New Apps, Common Core Discovery, and more…


Below are the latest apps and tools that we are obsessed with!  Check them out, download them on your phone, and have fun…

Cartoon Camera – so much more than an app.  This tool can change any photograph into an amazing drawing.  So many great things that you can do with this app…even the FREE version.

Cartoon Camera

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fingersoft.cartooncamera
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cartoon-camera-free-by-fingersoft/id557622283?mt=8

FREE photo editing tool – BeFunky.  A great “no registration” tool free for anyone to use.  Saves enhanced images anywhere you choose.  Create engaging and visually stunning images from any photograph.  You can also create photo collages for posting on Instagram.

BeFunky Photo Editor

http://www.befunky.com/create/

For Educators:

Discovered the “Common Core Explorer”…an amazing tool for educators.  This tool will help you discover apps and other technology for use in the classroom that align with the Common Core Standards.  Take a look!

Common Core Discovery Tool

http://www.graphite.org/standards/common-core

5 Most Wanted Topics for Technology Training


What would you MOST like to learn about in 2014?  I would love your feedback…

5 Ways to Jump Start Your Business in 2014


We are well in to the new year…and it’s winter.  If you find that your business has slowed down recently now might be the BEST time to jump start your marketing and business building.  Here are 5 easy ways to get you going:

1.  Learn how to use that iPad | Tablet | Smart Phone | Notebook that you got for Christmas.

Mobile is the THEME of 2014.  Whether you are accessing information or generating it…you need to know how to work with your mobile devices.  It’s that important!  Take the time now to read the online tutorials, browse the help files, and learn how to do your every day business tasks on your mobile device.  YouTube is a GREAT resource for figuring out how to do just about anything.  YouTube it if you don’t find the answer in your manual.  The best way to approach working with your mobile device?  Begin by attempting to complete the every day tasks that you do on your computer.  When you hit a stumbling block, look up the “how to”.  Make sure that you can access your contacts, email, and important social networks that you use to market yourself via your device.

Resources: iPad/Mac Support  |  Samsung  Support  |  Microsoft Support

2. Clean out your contacts.

A lull in business is the BEST time to clean out and organize your contact database.  Your database is the bread and butter of your business.  It makes you money and it should be a finely tuned tool.  The more organized your database the more efficient you are at your job.  Create groups for your contacts, update birthdays and business milestone dates, make sure all contacts have an UP TO DATE email address.  Email addresses allow you to easily stay in touch and share valuable information with your clients.  They are the keys to the kingdom.

While you are at it, clean up your Facebook friend list, your twitter followers, and your LinkedIn connections.

IRM_SurveyMonkey

3.  Update your marketing.

Make sure your website is the best that it can be.  Are you using your website to generate new content and send newsletters automatically?  If not, then your website is NOT up to date.  Do your marketing materials seem dated or do they contain inaccurate information about old business practices?   Do your business cards have your Twitter handle on them?  No?  Time to update those as well.  Check it all…social media sites, email signatures, printed materials, invoices, etc…  Anything that goes out to your clients either on paper or digitally – it should reflect the new year.

4.  Organize your files.

Is your computer loaded with old photos, multiple versions of documents from 2010, incomplete or abandoned projects? Time to get that tool cleaned out or upgraded.  I don’t recommend rushing out and purchasing a new home computer if the one you have is working properly.  I DO recommend cleaning it up and running some simple diagnostic tools to get it to it’s optimal performance.   If your computer is glitchy, has constant pop ups and seems beyond repair it may be time to upgrade.

Resources: Windows Disk Clean Up  | Mac OS Disk Support

5. Learn a new tool.  Pick ONE.

Now there are more FREE and low cost business tools online than ever before.  Now is the best time to pick one, learn it, and implement it into your business.  Tools like Evernote, Mailchimp, Google Drive, and Survey Monkey are all designed for you to connect and interact with your customers easily.  They also help you be more productive.  Just pick ONE new tool to begin with.  If you try to learn several at the same time it may become difficult to put them to use.  You could become overwhelmed.  Selecting one will give you a feeling of accomplishment once you have it mastered.

