Why I deleted my Twitter account

September 26th, 2009
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

After 7 days, 55 followers, following 120 people, 50 updates and more time than I will ever admit to, I just could not take it any longer, so I deleted my account. Twitter.com/HPY is no more.

Last week Twitter dominated my life. If I wasn’t checking Lance Armstrong‘s latest musings from the tour down under (twitter.com/lancearmstrong), or stalking Dragons (which turned out to be fake), I would be constantly interrupting my thought process by checking out the latest conversation being held by some people I am vaguely connected to.

I started the week using www.twitter.com, by Wednesday I had downloaded Power Twitter, a firefox plugin, by Friday I had downloaded Tweetdeck, allowing me to have 3 columns of different groups of mindless consciousness streaming down my page, with a desk top reminder flashing at me just in case I missed a tweet.

Finally the weekend arrived. Respite from this constant pull was in sight. But no. I still had a nagging desire to just have a quick peep to see what was going on. We had some friends over for dinner. Once they had headed home my wife and I stayed up chatting. I confessed about my new relationship with 120 people that I hardly new. I showed her what I had been up to. Relief. Sharing was half the battle. She laughed. “It’s pathetic, what are all these people doing?”. I showed her more, we laughed together this time. I suddenly had an urge to delete my account. The wine definitely helped. Options, Set up, Account, DELETE. Phew. A wave of relief swept over me.

Reading this you may be thinking that the problem here is not Twitter, it is how I was using it. I can not deny that my character is particularly susceptible to be overrun by something like Twitter, but, I could not help but notice that I was not the only one that Twitter had got a grip on. That is why it works so well – it sucks people in, as they feel the need to be part of the constant stream of conversation.

So, did I learn much during my week on Twitter? Did I influence anyone? I don’t think I learnt anything that I would not have picked up elsewhere. I read some blog posts an hour or two before I would have picked them up. However, a few people did read this blog that otherwise would not have done. That is why I signed up – we are launching soon, and we are starting to get our communicating channels in place.

We will use Twitter, but when we do we will need some firm objectives and someone who can handle being plugged in to 100s of people without getting sucked in.

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Sterling – is it worth it?

September 20th, 2009
And the question is

Image by Steve Punter via Flickr

As Robert Peston points out on his blog, the UK is currently caught in a vicious cycle.

UK banks owe billions to overseas lenders; lenders confidence in the UK banks is wavering increasing the likelihood of them demanding their money back; this is causing the value of sterling to fall, as the government, already massively in debt, is effectively guaranteeing repayment; sterling’s fall is in turn increasing the value of the bank/governments’ debts further reducing confidence in the banks and the UK.

Having an independent currency was supposed to have the benefit of allowing gradual devaluation to boost international competitiveness. Unfortunately as we are so in debt to the rest of the world, it seems to be driving us into a potentially nasty scenario where the UK can not pay its debts. Think Russia in the 1990s or Argentina in the early 2000s. Default leads to a sudden sharp fall in the value of the currency which then leads to massive inflation, as the price of imported goods and services soar. This feeds through to wage demands and all the knock on effects of being caught in an inflationary economy.

How long will it be until Gordon is on the phone to the IMF? Would this have happened if we were part of the Euro?

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estatecreate wins 2009 WebAward

September 15th, 2009

15th September, 2009 – The Web Marketing Association has named estatecreate the winner of their 2002009 WebAwards9 Outstanding Website in their Real Estate Category.

