Avatars come to life
Social networking is a duopoly
How to use social networks to grow your personal brand
What about you?
A couple of years ago, we saw Rhett & Link put a telephone conversation through YouTube’s caption generator, and the video was hilarious. Now, YouTube’s Collective Cadenza, or “cdza,” has run the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” theme song through Google translate several times through several languages, and the results that they received back became this entertaining video, where the song is sung with new lyrics. One day, captioning and voice recognition won’t be so comical. But today, it is, and it brings us some fine entertainment.
Fresh Prince: Google Translated
Here you go:
Once again, translating technology gives us a good, hearty laugh. People in the future must be rolling on the floor at our primitive computer translating. But hey, what do you expect when so many languages have so many different rules? Right now, that requires a human to correct the intent and meaning. And thus, laughs ensue when the computer fails to recognize these differences.
This channel has a unique vibe to it, playing around and having fun with music in a variety of ways. Their very first video covered “lyrics that aren’t really lyrics” and it chalked up over a million views. That’s right, on their first try:
Another big hit was when they sang “misheard lyrics:”
The channel is fairly new, with 16 videos, so it becomes a sort of “one to watch” in the upcoming year. If they continue to have fun with music like this, they’ll be a surefire brand name on YouTube.
Just Another Learning Experience
By Homer Guthrie
Have you ever had that free-falling feeling, like someone has blindfolded you, pushed you out of an airplane door at 5,000 feet and all you can do is scream at the top of your lungs and wonder how long it will take before you hit the ground?
That’s what buying a foreclosure felt like.
I was counting on my real estate team, Bea Meriwether, my real estate agent, and Earnest S. Crowe, my mortgage guy, to guide me through the process. After all, they were the ones who had talked me into it. They said I would make eight percent or better and I would learn a lot. They were half right.
Bea had her eye on a sweet little bank-owned split-level not far from my home in Mirage Mills, a suburb widely known as the Chernobyl of American real estate because we live in the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. I had to close out my 401K to pay for it and by the time the check arrived, the house was gone. So Ernest had another idea.
“Let’s play poker with the big boys,” he winked at me. “That’s where the real deals are.”
That didn’t sound like a very good idea to me. I’m a terrible poker player. When I try to bluff, my voice turns squeaky and gives me away.
Ernest’s “real deals” would be at the next sheriff’s auction of foreclosures, a popular event in Mirage Mills. In most counties, sheriff’s auctions are just a few guys meeting outside a courthouse once a month. But in Mirage Mills, dozens of people show up to watch serious investors spend tens of thousands of dollars on foreclosures they had seen only from the street. Most of the crowd consists of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roofers and landscapers hoping to get hired to fix the messes that the new owners will soon discover.
Ernest got a list of the foreclosures to be in the next auction and the three of us toured the houses up for bid. To my way of thinking, if you’ve seen one house with a line of laundry out the back because the dryer is busted and a dirt yard packed hard by little bare feet and blistering sun, you’ve probably seen them all. Bea and Ernest, on the other hand, unanimously felt that 12765 Prosperity Way was the deal of the day, bound to make some smart guy a potful of money. The way they added it up on my kitchen table, I was going do a whole lot better than eight percent.
So when the big day came, I was standing at the courthouse steps with a cashier’s check for nearly all the money I had to my name. Both Bea and Ernest and other appointments that morning and were late. Felicity went to get coffee, leaving me alone with several other guys in the middle of the crowd, when a county bureaucrat appeared and started rattling off case numbers and addresses from a clipboard. When nobody bid on any of the homes, they all went “back to the beneficiary,” whatever that meant. Things got boring. I really needed Felicia’s coffee.
Suddenly the bureaucrat said “Prosperity Way.” My nerves kicked into overdrive. I knew my team would kill me if I missed this house.
She read the opening bid, which was the minimum amount the bank would take for the foreclosure and looked up.
“First bid?” she asked.
“Yes, please!” I squeaked as loudly as I could squeak.
At that very moment a police car sped past the courthouse with its siren blaring. She didn’t hear me even though I was less than ten feet away.
The siren was still sounding when she asked, “Second bid?”
