It’s friday already? Here’s your weekend reading list!

Busy week, right? I had about 2-3 other blog posts lined up that I wanted to get out the door, but time got away from me and here we are – Friday already.

In any case, I wanted to quickly share a few interesting posts that I came across in the last week which particularly struck me as adding value to the “conversation”. I recommend taking a few minutes over the weekend to browse through them, and if you have more than a few minutes, dig through the archives of some of the websites I’ve pointed out – there’s a treasure trove of advice and content to be had if you just know where to look. On that note, here’s this weekend’s reading list –

How To Be Like Zappos in 3 Easy Steps – It’s common knowledge that the company culture over at Zappos is one of the best in the business, so how can you take their lead and apply the same principles to your business?

How Online Marketing Drives Offline Success – KISSMetrics never fails to deliver insightful content, and this infographic connects the lines between the online and offline world in a way that should help any marketer bridge the gap. Hint: need something to share? People love infographics – so go for it!

A Blogging State of Mind – Get your head right! Think you know what drives your blogging decisions? Think again.

The Future of Community – What will the future of your online community actually look like? Chris Brogan shares some very insightful thoughts.

B2B: Social Marketing and a Cautionary Tale – Many marketers fail to accomplish their goals simply because they approach leads and influencers in the wrong way. This brief article is a great real world example of how easily things can go wrong.

Stay warm and enjoy your weekend everyone!

Your Weekend Reading List

We live in a time of perpetual information overload – it’s tough to keep up with all of the different articles and links that you come across in a given week, and easy to miss out on great content which passed you by. We want to help – so starting today, we’re going to be compiling a “weekend reading list” every Friday, chock full of relevant content from the previous week that you may have missed. Use your weekend to get caught up on what’s happening, and stay in the attack mode mindset so you can take Monday by storm!

Questions to Ask Before Starting in Social MediaDanny Brown

The internet is not a level playing field – many businesses are still deciding if they want to embrace social media. What should you be asking yourself before you get too deep into social territory? Even if you’ve been doing it for awhile, this article is a great refresher course on what you should be thinking about as you move forward.

The Myth of Blogging BuddiesJason Falls

Where does the traffic to your blog come from? Jason Falls shares some of his own stats, and it’s a bit eye-opening to see how the results shake out.

Nine Ways to Spice Up Any Blog PostProBlogger

Whether you’ve been blogging for years or are just getting started, you can always get better! ProBlogger shares 9 worthwhile tips for how to make your blog posts more interesting and engaging.

An Insider’s Guide to Social Media EtiquetteChris Brogan

Even the most seasoned social media marketer can make a mis-step now and then; Chris Brogan reminds us of how we should be conducting ourselves online. This may sound like a refresher course you can skip, but trust me, it’s worth the read.

10 Reasons Why Your Content Strategy FailsConversation Agent

Don’t get stuck in your own echo chamber! Think about what you can do differently – I guarantee you there’s a least 1 item in the list which you could get better at.

I don’t know about you, but it’s coooooold here in SF this weekend – perfect weather to stay inside and get caught up on our reading. Are there any other articles you came across this week you think are worth sharing, including your own? Feel free to add them in the comments – and have a great weekend!

Do you let good leads slip through your hands?

Just for a moment, let’s forget about optimizing your website design for conversions and think about how many times you’ve let a good lead slip through your hands simply because you failed to follow up on an inquiry that came through your “contact us” form. What did you really just miss out on? Let’s think about what we know about this person…

  • They want to learn more.
  • They tried to engage you.
  • They told you how to reach them.
  • They want to be your customer!

And to think you let them slip through the cracks because you were too busy to spend 5 minutes typing out a personalized response email. You, my friend, have just had a serious #OPPORTUNITYFAIL.

It’s important to always look for ways to optimize your website for conversions, but if you don’t take the time to follow up on every legitimate inquiry you receive you might as well pack your bags and go home. You can’t complain about a lack of new business if you fail to follow up with someone who has expressed their interest so clearly, and you never know what opportunity lies behind that email address – it’s quite possible that you might have missed out on a game-changing deal that could take your business to the next level.

The next time you consider archiving that inbound email inquiry without responding, do yourself a favor and repeat this mantra: “I will answer every legitimate inquiry my website receives within 24-48 hours, regardless of the day of the week.” The internet doesn’t observe weekends. If you’re serious about building your business online, neither will you.

If you need more inspiration, take a moment and read what my friend Evan Hamilton had to say over on the Uservoice community blog. They aim to answer inquiries in a hour or less – now that’s what I’d call customer service.

Twitter D.O.A. | The Death of Auto-DM

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a Twitter user. If you’re a Twitter user, at some point you’ve probably followed someone who sent you a direct message auto-reply after you followed them. Here’s one I recently received:

“Thanks.Will be happy to tweeting with you.Please follow me on facebook

Yep, that was the exact reply – including the lack of spaces and poor grammar. Suffice it to say, I immediately unfollowed them. Has anyone in the history of social media ever received an auto-DM when they followed someone and thought “wow, this is such a personal connection I’ve just built with this person I don’t really know but follow online that they want me to also connect with them on Facebook and be best friends!” (phew!!)

No, they haven’t, because auto-dm’s are lame, and in my opinion they carry with them the stank of the “social media guru”.