The judging was based on the following categories: design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting and ease of use. estatecreate received a score of over 9/10 in every category. One of the judges noted: “The demo truly sets it apart”.

estatecreate WebAward Scores

WebAward scores

Henry Yates, estatecreate Chief Executive, said: “I am very pleased that the team’s hard work has been recognised by winning this award. We are in good company as Zillow won the same award last year.”
estatecreate is a new tool for estate agents to showcase a vendor’s home with a standalone website for their property with its own domain name – the 21st century glossy property brochure for the web. You can see an example website here: http://dovehousestreet.com/

The service is very easy to use – estatecreate takes a feed of data from each branch and the agent can then easily add content and publish to a domain name of their choice. You can see a product demo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIGk-9Bxp4Q

The Web Marketing Association was founded in 1997 with the intent to improve industry standards. Over the years, the recipients have created a benchmark for future Internet marketers and professionals around the world. This year, more than 45 countries participated.

estatecreate was founded by Henry Yates and is the first company to offer this service to estate agents in the UK. Yates is an experienced entrepreneur who has previously co- founded and sold two businesses, Face, the research and planning agency (www.facegroup.co.uk, sold to Cello PLC) and Univillage.com, the social network for students (sold to www.sub.tv).

More information on the WebAwards and estatecreate’s entry here: http://www.webaward.org/winner.asp?eid=12565.

estatecreate shortlisted for The Estate Agency Innovation Award

August 24th, 2009
Neg Awards Logo09 finalistImage by henry_yates via Flickr

estatecreate has been shortlisted for The Estate Agency Innovation Award category of The Negotiator Awards 2009, organised in association with The Digital Property Group, FindaProperty.com and Primelocation.com.

Clare Bettelley, The editor of The Negotiator, the leading magazine for the world of estate agency, said: “We’ve had a terrific response and estatecreate has done brilliantly to get shortlisted from such a huge field. Britain’s estate agents are certainly having a tough time at the moment, but this is an industry awash with talent, entrepreneurialism and creativity, so we’re delighted we’re able to organise a ceremony to reward those firms that are delivering industry best practice”.

Henry Yates, estatecreate Chief Executive, said: “we are excited about being shortlisted for The Estate Agency Innovation Award. We have had a great response from estate agents across the UK and it is very satisfying to be recognised by The Negotiator for the work we have done within the industry.”

estatecreate was founded by Henry Yates and is the first company to offer this service to estate agents in the UK. Yates is an experienced entrepreneur who has previously co-founded and sold two businesses, Face, the research and planning agency (www.facegroup.co.uk, sold to Cello PLC) and Univillage.com, the social network for students (sold to Sub.tv).

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estatecreate partners with GMG Property Services

August 3rd, 2009

3rd August, 2009 – Today estate agents using GMG Property Services (GMGPS) software, including Vebra, Core Systems and CFP, will easily be able to create individual property websites for any of their properties.
estatecreate has implemented a feed so that clients using GMGPS software can import all of their properties to estatecreate and then simply click to publish a property to its own website with a personal domain name e.g. www.dovehousestreet.com.
As part of the partnership estatecreate is offering estate agents a 1 month free trial and will not be charging a set up fee (usually £10/month).

Henry Yates, estatecreate Chief Executive, said: “we are excited to be working with GMG Property Services. They are the market leader with over 35% of agents using their software. This partnership delivers great value to the estate agency market.”

Henry added “offering potential clients their own website for their property is a great way of wining instructions. estatecreate single property sites are the 21st Century’s answer to property brochures.”

Mark Goddard, Group Managing Director, GMG Property Services, said “estatecreate is an ideal partner for us as it enables us to offer our customers a great tool to win new instructions. In the US just under 30% of all properties have their own website, we anticipate that this will become more popular in the UK.”

estatecreate is designed for people without any technical skills. Once an agent has been set up with their own template and a feed to automatically upload properties, the agent can easily move text, photos and video, add pages and drag and drop content around each page. To see a video demonstration of the product click the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIGk-9Bxp4Q.
estatecreate was founded by Henry Yates and is the first company to offer this service to estate agents in the UK. Yates is an experienced entrepreneur who has previously co- founded and sold two businesses, Face, the research and planning agency (www.facegroup.co.uk, sold to Cello PLC) and Univillage.com, the social network for students (sold to Sub.tv).

