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4 posts from April 2009

April 16, 2009

Well if Barack Obama is doing it ...

Why it's so important to "get" social media and "apply" it well.

Transparency:

I was on another forum when it was noted that some chap was copying "written content" and "paste-ing" it without any recognition for the original writer.

I think this is "bad form" for 2 reasons:

Firstly, not recognising the original writer is bad manners.

Secondly, I as a reader would want to know where the content came from.

This was his reply to my challenge: "If it is good information that can benefit - who cares where it comes from?"

Of course people care where the information comes from!  How are they supposed to know if it's any good or if it came from a trusted source?

People care where the information comes from so they can do their own "due diligence" on them (the owner of the info not the purveyor (or possibly why the purveyor is using it!!)) otherwise we all could be sending around all this info to readers that have no idea where it is coming from.

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Respected Investor, Gerald Ronson said recently - "The problem with this opinion is that the current situation was caused by amateurs who were trying to make out that they were professionals. This worked out find for a while but as the banks began to get a bit edgy; their house of cards began to topple down, until we see a situation like now."

Some of us are selling wealth creation. Some of us are selling safety through education.   Some of us are just wanting to learn - either way, surely the reader has a right to know where the information is coming from so they can do their own checks - otherwise it exacerbates the problem that Mr Ronson highlighted above.

So it would seem that using information without crediting the owner (if done on a consistent basis) could be seen as mis-use and, therefore, damaging to your on-line credibility. Whereas letting your audience know where the info came from would raise your credibility and trust as a learned person or news-gatherer (like Social Median).

We (Vanessa and I) have always tried to follow what we would regard as the 3 main attributes to "on-line" credibility - Leadership, Authenticity and Consistency.  Therefore, “transparency” kicks in and with transparency you have to care where your content is coming from - don't you?

property tribes  Click here to go to our forum to discuss this topic.

The Web:

The Web is a fantastic “organism” that, at best, can only be described as “evolving”.  And at its heart is the vague heading “social media” or so it seems at the moment.


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The problem with the web is most of the “business users” were not born within the digital age.   Therefore, they  are still applying “analogue” thinking – and this is destined to fail.

Take the chap I was referring to above. I would hazard a guess that he has spent some time working within corporate institutions.   The reason I can deduce this is his lack of ability to “credit” someone else for their work and use it to “bolster” his own.

What he does not understand, and this is the important thing about the web, is that you can’t do this anymore without getting caught out. You could hide within corporations and apply “spin” to get you out of a hole. However, no longer is this avenue of escape available and this internet shines a light into places previous unreachable.

“Spin” has no place on the web … this is why IMHO Politicians must be shaking in their boots.

By default, using the web only enforces that you leave a “long tail” and, subsequently, transparency follows  … Look at what I have found on the web about a "certain company":

Can you imagine working for a company that has a little more than 600 employees and has the following employee statistics:

  •  29 have been accused of spouse abuse
  •  7 have been arrested for fraud
  •  9 have been accused of writing bad cheques
  •  17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
  •  3 have done time for assault
  •  71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
  •  14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
  •  8 have been arrested for shoplifting
  •  21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
  •  84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year


Which organisation is this ?

It's the 635 members of the House of Commons!.  Yes, it’s the same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line!.

Fantastic isn’t it? Now a few years ago there would be no way us “mere mortals” could have found this, and if we did “spin” would have been the politicians’ answer. Now the boot is on the other foot.

This is why I have admiration for Barack Obama. Not only did he embrace a completely new method of marketing, he laid himself open to transparency. Moreover, he is the first politician to NOT BE sponsored by corporations!!

This is fantastic news, moreover, this is why we all need to embrace social media AND how to use it.

If we get it wrong we could end up like the chap at the top of this post or the entire staff of the House of Commons.   But if we get it right we could end up as well respected as Barack Obama.

Whether we like social media or not it’s here to stay and being as though the web is only 15 years old, starting your on-line strategy now would seem to be a good idea – don’t you think?

Nick

Click here to learn more about Social Media.

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April 10, 2009

The big property question remains unanswered ...

Thanks to the Enormo Blog for prompting this question that has led to a lot of discussion on our Property tribes Forum.

Anyone interested in the property market, be it through work or investment, are waiting for the signs of “Green Shoots” - the term used to describe a recovery. Yet despite there being a serious economic and property recession, the experts are divided as to when the market will bottom out.

