Cyber Security Threats

We have all been or no someone that has been affected by cyber security threats,  There seems to be a new threat everyday.  From email hacks, to company breaches, to those scary phone calls from the “IRS”, we all need to be on alert and educate ourselves and our customers on how to protect our information from these scams and threats.  

We have two great classes coming up that will give you some tools that will help you learn how to protect sensitive personal data in today’s ‘electronic’ age.  Please RSVP today!

Alushta, Russia - December 3, 2014: Woman holding a iPhone 6 Space Gray with social networking service Instagram on the screen. iPhone 6 was created and developed by the Apple inc.

Instagram: I Have An Account, Now What?

One of our most popular CE classes is consistently our “Instagram: I Have An Account, Now What?” class. We all know how important it is to have a presence on social media, but how do you create content, know which hashtags to use and most importantly, connect with buyers and sellers? Our technology trainers Robin Riggs and Annette Carvalho are here to help! Read on for Robin and Annette’s top takeaways from our popular class and visit us at www.republictitle.com/residential-education for a full list of upcoming CE classes.

Use Hashtags and Link to your Website

  • Using the “Stair Step” approach, users can spread out hashtags using the Stair step approach (hashtags with lower #’s mean you might be seen more.  So if you did 27 hashtags (which we don’t necessarily recommend) use nine that have 0-50K followers, nine with 50K-100K followers, and nine with 100-250K followers, etc.
  • Make sure to include contact information – including your website – in your Instagram bio.

Connect with your sphere by turning on “Post Notifications”

  • Because Instagram is always changing their algorithmic feed, you may not see everyone that you follow consistently. Make sure to turn on Post Notifications for the accounts that you want to make sure and see.

Use Direct Messages

  • Did you know that you can direct message up to 50 people at a time?

GeoTag your Posts

  • Searching by “Places” is an entire search category on Instagram. Make sure you are using this feature!

Use Instagram Live

  • This is a powerful tool that Instagram is promoting – you will reach more of your audience using Live since Instagram features those videos in a different way.
  • A best practice in using Instagram Live is to promote your live video in advance with email or Facebook. For example: “Catch me LIVE on Instagram Friday at 10am where I will share my 10 biggest tips for getting your home ready for the market.”

For MUCH more on Instagram, social media and other technology trends, sign up for one of our CE classes at www.republictitle.com/residential-education

Sankt-Petersburg Russia April 13, 2018: Apple iPhone X on office desk with icons of social media network instagram application on screen. Social network. Starting social media app. Photo taken at company office

Instagram For Business

Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms for businesses.  Here are some ideas to use for marketing your business.

  1. Add professional-looking photos.

Instagram is a photo-sharing social media platform, so it’s important to share visually pleasing content. Generic photos won’t cut it. Take photos, edit them, and take the time to make sure you’re creating a cohesive grid on Instagram. [Read related article: 10 Best Photo Editing Apps for Business]

To add a new photo, tap the camera button at the bottom of your screen. You can take a new photo or select one from your camera roll. On the next screen, there are multiple options to personalize your post. You can add a filter, tag other users, write a caption and add a location. You can also turn off comments on this page with the advanced settings. 

  1. Use Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories is one of the channel’s most popular features. These photos and videos disappear 24 hours after they’re posted. Instagram offers many tools that make it easy to create engaging and creative stories.

“Small businesses should leverage Instagram Stories to market their products and services, getting their messages to followers that otherwise might not see regular Instagram posts in their feed because of the latest updates to the algorithm,” said Laura Kenat, content coordinator at Jo Chicago.

On Instagram Stories, you can post recorded videos, still photos, live videos, boomerangs (videos that loop back and forth), basic text, music and focused photos. You can also add stickers such as your location, the temperature, user tags and hashtags.

The stickers for polls, questions and sliding bars make it easy to interact with your users and get feedback. Some accounts use the questions feature to hold a weekly Ask Me Anything, which is a fun way to answer common questions.

Another way to draw attention to your brand is with Stories Highlights, which stay on your profile until you remove them.

  1. Stream live videos.

In addition to Instagram Stories, users can take and stream live video that disappears – sort of like a cross between Facebook Live and Snapchat. You can give customers a live look behind the scenes of interesting aspects of your business, show products or answer live questions through the comments.