A big man in sunglasses standing right next to her silently raised two fingers like he was Winston Churchill. Obviously, he was a regular who knew the secret code.
“Mr. Cameron bids two hundred thousand. Last bid. Anyone else?” she asked and quickly looked around. “No?”
Desperate to be heard, I pushed my way in front of her and squeaked into her face so loudly that she had to notice me. No sense playing around with a pro like Cameron, so I bid the limit we had agreed upon. “Two fifty!”
Cameron took off his dark glasses, gave me a peeved look, laughed sarcastically and muttered “You gotta be kidding me.” He shook his head at both me and the county bureaucrat to indicate he was done. She acknowledged me at last. She asked for my cashiers’ check, took down my name and address, and gave me a receipt and some paperwork. I was the proud owner of a foreclosure that was going to change my life in ways I couldn’t imagine.
I stepped away from the circle of bidders and sighed. It felt good to best the big boys at their own game. Just then Felicity arrived with the coffee. As we sat on a bench and sipped, I told her the good news. Instead of being pleased she was concerned that I had spent so much, so I described my fierce bidding war with Cameron and how I crushed him into dust. “He wanted it sooooo bad,” I gloated. “That pretty much confirms that we got a great deal.”
“Oh, my God,” she shouted suddenly when she read the receipt. “No, you didn’t!”
“Homer, please dear God in heaven please tell me this is not the house you bought.”
“All sales are final. Why?”
“You didn’t buy 12765 Prosperity Way. This is a receipt for 12675. Oh, Homer, that’s ten blocks away from the house we wanted!”
The median downpayment made by all homebuyers in 2012 was 9 percent, ranging from 4 percent for first-time buyers to 13 percent for repeat buyers. The median down payment was the lowest since 2009 but still far above the levels during the housing boom, when nearly half of first-time buyers made no downpayment at all.
First-time buyers who financed their purchase used a variety of resources for the downpayment: 76 percent tapped into savings; 24 percent received a gift from a friend or relative, typically from their parents; and 6 percent received a loan from a relative or friend. Eleven percent tapped into a 401(k) fund, and 6 percent sold stocks or bonds. Ninety-three percent of entry-level buyers chose a fixed-rate mortgage, reported the National Association of Realtors.
Forty-six percent of first-time buyers financed with a low-downpayment FHA mortgage, and 10 percent used the VA loan program with no downpayment requirements. Forty-two percent cut spending on luxury items to buy their first home, 35 percent cut spending on entertainment and 27 percent cut spending on clothes.
In 2005, the median first-time home buyer scraped together a down payment of only 2 percent to buy a $150,000 home . Two years later, in 2007, the median downpayment by first-time buyers was still only 2 percent and 45 percent purchased with no money down – the same as in 2006. That year 43 percent of first-time home buyers purchased their homes with no-money-down loans.
After lenders tightened standards in the wake of the housing crash, the median downpayment soared , reaching 11 percent in 2010-2011. First time buyers put about 5 percent down in 2011. Repeat buyers, pooling equity with savings, typically put down about 15 percent. Investment and vacation-home buyers have been paying higher down payments than those buying a primary residence. The median down payment for both was 27 percent, according to NAR’s 2011 Profile of Investment and Vacation Buyers.
“First-time buyers historically make small downpayments, but repeat buyers like to put down 20 percent if they can to avoid paying mortgage insurance,” NAR’s Paul Bishop said. “The general loss in home value since the peak of the housing boom means many repeat buyers in recent years had to make smaller downpayments. Fortunately, prices have turned up this year and are showing sustained increases, so we’re on the road to a recovery in home equity.”
WASHINGTON — Though there are still some snares and drawbacks for participants, one of the federal government’s most important financial relief efforts for underwater homeowners started operating Nov. 1.
It’s a new short-sale program that targets the walking wounded among borrowers emerging from the housing downturn — owners who owe far more on their mortgages than their current home value but have stuck it out for years, resisted the temptation to strategically default and never fell seriously behind on their monthly payments.
