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SEC accuses California men of running $2.18 million home flipping scam

The Securities and Exchange Commission is charging two California men with running a home flipping scam that defrauded dozens of investors out of their retirement savings. According to the SEC, Daniel Vazquez serves as the CEO of Hoplon Financial Group. Through Hoplon, Vazquez created the “New Economic Opportunities Fund,” an entity that purported to buy and flip residential real estate using investor funds. These investments were made on the basis of “misrepresentations” about how much compensation Vazquez and Hoplon would take for running the operation. According to the SEC, Hoplon and Vazquez, with the aid of Hoplon’s then-chief operating officer, Gilbert Fluetsch, allegedly misused most of the investors’ funds funds to pay unrelated business or personal expenses, including approximately $780,000 that was misappropriated since January 2013. “Vazquez and Fluetsch perpetrated this deception by raising money from investors with promises that investor money would be used to purchase and renovate real estate and that Hoplon’s compensation would be strictly limited, while in reality they were draining most of the money from (New Economic Opportunities Fund) accounts for their own purpose,” the SEC alleges in its complaint. According to the SEC complaint, Vazquez and Fluetsch actually did purchase some properties, and were actually successful in turning a profit by flipping those properties, but did not make enough money to cover the money they took for their own use. “Despite its failure to fully invest offering proceeds, (New Economic Opportunities Fund’s) real estate transactions did turn a modest profit. However, the profits obtained by (New Economic Opportunities Fund) were not nearly sufficient to cover the amounts being diverted to Hoplon, Vazquez, and Fluetsch.” The complaint alleges that, by promoting and selling these securities, Hoplon, a state-registered investment adviser, and Vazquez, a registered representative of a broker-dealer, violated federal broker-dealer registration provisions. The SEC charged Hoplon, Vazquez, and Fluetsch with a number of securities law violations.

Generate Leads With Your Facebook Cover Photo

The Cover Photo Design Your cover photo, just like any other photo you post on Facebook, is clickable. This means users can click on the photo to expand it and view the complete image. ‘Click Here’ Sign There are two different ways to get fans to click on your cover photo. After designing your cover photo, add a “click here” sign to the image. The second way to let fans know to click your image to read the image’s description is to add a short CTA to the bottom of the image. Once a fan clicks on the image (on their desktop), the complete photo is shown and fans can see the CTA on the bottom requesting they click on the link to your landing page in your image’s description. This automatic feature is a great way to inform fans that you’ve changed your cover photo. While you’re busy creating the best cover photo image to drive traffic to your landing pages, let Homes.com’s Social Fuel experts handle all your Facebook advertising needs. Patty McNease is director of Marketing for Homes.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

5 Ways Blockchain Technology Will Change the Way We Do Business

The growing consensus among business leaders and entrepreneurs: The future of blockchain technology will be about a lot more than Bitcoin. Blockchain tech will impact every major area of business from accounting to operations, and there's evidence the revolution has begun. Here are five ways blockchain technology is disrupting the way we do business, with sometimes sweeping changes. Accounting is the textbook case study for a business field that stands to benefit from blockchain technology. Blockchain tech can more effectively manage all of the above. Advertising and marketing. Information technology and cybersecurity. Management and operations. The system allows professionals to take part in a new economy for photography, secure payment for licensing their work immediately when sold and offer their work on a secure blockchain platform. Blockchain technology is changing how companies do business in other staid industries, too.

What Is Influencer Marketing And How Can I Find An Influencer?

In an online world of thousands of shouting voices, influencer marketing has become the next big buzzword. First things first: influencer marketing is not new. What makes influencer marketing especially important right now is the ever-growing importance of social media. How influencer marketing can increase your ROI Consumers have always valued word of mouth over any other form of marketing. Thanks to their reach and following, influencers can talk directly to thousands more consumers than you are able to on your own. Their voice will increase the credibility and awareness of your brand and drive more and more traffic to your website. Followers are of course important when you’re trying to reach new consumers, but the key thing when selecting your influencer is that they fit with your brand. According to a survey by Collective Bias, only 3% of consumers would consider buying a product endorsed by a celebrity, but 30% would be more likely to buy if a product was recommended by a non-celebrity influencer. Rather than just paying your influencer to say nice things about your products, here are some easy suggestions to create a mutually beneficial relationship that will help and inform their audience, and drive consumers towards your brand. Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

