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Tip’d: A Social Media Site on the Rise

Tip'dWith so many open source variations of social media sites, there are new ones launched every day.  Most cater to a very small niche and rarely make it to 100 registered users.

Tip’d is the exception.  After its official launch last week, it has already made some amazing strides as of October 20, 2008:

  • 750+ registered users
  • 1000+ articles submitted
  • Approaching 10,000 Tips received
  • 600+ comments made

The real splash, though, is in the quality of users.  Social media powerhouses like zaibatsu, tamar, jaybol, Emit, nowsourcing, weblaunches, webaddict, 1only, coloneltribune, ritubpant, TunisianGuy, and  adrian67 have been active on the site.  Many of them came because of the endorsement of another social media powerhouse, msaleem. (more…)

The Winner’s Curse is a term used to describe auctions whereby the winner will overpay because he/she overestimates the item’s actual market value. This tendency to overbid is due to factors like incomplete information or other market participants. Recent research show that people also overbid because of the fear of losing in a social competition. 

A team of NYU neuroscientists and economists conducted brain imaging studies and discovered that the striatum, a part of the brain’s reward circuitry showed an exaggerated response to losses during an auction game. When a group was told that they would lose $15 if they failed to win an auction, they consistently bid higher than others who were told they would win $15.

The difference lies in way the auction was framed. When simply reminded of what they had to lose instead of what they stand to gain, participants responded with higher bids.

While there have been investigations of overbidding which have attributed the phenomenon to either risk aversion or the ‘joy of winning,’ it was the use of imaging data which allowed us to distinguish between these conflicting explanations and actually arrive at a new and different one, the ‘fear of losing.’…We were able to use neuroimaging results to highlight the importance of framing, and specifically the contemplated loss, as an explanation for overbidding during experimental auctions.”

This ‘fear of losing’ seems to be triggered by competition with others and perhaps, attachment to the value of the item. A interesting takeaway point: instead of only highlighting the benefits or promise for a product/service, it would be beneficial to indicate what the buyer might potentially lose by not making a purchase or taking action.

People implicitly understand that they’re  dealing with other consumers because of factors like exclusivity and scarcity. The one who acts swiftly will get to purchase and enjoy the benefits of the product, while others may not. The call-to-action is much intense in an auction, because the actions of others occur in noticeable real-time. Competition is in the forefront of the mind.

This study reminds me of how much competition is almost intrinsic to human society. You see competition between individuals, groups and countries in business or sports. It is perhaps, both an evolutionary necessity and a learned behavior that one develops in order to survive or thrive within a social environment.

We are all familiar with the pleasure of competition. Many of you have bought items from Ebay, an online auction marketplace.  Often, your decision to make or abandon a purchase is rushed along on a subtle but tangible undercurrent of excitement during the process and a feeling of minor elation for having won an item at a favorable price.

Could there be a way to transplant the fear of losing and the pleasure of winning into a non-auction scenario? Perhaps the use of a competition as a backdrop where each consumer’s individual drive can play out against others. Make them interact and challenge one another within a superstructure that helps YOU fulfill specific end goals.

Let the Competitive Instinct Flourish Within a Social Environment

CompetitionImage Credit: Swamibu

Businesses or marketers should think about how to create a social environment which encourages the natural competitive instincts of their audience. Interaction within this sphere motivates each individual consumer/participant. This helps to increase the level of audience engagement and automatically enhances the value of the product/service/site.

Social news sites like Mixx.com proudly highlight their top users by displaying them on a leaderboard or giving them specific awards/badges. This symbolic segregation of a group of users from others and the conferring of exclusive emblems of acknowledgment enhances the visibility/reputation of these individuals. This becomes something others can strive towards.

Not everyone will lust after awards or a higher user ranking. In fact, most casual users won’t care or bother to go after greater recognition. But owners of these communities know that there will always be a segment of hardcore users (the more competitive or goal-oriented ones) that will work extra hard so they can improve their score or rank higher on the leaderboard.

This addicted 1% of users enjoy a sense of achievement and are often enough to generate enough activity to make your site grow. This effect is even more prominent when the community itself is the main attraction. Take the example of video games with online features: players will gladly pay for a monthly Xbox Live subscription or WOW account so they virtually cooperate or compete with other individuals. Inter-user competition becomes an value add-on.

Such a social environment is not very difficult to create: there are a few fundamental elements involved. For starters, users should be able to interact freely with one another, through the site’s main features or separately in an standalone environment. Also, bind user profiles and on-site activity to awards, rankings, points, recognition, rewards and achievements.