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Figures issued by building societies are not helping either. Last month one major firm declared that prices gone up, while another claimed that they had fallen. How can anyone make an informed decision on that?!

The founder of Easy Jet, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is interested in investing in UK property once more, as he feels that the time is now right.

Sir Stelios said: “I am tempted to call the bottom of the property market in London. I don’t own any property in the UK at the moment but now I am looking again at London real estate.”

For overseas investors, the UK market could be looking very attractive at the moment and indeed, if there were enough foreign investors, this could help the property market provided that there are not any surprises coming around the corner to upset the market.

Peter Mackie, the chief executive of PropertyVision, said, “There has been a visible and positive change in sentiment in the prime residential property market, with buyers cherry picking the ‘best of class’. The international buyer is focused on the truly international market, whether it is St James’s, Mayfair, Belgravia or Knightsbridge.

“This had led to a severe restriction of supply, as vendors hold off selling their prime assets at what they perceive to be the nadir of the market.”

The problem is that market in London cannot be used a gauge for the state of the property in the UK, this market is so different to the rest of the country.

Fionnuala Earley, the chief economist of the Nationwide, said: “There is a danger that people who are keen to see the light at the end of the tunnel attach too much importance to one month’s figures.”

The other factor that makes the UK property market interesting to foreign buyers is the low interest rates. An astute investor could get a good deal if they believed that the market had touched the bottom, if prices fall by another ten per cent and interest rates begin to rise a buyer could find themselves in trouble.

Simon Rubinsohn, the chief economist of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: “Most house price indices suggest that prices have fallen by up to 20pc from their peak. However, many of our members [surveyors and estate agents] calculate independently that the scale of price falls has been even greater – 30pc or more already. We aren’t at the bottom by any stretch.”

With the threat of massive unemployment and rising repossessions, I believe there's still more pain to come.

What do you think of the state of U.K. residential property? Have we reached the bottom yet or are there further falls on the horizon?

To have a view on this please go to my Property Forum - here -

April 09, 2009

Portland: The sleepy Dorset outpost poised for fame ...

This is why we bought one of our houses in Portland, Dorset. Not only was I born near there and it's beautiful, moreover, I know what's coming.

We have a great discussion happening about UK Holiday Lets happening over on our Property Tribes Forum, including 30 ways to make your Holiday Let stand out from the crowd.

Nick

Courtesy of The daily Mail By Mark Hughes-morgan
Last updated at 9:22 AM on 09th April 2009

Wild beards, short skirts and sunny afternoons, 'The Boat That Rocked'  -  the new film by Richard Curtis about the brief heyday of pirate radio  -  oozes nostalgia.

But what about Portland Harbour, the location in Dorset where the movie was shot? Portland Harbour will host the sailing for the 2012 Olympics. Millions of pounds are being pumped in, and there's a new national sailing academy.

Portland Bill Lighthouse on the Dorset coast is one of Britain's most breathtaking views...

Portland Bill Lighthouse on the Dorset coast is one of Britain's most breathtaking views...

But locals hope the film will stimulate interest before then. What better excuse to take the family  -  wife and three teenagers  -  to see what all the fuss is about?

The first thing we do on arrival, on a gloriously sunny weekend, is watch the local premiere of The Boat That Rocked in Weymouth, a screening greatly enhanced by the cheers of local extras in the audience whenever they see themselves on-screen.

Afterwards, Weymouth is as quiet as any out-of-season seaside town on a Sunday, but it's a lot more charming than some.

The classy architectural backbone of the town is down to George III, who, in one of his more sane moments, adopted Weymouth as his seaside retreat and prompted lots of impressive building around the perfect curve of the bay.

A multi-million makeover is due to smarten up the place over the next few years.

Today, the sun brings out its finer qualities. Walking along the empty beach, on perfect fine sand, almost the only other promenader we meet is a runaway puppy.

The drive up the hill to Portland must be one of the most stunning views in the country, looking back down to the unspoilt 18-mile curve of Chesil Beach, the 40ft-high pebble ridge deposited in the last Ice Age and now protected as a sacred destination for geography field trips.

Weymouth's medieval harbour is still a working port...

Weymouth's medieval harbour is still a working port...