Frito-Lay CMO says marketers need a listen-first mentality to be successful

She worked her way through the ranks, and in March of 2016, she was named CMO. It oversees all of our advertising and media across all of our businesses,” says Saenz. “Our innovation pipeline, consumer insights and category management. And then an in-house creative agency and programmatic media desk — so it’s pretty much soup-to-nuts marketing.” Saenz says her career trajectory within the company from intern to CMO was an exciting arc, and, because of it, she is able to tell her team that it often feels as though she has held every single role within the brand’s marketing organization. “What has been very interesting is how the media landscape and marketing approach has evolved over time,” says Saenz. “I think today we’re really a much more diverse group of individuals and a much more diverse group of experiences because of that massive change in the marketplace.” It’s a very large evolution in terms of the focus, as well as the skill set that the team needs to think about and that our agency teams need to develop.” [Read the full article on MarTech Today.] Attend the largest search marketing conference on the West Coast: SMX West! You'll get useful, proven tactics in SEO, SEM, conversion optimization, social media, mobile and more. Register now! Read more of Amy's articles.

50 Social Media Marketing Influencers to Learn From in 2018

Each year I pull together a list of influential voices that are engaging on social networks around the topic social media marketing. Why are these people influential? While working with influencers transfers influence by association, helping others become influential is when earned influence really skyrockets. In this year’s list of Social Media Marketing Influencers there are many people who demonstrate this kind of helpfulness and I am encouraging those influencers as well as our community of readers to nominate up and coming social media marketing leaders. Ranking data sources and scoring: For the ranking, this list leverages a combination of data points including: Relevance – A score that indicates how influential a person is to a specific topic based on the keywords you provide. Tyler Anderson @tylerjanderson CEO / Founder at Casual Fridays Presenting: Winning With Influencer Marketing: What Top Brands are Doing Now Samantha Kelly @tweetinggoddess Owner of Women’s Inspire Network Presenting: How to Convert Twitter Conversations Into Customers Ian Cleary @iancleary Founder at RazorSocial Presenting: 9 Content Marketing Tools to Drive More Traffic to Your Website Mari Smith @marismith Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, Bestselling Author Presenting: The Future of Facebook: What Marketers Need to Know for 2018 and Beyond Mike Stelzner @mike_stelzner CEO and Founder at Social Media Examiner Presenting: Social Media Marketing in 2018: What the Newest Research Reveals Andy Crestodina @crestodina Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios Presenting: Building Better Mousetraps: A Content-Driven Approach to Conversion Optimization Bernie Borges @bernieborges Advisory Board Member at OneMob Presenting: The Secrets to Getting Employees to Engage on Behalf of Your Brand Alex Khan @1alexkhan CEO at Attractive Media GmbH Presenting: Mass Seduction: Proven Techniques to Engage and Build Your Audience Peg Fitzpatrick @PegFitzpatrick Director of Social Media + Marketing at Kreussler Presenting: How to Use Pinterest to Drive Long Term Traffic Chris Penn @cspenn Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications Presenting: Seeing Into the Future: Predictive Analytics for Social Marketers Michael O’Neal @inmikeswords Host of The Solopreneur Hour Podcast Presenting: Becoming an Interview Master and How it Can Massively Grow Your Podcast or Livestream Brian Solis @briansolis Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group Presenting: The Past, Present and Future of Social Media Park Howell @parkhowell Founder and President at Business of Story Presenting: How to Invest in Brand Storytelling to Earn the Greatest Return Nicky Kriel @nickykriel Social Media Consultant & Social Media Strategist at Nicky Kriel Social Media Presenting: How to Use Twitter Data to Improve Your Content Marketing Melanie Deziel @mdeziel Brand Strategy Consultant and Speaker at Mdeziel Media Presenting: 5 Branded Content Best Practices From the World of Journalism Andrea Vahl @andreavahl Social Media Consultant at Andrea Vahl Presenting: Facebook Ads Strategy for Small Businesses Jay Baer @jaybaer Founder at Convince & Convert Presenting: How to Prove Social Media Works to Skeptical Managers Steve Dotto @dottotech President at Galileo Consulting and Producer of Dotto Tech Presenting: YouMake YouFortune on YouTube: Making Money on YouTube Ann Handley @marketingprofs Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs Presenting: Creating Better Content in Less Time: 5 Real-World Writer Secrets Lee Odden @leeodden CEO at TopRank Marketing Presenting: How Content Plus Influence Equals Results: The Confluence Equation Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki Chief Evangelist at Canva Presenting: Achieving Social Media Success by Defying Conventional Wisdom Shaun McBride @Shonduras Owner Esports/Shonduras Inc Presenting: How to Influence Influencers: The Creative Process John Jantsch @ducttape President at Duct Tape Marketing Presenting: How to Grow a Highly Profitable Consulting Practice Without Adding Overhead Jessika Phillips @jessikaphillips Relationship Marketing Evangelist, President at NOW Marketing Group Presenting: Relationship ROI: How to Grow Your Business by Focusing on Repeat and Referral Relationships John Lee Dumas @johnleedumas Host of the EOFire Podcast Presenting: How to Grow Your Podcast Audience and Fuel Your Business Roberto Blake @robertoblake Owner at Create Awesome Media Presenting: Mastering and Measuring YouTube Analytics for Video Marketing Shep Hyken @Hyken Chief Amazement Officer and Owner, Customer Service Speaker and Expert at Shepard Presentations Presenting: How to Turn Social Customer Service Into a Marketing Strategy Jasmine Star @jasminestar Owner at Jasmine Star Photography Presenting: How to Create 30 Days of Instagram Content in a Single Day Bryan Kramer @bryankramer Keynote Speaker, Emcee and Event Host at PureMatter Presenting: How to Humanize Your Social Brand for Better Conversions Brian Peters @brian_g_peters Digital Marketing Manager at Buffer Presenting: How to Build and Maintain an Authentic Community on Instagram If you want to follow all 50 of these fine folks, then check out the speaker list on the SMMW18 conference schedule page. What about non-digital influence? Big Questions About Influencer Lists & Influencer Marketing: How do you find the right influencers? Here are the details: How Content Plus Influence Equals Results: The Confluence Equation Thursday, March 1st at 4:10pm Room: 32AB Content marketing and influencer marketing are hot topics for marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. How do you best measure influencer and content success?