You know the type of person I’m talking about – they follow 72,364 people and have 72,465 followers, they can “help you make money online”, they’re a “social and new media expert”, and they’re on “#TeamFollowBack”. They’re fanatical about #hashtags, and love leaving inane link-bait comments on your blog like “Nice article! We enjoy and use your innovative marketing advice at our e-commerce site .”.

These people pollute Twitter, and contribute to a user experience which drives away many well-intentioned people who see Twitter only as a useless forum for blatant self promotion. Those of us who are experienced Twitter users do our best to steer clear of them, but they’re not going away; in fact it seems that they’re only growing in number. So what are we going to do about it?

I propose an immediate boycott of any Twitter user who sends auto-DM’s upon new follows. If you follow someone and they auto-DM you shortly thereafter, immediately unfollow them. People like this will only change their behavior if they see that it affects their potential to distribute marketing messages, and unfollowing them en masse hits ’em where it hurts. More importantly, I implore you to stop the practice of auto-DM’ing if you’re a part of it – it reflects badly on your character, and lumps you into a class of individuals which I’m sure you don’t want to be associated with. Do yourself a favor, and do us a favor – give it up. If I followed you it’s because I’m already interested in what you have to say – you don’t need to send me a carbon copy follow-up message to make me feel extra warm and fuzzy on the inside. All you need to do is keep up a useful dialog with your followers, contribute insightful commentary to our discussions, and share interesting, valuable content I might find interesting.

Sound hard? It’s not. Just be yourself. Share this with your friends and let’s make it happen.

This is the death of auto-DM. Shout out to Jay-Z for the inspirational acronym.

Why would we add ApartmentRatings to the TurnSocial bar?

I’ll just come right out and say is a lightning rod for controversy in the multifamily housing industry, and there are many people who’d prefer to avoid them altogether. At the mere mention of an apartment rating or review site, I’ve seen many property management professionals cringe, hoping to avoid any potentially negative reviews as if they were the plague. However, the fact of the matter is that potential residents are using websites like to learn more about what life in a given apartment community might actually be like, and like it or not, review sites are here to stay.  In fact, many property managers are now open to the idea that the best course of action when dealing with potential detractors may just be addressing them head-on. It’s my belief that services like Yelp have opened the door for business owners who realize that you simply can’t please every customer, and that it’s better to show the world that you understand their grievances, even if you disagree with them.  It was in the spirit of this idea (and at the request of a few multifamily companies who shall remain unnamed) that we decided the time was right to offer our customers the ability to add ApartmentRatings data directly to their website. Here’s a sample screen shot of the app displaying a randomly selected apartment review:

As you can see from the post, this community is fairly well liked and 5 of the 6 reviews listed are positive. In this situation, it almost ALWAYS makes sense to include this data on your property website – these are firsthand recommendations that validate the positive experience of living in your community. But what if the reviews were not good?

I’m not gonna lie to you – those reviews are pretty bad, and I removed the name of the company because I didn’t want to unfairly single anyone out in this blog post. If I were the property manager, I probably wouldn’t want to include this app in my TurnSocial bar – it just doesn’t serve much of a purpose to show this to visitors who might not have found it otherwise. Fortunately with TurnSocial, once you’ve installed our code on your website you can add and remove apps without ever touching it again – so if you decide ApartmentRatings isn’t the best fit for you it takes less than a minute to remove it from your website for good. No big deal.

I won’t claim to be a multifamily industry expert, and I’m also not hear to get all “social media guru-ish” with you and propose that you simply must include trollish, negative ApartmentRatings on your website in the noble pursuit of “transparency” and “openness”. It’s simple enough – if you don’t want to add them, don’t add them! However, if you enjoy a positive relationship with and want to promote what former residents have to say about you, we now offer a simple way to include apartment ratings on every one of your property websites, for free. The choice is yours.

Sometimes it helps to see things from a potential residents perspective: now that they’ve found your website, they’d like to learn a little bit more about what your community has to offer. They like what they see in the photos and floorplans, but are still unconvinced. They know your property is generally in the right neighborhood, but still want to learn more. Unless you’ve loaded your website down with a ton of outbound links to this content, they’re most likely going to “bounce” before they ever fill out a guest card. That is, unless they see your TurnSocial bar sitting unobtrusively down in the left corner and think “what’s that?”

Without ever leaving your website, they get a feel for your company’s personality via your Facebook and Twitter apps; view additional property photos and video on Flickr and YouTube; learn more about the surrounding neighborhood with WalkScore and Rentwiki; check out nearby bars and restaurants on Yelp; see who’s vying for your property mayorship on Foursquare, and last but not least – read glowing reviews about what it’s like to live in your community straight from the mouths of former residents. Isn’t there a better chance they’ll fill out a guest card now that they’ve gotten to know you better?

We decided to add ApartmentRatings to the TurnSocial bar because we feel it will provide needed context for a segment of our customers websites. It won’t be for everyone, but for those of you who would like to promote what your former residents have to say, it’s one more point of contact that may turn a unique visitor into a lead, and hopefully into a resident. As we move forward in 2011, we’re going to be adding a whole new layer to TurnSocial, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to. We’re really excited about where we’re headed, and we hope you’ll continue to stick with us for the ride.

Thanks for stopping by!

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