Entrepreneurship, Marketing and the Interwebs

Blog by JP Zeni

Launch of CondoOutlet.com new Beta site

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I recently launched the newest of my projects – the newly redeveloped CondoOutlet.com and I think we’ve done some very innovative things with it. New and innovative functionality includes:

  1. HD Video – we offer HD video of Condo projects across Toronto detailing the interior and exterior
  2. Investment Reports – Built off over 10 years of MLS data we’ve compiled condo pricing and investment data for hundreds of Toronto Condos into highly useful reports for home buyers and condo investors alike
  3. Reviews – We support user reviews for all Toronto Condos which will be given more and more focus as the depth of reviews increases
  4. Nearby condo mapping – On each condo page we map the nearest 5 condos to that property allow users to browse a very specific location seemlessly
  5. Unique condo content written by industry professionals
  6. Top notch page design and usability

As with any beta site … still lots of work to do to fix bugs and small issues but really the whole process begins now – Online Marketing. I have a pretty comprehensive plan in place and I can’t wait to see what the results will be! Stay tuned.

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Written by jpzeni

September 27, 2011 at 1:58 am

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Great time at Realtor Quest and REbarcamp

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I spend a fair bit of time over the last week out hustling for my RE2social project and I actually just started a new blog specifically about it and social media for agents in general. Both events were pretty interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing the amount of business and business development opportunities they drum up respectively.

After spending a lot of time discussing social media as an portion of an overall marketing plan I’m starting to develop some theories about social media as a service (smaas?). There are a lot of things at play when it comes to social media being delivered by a 3rd party but, in general, I think the biggest questions you need to ask yourself are:

– What is the level of trust I have in the person/company delivering the SM content?
– What is the quality of content they can provide?
– Can they effectively represent my brand?
– Can I dedicate the time and resources necessary for committed and effective self management of SM?
– What is the level of expectation my fans/followers are going to have of my SM presence?
– Can a provider integrate SM more effectively into my existing marketing strategy?

Then, given the above, what aspects of my social media strategy/implementation should be in-house vs. outsourced?

Written by jpzeni

May 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm

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RE2social and socialbots

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I’ve decided to tag team a new post by discussing two topic – The first is my most recent project that we just launched today called RE2social and the second is the growing trend of automated robots trolling around in social media called socialbots.

RE2social is a an application that we’ve created that allows Realtors to automatically post real estate listings from MLS.ca and real estate news stories to Facebook and twitter accounts – R-eal E-state to Social Media. Essentially, we are allowing Realtors to automate a great deal of their social media presence by pushing out relevant and compelling information to their followers and fans. Creating a greater degree of communication between themselves and their network RE2social allows Realtors to keep themselves top of mind with their potential clients.

The reality is that most people know at least 3 or 4 realtors and when it comes time to buy or sell their home they’re likely to use one who has created the deepest personal and professional connection. So, we’ve designed RE2social to help Realtors very easily (virtually zero work involved on their end) create those deeper personal and professional bonds by leveraging the fastest and most underutilized (from a business perspective) form of communication – social media. We do this by integrating their listings and relevant real estate news with twitter and Facebook accounts designed for the purpose of improving their networking.Not only do we push out updates about listings but we’ve also created a custom Facebook application that allows users to browse and view listings right from the Realtor’s Facebook fanpage. In my opinion this service could easily replace existing Realtor websites that are really nothing but an online calling card with a rich, communication and connection driven online presence that drives true value for Realtors.

While RE2social is an automated solution for Realtors to drive business online and building a base for the Realtors to interact and build deeper connections in the internet space at large we are seeing other more sophisticated robots called socialbots as discussed here that not only push content online but actively mimic human behavior. This is a really fascinating development that could significantly influence human behavior and opinion. While the author of the article discusses the implications that this might have in the political arena my first thought was how could this be utilized for businesses. There is the obvious ethical dilemma around creating a bot that imitates a human and it would be easy to think of ways that a bot could attempt to manipulate people for marketing purposes. However, I’d be more interested to think of scenario’s where bots could be used to build bridges between people and foster inter-connectivity that wouldn’t necessarily happen organically. Perhaps it would be able to link people of similar interests or other commonalities together … the commonalities could be anything from an interest in watching a particular sports team to a hobby to having survived cancer.  In this way a socialbot could be a catalyst for building social groups that could have easily formed organically but needed that extra little push.

Curating the creation of social group via a socialbot is one thing but the real question is how can you influence that group once you’ve helped to artificially create it without diving into a darker shade of the moral grey.

 

Written by jpzeni

March 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm

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Micro SEO experiment with extremely low competition keyword

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Last week I noted that this blog was ranking on the 3rd results page for a keyword search of my subdomain ‘jpzeni’. 4 days later after two quick posts of fresh content and this blog has moved to 9th on results from google.com US IPs and 10th for google.ca CDN IPs. Yahoo and Bing both have one of my first posts in at the #1 spot and have shown no differences in the rankings over the last week. Will continue to watch over the next couple weeks without further link building or other SEO related activities to evaluate how fresh content influences rankings.

Written by jpzeni

February 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm

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Google WTD?

