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I recently reached out to a number of dear friends and colleagues who represent a great cross-section; real estate agents, brokers, entrepreneurs, executives, marketing pros, digital strategists, authors and more and asked them:
“What are the two or three tech and/or social media tools that you are fired up about in 2015?”
I was thrilled to see such a variety of answers and feedback. Many of these tools I have used myself, but I was also very excited to learn a few new tips, tools and apps that I wasn’t familiar with!
I also love that this lists isn’t about ‘shiny objects’ – it is about tools that are helping people do business better. They are tools that are helping people be more effective, more productive and work smarter – not just harder in 2015.
So grab a cup of coffee, and check out some of the hottest tools in 2015!
Adam Contos, Vice President Business Development, RE/MAX LLC @acontos
2015 is the year of maximizing. Maximizing my time and effort to be productive; both in my personal and professional life.
Unroll.me: There may be some other email management tools out there but this one is working well for me. My key goal is to maximize the time I have and in order to do that, you need to eliminate all of the garbage that floats by your eyes every day. Use this application, along with the philosophies: 1. Open Once – if I open an email, I MUST do something with it. Either answer, delete, or delegate. It doesn’t go opened more than once. 2. Inbox Zero – both of the above will lead me to inbox zero. I cannot go more than 48 hours without completely emptying the inbox.
IFTTT: If you’re not using this, you’re doing too much work. With my key goal of 2015 being to make more time to be more productive, this tool and the recipes available are awesome! Try it. Spend an hour looking at what it can do with your different channels and you’ll be glad you did. I especially like dumping things into Evernote with it. Great way to put all of your life and day in to one place.
Video. I can’t say enough about this. From using it in blogs, to BombBomb video emails, to posting on YouTube. It has huge SEO benefits and gets so much more across than words and even pictures. Remember, according to the internet (so it must be correct), people process an image 60,000 times faster than words.
Cory Vasquez, Senior Manager Social and Digital Marketing, RE/MAX LLC @cjvasquez
Balanced app: Each new year I renew my pledge to achieve life balance. If we do everything the experts recommend – journal, meditate, exercise, pluck, floss, juice, vote, volunteer, etc., – we would far exceed the hours in our day. So, to prioritize and draw nearer to the balance that will personally help me be fulfilled, I’ve been using the FREE app ‘Balanced.’ (And bonus, I’m achieving financial balance with free apps!) With Balanced, I have an in-my-pocket reminder of all the things I need and more importantly, want to do. And the most fulfilling part of it all for a list-creator? Checking things off that list. Ahh… success!
Chris Smith, Co-founder, Curaytor and Author of #Peoplework @chris_smth
Facebook Newsfeed Retargeting: While most people are just figuring out that Facebook Ads work, I’m excited about taking them to the next level with Newsfeed retargeting. When built properly, a well thought out “Facebook Funnel” can be very powerful.
Product Hunt: I am always being asked “where do you hear about all this cool tech stuff”. More and more my answer is Product Hunt. It is a curated site where community members vote on the best new software and apps, daily.
Debra Trappen, Head of Sass and Moxie, d11 Consulting @debra11
Pomodoro App: Many of my clients and I have a goal to intentionally invest time this year… Focus is going to be a must and this productivity app keeps my attention right where I need it! You can lay out part of the day in timed segments and CRUSH your goals – one by one.
Friends+Me: I am looking to grow my personal and brand presence on Google+ this year. The problem is, there are only so many hours in the day for social media! Friends+Me allows me to focus on growing my audience and posting in Google+ then assists me by strategically “reposting” them to various other social channels, as appropriate. The customization is stellar, so setting time aside to take advantage of all opportunities is on my geeky calendar.
Refresh: Attending conferences and networking events is a large part of my business/life. This app preps me with relevant, interesting information about the people I have scheduled to meet with and allows me to quickly search those people I serendipitously meet along the way. Many magnificent conversations have been sparked by the little tidbits I have gleaned from the dossiers this created for me!