Industry estimates put the number of underwater owners across the country at just under 11 million, or 22% of all homes with a mortgage. Of these, about 4.6 million have loans that are owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Eighty percent of these Fannie-Freddie borrowers, in turn, are current on their mortgage payments and meet the baseline eligibility test for the new short-sale effort.
Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens told the Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference that his hope is for more transparent policy making at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Stevens added that those mortgage players outside of the government-sponsored enterprises should also be able to provide their own input.
“Fannie and Freddie need to start making clear, detailed, fully-baked presentations of planned policy changes of significance in advance,” Stevens said. “Our market is fragile, and the stakes are too high to allow these two companies to continue to throw change after change at lenders, with no avenue for input in the formative stages.”
Newly enforced rules and regulations are making it even more difficult for borrowers to qualify for a home loan, the CEO mentioned. Policies are intersecting and decidedly influencing the future opportunities of homeownership and rental.
Stevens did not skip over the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act and what he perceives is misguided regulation. “This patently unfair and ineffective law does little to provide assurances to consumers that their loan officer meets minimum qualification and testing standards,” Stevens said.
Additionally, the SAFE Act forces the cost of licensing onto independent mortgage bankers and does not allow talented loan originators to compete fairly in the labor market. “This is unfair, and we aim to change it. It won’t be easy, and it will take time, but we are committed to the objective of securing uniform, federal qualifications and testing standards for all loan originators, regardless of whom they work for,” the CEO said.
In an interview with HousingWire after the session, Stevens reemphasized what he addressed at MBA’s annual Chicago conference last month. “These are really important times because we’ve got these plethora of rules coming out; nobody’s coordinating any of this,” Stevens said. “We’re all in favor of rule makings, we need better regulation, but we need clear coordinating.”
Encouraging his audience to become MBA members in 2013, Stevens emphasized that the time to join is now. “If you don’t join this year and you don’t like Washington, I don’t want to hear it,” Stevens said.
2013 MBA Chairman Debra Still encouraged the conference to see clearly, face squarely the changes that are seen in the mortgage industry and to step up and be the change. “As leaders, it’s our job to create direction and focus for our organizations,” Still said.
The biggest change to business is that it is democratizing marketing. Marketing is no longer monopolized by mass media, expensive printing firms or marketing agencies that controlled access to your customers and prospective audience.
You are now free to create and publish and market your own 30 second advertisement on YouTube and the world can watch.
Your brand now has its own TV channel
You can publish your own articles and educate your customers with posts created on your blog.
You “are” the publisher.
Then you can engage, distribute and market to your customers and prospects on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
You now “own” your marketing distribution platforms and they are called social networks.
You can gain control over your marketing. It is the end of business as usual.
We as humans are slow to change but technology is changing rapidly with the pace accelerating. Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users while Facebook added 200 million users in less than 12 months.
CEO’s and management are struggling to cope with the pace of the shift. This is also a cultural challenge.
We think that we are competing with a store across the street or in the same suburb but modern logistics, online stores and the social web are creating competitors in Canada, Korea and Hong Kong and across the globe.
Getting noticed in a daily torrent of over 1.5 billion new pieces of content , more than 200 million tweets and 1.5 million new YouTube videos is like being a grain of sand on the beach. It is hard to stand out.
Online business and appearing high in Google search results is often touted as easy as printing your own money if you believe the spammers and scammers. The reality is much different but there are ways to move your brand and business from invisible to visible.
Many businesses still have not noticed the tsunami wave of change as we move to a digital world. From a distance it looks like a ripple on the ocean. That wave will soon reek havoc unless you have planned for its arrival.
So we need to embrace the world of an increasingly digital and social web. The solutions and answers are increasingly found online.
Accept the fact that most people will find you or your business on a Google search, an email from a colleague or a friend telling you on Facebook.
Social networks and social media are the game changers.
Why Use Social Media Marketing?
The real power of social media marketing lies in its amplification of your message as it is shared on an exponential and low friction web but there are some other reasons why you should step into the social media game.
- It accelerates the speed of your brand message and story. Tweets can be sent in a second while publishing a brochure takes weeks.