Allow people to form sub-groups to pursue a diverse level of interests. Facilitate inter-user contact and interaction by organizing open competitions or one-off events that everyone can join. These special events can be plotted on an established calendar of regular activities which involve the community or its sub-groups.

The general theory is simple enough: Think about creating social environments that are conducive for your overall business objectives. Apart from simply marketing your site, we should look at giving our audience the ability to connect (and compete) with each other.

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Fear of Losing: Using Competitive Instincts to Your Advantage

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7 Tips for Coping with Email Overload

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

I’m now back from Spain and have spent the last week trying to catch up on email, contacts, client relationships, and everything else that I put on hold for my vacation. Getting away was great – and I made sure not to do any work on the trip – but coming home to an inbox filled with thousands of messages was not fun.

While I love the instant access to virtually anyone that email provides, that instant access can be a huge drain on my productivity – especially when 80% of the email I receive is not urgent, doesn’t require a response, or never seems to get to the point.

If you’re struggling to manage your email, here are seven tips to help.

  1. Only check email at certain times. While it’s tempting to leave your email program open at all times, that’s a huge productivity killer. You don’t need to check every email the second it comes in, thus interrupting whatever task you were doing. Instead, set aside 20-30 minute blocks of time two or three times per day to check email. If this type of non-responsiveness makes you nervous, create an autoresponder that states the specific times you check email, when the sender can expect a response, and what to do if they have an urgent need.
  2. Make sure those times aren’t when you are most productive! While it’s tempting to check your email first thing in the morning, this isn’t always the most productive. Instead, Brian Tracy suggests in his book, Eat That Frog, that you should look over your to-do list and find the biggest task that will yield the most positive benefits if you complete it now – and do that first thing in the morning rather than start off the day with email. Your email can wait. Use your most productive times to work on the stuff that matters most.
  3. Delete liberally. You can delete a considerable portion of your email before you even open it just by checking out the sender and subject. Scan both, and then ask yourself “Do I really have to read this today?” If the answer is no, hit delete. Don’t keep it around in hopes of reading it later – it will probably just sit in your inbox unopened.
  4. Scan for action steps and deadlines. Much of the email we receive can be classified as junk mail or notifications and doesn’t require action on our part. Look for email that does require a specific action that must be done within the next week or two and set these email aside. These should be your top priority.
  5. Take action immediately. If the email requires you to take action and you can do that action in less than two minutes, do it now rather than putting it off. It’s better to get things done quickly than to put them off until you prioritize everything. For action steps that will take longer, move the email to a prioritized folder so you can easily find it along with all the other action-oriented emails. Searching for buried email lost in a sea of unimportant email is a huge time waster.
  6. Send concise replies. When you respond, keep it as short and to-the-point as possible. Start off by summarizing the key point you are responding to and add your reply, so your recipients understand your response in context. For instance: “You asked if I can attend a meeting on Monday, June 16 at 3PM. Unfortunately, I’m not available until 4PM. If that doesn’t work for you, I can also meet Tuesday morning.” You don’t need to write a book here. Limit yourself to a few sentences at most – or better yet, if you can answer the question in the subject line, do so.
  7. Outsource your email. I don’t actually do this (yet) but if you really want to take this concept to an extreme, check out this blog post by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, on How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again.

Time is your greatest asset, and learning to manage your email effectively can really give your productivity a boost.

Introduction to Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

Online advertising is becoming more popular among small businesses that want their site to display on the first page of search results for specific keywords. Pay-per-click advertising is a great way for businesses to do just that. PPC advertising allows websites to list their sites in search engines almost immediately by setting up an advertising campaign that displays your ads on the major search engines.

A PPC campaign works as follows:

  1. You choose specific keywords that are relevant to your topic and bid against your competitors for display spots in search results.
  2. You write ad copy that encourages people to click on your ad rather than all your competitors’ ads.
  3. When people click on the ad, they are taken to a “landing page” which should be a page you’ve created specifically for people who click on your ad. Your page should explain what you do, the benefits of buying your product or service, and some type of “call to action,” which may be to buy your product or fill out a form to contact you.
  4. You measure the results of you ads by analyzing specific metrics, revise your campaign, and repeat the cycle.

Search engines run your ad either above or beside the regular (organic) listings whenever someone searches for your specified keyword. If the searcher clicks on your ad, the search engine charges you an amount up to your maximum bid – the exact amount is determined by a number of factors including the maximum amount you are willing to bid, the maximum amount your competitors have bid, and how effective your ad is in getting people to click on it.