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Why you gotta go and do me like that? … So I haven’t posted in a few months doesn’t mean I should be relegated to the 3rd results page for an exact match search of my blog’s subdomain. I know you’ve been clamping down on web 2.0 site spam but really? My theory is that this may have something to do with the delisting/banning of the feedlisting.com rss feed aggregator. That’s basically the only place that I’ve submitted my rss feed and probably one of the only sources of back links for this blog (which I have not actively promoted). Now with some fresh content from a couple new posts I will check back in a week and see what happens. Will post updates, promise.

Written by jpzeni

February 10, 2011 at 7:02 pm

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The Future of Technological Education

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My wife is a grade 1 teacher so I get to hear a lot about the way schools, education and classrooms work. Some of the things that the Ontario government and the school boards are really being emphasizing right now include improvements in pedagogy, advancements in accomodations for youth with learning disabilities and the increasing use of metrics and evaluation for measuring both the effectiveness of teachers but also the continual tracking of student learning. These all seem to be worthwhile priorities (although the standardized testing and evaluation leaves much to be desired from an implementation standpoint IMO) but one thing I rarely if ever hear about is advancements in technology in the classroom.

THE IMPETUS
I believe the next 5-10 years will be the time horizon where we begin to see an increasing focus on integrating much higher levels of technology into the classroom. The reality is that students these days are using the same tools of learning in the classroom that have been used since the turn of the early 20th century while the rest of the world has by in large migrated away from the paper and pencil world of 50 years ago. Right now this doesn’t seem to be a topic of great debate amongst the general Canadian public but I think this will change as we see a change in the parental demographic. Current parents are of primary and secondary school students are for the most part in their mid thirties to early 50s and these generations didn’t grow up with around ubiquotous technology and an interactive web but that’s about to change. The parents of 10 years from now are going to be the people who grew up with the internet and technologies such as smart phones, laptops, tablets, etc and expect those things to be integrated into their everyday lives. And I believe those parents are going to be the ones who demand we start leveraging and integrating technology into schools.

Personally, it’s my opinion that this should be a funding priority of both the provincial and federal governements. At the moment this country is fueling is global competitive advantage with dirty oil from the tar sands in Alberta. A vector for growth that I believe is unsustainable, harmful to the environment and thus harmful to Canada’s reputation in the global community. Instead of providing incentives and tax breaks to major oil and gas producers we should be actively taxing dirty oil in order to fund a real, sustainable, competitive advantage in our future workforce. This of course will require consistent and intense public debate … but that’s where the impetus of those parents who grew up with technology will come in to play.

THE IMPLEMENTATION
Some of my thoughts on how to we should integrate technology into the classroom:

Introduction of thin client devices for each individual students into the classroom

  • Will help keep individual hardware costs down
  • Will allow software to be cloud based to prevent excess licensing fees
  • Will prevent high costs of regularly updating client side software

Create and fund comprehensive open source education projects

  • Allows boards to have free alternatives to what could be otherwise cost prohibitive 3rd party products
  • Individual education programs, device management, content management systems, resource librariesand more could all be scaled efficiently with well organized and funded open source projects

Create a unified opt-in purchasing / procurement plan for all parents and school boards country wide

  • OPT-IN is key … there must be room for vendor competition

Cloud based

  • Deeply integrate/network the thin devices with central scalable processing hubs
  • Cloud based services allow for control of thin devices within the classroom and ease of distribution/access to new software

Educational Software with Built in Game Mechanics

  • HUGELY IMPORTANT! Make it FUN!!
  • I’m not talking about turning math class into a version of Call of Duty but creating game mechanics that reward and incent learning in real time.
  • Frictionless and playful UI, points, levels, virtual rewards, classroom rankings (this may be no-no), etc should be made part of each educational application

Digitized and Automated Marking and Metrics

  • Learning is about more than just test scores … how are students engaging in their work, how much time do they spend working on classroom activities, how often do they complete assignments on time so make and track these metrics.
  • Marking is a time suck for teachers – so reduce it
  • Automate whenever possible
  • Aggregate grades/metrics online and have direct compatibility with report cards
  • Allow parental real-time / regularly updated access to test scores
  • Flags and alerts for failure to hit benchmark metrics

 

Written by jpzeni

February 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm

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Google Instant – Suggesting the most profitable search query

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Is it just me or is Google instant clearly an attempt by the big G to suggest to the user what the most profitable search might be. Last December I wrote a post at Galt Networks that discusses the issues surrounding the content control Google has over the general internet using public including the following:

Consider for a moment the power these organizations[Google and to a lesser extent Bing/Yahoo] posses by being able to warp and manipulate the web content you access … how much of what you read and absorb from the net is directly related to what came up in the top 3 Google search results? The reality is that Google and other search engines have significant control over the content you consume, products you buy and knowledge you garner from the Internet.

Google has just moved from holding latent power to influence the results of search in their favor to actively directing the original search with ‘Instant’. This has been happening ever since search engines began suggesting search terms in the process of search however, this move is clearly a dangerous precedent for internet users hoping to find online content using non-biased search. This brings me back to the main point I made in my December posting:

Having a small number of corporations (that are subject to zero oversight and who provide virtually no transparency to their operations) with effective control over the access to information on the internet is an unhealthy and unsafe situation. Add to that the fact that search is a monetized process where it is inherently beneficial to manipulate control over the system both overtly and covertly. ….

And the Solution – Democratized Search
Open source, community driven, peer reviewed, fully transparent, Demonetized search that is managed in an egalitarian manner by a community that has minimal barriers to entry. In essence the Wikipedia of search.

Written by jpzeni

September 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm

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