And so to our accommodation, the Portland Spa Hotel: a huge building on 40 acres bought from the Ministry of Defence and converted at a cost of £10 million two years ago.

It is still being developed and is waiting to be landscaped. Though the hotel was immense and forbidding from the outside, it had some great Art Deco touches. Our rooms had amazing double-aspect views over the sea and the lighthouse.

The next day, Mrs H-M took herself off to the spa  -  with pool, gym and steam room  -  for a well-deserved total body massage thingummy.

I headed to the harbour to launch my children on to a glassy sea. 'A lot of people say this is the best place to learn to sail in the country,' said Matt Bridge, who runs the SailLaser club, which has teaching rights for sailing in Portland Harbour, and features serious Olympic contenders among its staff.

The combination of an uninterrupted wind straight from France and a lack of tidal current, thanks to the shape of the harbour and coast, creates an ideal area for learning.

Tom, the instructor, zigzagged around in a motorboat, shouting instructions and filling in the children on the local landmarks  -  the abandoned frigate in the distance that is used as an indoor firing range.

Afterwards it was back to the hotel to recharge and then, as the sun set over Chesil Beach, we made our way down the hill to the Cove House Inn. This is a gem of a local pub. It sits right on the beach so we could watch the sun sink over those 10,000-year-old pebbles, while tucking into lemon sole, bowls of mussels and excellent Adnams ale.

Actor Bill Nighy and Talulah Riley, Rhys Ifans and Gemma Arterton attending the premier of The Boat That Rocked in Leicester Square...

Actor Bill Nighy and Talulah Riley, Rhys Ifans and Gemma Arterton attending the premier of The Boat That Rocked in Leicester Square...

The next morning, my wife surprised me with a massage booking. Unaccustomed to spa life, I was reduced to a lifeless pulp within an hour  -  absolute bliss.
Portland  -  like neighbouring Purbeck  -  is renowned for its limestone. The cliffs of what is called the Jurassic coastline tumble away in great blocks like some child's toy. The coast walk (around four hours if you do the whole thing) gives an aweinspiring view.

Tout Quarry Park is the ultimate expression of the stone: a network of paths sitting just back from the cliffs where dozens of artists  -  including Antony Gormley  -  have carved, stacked and rearranged the rock to create a landscape-cum-gallery of shapes and figures.

On the way home, we followed our literary noses to Moonfleet, inspiration for the terrific smugglers' yarn, and looked in on Moonfleet Manor, the hotel that sits on the lagoon. This is where most of the stars of The Boat That Rocked stayed. With its private outlook over the lagoon and an over-the-top, indulgent, English interior design, it was the perfect family getaway.

It also benefits from being a couple of miles from the sub-tropical gardens at Abbotsbury, with 20 acres of palms and other exotica, including the Abbotsbury swannery.

And naturally, in glamorous Dorset, this is going to be another, even more prominent film location: the reed beds of Abbotsbury feature in the latest Harry Potter (HP & The Half-Blood Prince), out in July.

My advice? Get there before the rest of the muggles.

Travel Facts

The Corfe Castle Suite at the Portland Spa (01305 785747, portlandspa.com) costs £248.50; the Sir Henry Peto luxury double at Moonfleet Manor Hotel (01305 786948 , moonfleetmanorhotel. co.uk) costs £340, both room only, per night, based on two sharing. More information about SailLaser at saillaser.co.uk. More information about Abbotsbury at abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk. More on Portland andwest Dorset: 01305 785747, visitweymouth.co.uk.

April 07, 2009

A year from now, you'll wish you started TODAY!

As many of you are aware, I am a big exponent of social media. I see it as the future of business and marketing.

I attend many different meetings and talk to many different people about this relatively new phenomenom that now accounts for over 15% of all global internet traffic.

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One of the most common things people say to me on this subject is: "I don't have time to engage with social media. I'm too busy!".

Well, in my book, that's a bit of a self-defeatist answer. You can find time. Would you find time to go and collect winnings from the lottery?! Of course you would! Would you find time in your busy day if a long-lost friend phoned you for a catch up chat? Yes, you would. Time is far more elastic than most people appreciate. You always make time for the things that matter to you and the things that bring results. That is why you can find time to engage with social media.