GMG Property Services is made up of Vebra, Core Systems, CFP Software and The Media Design House. It is wholly owned by Guardian Media Group, one of the UK’s leading multimedia companies.

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estatecreate.com featured in Web Users’ best new websites

March 18th, 2009
WebuserImage via Wikipedia

Web User magazine has selected estatecreate.com as one of their best new websites. I can not provide a link to the article as it is not yet on the web(?!). But this is what it says:

“estatecreate.com could be useful to anyone wanting to sell or rent out property without involving an estate agent. It lets you create a dedicated website for your house or holiday home, with photos, videos, maps and contact details. This can then be promoted on property sites, social networks and other online channels. estatecreate.com is easy to use and lets you build a decent site in minutes. A basic account with web hosting, unlimited storage and listing on partner sites costs from £5.95 per month, but you can create an ad-supported site for free.”

I could not have said it better myself.

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Why TV lost

March 4th, 2009
Paul GrahamImage by davidcrow via Flickr

Great post here by Paul Graham on why people will predominantly watch TV over the internet. Here’s an exerpt:

“About twenty years ago people noticed computers and TV were on a collision course and started to speculate about what they’d produce when they converged. We now know the answer: computers…

The somewhat more surprising force was one specific type of innovation: social applications. The average teenage kid has a pretty much infinite capacity for talking to their friends. But they can’t physically be with them all the time. When I was in high school the solution was the telephone. Now it’s social networks, multiplayer games, and various messaging applications. The way you reach them all is through a computer. Which means every teenage kid (a) wants a computer with an Internet connection, (b) has an incentive to figure out how to use it, and (c) spends countless hours in front of it…

After decades of running an IV drip right into their audience, people in the entertainment business had understandably come to think of them as rather passive. They thought they’d be able to dictate the way shows reached audiences. But they underestimated the force of their desire to connect with one another.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal described how TV networks were trying to add more live shows, partly as a way to make viewers watch TV synchronously instead of watching recorded shows when it suited them. Instead of delivering what viewers want, they’re trying to force them to change their habits to suit the networks’ obsolete business model. That never works unless you have a monopoly or cartel to enforce it, and even then it only works temporarily.”

Looks like the Murdoch clan have a lot of work to do reworking their business models for newspapers and TV.

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The future of property search?

February 27th, 2009

How much time do you waste clicking on a link to a property only to see that the photos show somewhere completely unsuitable. How would you like to drag a stream of photos of images of properties in the price range and area where you live to quickly zoom in on something you like?

Sorry to get you all excited, but this site does not exist. But it could. I have just been playing with Cooliris. As they put it themselves, “Cooliris transforms your browser into a lightning fast, cinematic way to discover the web”. I was not disappointed. Somone will adapt this for browsing properties – it’s going to be great.

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How not to send bulk email

February 24th, 2009
Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...Image byhttp://www.prestonlee.com/archives/67

via CrunchBase

Mass emailing everyone you know is not something you should do often, if at all. Seth Godin, marketer extraordinaire, advises against it at all times – he has a great post on it here. Occasionally you get a mass email from someone you vaguely know and they put all of the email addresses in the “to” box so that you can see everyone else they have emailed. I usually “tut” to myself and think what a dumbarse. Well today, I broke both rules. What a dumbarse. If anyone who received that email reads this, I apologise!

We’re alive!

February 17th, 2009

We launched estatecreate.com this morning -  we are very excited to be live. The Independent also launched a white label version of the site – you can see it here.

Please give us your feedback as we will continually be trying to improve our core service as well as introducing new features.

Some of the new features in the pipeline include:

- more feed partners. Let us know which property portals you would like added;

- an extension of the wizard which helps you complete all the steps to building a site;

- automated AdWords. We will automate the set up, including selecting key words. All you have to do is choose a budget and sign off the wording;

Let us know which features you want. The more requests we get for a feature the higher up the list it will go.

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