How the ads show up on the search results page depends on two factors:

  1. How much the advertiser is willing to pay – Advertisers bid on keywords much like an auction. They set a maximum amount they are willing to spend every time someone clicks on their ad. This is known as the maximum cost-per-click. Google analyzes all advertisers bidding on your keywords and sets a pricing structure. The higher you bid, the more likely you will show up in the No. 1 or No. 2 position, but the price you actually pay for each click is determined by what other advertisers bid. For instance, if you bid $1 per click but your nearest competitor is only bidding 50 cents, most of your clicks will probably cost in the 50-60 cent range.
  2. How effective the ad is at getting people to click on it – To encourage advertisers to write better ads, Google incentivizes its program by giving priority display space to ads with the highest click-through rates. A click-through rate (CTR) is the number of times someone clicks on an ad divided by how many times the ad is displayed. So if the ad was displayed 100 times and 5 people clicked on it, the CTR is 5 percent.

The Advantages of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising offers a number of benefits to businesses who want to get listed in search engines quickly, such as:

  1. It’s inexpensive to get started. You can get started with Google Adwords or Microsoft adCenter for a nominal $5. Yahoo Search Marketing has no setup fee.
  2. You get immediate results. It can take months of work to get a first-page ranking on Google. With pay-per-click advertising, you can set up an account in a few minutes on Google and start generating traffic to your site that day.
  3. You can target your audience. Google and Yahoo make it simple to target your audience by location. You can choose regional and city locations, or even use their local search capabilities to target prospects within 25 miles of your business.
  4. You pay for only those who click on your ad. Many online advertising opportunities ask you to pay each time they display your ad (called an impression). They usually sell advertising blocks per 1000 impressions (called CPM or cost per thousand). With PPC, search engines keep track of impressions, but they bill you only when someone clicks on your ad.
  5. You have control over how your site is displayed. Those sites that show up in the organic results have very little ability to affect how their site is displayed. Google chooses the page from your site that it calculates as most relevant to the query and pulls some content from the page to display. By contrast, with PPC advertising, you have complete control over the ad’s title, description, and even which page it links to within your website.

Pay-Per-Click advertising is a great place to start for any online marketing campaign because it gives you control over how searchers find your site and which page they land on when they enter your website.

Be More Productive with the 80/20 Rule

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

I’m headed to the Priorat region of Spain for a week on Friday. Of course, I still have a million things on my to-do list and a million more on would-like-to-do list. As I added yet another thing to the to-do list, I realized this just wasn’t working. Every time I crossed off something, I added two new things to be done. Sound familiar?

After taking a deep breath, I sat back down with my list and started prioritizing. It’s so easy to stress ourselves out with all the day-to-day problems that come up, that we often lose track of our goals. In my case, I needed to finish up a client project, write two newsletters, and pack for my trip. Everything else fell into the “would be nice but could wait” category.

What is Your End Goal?

If you also find yourself with the dreaded never-ending to-do list, it may be time to ask yourself, “What do you really want to accomplish?” Setting goals keeps you focused on what truly matters to you. Goals keep you motivated to slog through the daily grind knowing that you are building your business into an asset that will one day work for you.

Ask yourself:

  • Do most of the tasks on your to-do list move you toward your goals or take up time that you could be devoting to achieving your goals?
  • Do they really need to be there?
  • If they absolutely must be done, do you have to do them, or can you delegate them to others?

Use the 80/20 Rule To Get More Accomplished

In 1897, the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80 percent of income in Italy went to 20 percent of the population. While you can argue that the 80/20 principle isn’t exact, it works quite well as a general guideline for business. Roughly 20 percent of your clients will account for 80 percent of your profits. Twenty percent of your daily activities will account for 80 percent of your business’ success. Twenty percent of your inputs produce 80 percent of your outputs. So, if you want to be more productive and grow your business faster, look for the places where you can get the maximum result.

Often, our day is full of things that don’t do much for our business. We might pick up the latest business book, check email, organize our desk, fill out paperwork, surf the internet, chat with co-workers, take calls from family and friends, deal with distractions and interruptions, and so on while only a small chunk of our day is devoted to working with clients or marketing our services – those activities that actually build our business and bring in revenue.

Ask yourself:

  • What can you do right now that will take you a step closer to your goals?
  • What are your most productive activities?
  • Which activities take up a significant portion of your time but leave you with little to show for it?
  • How can you do more productive activities while reducing your time-wasting activities?

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