In fact, I believe that you must find time to engage with social media. You see, business and the way people communicate is changing at a faster pace than ever before in the history of commerce, and no one knows the new rules of the (business) game ... yet. However, those that are engaging in social media are on the pitch, limbering up, ready for the ball to be thrown in. Those of you that are not, are not even on your way to the stadium to watch the match!

I was at a meeting last week, and the discussion was about "time management" and making long lists at the beginning of the day about what you wanted to achieve. Then work through that list, and ignore all distractions including email, phone calls etc. What an out-dated way of thinking! One person even recommended a book called "Do It Tomorrow" which recommends that you put off everything that is not a "priority" until the next day! That in our book is a sure-fire recipe for disaster!

Social media dictates and demands instant results, instant feedback, instant and consistent action to be successful. Whether you like it or not, we are living in an "instant" world, where people expect an instant response. If you do not engage with people quickly, they will take their business elsewhere.

Example:
I sent an email to my solicitor instructing them to start conveyancing on a new property transaction. I did not receive a reply straight away. I then began to wonder if the person had been made redundant, or had left the company. Meanwhile, I sent another email to another solicitor who answered straight away, so I instructed them instead.

In business, you can and should act with imperfect information. Start the ball rolling immediately. Even if it's just a quick email to acknowledge the communication and say you will revert back later. Remember: everything starts with a conversation. So, the sooner you start a dialogue with someone, the better the business outcome for you.

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It's also vital to embrace the random-ness of social media. I like to say that I didn't know that I wanted to marry Vanessa before I met her! You have no idea what a conversation can lead to, so don't close your mind to it. A closed mind is the most expensive thing you will ever own! Be open to everyone and everything. It is the people furthest from you in your network, who will have the greatest influence on your success! We have people that we have never met recommending us to others! How amazing is that? And it's all thanks to social media.

Taking that off-line, I regularly get emails from people asking me if it is "worth" them turning up to our networking event. How could I possibly answer that? It depends who turns up on the day, and who they engage with. The famous actor Woody Allen once said "80% of success is showing up". So true! If you are not even in the room, how could you know that there are people there who would love to know about the service you offer or who could share with you a nugget of information that saved you money, or who could connect you to someone who you could JV with?

This is why Twitter is so effective. Twitter is like being at a world-wide cocktail party. You're in the virtual room, engaging with all sorts of people who can influence or contribute to your business success. So dive in and join the conversation! Who knows where it might lead. Places that you never imagined is my bet.

So when is the best time to start a conversation? The answer is NOW. Successful people take sustained and consistent action. That is the key to making social media work for you.

Three years ago, I started writing his blog . At first, only two people read it. Then 4, then 8, then 24, then 50, then 100. Now, nearly three years later, he has over 30,000 readers. But he had to start. His today was nearly three years ago.

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The brilliant American marketeer, Seth Godin, recently wrote:

"This is my 3,000th blog post. (In a row).

Within a week of starting this blog, I had a feeling I wouldn't be giving it up any time soon. It's a difficult habit to develop, but an even harder one to break.

The impact of having one's own personal long tail is huge. It's not about googlefu (at least it shouldn't be) but your footprint expands nonetheless. Do a google search on seersucker suit and there I am, listed third, with a vaguely relevant post. Do one on advice for authors and there I am again. Drip, drip, drip, it adds up. The hard part, as you can guess, is the first 2,500 posts. After that, momentum really starts to build.

Of course, given the lack of ads here, traffic isn't the goal, spreading ideas is. With that in mind, if you'd like to celebrate this milestone (there won't be another like it for three years or so) please go ahead and start a blog. If you already have a blog, please go ahead and post something really interesting today".

Seth is spot on, as usual! Do a search on Google for "Ikea in Cyprus" and you will find my blog in the top ten on the FRONT page. This is something he wrote nearly three years ago, and yet it reaches a top spot in the natural listings. Pure, organic content. Not paid for. There in perpetuity. Drip, drip, drip ... it all mounts up to a long "tail" on Google that leads back to you and your business.

Ironically, it was almost to the day five years ago, that Vanessa and I were a couple of property green-horns attending a property seminar to learn how to buy our first BTL investment. The rest as they say is history ....

So, please do not put anything off until tomorrow. The only time any of us have is NOW, as tomorrow never comes.


But do it TODAY. In a year from now, you'll be glad you did.

Nick