Elisa Uribe, Realtor, Wells and Bennett Realtors, @EUribechat
Facebook Group: What Should I Spend My Money On? My big tip is there is a group of agents on a Facebook group I really like to reference. It is called, “what should I spend my money on” and it is a group of professionals sharing their personal experience after having bought a product, service, sharing a marketing idea or even giving their opinion on a logo.
Jay Gregg, Director of Marketing, Pillar to Post Professional Home Inspection @thepillartopost
Evernote: I find Evernote an extremely useful business tool that allows me to access notes on any device and easily revise these documents as well.
WAZE: Waze helps me get home at night by providing me with current traffic flow information and warning of routes to avoid. Both of these make my life much easier.
Jeff Chalmers, Senior Loan Officer, Guaranteed Rate @clicknfinance
ScheduleOnce: We’re all busy and one of the most ineffective ways of scheduling appointments is playing email tennis with clients, friends and family to compare schedules. For just $5/mo, ScheduleOnce takes care of that by allowing people to instantly access your available schedule, book appointments from their laptop, iPad and smartphone and then allowing you to accept new appointments (in the office or on the go). Once accepted, your appointments are then automatically and seamlessly synced with your Google calendar and can include customized confirmations sent to you and your requestor as well as customizable reminders and post meeting follow up responses. Scheduling Made EZ.
MySMS: Many real estate professionals spend much of their valuable time on either their desktop or laptop, but only for the purpose of accessing the office’s proprietary web and IDX solutions. However, nowadays, most clients are contacting you away from their desk and office while out and about on their phone and mobile devices. This makes for a juggling headache as you have to go back and forth between devices. Don’t break your phone, break this habit. MySMS enables you to access your sms app to receive and respond to texts from your laptop or desktop. Did I mention it was FREE? For a small price, the premium version can back up all your texts to Dropbox and Evernote, plus a few other fun and useful options.
DocuSign Transaction Rooms: When you’re trying to get everyone on the same page, but you want to be mobile and paperless, DocuSign Transaction Room is your simple and cost-effective answer. Considered the most trusted eSigning platform in the world and the only solution used and accepted by the IRS, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and many Fortune 100 and 500 companies, not to mention a fan favorite of NAR (who is also an investor), institutions, brokerages and individuals all over rely on DocuSign for streamlining their business operations and increasing their bottom line. In any business, time is money and DTR just makes good “cents”.
Jeff Lobb, Founder and CEO, SparkTank Media @jefflobb
Slack: Slack is a platform for team communication: everything in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go. It also integrates and works with many things we already work with such as Dropbox, Drive , Mailchimp and many others.
Connect6: Connect6 is one of my favorite and if you didn’t like Google Chrome, you will now! Connect6 runs inside your Chrome browser and provides real-time contact information as you browse the web and social networks. Learn about a contact based on his/her picture, job title, employer and job skills. You can also get his/her email address and phone number with the click of a button. It works within Facebook, twitter and many other social sites as well…its awesome !
PipeDrive: I’m implementing PipeDrive as my CRM for SparkTank Media – it’s got a great mobile experience, and is easily accessible.
Kelly Mitchell, CEO, Caffeinator Media; Creator/Exec Producer Agent Caffeine, BreveTV, CaffeinatorTV @kellymitchell
iPhone 6: I am in love, absolute love with the iPhone 6 plus. It took a week to get used to the size but I am using many of my apps I really couldn’t use well on a smaller phone. It’s a phablet. Finding the iPad now works best for movies and the phone for everything else.Even my Android husband is a little jealous.
Scrivener: My work horse app for all the writing I am doing this year is Scrivener. It’s a pretty incredible writing tool that gives you the perfect sandbox for creating your masterpiece while enabling research and other resources to be connected to the project. It’s not cheap ($45 US), but makes the writing process much more organized for those of us with too little time and too many ideas. It’s great for anything from books to blogs. From concept to outline to final draft, it’s a winner.
Feedly: For Social, I couldn’t live without Feedly. It keeps me informed on the topics I need to know and that list is forever expanding because of the diversity of Feedly and it makes curation down to the nitty gritty a breeze.