Instagram | Twitter | Youtube – A Guide for Real Estate Agents



{ INSTAGRAM }
http://help.instagram.com/365080703569355

  • Meant for mobile devices

  • Images and video shorter than 30 seconds

  • Great for posting listing photos

  • Use the MOLDIV App to quickly create templates of multiple images and text

  • Can be used on any mobile device

  • Use hashtags

    • #ListingAgent #CompanyName #Town #Rental #Area

  • Tag your photo with the homeowner’s username if they are Instagram users

  • Be sure to add text to the image before posting

  • Be sure to add the GEOLocation to your uploaded listing images

    • Get homeowner approval first!

  • Find out how your competitors are using Instagram in your local market

IRM Instagram Guide


{ TWITTER }
https://discover.twitter.com/learn-more?gclid=CMPtvsS_krsCFWUV7Aod13YAcg

  • Meant for mobile devices but can be used on Laptop/Desktops

  • GREAT place to use hashtags

    • Use the “Discover” feature to find out which hashtags are trending in your local market

  • You only have 140 characters per post so be sure to keep your post direct and simple

  • Redirect followers to more info using shortened weblinks.  Ex. redirect to your website, listing page, listing website

  • Use Bitly (https://bitly.com/) to create shortened links.  FYI…google will often offer up a shortened link on mobile devices automatically.

  • If you create your OWN hashtag (ex. #BrightonRentalResource) for people to follow on Twitter, make sure you include it in ALL of your marketing such as your EMAIL SIGNATURE.

  • Retweeting (RT_) can be a great way to share useful information posted by OTHER Twitter users.  It will also keep your feed active.

  • Using the MENTION feature (@CentreRealtyGroup) is a great way to have the post shared out to other users networks.

  • Twitter is a great platform to share up to the minute LOCAL information in your market area.  For example: “Sitting next to the @RepKevinHonan at the #BocaGrande in Brighton! Enjoying the best tacos in town!”


{ YOUTUBE }
https://support.google.com/youtube/?hl=en#topic=2676319

  • Youtube is a great resource for LEADS and for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

  • Create a CHANNEL to organize both YOUR videos and videos you would like to share with your followers

  • Simple to create videos from scratch using the desktop account

    • Click the UPLOAD button to access all the video creation tools

    • Create videos from listing photos

    • Add music, title slides, and credit slides

  • Easily create videos from any mobile device using the Youtube Video Capture app

  • Be consistent!  Use the same words in your title over and over again to increase searchability

  • Tag your videos with keywords (ex. Real Estate Industry, Mass Housing, Brighton Rentals, Boston Properties)

  • Be sure to ALWAYS include your contact information in the description of your videos.  Make it easy for people to get in touch with you.  This could include links to your website, Twitter Handle (@inreachmedia), your email and phone, or whatever info is best to share so people can communicate with you

Good Resources:

Hashtags:  http://socialmediatoday.com/kenmueller/1613406/hashtags-proper-use

Link Shorteners: https://bitly.com/  (tip: create an account for added features) | http://tinyurl.com/

Beautiful Single Property Photo Site: http://pixieset.com/

Why reinvent the wheel – users who are doing all this the right way:

On Instagram:
http://instagram.com/prettypleasedesign

On Twitter:
https://twitter.com/leighbrownremax

https://twitter.com/corcoran_group

https://twitter.com/Core_Realestate

On Youtube:
Some of my favorite real estate videos –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzhxBJQKEa8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDAfND9mZ-Y

https://www.youtube.com/user/ericlaveyrealestate?feature=watch

QUESTIONS?  Feel free to contact me directly: @inreachmedia | chrispiercemobile@gmail.com

Slide Show Videos | Windows Movie Maker and YouTube


Looking for an easy way to upload your products or real estate listings to YouTube?  If you are a PC user it’s as simple as creating a slideshow movie in Windows Movie Maker.  You can even easily add audio and Title Slides that include your website and contact information.  Upload the movie to your YouTube Channel and start marketing your products or your real estate listings!

Watch this video:

youtube_icon

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us directly.  info@inreachmedia.org or @inreachmedia

Electronic Signatures vs. Digital Signatures | Know the difference


All e-Signatures are NOT the same.  There is a big difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature.  When navigating this new world of digital documents it is important to understand the differences.  Here is a quick guide to help you decide which is best for you:

Digital Signatures

A digital signature is a type of electronic signature that offers more security than a traditional electronic signature. When you sign a document with a digital signature, the signature links a “fingerprint” of the document to your identity. Then that information is permanently embedded into the document, and the document will show if someone comes in and tries to tamper with it after you’ve signed it.

