Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Flock & Pownce

OK, I just discovered two new Internet nerd things I have quickly fallen for. Flock and are great social media hub tools to put all my favorite sites all in one place easy to access and view. With all the logging in and browsing and blah, and twittering, and blah, and did I say blah, I was starting to get tired. I think with these new tools I'll be more dialed into all these different sites, maybe blog more consistently, and start to Digg???

Anywho, Flock is a great new browser built on Mozilla's Firefox codebase. Unlike any other browser, Flock is designed to connect users with their favorite friends, feeds, sites and media putting them at their own epicenter of interests and activity. If you have multiple accounts you log into on a regular basis for blogs, social media, photos, etc. then Flock is for you. is like Twitter on steroids. Not only can I post updates on my status so all my friends can see, I have also added an application that automatically sends that same update to my Facebook profile. If I could get it to send to Twitter as well I would have no need for Twitter as Pownce also has other apps that link to blogs and more. In addition to some really nice apps I can also place quick links on my Pownce homepage to all my other social media pages. Oh, and did I mention that I can not only just send updates on Pounce to all my friends, but I can send links, Files!!!, and Event notices/invites!

- Mark
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, May 19, 2008

Do you survey your customers?

Have you been to It's not the only survey website out there (check out or among others), but it is one that I use for our company that is extremely simple to use and does what I need. You can't beat the price either. $200 gets you unlimited surveys with unlimited responses. That's pretty incredible. You can even try it out for free if you have a small survey that would have limited responses.

Now this post is not a plug for, but more of a question on why more small companies don't survey their customers if a tool like this is available at such a cheap price. Surveying is not just for the large corporations doing billions of dollars in business, it is an important measure for anyone to have when doing business. In marketing we throw money at new strategies, new designs, and new ideas when maybe we should just be asking what people want. We're all guilty of chasing after the next new hot idea, campaign, or media, but maybe the answers are there with our current customers.

Recently we surveyed the residents at our communities and I will say that by doing so online I had better results than ever. Previously we would deliver paper surveys to our residents and we would get back approx 25% of the surveys. We felt that was a pretty good response rate, but by sending out surveys online and having the ability to send reminders responses increased to 45%!!! This type of response rate really gives us the chance to analyze the data and make decisions to improve our business or change up our marketing strategy. One change we have already made is re-listing our properties at as 41.5% of respondents indicated using their site as a resource for an apartment search. They ranked first for Internet resources used, and last year we dropped most of our listing with them to help reduce some expenses. While we have had a good year, we feel the cost is not as prohibitive as losing the exposure this popular site provides.

There are many other examples of how surveys can impact your business or influence changes. I know from our experience the survey we recently sent out has identified a few areas we need to make changes. Although it's sometimes tough to see where we are going wrong it's also a nice wake-up call. While I think it's important to recognize our faults and where changes are necessary, it gives us a great opportunity to see what we are doing well and exploit our best qualities also.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Facebook and Social Media

So, on a whim I decided to join FB (facebook) after they opened it up to anyone and set up an account for business purposes. Not knowing how I would end up using the profile I just let it sit there for nearly a year. Randomly an old college friend stumbled across this work profile and the next thing I knew I was creating a personal account as well. For someone on the cusp of Gen X/Gen Y this was a bold step about a year ago. What has blown me away is the number of adopters in my age bracket and older over the that year. While my cirlcle of friends doesn't grow as expodentially as my cousin in college, it does continue to grow.

So, the question I have now is how to get others in the Gen X and older generations to adopt FB and/or other social media. I think the first step is via LinkedIn, which seems to be friendly in the business world and does not reek of that's for my kids. However, I feel that as FB and MS (MySpace) evolve even more they will need to in a way that strives to capture the 30+ crowd. FB seems to me the one that could prevail for the 30+ crowd in that it is extremely user friendly and the variety and ease of applications keep it interesting. I still ask the question how do we convice the non-adopters to jump in the game?

Now that I've said all this it brings be to a thought that I had when meeting with my marketing agency. We were discussing an individual that presented during a seminar for Apartment Internet Marketing I recently attended. We agreed he had a great perspective on the evolution of the Internet. His point was that people are social beings. This is why social media sites such as FB, MS, and YouTube have grown so quickly. In thinking about that I concluded that these sites are essentially an evolution of email. The difference now is that people have a choice. While email is universal, social media is unique to the choice of the user. It will be fun to see if one will prevail like VHS over Beta or Blu-Ray over HD-DVD.

I think it's important in our world of communication that people adopt social media just as we have cell phones, email, and text messaging. The challenge is the overwhelming options of sites all doing roughly the same thing and most people not wanting or having the time to use them all. Hopefully applications on these sites will give people the ability to log into one spot and control all their accounts from the same place, or maybe that will be the next big player all togeter. I'm sure Google's working on it right now.