Karlton Utter, Director of Learning Technologies and Solutions for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate @KarltonUtter
Real Estate Idea Shed: One trend that I see continuing to improve our industry is true and transparent collaboration. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has just launched Idea Shed. Idea Shed is a collaborate space where ideas from the industry for the industry are shared with everyone and anyone who wants to take them and act on it.
HDvideo. I think that communication is continuing to evolve and that HDvideo shot on our smart phones and action cams will be more important than ever when it comes to branding and marketing ourselves in real estate. It is also turning into a true communication tool. Turn the camera on selfie mode and send a thank you to your open house attendees, introduce a local park to your audience, or get a 30 second testimonial from a client at the closing table. Two of my favorite apps right now for video are Flipagram which creates a slide show with music with the photos on your device and Instavid which offers templates for creating a collage of photos but you can also include video. Imagine creating a collage of four photos from a house with a video of you in the middle explaining the main selling points for each room. Video will continue to evolve in 2015 as a powerful marketing tool for those that embrace it.
Instagram: Photos are the number one tool for real estate professionals to generate marketing opportunities. This site does nothing but focus on photos…and it provides filters for editing to make sure they look amazing. It also allows for 15 second videos. Considering the human attention span is only 7 seconds long (a gold fish is 8 seconds…scary), 15 seconds is the perfect amount of time for a video if you get to the point and have a call to action. Millenials are 1/3 of all purchasers and they prefer Instagram over the other social media sites, it might be time to start considering it as a powerful marketing tool.
Kendyl Young, Owner/Realtor, Diggs @kendyl
Facebook groups: 2015 is all about connecting to real people in my local area! I am leveraging all the possible connections, conversations and groups into meet ups, events and good old fashion coffee chats.
Matterport: So excited by the idea of meeting the buyer with what they need. A real time viewing experience. A feeling that the image truly represents the real home – not a photoshop ed representation.
Deeper hyperlocal content: I am the buyer’s “host” in Glendale. My job is to support the buyer with all the knowledge, resources and people they need to eventually become hosts, themselves. I use my blog, video, email and Facebook to create and distribute this content.
Kim Hawkins, Vice President, RE/MAX Alliance @remaxalliance
Tempo: I started using this at the suggestion of…yes…Katie Lance! And….I love love it! It has made may life easier in the way that it tracks calendar items, allowing me to quickly look at any emails associated with that appointment. Easy to read, good reminders.
Jive Mobility: This cloud based phone system we recently transitioned to as a company is fabulous. I’ve got the app on my phone so that my office DID is now on my cell phone. When I make a business call, I can now call from my office number, receive calls from my office number, have voice to email and fax to email. It’s made my life easier!!
Yapmo: As a company, we’ve had an intranet for quite some time. This is taking it to another level, with greater mobility, timeliness and ease of use. We launch this coming Friday and are very excited about the opportunities!
Laura Monroe, Director of Industry Engagement and Social Media, Inman News @lauramonroe
This year will be a pivotal year for me in the social strategy department. The social landscape has changed; from the focus on growth and use of social media – to the evolution of targeting, paid/organic reach, and having a greater understanding of how the results are measured and goals are tracked.
Google apps and Wunderlist – My Business Dashboard: I must admit, and you may roll your eyes – but content planning, metrics and results all take a consistent thought out plan. At Inman, our content focuses on news, education and events – so rolling that all into a social plan requires some customization. This year I have broken down each content stream and created a “Daily Book of Business” or a dashboard with a Google Docs spreadsheet to help plan at a high level, coordinate, brainstorm, schedule and keep track of ROI. From email campaigns, social campaigns, Twitter chats, and events and breaking news – my dashboard will have me covered, and results measured weekly/monthly. Wunderlist is my running TO DO list or lists. I use the app on all my devices and the Google Chrome extension that attaches to my email, so even my emails can be turned into tasks with one click.
Social Media Management: Sprout Social with Buffer App . These are the two tools I can’t live without. I can schedule all of our social content – whether it’s breaking news, when I’m traveling, at an event, these tools can handle all our pages, handles and platforms with fast, efficient scheduling. These are MOST effective for cross-marketing messages and great reports and analytics. We have integrated our RSS Feed, Google Analytics, and Bitly accounts to get even better metrics and reports.
