The Open2view App® – Now available for Android…

Since the launch of our iOS Open2view® App last year, our tech team has been hard at work developing our Android version. We are very happy to let you know, that it is available now from the Google Play Store for Android phone and tablet devices.

Android - Landscape Search

 

A real estate viewing experience like no other….

Potential buyers can easily search homes for sale or rent in their current or preferred location, flick through high quality images and where available, watch high definition video, inspect floor plans and take a virtual tour through the property, all from the convenience of their Android phone or tablet device.

 

Android Phone


Featuring the latest in Augmented Reality technology
….

As with the iOS version released earlier this year, the Open2view® app includes an AR Scanner, powered by realviewR (rvR), which uses the very latest in Augmented Reality technology, to detect any rvR enabled image included on a real estate signboard, flyer, brochure or window card. Users can scan the image to reveal further interactive content and full information about the property listing, right in the palm of their hand.

Open2view® App key features include:

  • realviewR Technology: Unlock Augmented Reality content on a property listing by scanning an rvR enabled image.
  • Maps: Easily search for properties by current location, map region or area name.
  • Refine Search: Filter by region, price range, price type, property type, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and more.
  • High Quality Photography: View high quality, professional images and where available, HD video, virtual tours & floor plans.
  • Favourite Properties: Bookmark properties for quick viewing.
  • Favourite Searches: Save your favourite searches for quick access later.
  • Notes: Make and save your own notes on a property.
  • Open Home: View open home details for properties in your Favourites list.

Download the app now from the links below and start the search for your new home!…

Get the Open2view® App for Android here: Download Now

Get the Open2view® App for iOS here: Download Now


Do you have any feedback you’d like to share?

We pride ourselves on delivering cutting edge technology and excellent services to our customers, so we’d love to hear about your experience using the Open2view® App. Drop us a line in the comments below or email socialmedia@open2view.com

Hello from San Francisco: #ICSF Day One

welcome

Yes, that’s right. Coming to you this week from Real Estate Connect in San Francisco! I’m a first-timer here at the Inman News produced conference, which hosts over 2,000 industry delegates and 100+ speakers and exhibitors.

It’s also happens to be my first visit to the City, so in-between soaking up the San Fran atmosphere (and fighting off jet-lag), I’ve been able to take in some interesting panel discussions and great speakers during the first day, which, by the way, got off to a rock-n-rolling start thanks to the “house band” the Greg Smith Group (who also gave this little impromptu performance after the opening morning session):

 

Now, down to business…

The general sessions provided many interesting topics and new technologies to check out (which I’ll share with you in some upcoming posts), however, a day-one highlight was ‘Graduating from Social Media to running a Social Business’ from guest speaker Laura Fitton who is Inbound Marketing Evangelist for HubSpot.

 

laura fitton

“No matter what you’re sharing … what you’re sharing is not about you.”

That might be hard for some people to accept, but according to Laura Fitton,  if you’re an agent and your idea of a social media strategy is to try to get as many friends and followers as possible, you’re doing it wrong!

It’s all about building relationships with your clients. Agents can make an impact to their business by using social media as an opportunity to help their clients, rather than just using it as an outlet to talk about themselves.

Fitton said, “If you are a Realtor, stop talking about yourself and start talking about the families that you’re helping.”

“You need to be solving people’s problems. Your marketing materials need to be something people would thank you for”

If agents do their research, they can identify whats going on in their area and understand the challenges and fears their clients may have. Then via social media, solve those challenges and ease those fears.

You can check out Laura’s full Slideshare presentation here:

 

 

More updates to come from my time at the conference. You call also search #icsf on social media for real-time updates and news from attendees.

What does your online presence say about you?

Social Media Apps on Apple iPhone 5

Ever scrolled through your Facebook or twitter feed and cringed and some of things people post?

I’ll be honest, back when my friends and I started using facebook, we thought it was pretty hilarious to tag each other in unflattering photos while out for a girls night out on the town. Rarely did we give much thought about who else might see them, or any possible repercussions of our actions.