Because that information is embedded in the document, you don’t need to check back with the vendor if you want to verify that the signature is still secure. That’s a big benefit if you don’t want to be tied down to one vendor over the life of your documents.

On top of that, more countries around the world accept digital signatures because they comply with international standards for security. (More from Wikipedia)

Electronic Signatures

Electronic signatures are popular because they are easy to use. Customers can sign documents online with a click of the mouse or by using their fingers to trace a handwritten signature onto a document.

The downfall of electronic signatures is that they aren’t regulated like digital signatures are. It’s up to each vendor to make their own standards, and you have to take their word for it when they say their signatures are secure.

In fact, electronic signatures don’t have the secure coding that digital signatures have. That technology is what links the signature to the signer’s identity and to the time the document was signed. Essentially, electronic signatures are an image placed on the document, but they can’t show if someone tampers with the document after it is signed.

Another drawback of electronic signatures is the fact that many vendors require you to check back with them if you’d like to know if your document has been tampered with. That means if you decide to change to a different vendor, you could lose those signatures that are stored on the vendor’s server. (More from Wikipedia)

Resources: Docusign, docusign ink, google docs scribble, Dotloop

Featured Small Business Tool | Google Contacts


This months Feature Small Business Tool is Google Contacts.  Why are Google Contacts GREAT?  Because this application can act as your client database, it comes with your GMAIL account for FREE, it syncs with your smartphone/tablet/iPad, and because you can access it from any computer or device no matter where you are.

FeaturedBlogTool

Google Contacts has many of the same features that some of the more costly client databases have.  For example, Google Contacts includes features like contact notes, contact dates, custom fields, multiple phone numbers/email addresses, postal address, contact photo, contact groups, calendar and email integration.


Favorite Feature #1: NOTES

GoogleContacts1

Notes allows you to keep track of all of your contact activities and tasks.  Notes are fully searchable within Google Contacts.  You can add just about anything you want to to the notes field.

Favorite Feature #2: Custom Contact Info

GoogleContacts2

The custom contact info allows you to add title and company information as well as a contact photo and contact group.  All of these features sync with your devices so you can quickly identify your contacts when they call or when you call them.

Favorite Feature #3: Custom Contact Fields

GoogleContacts3

The Custom Fields feature allows you to add any field of information for a contact that you might need.  You can add a “to-do” task date (dates sync with your Google Calendar), custom phone fields, custom email fields, or any kind of field that you might need to make Google Contacts work as your client database.

For more information about Google Contacts, use this link: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1628008

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.  info@inreachmedia.org

Get Organized | 5 Essential Tools to Get the Job Done this Spring


It’s that time of year again!  You have the bug to get organized and get your business in order.  Now is the PERFECT time to take advantage of free tools that will help you stay more organized and more productive.

Here are a few tools that I have adopted into my business recently that I just can’t imagine living without.  Some you may have heard of already…now is the time to use them!

  1. CamScanner

    Hands down this is one of the BEST mobile apps for business to have on your mobile devices.  Quickly and EASILY make multi-page PDF files from ANY photo taken with your devices camera.  This app optimized text in documents, trims and enhances images before converting, and is FREE.  Get it!!Example: Take a photo of any paper document and convert it to a digital format that you can email, upload, and share instantly.iPhone/iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/camscanner-free/id388627783?mt=8

    Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.intsig.camscanner&hl=en

  2. join.me
    I have posted this one before.  Now, more than ever, conversations and client connections are becoming more virtual.  Conferencing and screen sharing simply has to become part of your business model.  Join.me lets you phone conference and screen share for FREE.  I have used this app to solve technical issues, walk someone through a new tool, and to show someone how to use my website.No download necessary.  Simply visit join.me and get started
  3. Mailchimp
    Want to easily send newletters on a regular basis to your clients? OR give potential clients the opportunity to find out more about you while capturing their information?  Use Mailchimp.  This system lets you create newsletters from predesigned templates for FREE.  You can also create newsletters directly from your blog posts – automatically!  There is a bit of a learning curve but once you have it down there is no going back!
  4. Twitter
    If you haven’t thought about using Twitter for your business, you should thing about it now.  As a tool to distribute quick, short bursts of information Twitter is invaluable.  Many busy people have jumped ship from Facebook to Twitter…make sure you are connecting with those potential clients!  Do your research and learn how to use HASHTAGS.
  5. Google Plus Profiles
    Are you a Gmail user?  If you are, did you know your Google Plus profile can act as a business card between you and the people you email?  It can.  Fill out your Google Plus profile with your business information including ALL of your contact information.  You will be surprised how many people will comment on what you do for a living after you do!https://www.google.com/intl/en/+/learnmore/index.html

