful tool that allows you to do this can be found by using twitter.com/search.  Go there and type in "near:city" and then your keyword or keyword phrase.  So if you work in Dallas, then your Twitter search would look something like this, "near: Dallas real estate."

5.  Get Your Prospects off of Twitter.  Just like all social media platforms, you have to get your followers off Twitter and onto your website, or better yet, get their name, phone number,  and email address.  This can be done by using direct messages. Connect to them offline and you will find you can build trust much quicker and easier than you ever could online.  

I hope you enjoyed my post and learned something new that will be useful to you.  I promised you five ways to general real estate leads using Twitter, but I don't feel like I've done enough today.  So, I want to give you one more tip.  Follow me on Twitter (@stratusmgmt) and tweet or send me a direct message.  I will respond back with tip #6, which is a great one.  If you've got your own Twitter lead generation tip that you think we can all benefit from, then please leave it below in the comments section along with a link back to your website or blog for a little extra SEO juice.  Hey, what can I say?  I love to help you help you!

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Most Realtors, and most marketers, have a love/hate relationship with email marketing.  There are so many factors that go into an email marketing campaign that many Realtors just throw their hands up and say, "Forget it!"  Don't let email marketing get the best of you.  Here are 5 common email marketing mistakes that should be avoided by real estate agents.

  1. Having Blinders On – Too many emails are about selling – that's it! Nothing more.  You emails should be about more than selling – announcements of goals, new employees hired, extending new opportunities to your followers, etc.  Send emails to help educate others – very powerful!
  2. Boring Your Audience to Tears – Use exciting, upbeat language.  See if you can pique your reader's curiosity with humor, controversy, or data.  Tell a story and grab your reader's attention with the first sentence.
  3. Trusting the Gurus – Try something different than what the gurus tell you as far as scheduling goes.  Test different days and times yourself.  Try sending your emails at a day and time when your competitor is not.
  4. "Dear <fname>," – I wanted to cry when I first saw that greeting when an email was sent to my campaign.  It showed a lack of genuineness on my part.  Be sure to correctly map your labels (first name, last name, etc) to the correct value.  This sin can cost you subscribers in a hurry.
  5. Me, Me, Me – Too many Realtors make their emails about themselves or their listings.  That is ok every once in a while, but don't focus your campaign on you.  Why not tell a success story about the first time home buyer you helped, or the couple who is expecting child number 5 or 8 or 10, or the retired couple who moved in order to be closer to the grandchildren?  Try answering FAQ's with some hypothetical situations.  Do you see how much more powerful that can be than just talking about your listings all the time?

Try some of these tips with your campaign and test your open rates with previous emails.  You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.  Share some of your email marketing mistakes with us below so that we can all learn something new.

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No doubt that you've heard the terms "Local" or "Local Search" at some point in time over the past 2 years.  Local search is simply referring to a move being made by Google (and other search engines) to return more local search results for certain keywords or search phrases.  Do you want to see what I am talking about? Go to Google and type in "Pizza".  In the past if you typed in "Pizza" the search results would show websites about how pizza is made or maybe show you the websites of national chains, but not anymore.  Now, the search results show pizzerias located within just a few miles of where you are searching from.  That is the beauty of "local search!"

Google calls their local search engine Google Places.  I am a huge fan of Google Places for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I don't want the phone number of a pizzeria in the Los Angeles area when I'm in Atlanta.  Google knows you don't want that either, so that is why they have put so much emphasis on "local".  But, that is not the purpose of today's post.

The purpose of today's post is to give you the MAIN reason I love local search, which is reviews.  Local search provides you with an excellent opportunity to reach out to your past clients and ask them to post a review of your service online.  This is similar to putting a complete stranger who is in the market to buy a home in a room with your fans who are singing your praises.  That complete stranger is going to come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling about using you as his Realtor.  Think about it for a minute.  You don't typically try a new restaurant without speaking with a friend or family member who has eaten there already or without reading reviews online first.  Many home buyers and sellers do not have a preferred Realtor (likely because the Realtor they used last hasn't kept in touch with them – which is a different post altogether), so they go online to find a Realtor.  If you are not on a "local" search engine or ranked on the first page of Google, then you won't be found.  If you are on local search and you don't have reviews then you are missing a wonderful opportunity to build trust with a complete stranger.  Creating a Google Places profile is simple to do, and getting your satisfied clients to leave you a review should be as easy as a phone call to ask for their help and their email address so you can send them the link to your profile.

Go to Google Places today and set up your profile and then make 5 phone calls to past clients to ask for reviews.  Tomorrow call 5 more and ask for them to post a review.  If you hit some road blocks in the process of making your profile, then call or email me.  I've probably built a hundred Google Places profiles and can probably walk you through the process in 2 minutes.  If you have already setup your profile then please leave a comment with the link to it.  I would love to see what you've done.  Oh, and by commenting with the link to your Google Places account, you are giving yourself a little search engine juice, which is never a bad thing.  I look forward to seeing your link below.

No doubt that you've heard the terms "Local" or "Local Search" at some point in time over the past 2 years.  Local search is simply referring to a move being made by Google (and other search engines) to return more local search results for certain keywords or search phrases.  Do you want to see what I am talking about? Go to Google and type in "Pizza".  In the past if you typed in "Pizza" the search results would show websites about how pizza is made or maybe show you the websites of national chains, but not anymore.  Now, the search results show pizzerias located within just a few miles of where you are searching from.  That is the beauty of "local search!" 

Google calls their local search engine Google Places.  I am a huge fan of Google Places for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I don't want the phone number of a pizzeria in the Los Angeles area when I'm in Atlanta.  Google knows you don't want that either, so that is why they have put so much emphasis on "local".  But, that is not the purpose of today's post. 

The purpose of today's post is to give you the MAIN reason I love local search.  Think about it for a minute.  You don't typically try a new restaurant without speaking with a friend or family member who has eaten there already or without reading reviews online first.  Many home buyers and sellers do not have a preferred Realtor (likely because the Realtor they used last hasn't kept in touch with them – which is a different post altogether), so they go online to find a Realtor.  If you are not on a "local" search engine or ranked on the first page of Google, then you won't be found.  If you are on local search and you don't have reviews then you are missing a wonderful opportunity to build trust with a complete stranger.  Creating a Google Places profile is simple to do, and getting your satisfied clients to leave you a review should be as easy as a phone call to ask for their help and their email address so you can send them the link to your profile.

Go to Google Places today and set up your profile and then make 5 phone calls to past clients to ask for reviews.  If you hit some road blocks in the process of making your profile, then call or email me.  I've done a hundred of these things and can probably walk you through the process in 2 minutes.  If you have already setup your profile then please leave a comment with the link to it.  I would love to see what you've done.  Oh, and by commenting with the link to your Google Places account, you are giving yourself a little search engine juice, which is never a bad thing.  I look forward to seeing your link below.

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