Video now integrated in our Virtual Tours!

24

Apr
2012
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

Looking to add something special to your listing?  Well look no further, we got the answer!

We’ve integrated the ability to add video to our Virtual Tours.  Called Tactical Video, the clips can be of any length, full quality HD Video and can integrate any type of video.  Best when used with a combination of video and photos, the video will add the WOW factor to your listing!

So what is the best way to use this new feature?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Add a personal introduction to the tour – Video of you in front of your sign introducing the property and welcoming the viewer will add a personal touch to any tour and get your face and voice in front of the potential client.
  • Add a generic introduction to your tour – Introduce your self and welcome them without mentioning the address of the property and reuse the clip for every tour.
  • Add select clips of you in the home – Mixed with still photos, pick a few locations within the home to talk more about the home, the special features, and the neighborhood.  One clip will certainly have them looking for more and is a great way to replace wordy printed material.
  • Highlight special features of the home through video – Fountains, streams and rivers, serene and tranquil views are all great motion clips that still photos cannot capture.
  • Replace 360 degree panoramas with video – Although not viewer controlled, video can simplify the panoramic experience by showing the full scene without the need to interact.

A few things to keep in mind when using this feature:  Keep the quality high (both the video and the audio), Keep the Video clip short, and Use your time wisely.  Most buyers will explore a home first online, and it is your chance to make your best impression!

For more ideas and to discuss how to make your listing stand out from the rest, give us a call or reach out online!

Twitter and the Superbowl

06

Feb
2012
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

As expected, the number of tweets during the Super Bowl were staggering.  The final seconds of the game saw traffic increase to 12,000 tweets per second, with the Madonna half-time show seeing about 10,000 per second.

Twitter is fast growing to be the immediate go-to social media site, although not even close to the number of users on Facebook.  Convenience to post via mobile phones has certainly made a difference in their popularity.  In our “I want it now” world, getting the information out there first seems to be an unwritten competition.  It is highly unlikely someone found out who won the Super Bowl from your tweet, but getting on the timeline seems to be necessary.

I took some time to read some of the tweets scrolling on my timeline during the game.  Most seemed to be about the commercials and talking about how Madonna’s performance ranked up to her old self.  Steve Martin and Billy Crystal kept the jokes rolling, and JW Marriott proudly talked about their awesome building that donned the Indy skyline.

Honestly, it was the one time I found twitter interesting and worth reading.  Maybe I need to clean out my list that I’m following.

Thanks for reading.

You want video?

31

Jan
2012
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off
Tags :  

When we first started BTW images, we felt a lot of confusion about Virtual Tours. To us, virtual tours were 360 degree panoramas displayed online. In the real estate industry, virtual tours included any still photo posted online and linked to a listing.

Now that we have begun offering true videography, we are faced with the same dilemma. To us, video is true motion with audio, etc. A slidecast is still photos with panning motion added and converted to video format. We have offered this since we opened BTW images, and now our competition is starting to offer this type of “video”. MRIS has also offered to convert the photos to video for $5 extra.

Right now, any type of video posted on the Internet is great for search engines. Still photos converted to a video format look no different than full motion video to the Internet, although the viewer is well aware. There is nothing wrong with either product and the more information you can place on the Internet, the better.

So don’t be surprised if we asked for more specifics when you ask us for video. We just want to determine if you need a slidecast or a full motion video.

Thanks for reading.

Google+ : A Party of one…

19

Jan
2012
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

At BTW images, we embrace social media, recognizing it not only helps to get the word out about our company, but helps us communicate to current and future client.  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all social networks that we actively post updates.  We even post to YouTube, a semi-social network.  Doing so not only helps to spread the word about our company, but also gain ranking in the search engines.

When Google+ launched, we quickly jumped on our developer invite and set up individual accounts (branded accounts came later).  Google made it effortless to integrate into our workflow since our work on Google Analytics and Google Adwords keeps us logged in and the network knew who we were.  Once the network opened up to the general public, we quickly found some of our friends and clients and connected with them.