- It is networking on steroids (It takes you beyond the Dunbar limitation of 150 connections on a global scale and empowers weak ties)
- It makes self publishing easy and intuitive
- It enlists the power of “World of Mouth”
- It facilitates trust
Any one of these on their own are reason to throw your marketing chips on the table.
Core Social Media Marketing Principles
Social media marketing is not a one way conversation, pushing your product or corporate speak.
It is about creating content that engages and builds online tribes that crowd source your marketing and online conversations.
There are also some core principles in building a long lasting social media marketing foundation that will survive a Facebook meltdown.
- Create “Liquid” (Content that flows and is easily shared) and “Linked” (content that is linked to your core brand values) content
- Publish to multiple social networks with your core content residing on your website and blog.
- Create compelling “Multi-Media Content (not everyone wants to read a 400 word article but would view that same content on YouTube or Slideshare)
- Embrace visual communication marketing with images and videos published on Facebook, Google+. Pinterest or Instagram
- Make it easy to share with sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+
This will provide the bedrock of compelling contagious content that will be shared and will bring your customers and prospects back for more. These digital assets will be indexed by Google and other search engines that will provide enduring and long lasting benefits.
The Two Step Social Media Marketing Program
Social media marketing is not a one trick pony and approaching with the singular tactic of just publishing a Facebook Page is a risky approach and will not produce any substantial benefit.
Firstly create a social media marketing strategy that defines your audience and marketing goals
Secondly implement tactics on multiple social media channels that set out to deliver on achieving results congruent with that strategy.
You only need to look at the approach taken by the Old Spice brand which was one of the best integrated social media marketing campaigns in recent memory to realize what power a multi-channel and multi-media social media marketing strategy can bring to the table.
Some tips and tactics for social media marketing.
- Blog – Create a home base for your content that you own
- Facebook – include visual content when publishing to your timeline and use it to build engagement with your fans
- Twitter – Learn the art of the headline as you only have 140 characters to tweet (including the link)
- YouTube – Create short videos (2 minutes was the norm but Old Spice videos moved the gateposts and 15-25 seconds is much more common
- LinkedIn – Embrace the power of “Groups” on LinkedIn to position you as an expert and thought leader
- Slideshare – Make your PowerPoints a visual marketing medium that people will download share and embed
- Pinterest – Create boards that suit your business product categories and have some visual sharing fun
- Instagram – Make it personal and humanize your brand as social media is about being human
Just one tip to finish. Keep giving away free content till it hurts!
Social media marketing is not a quick fix but needs to be built on the premise that a long term approach will build an online brand asset that keeps on giving long after your first tweet or YouTube video is published.
You will need to persist and continue to publish and build tribes and keep them nourished with content that educates, informs, entertains and inspires.
It is like building a home “one brick at a time”
Want to Learn How to Market Your Business and Brand on Social Networks?
My book – Blogging the Smart Way “How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.
It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.
I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 115,000.
You can download and read it now.
Armonk NY real estate was UP 34% in 2010 compared to 2009. Very good news. The Armonk NY median price dropped 6.37% to $955,000. Sellers understand there is a lot of competition to sell and need to price accordingly.
2010 Armonk Sales Numbers
3664 average square feet
$4,000,000 high price
$460,000 low price
$955,000 Median price
$337 average price per foot
215 average days on market
92.95% average sold to ask price
2009 Armonk Sales Numbers
3906 average square feet
$5,100,000 high price
$425,000 low price
$1,020,000 Median price
$338 average price per foot
190 average days on market
91.56% average sold to ask price
How to Make a New Years Resolution That Works
Do you remember the New Year resolutions you made last year?
If you’re like most people, you made New Year resolutions – but you probably didn’t stick with them all year long.
But New Year resolutions are a good thing – so what’s the secret to making and keeping your New Years resolutions?
1. Make Resolutions You Can Achieve
Most New Years resolutions can be achieved, but not all of them are realistic.
If you want to feel good about your resolutions, don’t set unrealistic goals. Saying “I resolve to lose 100 pounds this year” if you don’t know how you’re going to achieve your goal is a sure way to fail. Help yourself by only making New Years resolutions you can keep.