Call it getting older and wiser (and undoubtedly more vain), you quickly come to the realisation that how you present yourself online, is how people perceive you in real life, and being able to put your best foot forward applies to social networking as well.

I didn’t really want to mention it, but I will, because there is a lesson to learn for all of us (err, apart from the obvious hygiene one) in the recent actions of disgraced league player Todd Carney. He may not have posted the image online himself and some may argue it was just silly drunken behaviour, but it’s a very real example of how easy it is for images and content to be captured and shared virally across social networks. In this instance, the consequences for Carney being his club contract was torn up and his league playing career effectively over.

Social networking is part of our everyday lives.

Recent statistics show, that of all internet users in the U.S, 73% use social networking sites. By the end of 2014, it is estimated that there will be around 1.82 billion social networks users worldwide.

Social networking is how we interact with our friends. It’s how we do business. It’s how we share information, and sometimes, that can easily lead to sharing a little too much information (or ‘TMI’ if we’re using internet slang.)

chart
Source: Statista 2014

Nowadays, in between reading, writing and maths, Primary School children are learning how to keep themselves safe online and become responsible ‘cyber citizens’.

So with that in mind, let us all head into the weekend and reflect on our online/social media behaviour and remind ourselves about things we probably shouldn’t be sharing on social networks, whether it’s ‘TMI’ posts, or little bits of personal information that we give away online without even thinking.

Below is some great advice from staysafeonline.org that can help keep your personal information safe and have everyone practicing good social media etiquette…

 

Follow these tips to safely enjoy social networking:

Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.

Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.

Your online reputation can be a good thing:  Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.

Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.

spying-on-you-status-updates-somewhat-topical-ecards-someecards

Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life.

Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences.

Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.

Own your online presence: When applicable, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how you share information.

Post only about others as you have them post about you.

– See more at staysafeonline.org

Pinterest: The perfect place for property pictures.

How many of you have heard of Pinterest?

Those with long memories may recall  a few words we wrote about Pinterest back in May 2012. It was full of interesting facts: fastest site to hit ten million monthly visitors, 21 percent of members had bought something seen on Pinterest, that kind of thing.

How’s Pinterest looking almost 2 years on? Still pretty amazing, actually. Pinterest now has over 70 million users. Even better, it drives more referral traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google Plus combined. And the average orders, usually for home-related goods, are for between $140-180 each, compared to $60 and $80 on Twitter and Facebook.

Open2view on Pinterest

People are clearly spending a lot of time and money on Pinterest. Here at Open2view, we decided to up the ante a little. Could we get someone to place an order worth, say, at least $500,000 through Pinterest? Not just to furnish a home, but to buy an actual home?

It’s not all that far fetched. Real estate, after all, is a very visual product. People can fall in love with a house – or be completely put off – in about 20 seconds. It therefore made sense to go play Cupid on the most visual, and fastest growing, social site there is.

So out came the virtual scissors and glue, and so far we have over 300 pins across 21 Boards on our Open2view New Zealand Pinterest page and have just launched Open2view Australia on Pinterest.

Here’s just some of what you’ll find on our pages:

Property of the week – recently added properties that have caught our eye.

Fantastic first homes – properties perfect for first home buyers.

Beautiful bathrooms – self explanatory. We also have equally alliterative boards for other rooms.

Houses by twilight – Open2view’s night shots can be pretty spectacular.

Animal photography – we believe that if you must shoot an animal, it ought to be with a wide angle lens.

Man Caves – also known as garages, sheds and games rooms.

Not our photos – a bunch of awful, awful photos that quite clearly were not taken by us.

Best Views Ever Open2view on Pinterest

A sneak preview of one of our Pinboards.

Another Pinterest feature we love is the ability to see what others are pinning from our site. We often check out http://www.pinterest.com/source/nz.open2view.com/ to see what photos of ours are grabbing others’ attention. You can see what’s being shared from your site by replacing our website in that URL with yours.