But the excitement quickly wore off.  Not just among us, but our friends and clients.  We noticed more and more the lag of people posting on Google+, but there was no one idle on Facebook.  Was it just one too many networks to update?  I browsed the posts today and noticed no one had updated since November 2011.

For us, we use Hoot Suite to keep our networks updated.  We can write a post and push it out to many networks.  So the additional network was no burden on our marketing.  But for the average person, they embrace a single network and use the native interface.

Currently, Google+ boasts 85 million users.  More users post photos on Google+, tend to chat more, and tend to like the interface better than it’s competition.  On my personal Facebook page, I have friends, family, clients, etc.  But where are they on Google+?  I call out to them and all I hear is an echo…

It is hard for a new network to get buy-in from the public, since a social network is not worth the time unless you have someone to be social with.  With the enormous amount of users on Facebook, the giant is certainly the way to go.  Google could implement the best cutting-edge technology and still not get the average person to get on board.

So how can Google win?  The company needs to embrace the business community.  First, the LinkedIn community is certainly up for grabs.  I love LinkedIn, but it is certainly a underused and featureless business connection medium.  Since my time on the network, I don’t recall anything new being added.  Luring over their users would be a great start.  Second would be to embrace the businesses themselves.  Google+ rolled out branded pages much later than their initial launch.  People love to visit company pages on Facebook to get information and special deals.  Most advertisers ask you to visit the Facebook page vs their own web site.  People are on Facebook, and once you like the company, you automatically get posts integrated into your news feed.  Getting businesses on board would in turn attract the average user, and let them experience the social network they have long tried to avoid.

But until then, we will keep updating the network.  So if you happen to be in Google+, come hang out with us.  We can listen to our echoes together.

Thanks for reading.

Call the SWOT team!

07

Sep
2011
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

I recently read an article by a local Burke remodeler who talked about doing SWOT analysis on your company. This took me back to my college days and figured it was time to do one again for our business.

Those who are not familiar with SWOT analysis, it is a four quadrant chart of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They are arranged to give a view of internal and external influences, along with positive and negative factors. Those of you who had marketing classes in college are well familiar with them. Honestly, when in college, I never figured I would really do one in the real world.

The analysis was quite enlightening and extremely beneficial. We realized with such a large list and only picking our top three to focus on, how much we CAN’T get done. But by only focusing on three, we can concentrate on doing three really well instead of twenty and never completing them.

I think it was also educational for all of us, Where some saw weakness, others saw strength and was to promote it. The hardest for us was the threats, since they seem to be the most uncontrollable. We have to take faith in the other three quadrants, that by working them, our threats will solve themselves.

So I suggest no matter what type of business you are in to take the time to do the exercise, you’ll benefit not only from the experience, but will be able to be more focused.

Oh, and thanks to , Craig Durosko of Sun Design and Remodeling, his article can be found here.

Thanks for reading.

App review: Flipboard

24

Aug
2011
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off
Categories :Digital, Front Page

I hate Twitter. That’s no secret. I know one of the reasons is I never took the time to organize my list of who I am following to weed out the noise. So I get tons of traffic updates among quality tweets and have given up.

There is one app that I use on the iPad that does help both on twitter and Facebook. It is called Flipboard. It connects to my social media accounts and decrypts shortened URLs, retrieves the content from the URL, and places it in a magazine layout. So my twitter stream turns from a garbled 140 character mess to a collection of information in an easy to read format.

Flipboard also connects to other social sites and popular rss feeds from newspapers and magazines. Popular feeds are already set up in the preferences and can be turned on and off as you see fit. You can also add other blogs that you follow.

I recommend this app to take the mystery out of the microblogs and to gather all your information in one, easy to read place.

Check the out at flipboard.com

Thanks for reading.

Retweeting: part two

22

Aug
2011
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

In our previous post, we talked about the power of reaching thousands through a retweet.

To recap, the power of twitter is in the retweet functionality. By tweeting something worthy of sharing, your name and topic can reach way beyond your followers.

This is done by a retweet. You can see who and what has been retweeted by selecting the Retweet tab from your Twitter home page.