Once the video ends, it lives in your Instagram Stories for 24 hours. If you want a video to remain on your Instagram feed, you can upload video you’ve taken or shoot video directly through the app to post. If you choose to shoot or upload video, you can still add filters and change the cover.

  1. Interact with other Instagram users.

As with any social media platform, it’s important to engage and interact with your followers on Instagram. Here’s how.

Liking: Liking is a simple way to connect with other users. To like a photo, either double-tap the image or tap the heart button under the post.

Commenting: Next to the like button is a comment button – just tap it, and the app will take you to the comments page for that photo, with a text box where you can enter what you want to say. Hit Post when it’s complete.

Mentioning: As on Twitter, you can use the @ symbol to tag other users in your Instagram comments or post captions.

Tagging: Instagram allows you to add tags before you post content. To do so, tap Tag People before sharing your photo, and then tap where in the photo you’d like to add a tag. The app then prompts you to type in the person’s name to search for their account. Once you’ve tagged other users in your photo and shared the image, other users can tap on the photo to see the people who are tagged.

Direct messaging: To access Instagram Direct, go to the homepage and tap the button in the top right corner. Here, you can send private instant messages, photos and videos to other users. To send a new DM, tap the + button in the top right corner and select Send Photo or Video, or Send Message. Once you’ve sent the message, you and the recipients can message back and forth. Users who are not already following you will be asked whether they want to allow you to send them photos and videos before they can view your DM.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, plans to integrate Facebook Messenger, Instagram direct messages and WhatsApp to create one messaging platform, according to a January 2019 New York Times article. When this is done, you’ll be able to connect with your followers on Facebook and Instagram through one application. 

  1. Use hashtags.

Hashtags are a great way to help users find content on Instagram. Hashtags can include letters and numbers, but they can’t contain any non-numerical characters. For example, #DaveAndBusters works as a hashtag, but #Dave&Busters does not.

Because users can both search for hashtags and click on hashtags they see in posts in the app, relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, make sure you’re using the right hashtags for your brand.

Hashtags such as #nofilter (a photo that hasn’t been heavily edited with filters), #selfie (a picture of yourself), and #tbt or #throwbackthursday (old photos) are popular on Instagram, but they may not work for you or your brand. It’s a good idea to look at other established brands or even personal users and bloggers in your industry for examples of what hashtags to use.

Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post or comment, but that many would be excessive. The fewer hashtags you can use to get quality responses, the better. Using a lot of popular hashtags might earn you a lot of likes from other users, but it probably won’t increase your following all that much, and the interactions you get will likely not be from people who are interested in your brand but rather those who just saw and liked your image.

Once you understand hashtags, you can branch out and experiment to find which ones work best for your brand. It’s also smart to create a custom hashtag for your business or even an event you’re hosting. This way, customers can follow along with an event, even if they aren’t there in person.

  1. Advertise on Instagram.

Like on other social channels, businesses have the option to advertise on Instagram. There are three formats for advertising:

Photo ads: These look like regular photo posts, but they have a Sponsored label above the photo. They also have a Learn More button in the bottom right corner under the photo.

Video ads: Like the photo ads, these look like regular video posts, but with a Sponsored label on top.

Carousel ads: These ads look identical to photo ads but feature multiple photos that users can swipe through.

All three ad formats appear in users’ home feeds. These ads support four objectives: video views, click-thrus to your website, mobile app installations and mass awareness. 

For more information about advertising on Instagram, go here.

  1. Sell products on Instagram.

In May 2018, Instagram added a payment feature for select users. It has now started to roll Checkout on Instagram out to all users. And it could potentially have a big impact on small businesses. With the feature, users can buy things without leaving Instagram. In the coming weeks, you’ll see a blue Checkout button under images of products from an initial group of 20 brands, including Burberry, Nike and Warby Parker. All that will be required to complete a transaction will be a name, email address, billing info and shipping addresses. Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, will then save that data for future transactions. Users can pay via Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and PayPal. While this remains in closed beta, small businesses do not have the ability to sell via the platform. But, we anticipate that will change in the next year. 

Currently small businesses can take advantage of Shoppable Posts to sell products through Instagram. A business simply creates a product catalog connected to their account. Then you tag the product, similar to how you tag a person in a post. To create a shoppable post you must have a business account and you must sell physical goods that comply with Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policies. You can create your catalog through Facebook, Shopify or BigCommerce. 