2. Make 2 or 3 Resolutions You Can Keep and 1 You’ll have To Stretch To Keep
By making realistic resolutions that you can keep, you’ll set yourself up to feel good about yourself when you achieve your resolutions.
And by making 1 New Years resolution that you’ll have to really work at to achieve, you’ll challenge yourself to be successful.
3. Write Down Your New Years Resolutions
Do you really want to make some changes in the New Year? Then you need to put at least a little thought into the changes you’d like to make.
Blurting out a few resolutions at a New Years party may be fun, but you probably won’t take them seriously. But if you take a few moments to think about some realistic changes you’d like to make – you’ll surprise yourself by being successful.
4. Put Your Written New Years Resolutions Someplace Where You Can Find Them
About a week after New Years, take out your list of resolutions and start planning how you’re going to achieve your goals.
Weight loss, making more money or travel, if your goals are achievable and you actually come up with a plan, your New Years resolutions will become a reality.
5. Celebrate Your Success
When you achieve one of your New Years resolutions, reward yourself and celebrate. Your friends will be amazed when you say “I just achieved one of my New Years resolutions.
New Years resolutions are a good thing. Improve yourself, make a positive change, do something you’ve always wanted to do. Make the New Year count – you’ll be glad you did.
Picking house paint colors isn’t just difficult. It’s terrifying! Pick colors that are blah, and your house will seem flat and featureless. But if the colors you pick are too bold, they might overwhelm the architecture… and upset the neighbors.
The best colors will highlight the most beautiful features of your home. Skillful use of color can even disguise design flaws, boosting the curb appeal and market value of your home. How do you find that magic color combination? Follow these tips.
1. Honor History
If you’re planning to paint an older home, you’ll probably want to use a historically accurate color scheme. You can hire a pro to analyze old paint chips and recreate the original color. Or, you can refer to historic color charts and select shades that might have been used at the time your home was built.
2. Jazz Up the Past
In some neighborhoods, homeowners fly in the face of history. Instead of choosing historically accurate colors, they paint their houses modern colors to dramatize architectural details. Using bright colors on old architectural details can produce startling and exciting results. But before you buy 10 gallons of bubblegum pink, it’s a good idea to look at what your neighbors are doing. A fluorescent colored Victorian that looks splendid in San Francisco will seem wildly out of place in more conservative neighborhoods.
3. Consider Your Neighbors
The house next door can give you paint color ideas, but don’t copy your neighbor exactly. Choose colors that set your house apart, without clashing with nearby buildings.
4. Borrow From Nature
The landscape around your house is blooming with color ideas. Trees may suggest an earthy palette of greens and browns. A beach setting might suggest vivid blues, turquoises, and coral colors. Even the garden in your front yard can inspire exciting color combinations.
5. Check the Roof
Your house is your canvas, but it is not blank. Some colors are already established. What color is your roof? Your paint color doesn’t need to match the roof, but it should harmonize.
6. Look For Things That Won’t Be Painted
Every home has some features that will not be painted. Does your house have brick walls? Vinyl windows? A natural wooden door? Will steps and railings remain their existing colors? Choose a color scheme that harmonizes with colors already present on your house.
7. Find Inspiration in Your Living Room
It may seem comical to paint entire house based on the pattern of a pillow case, but this approach does make sense. The color of your furnishings will guide you in the selection of your interior paint colors, and your interior paint colors will influence the colors you use outside. Once again, your goal is to harmonize.
8. Focus on Details
Depending on the size and complexity of your home, you may want to choose two, three, or as many as six colors. In addition to color for your siding, select accent colors for shutters, moldings, doors, window sashes, brackets, columns, and porch decks. But beware: too many colors will overwhelm your house. Too few can make your house seem flat and uninteresting.
9. Use Light to Add Size
It’s no wonder large, grand estates are often painted white. Light colors make a building look larger, and white is the favored color for traditional classical architecture. You can add to your home’s sense of size and dignity by using white or a pale cream color.
10. Go Dark For Drama
Dark siding or dark bands of trim will make your house seem smaller, but will draw more attention to details. Darker shades are best for accenting recesses, while lighter tones will highlight details that project from the wall surface. On traditional Victorian homes, the darkest paint is often used for the window sashes.