I’m proud to announce a new rp.connect release, deployed live on the 4th July 2011. The theme of the release is “Widgets and Social Media“, and includes some great new features designed to enable you to personalise your site more through an enhanced WYSIWYG widget screen, and also progress rp.connect towards being a social media hub for real estate professionals by adding more functionality to the Social Media tab.

The full list of new features include:

  1. Enhanced WYSIWYG Widgets Tab – allows for more site personalisation and the ability to activate multiple social media widgets
  2. Social Media Tab – you can now post to Facebook Pages and multiple social media accounts
  3. Social Media Tab – Insert shortened URL’s
  4. Support for the ‘Buyers Agent’ industry
  5. Better Suburb validation in the Suburbs tab
  6. Link to Product Blog in the Dashboard Footer

More good stuff is coming – stay tuned for more updates over the next weeks and months.

If you have any feedback or questions about the release, or suggestions on how we can improve rp.connect, please get in touch by commenting below, or send an email to [email protected].

Learn more about the changes in this release by reading on below..

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1. Enhanced WYSIWYG Widgets Tab – Personalise your site!

Previously, when setting up Widgets for your rp.connect site, you could only activate each widget once, and you only had the ability to re-order the widgets to change the order in which they appeared on your rp.connect site.

We’ve now overhauled the Widgets tab, and give you the following new features:

  1. You are now provided with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Preview view of your rp.connect site, and you can drag widgets from the Widget Library into their absolute position. Changes are saved immediately and automatically – there is no “Save” button when activating or moving widgets.

     

    Default view when no widgets are activated. Drag widgets across from the Widget Library.
    Default view when no widgets are activated. Drag widgets across from the Widget Library.
  2. You now have more control over the exact positioning of your Widgets by using the ‘Blank Space’ widgets. Eg: You can use the Blank Space widgets to position your Testimonials in the middle column of a row on its own. There are 5 Blank Space widgets available to be used.

     

    Drag widgets to their exact position. Use Blank Space widgets to personalise your site even more.
    Drag widgets to their exact position. Use Blank Space widgets to personalise your site even more.
  3. You can now activate up to 3 each of the Social Media Widgets – that is, 3x Facebook widgets, 3x Twitter widgets, and 3x YouTube widgets. Each of the widgets can have different settings. For example:
    • I might activate 3 YouTube widgets to showcase 3 different YouTube videos in my channel.
    • I might activate 2 Facebook widgets to pull in the Facebook Feed from my individual Facebook Page as well as my Agency Facebook Page.

       

      View of rp.connect with blank space widgets and multiple YouTube widgets

      View of rp.connect with blank space widgets and multiple YouTube widgets
  4. The ‘Recent Posts’ area on your website (ie: your recent blog posts) is now available to be activated or de-activated as a Widget. So if you don’t want to use Blogs right now, you can de-activate the Blogs Widget and ‘Recent Posts’ will not show on your profile. You can now also move the Blogs widget around so you can showcase other widgets above the Blogs area, if you wish.

     

    Blogs can be activated or de-activated, and moved around like the other widgets
    Blogs can be activated or de-activated, and moved around like the other widgets
  5. Widget Settings are now modified by hovering over the widget you want to change, and clicking the “Settings” flyout. A popup will allow you to change the settings. Click ‘Save Settings’ or ‘Cancel’ to close the popup window.
    Hover over a widget and click Settings to change the title or other widget attributes
    Hover over a widget and click Settings to change the title or other widget attributes

     

    Change the settings and click Save Settings
    Change the settings and click Save Settings
  6. Facebook Widget Requires Authorisation. Due to changes Facebook has made in the way it handles external applications (like rp.connect), we now require you to authorise rp.connect to access your Facebook Profile when you activate a Facebook Widget.
    When you drop the Facebook widget into your preview, a popup will advise you to ‘Connect with Facebook‘ and you’ll need to authorise rp.connect to access your account. You will only need to do this once

     

    Authorise rp.connect to access your Facebook Account when using the Facebook Widget
    Authorise rp.connect to access your Facebook Account when using the Facebook Widget

    Don’t forget to then click ‘Settings’ to modify which Facebook Page or Profile feed you want to pull into your rp.connect page.

    To change your widgets, login to your rp.connect dashboard using your RP Data username and password, and navigate to “Account Settings” (top right hand corner) and then click on the “Widgets” tab.

2. Social Media Tab – Post to Facebook Pages and Multiple Accounts

Previously, on the Social Media tab in rp.connect, you could only post to a single Facebook Profile and single Twitter Account, and it posted to your currently logged in profile.