Goldman Sachs is taking a fintech approach to grow its consumer lending business

Finance giant Goldman Sachs has been around for nearly 150 years and is best known as an investment banking outfit, but in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 that has permanently altered the fabric of the financial services market and led to the rise of fintechs, the firm, like so many other finance behemoths, began transforming itself. GS Bank has since been merged into Marcus, which now serves as Goldman's consumer brand. As QZ pointed out, "Goldman thinks it can make $1 billion in extra revenue from its consumer lending business over the next three years, as much as it expects for its trading operations." As detailed by the Wall Street Journal, Goldman is reportedly in talks with Apple to offer buyers of Apple devices financing at point-of-sale. So if Goldman can position Marcus to offer loans for Apple device purchases, it could be a real shot in the arm for Goldman's consumer brand. A number of consumer lending upstarts have targeted point-of-sale to reach consumers. Affirm, which bills itself as a "financial company for everyday people", reportedly has over 1,000 merchant partners and is said to have originated more than a million loans with an average order size of $750. Goldman's advantages By embracing a similar model to grow its consumer lending business, Goldman could find that it has some big advantages over smaller upstarts like Affirm. Second, Goldman's size means it has more capital to lend and it will likely be able to offer interest rates that are more competitive than upstarts. So if Goldman can ink the right deals and deliver customer experiences that are on par with successful fintechs, it's entirely possible that it could quickly become a dominant player in this space.