Other Instagram tips and tricks

To get the most out of your Instagram account, keep these tips in mind.

Links don’t work in Instagram captions. The only place you can share a working link that takes users to a website is in your profile. Links don’t work in captions or photo comments, so if you’re trying to direct people to a specific webpage, you can change the default link in your bio to that page and note in the caption that the link is in your profile.

Make sure your posts relate to your brand. It can be tempting to share photos of food, fashion and animals because they’re popular on the platform. But if your business has nothing to do with those things, it could make you look disjointed and confuse your followers.

Run giveaways and promotions. Post an image advertising your giveaway, sale or contest, and ask users to repost that image with a specific, custom hashtag to enter. You can then search that hashtag to see who has reposted it and pick a winner. Promotions like this allow your customers and followers to market your brand for you by talking about your promotion on their personal pages, and it drives more people to visit your profile. If you do decide to run a contest or sweepstakes, though, make sure you’re following rules and guidelines.

Respond to other users’ comments. When people comment on your photos, reply to them. Interacting with customers and followers shows that you are paying attention and care about what they say. They’ll be more likely to continue following you and interacting with your pictures if they feel like they matter.

Embed Instagram posts on your website. From the desktop version of Instagram, you can get an embed code to add specific images and videos to your company’s website. This shows visitors that you’re active on Instagram and can help you gain more followers. Just select the photo you want to embed, click the ellipsis button in the bottom right corner, and select Embed. This pulls up a box with the embed code and gives you the option to display the caption. From there, copy and paste the code where you want it to go on your website.

Use Instagram influencers to promote your business. Influencers are people who have large followings on Instagram. You can pay influencers to market your products to their followers in a natural way. These sponsored posts typically are subtle and don’t look like ads. This is helpful because people typically hate advertisements.

Share posts directly to your story. In May 2018, Instagram announced a feature that allows users to share posts directly to their stories. With this feature, small businesses can interact with their followers while promoting their product or services. If a client posts a photo of your product, you can share the post directly to your story to highlight the product and your client.

Use polls and other features in your stories. Instagram offers many interactive features that you can use to build online conversations and relationships. For instance, you can use the interactive questions sticker in Instagram Stories. This feature lets followers submit questions for you to answer. This is a fun and simple way to interact with your followers.

Use IGTV. Launched in June 2018, IGTV is a feature that shows long-form, vertical videos. IGTV is available in a stand-alone app and within Instagram’s app, and each video can be up to an hour long. If you get creative, you can use IGTV to market your business in several ways, including by hosting FAQ sessions and conducting how-to chats. For more ways to use video marketing on social media, check out this Business News Daily guide.

Click here for full article and other helpful information. 

Source: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7662-instagram-business-guide.html

republic title open house

Open House Safety Is Important

In this day and age, safety is of utmost importance as a REALTOR®. Please read this post from MetroTex Association of REALTORS® with some tips on keeping you and your clients safe.

Holding an open house can be an act of faith.  Your seller cleans, declutters, and prepares their home to look its best, hoping at least one of the visitors will fall in love enough to make an offer.  At the same time, open houses are invitations to strangers to walk amoung your clients most prized possessions, often with only a single real estate agent present – and so there are very real security concerns, for agents and homeowners alike.

In North Texas there have been recent reports concerning thefts during and even after open houses.  When you go through the house to make sure all lights are off and the house is in good condition after an open house, remember unscrupulous people have been known to unlock a window with the thought of returning later. After the open house, don’t forget to walk through the house and check every window (even on the second floor), gate, and door to be certain that they’re all locked.

Here are a few other tips to help your clients when showing a home:

Say ‘No’ to drugs

There are so many tales of open house visitors rifling through medicine cabinets and taking a few pills, or even whole bottles. Have your clients remove or put in a locked drawer all prescription drugs from their medicine cabinet, even the ones they might think are harmless.

Control your remotes

Most people don’t think about the extra garage remote they leave dangling from a hook near the back door. It’s small and easy to slip into a pocket, so take it with you when you leave for the open house.

File this under ‘Lock & Key’

Identity theft is real and should be taken seriously.  Advise your clients to use a safe or lockable filing cabinet for important documents: birth and marriage certificates, financial statements, basically any legal, medical, or personal information they don’t want falling into someone else’s hands.

 

Source: http://www.mymetrotex.com/open-house-safety-important/