Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty Social Media Guidelines

Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty EA_Vert_LLU_K
Social Media Guidelines

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By Roger Ewing, thanks Intel

These are the official guidelines for social media at Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty. If you’re an Ewing SIR employee or independent contractor creating or contributing to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of social media both on and off EwingSIR.com—these guidelines are for you. We expect all who participate in social media on behalf of Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty to be trained, to understand and to follow these guidelines. Failure to do so could put your future participation at risk. These guidelines will continually evolve as new technologies and social networking tools emerge—so check back once in awhile to make sure you’re up to date.

When You Engage

Emerging platforms for online collaboration are fundamentally changing the way we work, offering new ways to engage with customers, colleagues, and the world at large. It’s a new model for interaction and we believe social computing can help you to build stronger, more successful business relationships. And it’s a way for you to take part in global conversations related to the work we are doing at Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty and the things we care about.

If you participate in social media, please follow these guiding principles:

* Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on   at Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty and in the world.
* Post meaningful, respectful comments—in other words, no spam and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive.
* Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate.
* Respect proprietary information and content, and confidentiality.
* When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite.

Rules of Engagement

Be transparent. Your honesty—or dishonesty—will be quickly noticed in the social media environment. If you are blogging about your work at Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty, use your real name, identify that you work for Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty, and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, be the first to point it out.

Be judicious. Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty’s privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines for external commercial speech. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty. All statements must be true and not misleading and all claims must be substantiated and approved. Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties we are in litigation with without the appropriate approval. If you want to write about the competition, make sure you know what you are talking about and that you have the appropriate permission. Also be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty Confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully.

Write what you know. Make sure you write and post about your areas of expertise, especially as related to Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty. And write in the first person. If you publish to a website outside Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty, please use a disclaimer something like this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty’s positions, strategies, or opinions.” Also, please respect brand, trademark, copyright, fair use, trade secrets (including our processes and methodologies), confidentiality, and financial disclosure laws. If you have any questions about these, see your branch manager or Ernie Wish. Remember, you may be personally responsible for your content.

Perception is reality. In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as an Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty employee or contractor, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty by our clients, and the general public-and perceptions about you by your colleagues and managers. Do us all proud. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty’s values and professional standards.

It’s a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in professional situations. In other words, avoid overly pedantic or “composed” language. Don’t be afraid to bring in your own personality and say what’s on your mind. Consider content that’s open-ended and invites response. Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are blogging about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated.

Are you adding value? There are millions of words out there. The best way to get yours read is to write things that people will value. Social communication from Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty should help our customers, partners, and co-workers. It should be thought provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge or skills, build their businesses, do their jobs, solve problems, or understand Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty better—then it’s adding value.

Your Responsibility: What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social computing on behalf of Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty is not a right but an opportunity, so please treat it seriously and with respect. If you want to participate on behalf of Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty community blogs, you must take our one hour Social Media Workshop. Please also follow the terms and conditions for any third-party sites.

Create some excitement. As a business and as a corporate citizen, Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty is making important contributions to our client’s lives.  Our business activities are increasingly focused on developing long lasting client relationships. Let’s share with the world the exciting things we’re learning and doing—and open up the channels to learn from others.

Be a Leader. There can be a fine line between healthy debate and incendiary reaction. Do not denigrate our competitors or Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty. Nor do you need to respond to every criticism or barb. Try to frame what you write to invite differing points of view without inflaming others. Some topics—like politics or religion—slide more easily into sensitive territory. So be careful and considerate. Once the words are out there, you can’t really get them back. And once an inflammatory discussion gets going, it’s hard to stop.

If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.

If it gives you pause, pause. If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit ‘send.’ Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what’s bothering you, and then fix it. If you’re still unsure, you might want to discuss it with your manager. Ultimately, what you publish is yours—as is the responsibility. So be sure.

Moderation Guidelines

Moderation:  The act of reviewing and approving content before it’s published on a site. Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty does not endorse or take responsibility for content posted by third parties. We moderate content we publish. This means we allow our blog authors to post indirectly with approval.  Management reserves the right to modify or eliminate a proposed blog on our sponsored sites, for any reason.

Anonymous Content: Anonymous content is defined as content submitted as a comment, reply, or post to an Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty site where the user has not registered and is not logged in to the site. For anonymous content, we require moderation on all submissions. Authors of the originating content and space moderators are required to review the content for approval or deletion before the content can be published.

Registered Content: Registered content is content submitted as a comment, reply, or post to an Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty site where the user has registered and is logged in to the site. We require moderation of registered content before the content is published to the site.

Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty strives for a balanced online dialogue. When we do moderate content, we moderate using three guiding principles.

The Good, the Bad, but not the Ugly. If the content is positive or negative and in context to the conversation, then we approve the content, regardless of whether it’s favorable or unfavorable to Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty. However if the content is ugly, offensive, denigrating and completely out of context, then we reject the content.

Last updated: May 2009

Community Blogging Guidelines

Blogging is a form of community farming.  As in all marketing initiatives, consistency is critical to successfully impacting your market area. Posting blogs on a firm schedule requires that you be committed to the process.  Below is a summary of what is required of you to participate in our company sponsored Community Blog program.  Participation requires a minimum 6-month commitment on your part.

Your Commitment

1.  Attend a one-hour class, Basics of Community Blogging in your office.

2.  Create a personal gravatar for your blogging indentity.

3.  Commit to providing a basic blog for your specific community of interest once each week.

4.  Attend at least one Community Blog meeting per month.

5.  Include the URL for your particular Community Blog in all marketing pieces you distribute.  This includes flyers, brochures, direct mail pieces, and digital email ads.

6.  Distribute a minimum of 100 Offerings magazines to your specific community each time the magazine is published.

Blogging Guidelines

1.  Blogs should be brief.  Lengthy reads are daunting and will not be read by a large number of individuals.  One, two, or perhaps three paragraphs is usually an optimum length.  If you have a lot of material, then consider including a link where interested readers can find more information.

2.  Blogs, depending upon content, may be required to contain the company disclaimer at the end of the blog text text.

EwingSIR does not guarantee information contained in this blog, readers are encouraged not to rely solely on this information and to do their own independent research of facts contained herein. Blog information was obtained from independent sources that we do not endorse, and we do not investigate this information for accuracy.

3.  All blogs will be monitored prior to publication.

4.  Content should be current, compelling, local in nature, and interesting.  There are no specific guidelines for content, but management reserves the right to edit any blog content.

5.  Community blogs are not designed to be marketing venues.  If content is blatantly self-promoting, hard sale, or too real estate oriented, it may not be approved.  Refer to the company Social Media Guidelines for direction.

6.  An acceptable blog will include the following components.

A.  Title, capitalize the first letter of each word. No more than 70 characters.

B.  Brief byline summary, in sentence form, bold, above agent “by” name.

C.  “By your name

D.  Your gravatar, including photo.

E.  Share Button, html added by staff.

F.  Photo or video link, if available, located to the right of your text.

G.  Text copy, in sentence form with paragraphs.  Do not submit in all caps.

H.  Links, active format.  Inserted by staff.

7.  Photos, links, videos are important to include in your blog whenever possible.  These kinds of media will make your blog more readable and compelling.

8.  All photos must be thumbnail size, no larger.

9.  Maximum of 160 characters in the SEO pac.

Question and Answer

Q:  What constitutes a blog?

A:  The written word makes an acceptalbe blog.  That means your written word.  Do not copy and paste content. If you have content from others to share, you should write about it and then post a link where readers can see a copy of a document or article.

Q:  Can I post brochures?

A:  Generally, no.  A brochure is difficult to read in blog format and does not express your thinking about the subject.

Q:  Can I post the same blog in more than one community?

A:  Yes, however you may not post the identical blog in more than 4 communites and the communities must be in your office’s general marketing area.

Q:  What is my market area?

A:  For Sherman Oaks and Calabasas the general dividing line between communities is the 405 Freeway.  For Agoura it would be the Conejo Valley.

Q:  Is there any limitation in content?

A:  No, you may blog just about any subject.  However, your blogs must follow the EwingSIR Social Media Policy.  The best blogs contain content that is relevant to the specific community where the blog will be posted.

Q:  What real estate related blogs are appropriate?

A:  We want to occasionally “pepper” the Community Blogs with real estate.  This means the real estate blog must be newsworthy.  Examples would include a new listing on the market for the first time, the first open house of a new listing, a recent sale in the community, pointing out unique architecture, celebrity home activity, etc.

Q:  Who actually posts the blogs in the site?

A:  Either Roger or Jeff will be responsible for posting all blogs.  They will also monitor all posts and comments prior to publication.

September 15, 2009


Corporate Marketing Peeps Misjudge Power of Social Media

True Story – Corporation Makes Three Social Media Mistakes

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By Roger Ewing

True story.  A large corporate sales organization launches a regional print media magazine in southern California.  The initiative in itself is not unusual.  What happened next however is very insightful for all of us who recognize the blossoming power of social media and the consequences, both positive and negative that can result from a corporations voyage into digital marketing.