    https://plus.google.com/authorship

Google Contacts and Your Mobile Devices


Did you know that Google contacts can act as your contact database across devices?  You can seamlessly sync and manage contacts added to your Google Contacts account on ALL of your mobile devices.  Here’s how:

1. Log in to the desktop version of Google Contacts

2. Organize your contacts into groups making sure that they are all added to the main DEFAULT group “My Contacts”.  You can organize your contacts even more by applying additional groups to individual contacts.  *Contacts in filed under “OTHER Contacts” will not show up or sync on additional devices.  You must add them to “My Contacts”.

3. Add your Gmail account to your mobile devices.

4.  To add a syncing Gmail account to an Android device simply add the Gmail address to your phone accounts.  Make sure that you check the box that says “Sync Contacts” under the Sync settings of that account. *If you do NOT want to share photos taken with your Android device with your Google Account make sure “Sync Photos” is UNCHECKED.

5.  To add a syncing Gmail account to an iOS device your MUST add the Gmail address as a CardDAV account.  If you do not, contacts will NOT sync with that device.  INSTRUCTIONS HERE  *CardDAV is a recent feature added to Gmail for syncing devices.  Any device previously using EXCHANGE to sync contacts will still function however after Jan. 30, 2013 NEW devices syncing with Gmail must use CardDAV.

  

  

That’s it!  It is pretty simple.  Don’t forget to use ALL the features that come with your Google Contacts including Notes, custom fields, and birthdays.  Google Contacts can be a fully functional database for you to use at home and for business.

To find out more feel free to contact iN REACH MEDIA directly at info@inreachmedia.org.

3 Google Tools Your Small Business Needs Now


Google is making a push to get on the business bandwagon in the social media space.  Google Plus Business pages launched earlier this year, Google Drive is being rolled out as we speak, and along with the announcement of Google Events last week Google is off to a running start.  Although Google still does not compete with Facebook in number of users, for small businesses its products are worth a look.

Since Google products are so closely tied to Google Search, including your business info, events, and social posts could potentially reach a broad range of Google product users.  And let’s be honest, all of these tools are still FREE…if you are a small business owner your best bet is to take advantage of “free” whenever you can.  As always Google products are mobile friendly.  In some cases Google can even be MORE mobile friendly than Facebook.

Below are some examples of uses of these new Google products for your business:

Google Plus Business Pages:  “Google+ pages help you build deeper relationships with customers by sharing your thoughts, links, photos and promotions with the right people at the right times. For example you can offer a behind-the-scenes look at your product team in action or highlight a unique sale or promotion.”

There are lots of ways to promote your site and Google+ page. Promote it yourself with Google+ Direct Connect and the Google+ badge, and let others recommend you with the +1 button. Including the Google+ logo in your marketing materials, directing users to ‘Follow you on Google+’ and using other media outlets to let people know you’re on the platform are also great ways to grow your followers. Learn more about our Google+ brand guidelines.

Google Drive: (replaces Google Docs) In Google Drive, you can create new documents, spreadsheets and presentations instantly. Work together with other people in your company or with collaborative clients at the same time, on the same doc, and see changes as they appear.  Store invoices, receipts, presentations, etc. and access them on any device from ANYWHERE.  Your client needs a copy of the order invoice but you are on vacation?  No problem, access the invoice on Google Drive from your mobile device and send it to them with a click of a button.

Google Plus  Events:  Create an event and invite all of your customers with one click, seamlessly integrates with Google Calendars, Real Time sharing of event info including images and video with all attendees.  Great idea for broker open houses in real estate, grand opening of a new business, sale events, etc…

The How-Tos:

Google Plus Business Pages |How to Create a Google Plus Business Page

Google Drive | How to Set Up Google Drive

Google Plus Events | How to Create a Google Plus Event

As always, if you have any questions about what you have read feel free to contact me directly at info@inreachmedia.org.

Chris Pierce
iN REACH MEDIA