So to be successful in the retweet realm, you must now be the expert in writing headlines. Topics that catch peoples interest, worded well enough to get their attention. Retweeting just a shortened URL will never get anywhere, you must describe it, tell them why it’s interesting.

One of the many useful things about this is that it can be used as an experiment. You can tweet the topic several times and analyze the retweet and trending to see what works. Authors do this with book titles, bloggers do this with their blog post titles, and marketers do this with everything they market. An inexpensive way to polling.

So for instance you are a real estate agent, you can tweet several different versions of your listing catchphrase to see what works. “A beautiful one bedroom apartment,” “Spectacular views of the city,” or “No condo fee, tons of amenities” may be a few tries to see what works.

Remember, you don’t know what people like until you do market research.

Thanks for reading.

Give them something to retweet!

17

Aug
2011
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

One of the powerful things about Twitter is not how many followers you have that you can reach out to, but their ability to retweet what you say. The retweeting can go on endlessly, and your reach is exponential in nature. So even though you may have a few hundred followers, your tweet can reach thousands.

How do you get retweeted? Louise Doherty in her post http://www.twitip.com/how-to-get-retweeted-the-formula/ sums it up in two basic facts to get retweeted: keep it short, and keep it interesting.

But first, you have to give them something to retweet. Regardless of what industry you are in, keep the tweet as something interesting to your target audience. Remember, once you have their attention or get them to follow you, you can give them the party line.

For instance, we are in the web site business. If I tweet “HTML5 closer to standardization by W3C”, I know the attention I would grab would not be that of any client looking to get a web site built. I may change the tweet to something like “The web is about to get a facelift!”, which is friendlier to to layman, but probably still nothing they would care about.

So what are they interested in? You must think hard on who your target client is to find out. For instance, if I was a real estate agent or home builder, I would focus on an location I worked in and tweet about happenings in the town. Maybe a restaurant review, opening of a new store, a town fair. Make sense? No? By doing this, you not only are getting the attention of families, but those who are interested in the area in which you do business. Maybe someone who would like to move to that area. For an agent, showing you know the area is just as important as knowing how to sell a home.

There are a few other tools and uses of the retweet, which I’ll save for a later post.

Thanks for reading.

Effectiveness of night shots

12

Aug
2011
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

Night photographs of exteriors for real estate listings can be an effective way to convey warmness and attractiveness of the home. These shots are more accurately dusk shots vs. Night shots since the photographer tries to get some light in the night sky along with the warm glow of the interior lighting.

The shots do hide the details of the home and should not be used as the only exterior shot in your listing. However, the night shots will male your listing stand out among the rest.

Night shots are best used on larger homes with a decent amount of windows. Interior lighting with incandescent lighting is best to produce the warm orange glow. The photographer will light the exterior using additional lighting in order to produce an good balance of sky and interior lighting.

Night shots will capture the viewer’s eye in a different way and will convey mood, texture and rich color compared to the daylight photo of all the other listing.

So if you want your listing to stand out among the others, consider a night shot for the prime photo in your listing.

Thanks for reading.

Utilizing blog posts to their fullest

10

Aug
2011
Posted By : Ted Wiatrak Comments are off

Blogs provide a great way to express you opinion to the world beyond the micro logging sites. Integrating them into your web site adds to the SEO ranking also. One of the great things about blogs is they have a user friendly interface to update the entry, much like a word processor. But is your blog being used to it’s fullest on your site?

A blog entry can be tagged with categories. These categories can be used as a filter when displaying them on your site. They can also be filtered in the rss feed to other sites.

Huh? Ok, for example, this blog entry is categorized “front page” to display on our front page of our blog. It also has several other tags to make it easy to retrieve. But we also use our blog to post company news on our web site. This is another tag, so these post do not show on the front page of our blog, but are filtered via an rss feed directly to our web site.

As a simpler example, if you wanted a sidebar with “employee news”, you can create a tag and a filter to just display employee info in your sidebar and keep this information from cluttering your main blog stream.

By categorizing and filtering your blog post, you can use the same interface to update numerous areas of your web site and by adding the rss filter, you can update many sites.

Thanks for reading.