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What REALTORS® Can Learn from USAA.com
If you think of the "best" website you visit – what site do you think of? The answer is easy for me. I think of USAA.com. Although the USAA site is focused on financial services (not real estate), I believe there's quite a bit that REALTORS® could learn from USAA – online and offline. Who is USAA? USAA offers insurance, banking, investments, retirement solutions and advice to more than 8 million active duty military members, veterans who have honorably served, and their families. Twenty-five Army officers founded USAA in 1922 to insure each other's automobiles. Approach Your Website as a Consumer It is obvious that the designers of USAA.com approached their task by adopting the perspective of a consumer. You can see this in the details, things like: The exceptionally easy navigation. The text they've used for the different navigation elements make it simple to figure out which option to choose. For instance, from within a summary of accounts, you select the drop-down menu under "I want to" and choose the appropriate action. The clean design. Please don't overwhelm me with too many design elements or navigation options. USAA doesn't do this. They keep the design clean and simple, making it incredibly easy and inviting to use.
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Optimize Your Network With Social Media Dashboards
Social media has become a basic aspect of marketing for every industry. The direct personal communication derived from social media has made it especially useful for REALTORS®. However, REALTORS® are posed with the same challenges of every business attempting to aggregate their marketing strategies via social media. One of the principle challenges is simply managing social media traffic from different social media sites. Social Media Dashboards To manage it all, social media dashboards have been developed as a one-stop-shop for social media activity. Two of the most popular Dashboards are Hootsuite and TweetDeck. HootSuite Hootsuite helps you to update several social media networks at once instead of needing to visit each one individually. It allows for the management of multiple contributors, lets you pick the best time and date to send out updates, helps in tracking mentions of your brand or industry, and lets you track results among other features.  
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Mobile stats stack well for Rand Realty
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Online publishing using Scribd
Many real estate agents to not have a website, or do not have a website that allows them to easily publish documents and market reports that are useful to consumers. Short of getting a new website, there are free tools that you can use. My favorite tool for publishing documents to the Internet is a service called scribd. You can use scribd for free by creating an account at scribd.com, or signing in with your Facebook account. Scribd is a social network for documents. Scribd is a pretty cool website in a lot of respects. They call themselves the world’s largest social reading and publishing company, which is likely true. They claim 70 Million readers every month, and more than one billion pages of documents are stored there. Not only is it a popular place, but it is used by CBS News, Tribune companies, Forbes, Ford Motor, Facebook, The New York Times and bunches of other companies to post and research information. It is a good place.
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Online Notary: Future of Notarization!
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Tech-ing It To the Next Level
Branded web site. Check. Facebook fan page. Check. Document management solution. Check. Featured listings and listing syndication. Check. WordPress blog. Check. If you currently have a technology list like the one above, instead of adding the latest and greatest technologies, perhaps the best way to spend your time is to educate yourself on the technologies you already have.  With technology, consider the old adage "Less is more".  It is better to become an expert in a few technologies, than someone who uses dozens of technologies to half of their potential.  Maybe it's time to take it to the next level. REALTOR® Magazine recently posted a helpful article detailing nine strategies real estate agents can employ to do more with the technology they already have in their arsenal.
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Top 10 Ways to Choose A Web Developer
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Get Plugged into WordPress with the Latest
I recently got back from the Inman Connect 2010 conference.  It does not get much better than sunny San Francisco, real estate professionals, networking and best of all… technology evaluation! Were it possible to be three places at once, I would have done so merely to provide RETechnology.com subscribers with the most recent information to build your business and increase your effectiveness. The topics were excellent.  Although I could not be all places, I did manage to prioritize several key seminars, one of which was Reggie Nicolay’s “Plug Ins You Must Have to Rock a Real Estate Website.” Reggie is the Director of Social Media for REALTORS Property Resource™ (RPR), and well-known in the industry. In his presentation, he outlined his top eight WordPress plug ins.  For those who are not familiar with this term, a plug in is a software component that can be easily added to a larger software application (in this case, a WordPress blogsite).  Plug ins allow agents and brokers to add components to their blogsite that allow them to play video, scan for viruses, manage the site’s content from an administrator etc.  It is always interesting to see which plug in technologies professionals recommend. In Reggie’s case, he recommended the following eight plug ins: Gravity Forms Wishlist Member Altos Toolbar Backup Buddy WP Touch Pro Events Calendar Pr Sharebar Meet your Commenters
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RealtyTech123 Agent Website and IDX
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The Dos and Don'ts of Email
Greetings to you all! This month, I would like to focus on email. Although social networking has become the primary way to communicate, email is still the official mode of business. Client Management  is not currently a feature in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.   Reviewing accurate client history, timelines and objectives takes consistent dedication, but should not be viewed as a chore. Realtors use web-based email, downloaded programs and smartphones to communicate by email and send attachments.   Communicating with clients is not an issue for Realtors. The issue is what to do with all the documentation in your inbox. How do you store all your data effectively? Today's article covers the different types of email and the benefits of them.   Joanie has written a very thought provoking article that I think is right on time about the importance of reading. Check it out.
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How To Make Your Website Howl!
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Internet Fax: Stay Connected!
From the late 1980s on, the fax machine has been a necessary part of office life. Technologies like email are changing all that for some industries, but not for real estate agents—the nature of the real estate business demands the fast and simple transfer of signed papers, legal documents, and more. Email’s certainly a big part of a real estate agent’s job, but the importance of a fax machine in an agent’s office hasn’t diminished. However, a new technology, Internet fax, is making its way into many real estate offices.
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iHomeFinder IDX
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dsSearchAgent IDX
dsSearchAgent is designed around Web 2.0 features that make connections and engagement between the consumer and the agent seamless. This product is built from the ground up to be a map-based search solution. Sliders and features that allow the consumer to narrow their search criteria are dressed along the left side of the map for ease of use. This design is not only very functional, but it allows the consumer to view more property information without scrolling down the page. Like most IDX solutions, dsSearchAgent has many features that encourage consumers to register to the website to access helpful property search tools. For example, customers can save a search and get listing alerts. dsSearchAgent goes even further by allowing the consumer to get the information in the form of an RSS Feed as well as email. Customers can also register to add their own notes to property. The agent back office control panel allows for easy access to customer searches, favorites, and viewing patterns. There are also some nice features that allow agents to organize leads.
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MLSFinder.com
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Birdview IDX
Birdview offers a full-featured IDX service to real estate agents and is available in most markets across the nation. With Birdview IDX, all of the local IDX/MLS listings can be displayed on a real estate agent website for consumers to browse. Birdview offers the ability to search multiple counties and cities at one time and offers many lead generating tools like save a search, listing notification, schedule a showing, and save listings to favorites. Birdview updates the listings on each website as often as every 15 minutes in most MLS markets through the use of the RETS or Real Estate Transaction Standard.
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