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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Avoiding Social backlash: When automation meets emotion in a time of tragedy

The news rocked the country almost as hard as the explosion rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Amid the fire, injuries, heroes and confusion over the tragedy, the world watched.

The news actually broke on Twitter, then quickly spread through other Social Networks, then television and radio news networks. The next morning, the newspapers had the printed stories. Magazines will soon follow.

Word spread fast through digital mediums, and most everyone connected to the Internet or smartphone knew what occurred within an hour of it occurring. And a few savvy digital marketers quickly urged their cohorts to cancel all their pre-scheduled social media posts.

Many did, and saved themselves from appearing insensitive in the wake of such a tragedy. And a few did not and received a great amount of backlash, or responded negatively when their automated marketing tactics were brought into question.

Companies and marketers making bad timing judgments isn’t anything new. It was even discussed in the Season 6 premiere of famed advertising drama "Mad Men."

But in an age of digital speed and push-button editing power, it’s a bit less excusable.

The NRA drew fire when an automated tweet promoting guns was sent from an associated account in the early morning hours following a mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado theater.

As a real estate agent or brokerage, you’re probably less likely to make such a misstep, and less likely that it might draw such national outrage if you were to.

But the topic of automation still brings up a sensitive subject of keeping an ear to the ground, and being human in times of tragedy.

Real estate agents have long tried to market themselves as being personable family people who care about helping others find the house they might ultimately raise their families in.

Social media and digital marketing lends itself well to catering to that persona and showing others that you really do care, and relate to them both in happiness and heartache. You're not just a salesman, but a real person whom they can relate to.

In a digital world where marketing is growing so mainstream, you have the ability to leverage relationships. You can show yourself to be the real person that you are, and not just come across as so many do—as nothing more than a sales person.

Don’t misread what we’re saying—automation is an absolutely beautiful thing. We talk about it a lot and are very big proponents of creating sophisticated real estate technologies that allow you to easily communicate with your clients in an automated and personal fashion. We pride ourselves in providing one of the best all-around solutions for such communication in a busy real estate industry where multi-tasking is your middle name.

But automation always works best when paired with personalization. Allow your automated tools to work for the purposes they were built for, but allow yourself to work in the caring side as well.

You’re a person, not a robot. And you have this advantage over so many businesses that nowadays turn so many customers away with automated and outsourced customer service systems. Sometimes it’s refreshing for someone to just talk or connect with a real person, especially when that person is the one who might help their family make one of the biggest buying decisions in their lives.
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