Now then, what if you see something on our website that you just have to share? Easy as: press the button that says ‘Pin it’, pick what photo grabs you the most and pin it to one of your boards. If Pinterest users want to see where it came from, all they have to do is click the photo and it’ll take them to our listing. Brilliant.

Pinterest prompt on Open2view

Not too long ago Pinterest teamed up with another social media app Foursquare, to add a brand new feature called ‘Place Pins’. Aimed primarily at those pinners who use Pinterest to plot their holidays, they also make it easy for our audience to find houses in their region to look at. What’s holding it back from being totally ideal is the inability to pin in places not marked by Foursquare; if they don’t have it, you can’t pin it. Luckily you can search by region, district and suburb via our website’s comprehensive search engine anyway.
Pinterest Map

So back to my earlier question: can we use Pinterest to sell an Open2view house? Well – and here’s the biggest anticlimax of my 120 blog posts – we don’t know yet. But! Pinterest is an extremely visual site, which fits perfectly with what we do – stunning real estate photography. And with it being a huge referrer of traffic it would be silly for us not to be there.

And if you’re there too, why not say hi and share your favourite real estate photos with us. If you’re already on Facebook and are feeling lazy, you can see our pins there too via our Pinterest app. Social media is nothing, if not super convenient.

Open2view New Zealand Pinterest Page

Open2view Australia Pinterest Page

New Google Maps: where the world is an open book

Is there anywhere Google hasn’t mapped?

They’ve certainly covered a lot of ground since bursting onto the scene in 2005. Thanks to Google Maps you can see North Korea by mouse rather than motorcycle. Religion is no longer a barrier to visiting Mecca or the Wailing Wall.

Google’s backpacks go where their cars fear to tread. Without leaving your chair, you can dive into the Grand Canyon, surf the Amazon River and swim the Great Barrier Reef thanks to this gentle Internet giant.

If you’re concerned, after reading this, that Google has taken all the mystery and anonymity out of seeing the world, then the new(ish) Google Maps is not for you.

Launched a couple of months back – I’ve been waiting for a quiet week to post this – it has integrated a whole lot of experiences so you almost never have to leave Maps again.

So, how does it help your real estate search experience?

Let’s say you spot a house on Open2view in St Heliers. Thanks to Open2view you’re well acquainted with the house itself; now you wish to find out some more about the neighbourhood.

At this state you’ve usually got two options. Our ‘Points of Interest’ feature allows you to check out what’s in each listing’s vicinity – including schools, shopping, walks, beaches and more.

NGM St Heliers small points of interest Open2view

NGM St Heliers recreation points of interest Open2view
For everywhere else, there’s new Google Maps.

NGM St Heliers Satellite Open2view

From here you can do all sorts of things:

The Info Card in the top left corner lets you search for directions. They now provide cycle-friendly routes, and real-time traffic data, so you can avoid any jams. You can now also save your search, switch to Street View in one click, and check out the local restaurants/cafes/bars. (Click the below image if you want to actually read the restaurant names.)

NGM St Heliers restaurants Open2view

The latter option is pretty handy if you’re hungry. You can click on each place and see what others think of it before you go. They’ve integrated their social media channels into Maps too; if you have friends on Google+ (add us!), or Yelp, their recommendations and reviews will show up first.

As you can tell, I vastly prefer the more detailed Google Earth view to the map view. By clicking on the photos at the bottom you can see photos uploaded to Google by members of the public. They’re not always useful but they can be super interesting, as proven by this photo of a 1974 Auckland rainbow.

NGM Auckland rainbow Open2view Google

Auckland rainbow Google Maps

The more you use the new Google Maps, the more tailored the search results become. If you display a penchant for Italian food, for example, Google will tailor its restaurant recommendations accordingly. Matthew Stibbe described this on Forbes.com as “very cool”. Those who value convenience over privacy will agree. Civil liberty types? Maybe not so much.

There’s another argument worth considering. One commenter underneath that Forbes article posed this question: “If it only ever shows me places that I already know and like or my friends already know and like then how will my friends and I ever find new places to get to know and like?”