How Lego uses Instagram to inspire fans of all ages

Social media continues to be an intrinsic part of Lego's marketing strategy, with visual content a key way the brand drives engagement and fosters a sense of community online. With kids and youngsters being a core part of its target audience, Lego also uses Instagram to focus on ideas for education and play. The account typically makes use of video in this instance, using Lego for learning. Promoting Lego Life With an audience of 2.4 million, last year Lego decided to replicate its success on Instagram with the launch of a new visual app – this time specifically designed for young users. According to reports, Lego Life has proven to be a success, with the brand finding a distinct correlation between the number of times kids return to Lego Life and an increase in the sessions of playing with Lego. Interactive ads Alongside regular brand content, Lego has also entered Instagram’s advertising arena, seeing success with its paid-for campaigns. One in particular, created to promote its new ‘Boost’ playset, used the platform’s Canvas ads in Stories. This is a key component of any successful advertisement, but even more so on Instagram, where users are likely to be particularly wary of branded and sponsored content. Its focus on user generated content is key, as is posting content that encourages action or communication. With a highly immersive, quality campaign, it shows that Instagram advertising can actually increase brand sentiment and even have a real impact on sales.

4 Ways to Apply Data Science to Social Media Marketing in 2018

Particularly for social media marketing, data science promises a lot. From advanced analysis of social media activity on branded content campaigns to create insightful user personas via social media listening, to complex data patterns made easy to understand via visualizations, to overcoming the perennial problem of ad fraud in advertising ecosystems, data science has potential applications that significantly improve social media for brands. It’s disappointingly common for people to use data science when they actually mean data analysis or analytics, and that’s not exactly right. Moving beyond word clouds with data-science-powered tools Word clouds have been trusted tools for social media marketers to analyze social conversations and understand what’s being discussed. BuzzGraphs, for instance, show you how words are linked, and which words are most frequently used. Based on the frequency of keywords observed, marketers can identify the most commonly discussed topics in social conversations. Such analysis can then group people together, separating weakly connected groups. Visualizations make it practical for marketers to understand these stories and generate insights that can massively improve social media marketing. Data-science-backed tools can transform how brands conduct market research using social media data. Social media listening platforms can allow marketers access to global conversations, bringing together large data volumes, capturing customer opinions and trends and feeding the data to a brand’s specific market research campaign: Begin with social media listening for researching a central topic.

12 Simple Website Hacks to Boost Your Conversion Rate

As a marketer, improving the design of your website is an essential way to boost your conversion rates. Make sure that your site is designed so users can find what they are looking for using the lowest amount of clicks possible. As an example, Intuit started doing this, and saw a 211 percent boost in their conversion rate. Google Site Search The easier you make things for your visitors, the better your chances are of converting them into actual customers. Single Page Checkout Most people don’t want to spend a lot of time purchasing things online, and they don’t want to jump through a lot of hoops. This could help to improve your conversion rate by 20 percent or more, and it is a smart thing to do when you are looking for conversion optimization ideas. Instead of just placing photos on your product pages, include videos of the products being used. If they like what they see, they are going to buy, and you will see an increase in your conversion rate. Color Consistency No one likes to look at a busy website, and they don’t want to be bombarded with a lot of different colors. Minimal User Input In addition to reduced clicks, it is a good idea to make sure that you don’t ask users for too much information.


Millennials Aren’t Having Kids. That’s A Problem For Baby Boomer Real...

No, I am not concerned about Donna’s desire for grandbabies. Millennial Buyer: I don’t have kids. Boomer Seller: The house has three bedrooms. Millennial Buyer: I live alone…with my dog. Millennial Buyer: It’s a very small dog. It’s not only that the rising generation of parents may be delaying kids; they are also just having less of them. Moreover, if economics is depressing the birthrate, it is also likely to be putting downward pressure on larger home purchases as well. Many Baby Boomers bought their current homes in the 1980s and 1990s – just when the average size of American homes increased greatly. While some observers lament the lack of housing stock for Millennials as a byproduct of older generations refusing to move on, the reality may be that the home that most Baby Boomers own is not the house Millennials can afford, use or, in many cases, even want. Given this reality, the plans of many Boomers to downsize to a downtown area, transplant themselves to a beach or golf community or even to buy into a continuing care retirement community may have to be put on hold – a curious ripple effect in which the lengthening of one life stage for one generation leads to a delay in a life transition for a different generation.