The corporation launches it’s new magazine to great fanfare and announces the primary distribution point will be to include the piece in local newspapers in their target regional market.  The magazine will be “stuffed” into the newspaper each weekend and will replace the traditional newspaper advertising that has characterized their corporate advertising model for many years.

As part of their launch they include online support via web site, Facebook and Twitter.  The strategy is clearly well planned, executed, and the printed piece is generally well received by the sales force and the public.  This is the point where the corporation failed to recognize the potential for problems.  The corporate marketing peeps did not anticipate the opportunity for uninvited competitors to crash their ‘friendly” social media party.

I am a competitor and, as the leader of my company, one of my jobs is to discredit any new initiative my competition creates. This is part and parcel of what we do every day in business.  I create new initiatives for my business, while at the same time, ethically devaluing my competitor’s strategies.  Once Facebook and Twitter were launched in support of the corporation’s new initiative, I saw an opportunity to reveal the weaknesses of the new magazine to a large number of individuals, both inside and outside my competitor’s organization.  The beauty of it is, they welcomed me in.

The open forum of Facebook and Twitter gives individuals and small business owners communicative power they never had in the days of print and television.  I simply made my competitor my “friend” on Facebook and then let the fun begin.  Following are three major mistakes the corporation made in their launch strategy.

Mistake 1.  The corporation proceeded to post, or should I say spam, my Facebook pages with ads for their new magazine. These “ads” were being posted three, sometimes four, times a day.  Since I did not want to be a partner in the corporate ad campaign, I was faced with a dilemma.  Remove the corporation from my Facebook and Twitter pages, or write a comment.  After weighing the options, I chose the latter.

Mistake 2.  The corporation never anticipated negative feedback appearing in their social media space.  As a result, they were slow to react to my postings that pointed out the inherent weaknesses of their new magazine.

Mistake 3. The corporation whined about my comments placed on their Facebook and Twitter posts.  This only created drama, which in turn gave me more power.  The individual versus the corporation.  The classic struggle of good (me) versus evil (them).

Ultimately, of course, they removed me from their Facebook page and blocked me from Twitter, but not until I had time to post numerous responses to their advertising posts.  The corporation was caught flat footed and had played into the unfolding drama by breaking the primary rules of social media blogging.

Never hard sell your product, and whatever you do, don’t allow your posts to morph into spam.

There are powerful lessons we can all take away from this true story.
To be continued…

The Importance of Social Media in Real Estate Marketing

As Seen In Wall Streeet Journal On line

Property presented by Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty, property ID #4165935. Tel: 818.222.9500


(Wall Street Journal On-Line Article)

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Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, flickr and YouTube are the new buzzwords in the online marketing world of social media. Whether you are buying or selling real estate, it is critical that you understand the important role social media has come to play in today’s market.

Social media has been described as a convergence point where public relations, marketing and advertising meet on the World Wide Web. The basic list of social media Web sites starts with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn and others. They work by enabling users to create and maintain their own personal profiles.

A real estate professional well-versed in the social media space knows how to use these mediums to create a consistent, fresh image for themselves that helps develop strong industry relationships. They know how to assess their own strengths to create an online presence that is both authentic and transparent. Creating a compelling profile for themselves using social media is an important first step in marketing your home to other high profile agents on the Web.

Each social networking Web site is unique and has its own audience. Scott Monty, head of Social Media at Ford Motor Company says, “LinkedIn is the business meeting, Facebook is the hallway conversation and Twitter is the cocktail party.” A technological real estate professional is familiar with all these Web sites and understands the subtlety of the digital communications that occur there. After all is said and done, your buyer is probably someone who knows someone, who knows your agent.

For example, our company, Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty in California, recently had a listing on a home owned by an entertainment executive. We produced a YouTube video of the property and e-mailed the link to the owner. He was so excited about the video, he posted the link to his Facebook site. From there the video of his home was viewed by his Facebook “friends” and distributed by them to various other sites and venues on the Web. This is a great example of “viral marketing” where a marketing piece behaves much like a pebble tossed into a still pond.

Finally, an important question to ask your real estate professional is what networking sites are they active on. For example, Active Rain is a Web site where they can blog about the industry. Despite the multimedia world we live in, at the end of the day relationships are what matter most. The savvy techno-agent spends their time and resources on sites where they know the most productive agents and motivated buyers may be found. Recently we were successful in obtaining an offer to purchase from a buyer who was referred by an agent from out of the area, who learned of our listing through an e-correspondence flyer sent to them as the result of a blog entry on a well-traveled agent site.

Social networking is the wave of the future. Those that can find success in this space are true technological players in today’s marketing world. They are the agents that will be selling tomorrow’s homes.