A fair point. Google Maps can squeeze some of the spontaneity out of life; it’s very tempting to go nowhere new without first checking what others did there, and what they thought of it. It’s increasingly harder to take the road less traveled when Google’s gone and mapped eight million kilometres of them.

That’s the world we live in now. We at Open2view are just as responsible as anyone: thanks to our website, photography, videos, floorplans, walkthroughs, and everything else we provide, there’s very little mystery and guesswork left when searching for real estate. And a good thing, too.

For those who share our outlook, the new Google Maps is brilliant.

Have you tried the new Google Maps out yet? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts below or make your way over to our Facebook page.

The new Facebook Graph Search: cool, or creepy?

Graph Search

“People use search engines to answer questions. But we can answer a set of questions that no one else can really answer.” Mark Zuckerberg

As part of my role at Open2view I keep an eye on the latest social media trends and work out what they mean for us, and for all of you.

The ol’ thinking cap has been firmly on all day over Facebook’s announcement of their new search engine, to be known as Graph Search.

So what exactly is Graph Search? It is, essentially, a more effective way to search through your friends’ preferences. Oh, and their friends too. Through this you can build on your existing connections, and establish new ones, without having to utter a single word to another person.

It works like this: if you are passing through Hamilton and want to see who of your friends live there, just type in ‘friends who live in Hamilton’. If you wish to find out if any of your workmates want to go on a tramp, just search ‘work friends who like tramping’. (Or you could ask around the office – either way.) If you’re craving Mexican for lunch but don’t know what places are good, your friends might already know – type ‘Mexican restaurants in Hamilton my friends have been to’ and click ‘enter’.

It doesn’t just search your friends. Any friends of friends who have made relevant information available will show up in results too.

That’s where things get interesting. Facebook are well aware, this time round, of people’s privacy concerns. They have been at pains today to stress that any info made private will be treated as such, and will be issuing prompts to users to make sure their privacy settings are all sorted. Kashmir Hill of Forbes has already used Graph Search to show how much of Mark Zuckerberg’s information is publicly available.

Some decrease in privacy is inevitable. Once this product goes live to the masses, it will make Facebook stalking even easier.

Some early reviews have pointed out how Graph Search could even be used for dating. Searching ‘friends of friends in [your town] who are single’ will be good news for some (the person doing the search) and perhaps less pleasant for others (those who appear in the search results).

There are plenty of advantages to being able to search through your friends’ likes, even if they don’t always appreciate it. Let’s expand on the restaurant example, as I’m writing this near lunchtime and I’m hungry.

It has been shown time and again that you are more likely to buy a good or service if one of your friends has already purchased it – and doesn’t regret doing so. Therefore, running a Graph Search to see what eateries your friends are fans of will often give you far more valuable information than going to Google and reading through strangers’ restaurant reviews.

In the official introductory video, Facebook states the purpose of Graph Search is to help you “find people [you] should know.” After that, Facebook’s purpose will be to monetise this to the best of their ability. Nothing wrong with that (they’re a business after all) – just don’t be shocked if/when Facebook rolls out ads that allow pages to promote themselves to the top of any Graph Search enquiry.

If you wish to get on at the ground floor, scroll to the bottom of the Graph Search page and click ‘Join Waiting List’.

What do you reckon – will Graph Search an exciting, revolutionary step forward? Or is this just another win for cyber-stalkers? Have your say below or on our, um, Facebook page.

Check out the introductory video below:

This is the new news: How our news sites have changed – and what the future holds

man reading newspaper

Back when newspapers were born, mobiles were hung above cradles to put babies to sleep and tablets were what you took for a headache. The only way for mere mortals to be published was by writing a letter to the editor.

It’s 2012 and, well, things have changed. To catch up, and keep up, our two main sources of online news have undergone some significant revamping. Does ‘new’ equal ‘improved’, and what could be coming next?