Facebook boosted posts, targeted ads and video – Since Facebook is our largest source of social traffic, growth and community, we have to have a budget for ads and boosted posts to get our content out there. I plan to embrace and leverage both paid advertising, and manual uploading of videos to Facebook ( which are predicted to outweigh YouTube video views this year)
Finally, a quick shout out to all my mobile iOS devices. No app, program, or system would work, unless they could all be accessed, updated and in sync on my devices! Looking forward to an amazing 2015!
Nick Baldwin, Director of Tech & Social Media, and Listing Specialist, The Baldwin Dream Team at Keller Williams Realty @nickbaldwin79
My go-to apps for real estate are Open Home Pro, Homekeepr and GoConnect. The reason I use these apps is because organization and consistency are my two biggest challenges, and these apps greatly help with that.
Open Home Pro: I never host an open house without Open Home Pro. There is something about signing in on an iPad that makes every guest want to give me all of their information. The app also sends an automatic email (branded to you) to the guest thanking them for coming, with the listing attached. Follow up after an open house is difficult for some, and this pretty much facilitates that for you. Then you can download all the guests into your database with a CSV file.
Homekeepr: Homekeepr is another app that I love to utilize touches to past clients. It’s an app that’s branded to you that sends your sphere monthly home maintenance reminders. Gutter cleaning, furnace servicing, etc. It also sends your recommended vendors attached to the reminder. I love it because, again, it’s set-it-and-forget-it, and it’s a helpful way to stay in touch with a purpose.
GoConnect: Now that my business is transitioning to 75% listings, GoConnect is helping me stay on top of the tasks associated with each property from list to close. From reminders to schedule photographs to putting the lock box on the door, it never lets me forget. Every seller client has to feel as if they are my only one, and this app allows me to give them that feeling.
Rebekah Radice, Social Media Strategist and co-founder Imagine WOW @rebekahradice
QuotesCover: QuotesCover has quickly become one of my favorite online visual marketing tools due to its ease of use. In three steps, you can include your quote, choose your font and add your background. It’s completely customizable making it a breeze to create branded, eye-catching visuals in a matter of minutes.
BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo is an amazing search tool that takes search to a whole new level. Whether you’re researching influencers within your niche or identifying hot topics for your next blog post, BuzzSumo gives you the data you need. With this advanced social search engine, you’ll discover the most shared content across today’s top social networks. Use this information to create content that’s ideal for your target market.
Commun.it: If you’re looking to better manage your Twitter stream, Commun.it is the tool for you. Commun.it is a true relationship-building tool that takes Twitter from noisy to nurturing. Log in and you will quickly find data, analysis and insights that allow you to quickly engage with those engaging with you. Build better relationships by listening in on conversations happening around your industry, business or niche.
Tiffany Kjellander, Chief Creative Officer & Operations Manager EXIT Towne & Country Realty @tkjellander
Homekeepr: I am loving Homekeepr! It’s a branded communication tool that allows clients to stay connected long after the sale is done.
iAnnotate: This is my favorite PDF editor – it works great on iPhone and iPad and is totally worth the money.
Whew – what a list!
So, what made my list?
It’s hard to just pick a few tools but on my list are the Hootlet Chrome extension. I love easily sharing articles and videos quickly through the Hootlet. I did a video last year about it – and I still use it every day! I also am a huge fan of ShareAsImage. This tool is by far the easiest tool to create images for blog posts and social media. I use it on almost all of my blog posts (including this one!) And, I love that it has a Chrome extension. Publishing long-form content on LinkedIn is another tool that I started using in 2014 and I’m as part of my content strategy I will be contributing more and more to LinkedIn. This is a hugely underutilized tool that when used correctly is a great platform to teach and share your business leadership ideas and lessons. Whether someone is an avid blogger on their own site or not, I am seeing a ton of traction from my own LinkedIn blog posts and was as those of my clients.
I’d love your thoughts on this list! Did your favorite make the list? What are we missing? Leave us a comment below or send me a tweet!