More thoughts on using social networking to market real estate from the Sotheby’s International Realty® network:

“One of the most effective things we do is to have our agents become friends on Facebook with those people who have always been on their direct mail databases. When the agent has a sale, we upload a photo of the home and ‘tag’ the agent who sold the listing, along with information on the home. Tagging the photo instantly informs the agent’s friends/database that they are busy and successful. Not only is this an affordable way to market to their sphere of influence, it is environmentally acceptable and it is fairly subtle.”
— David Boehmig, President, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, Georgia

“Social networking is an important part of our online marketing program. We want to meet the consumer where they are getting their information, which is largely on the Internet. Social networking is highly-targeted and, if done properly, more effective because it is more personal.”
— Jenny Pruitt, CEO, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, Georgia

“Social media has provided an exciting new forum for conducting business and I am thrilled that we as a company are whole-heartedly embracing these emerging opportunities to better connect with our clients and further separate ourselves from our colleagues,” says Erika Paul, President and Broker-Owner of Hallmark Sotheby’s International Realty in Hopkinton, MA. “We consider ourselves pioneers in leveraging technology to advance our business initiatives, and social media is just the newest tool in our arsenal. We use forums like Twitter and Facebook to recruit and promote some of the brightest technology-focused Realtors in our market. We have set-up our own YouTube channel to showcase our growing catalog of property videos. Our office Flickr photostream helps instantly publish our inventory of listing photography to a global audience.”
— Erika K. Paul, President, Broker-Owner, Hallmark Sotheby’s International Realty, Massachusetts

Paul’s company and their social media efforts were recently highlighted in best-selling author David Meerman Scott’s newest book, World Wide Rave. “Real Estate will always be a ‘people’ business and we see social media as a fantastic vehicle to better connect with our clients and associates,” says Paul. “There has been a noticeable dramatic shift in the way people research, buy and sell real estate and we are extremely proud of our social media efforts to better connect, share and discover with our community. It’s such an exciting time to be in this business!”

Value Based Decisions In Business

Staying on Level Ground.  The Importance of Value-Based Decision Making

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By Roger Ewing

On any given day, we might hear about a neighbor, colleague, or business acquaintance that stumbled off the path to success and prosperity. It may have even happened to someone we care deeply for. I’ve been saddened to learn of people in my circle who’ve had their stability uprooted by a series of poor ethical decisions.  Typically, their problems stem from poor decisions made several steps back, before the roof actually caved in.

I keep a visual reminder in my office that ethics isn’t just an academic subject to be discussed in intellectual terms.  My grandfather’s construction level, complete with broken glass, dried concrete and his own pencil marks sits atop my bookcase.  It serves as a constant reminder to me to do the right thing and to stay on level ground.  Each time I see his level, I think of my grandfather and ask myself if he would be respect my decisions and the way I live my life.

blog 1 level photo
In truth, the subject of ethics has its essence in the discipline of practical every day decision-making.  Its chief concern is with values and establishing guidelines that prescribe how we as individuals interact with each other, or at least how we ought to interact with each other.

The ways we interact with our fellow human beings determines the level of trust, honor and integrity by which we live. Each of these virtues, of course, links directly to our ability to lead prosperous, happy and fulfilling lives. When we forget about ethics, or disregard the relevance of ethical behavior, we lessen our ability to reach our highest potential.  To paraphrase Gandhi, “we reach our highest human potential, or achieve happiness, when we keep in harmony everything we say, everything we think, and everything we do”.

As the owner of a real estate company catering to Southern California communities, I’ve found a useful process to keep everything I say, think and do in harmony:  I make value-based decisions.  That may sound like a trite expression, but truly, it’s a system I go through to ensure all my decisions stay on the high road.

First, when making decisions I evaluate whether they show personal honesty and integrity, consistent with what I represent to our clients and my colleagues at Sotheby’s International Realty.

Second, I consider whether my decisions show respect to others, treating them, with dignity and demonstrating my efforts to create win-win solutions.

Third, I encourage my real estate agents to contemplate whether their decisions are responsive to client needs, are consistent with client expectations, and deliver on their commitments. While at the same time utilizing using all resources at their disposal to facilitate a successful transaction.

As the managing partner at Ewing and Associated Sotheby’s International Realty, I welcome the opportunity to ensure all our agents; management and staff follow an ethical code, which is consistent with the obligations we owe our clients, our profession, our community, our family and ourselves. This approach in business keeps us grounded, focused, and on a clear and direct path to success.  Concepts that I know would make my grandfather proud.

Thank you to my good friend Justin Paperny for his assistance in this post.