 

Heralding in the digital age

The New Zealand Herald sought to reinvent itself last week with a switch to a ‘tabloid’ size and a new look website.

Most people have drawn their own, mostly favourable, conclusions on the new site. As for the new compact hard copy, I’ve been told it’s far easier to read on the bus and train to work, which – having wasted much of my life sitting in one or the other – makes it worth the price already.

The Herald has updated its iPhone and iPad apps too. App users can now receive ‘Breaking News Alerts’ and scan QR codes from the newspaper edition to access more content. Android users, your time will come.

A particularly interesting new feature is the Social Reader. This app allows the reader to peruse (love that word) the Herald without leaving Facebook. Says the official press release, “Facebook users will be able to view nzherald content based on personal interests or content popular with friends. Readers will be able to prioritise, share and rate news in relation to how they feel – happy, sad, inspired, angry etc.”

Add “lost” to that list because it was a hard app to track down. There is no link to it on the site and it was only via the fifth result on Google that I got there. Which is a shame, because the app is pretty good.

 

New Zealand Herald social reader for Facebook

But I don’t want to open for Lady Gaga!

 

Many overseas papers have similar apps through which you can comment on and share content with your Facebook friends, and check up on what they’ve been reading.

Just be sure you use the right version, because my Facebook search for the app revealed an older version that would be best destroyed with fire.

 

Points lost for not calling it ‘Get Stuffed’

 

Stuff Nation logo nz media

Not to be outdone by the Herald, Stuff has created a whole nation.

Stuff Nation is an ambitious new project that intends to “bring our readers much closer together, to form a more tangible community… and to give you opportunities to contribute your views and news in a much more meaningful way.” Now the public can write and submit their own news pieces, register as expert sources in their fields, and interact more with journalists and other readers.

Right now there’s a whole list of assignments calling out for contributors. For photography and property news fans these include photographing celebrities, photographing people who look like celebrities, sharing DIY home tips and pics, and snapping pictures of giant vegetables.

It’s not all shallow and light; some Stuff Nation settlers have produced some well written, thoughtful human-interest pieces. If Stuff included links from each assignment to contributions to said assignment, it would be far easier to find them.

Stuff has also inserted some quality control into their comments section. To comment now you must first sign up and provide some details about yourself. There are ways around that of course – giving a false name for instance – but it will hopefully give some trolls cause to think twice before lowering the tone of every discourse. If not, readers can vote comments up or down so you can skim over the less popular ones. Perhaps Stuff could follow the Daily Mail’s example and let readers sort comments by most or least popular.

At times Stuff Nation seems to be less a crowdsourced news site and more an avenue for bloggers to vent at bigger audiences. If the latter direction wins out it will be a real shame. It will be interesting to watch how this brave new nation grows and evolves.

 

Coming up at ten:

 

Pay wall

Even with all the new changes and initiatives, these websites will probably look completely unrecognisable in a few years.

Social media apps like the Herald’s will likely be embraced more in New Zealand, even with some people boldly predicting the demise of Facebook in the next decade. Stuff still need to further optimise their content for mobile and tablets, especially with the latter projected to outsell laptops by 2016.

Once these are optimised, they need to be monetised. It’s not just fewer sales and subscriptions that hurt papers; Nathan Field also blames the shift to specialist websites by “the big classified categories of cars, real estate and employment.” Whoops.

In an attempt to reverse their fortunes, news sites worldwide are erecting paywalls – and the Herald concedes it’s a matter of time before they follow suit.

When done properly it can increase revenue and subscriptions. Financial publications including the Wall Street Journal and our own National Business Review have pay models that serve them well. In the ‘mainstream’ category, the New York Times gives viewers ten articles a month for free and then charges $US15-35 to see the rest. This peep show works for them: since March 2011 the ‘Grey Lady’ has gained 509,000 online subscribers.

Whether the Herald can also be successful, and whether Stuff follows suit, remains to be seen. For all the hard work and innovation put in by both organisations this year, the toughest challenge of all – monetising themselves without losing their audience – is yet to be fully confronted.