We’ve now overhauled the Social Media tab to be more like HootSuite and TweetDeck, and you can now add multiple Social Media Networks, including Facebook Profiles, Facebook Pages and Twitter Accounts. You can then use this tab to post status updates to your Facebook pages or profiles, and twitter accounts, without having to visit Facebook.com or Twitter.com.

To add your social media networks, navigate to the Social Media tab in your rp.connect dashboard, and click on the drop down and choose which social media network to add.

Adding a new social network
Adding a new social network

A popup will advise you to “Connect with Facebook” or “Connect with Twitter“, and you will then be required to authorise rp.connect to access your Facebook or Twitter account. This allows a connection between rp.connect and Facebook/Twitter, so that we can post status updates to your profile or page.

Allow rp.connect to access your profile
Allow rp.connect to access your profile

rp.connect uses your currently logged in Facebook or Twitter account, so if you want to add a different Facebook or Twitter profile, you will need to login as a different user to Facebook or Twitter, and then re-add the social network in rp.connect.

When you add Facebook Pages, you will be prompted to choose which of your pages to add to rp.connect.

Choosing which Facebook Pages to add
Choosing which Facebook Pages to add

Once you have added your social networks, you can write your message in the “Share Box”, choose which social media networks to send the update to (by clicking on the check boxes) and then click “Share”.

Write your message, choose which networks, and click Share to send it
Write your message, choose which networks, and click Share to send it

Note that Sharing from the Social Media tab posts ‘Status‘ updates to Facebook. Posting to Facebook as a “Link” or “Photo” is currently not supported.

3. Social Media Tab – Insert Shortened URL’s

Previously, links had to be pasted within your Share Box and took up a lot of characters (bad for Twitter which is limited to 140 chars).

Now, like HootSuite or TweetDeck etc, you can insert a Shortened URL into your Share Box which has the benefit of using less characters.

To insert a short URL, paste the link into the ‘URL’ edit field, and then click ‘Insert URL’.

Paste the URL of the site you want to link to, and click Insert URL
Paste the URL of the site you want to link to, and click Insert URL

The shortened URL is inserted into your Share Box. You can write or add text before or after the shortened URL.

The shortened URL is inserted into your Share Box
The shortened URL is inserted into your Share Box

We use the goo.gl URL shortener, which has the added benefit of allowing you to track clicks so you can find out how many people clicked on the link in your message. To view the stats, simply add “.info” to the end of your short URL – eg: http://goo.gl/Q1L5o.info. Do not add “.info” to the URL in your Share Box – it’s for your use only.

4. Support for the ‘Buyers Agent’ industry

When you register your rp.connect site or modify your site in the Account Details screen, you now have the option of the following industry types:

  • Real Estate Agent
  • Mortgage Broker
  • Mortgage Lender
  • Valuer
  • Buyers Agent (new!)
Support for Buyers Agents
Support for Buyers Agents

Currently, the choice of industry is reflected in your page title, as well as in your profile block when customers search and filter for professionals on MyRPData.com.au.

5. Better Suburb validation in the Suburbs tab

It’s important to ensure that you enter suburbs correctly in your rp.connect Account Settings – it’s how consumers will find you when they’re researching property using myrpdata.com.

When you start typing a suburb name, you are offered suggestions from our RP Data suburb database. Previously, it was possible to add a suburb entry without choosing from the suggestions list which meant that particular suburb was invalid and wouldn’t help consumers to find you.

We have now added validation to ensure that you choose the suburb from the suggestions list. Start typing the suburb, and suggestions will be displayed.

Add Suburb from Suggestions List
Add Suburb from Suggestions List

If you click ‘Add’ without choosing from the list, you will now receive an error advising you to choose from the list.

Add Suburb from Suggestions List
Add Suburb from Suggestions List

6. Link to Product Blog in the Dashboard Footer

When you login to your rp.connect dashboard, you’ll notice a new link in the footer of all dashboard pages. The link is titled “Best Practise and Product News“, and links you to our RP Data Product Blog.

Link to Product Blog in rp.connect
Link to Product Blog in rp.connect

It’s a good idea to regularly check our Product Blog for best practise workflows, as well as hints and tips on how to get the most out of your RP Data subscription and make sure you’re using our products to their fullest. You can subscribe to the Product Blog by entering your email address in the Subscription field in the right hand column, or in the footer of this blog, and you’ll receive an email notification whenever a new post is added.

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More good stuff is coming – stay tuned for more updates over the coming weeks and months.

If you have any feedback or questions about the release, or suggestions on how we can improve rp.connect, please get in touch by commenting below, or send an email to [email protected]