Archive for August, 2010


I’ve wanted to write this post for awhile.  I’ve been stirred by some great posts as of late on location based social media tools by Wayne Sutton and Maya Paveza. Maya’s 8 Rules for FourSquare are fantastic and as the Business Development/Marketing Strategist for TriOut, Wayne’s blog provides some amazing posts on the topic. I had a great discussion at our REBCRDU planning session last week and another great conversation this morning while leading a discussion on online marketing at our CBHPW Falls of Neuse office.

There has been a lot of chatter as of late surrounding location based tools and real estate, especially with the recent launch of Facebook Places. Are these tools good for real estate agents?  Or are they bad?

my triout account on the iPhone

I think I can argue both sides of the coin.

My two cents…

Let me be completely transparent. I enjoy TriOut and FourSquare. I love getting my discounts from local stores for checking in and I love getting tips from others who have visited other close by locations.  When I started using these apps, I was checking in everywhere, my workplace, my local grocery store, the coffee shop, the dog park.  Then one evening my friend Brad Hudson texted me and said that he saw I was at the dog park again on FourSquare.  He added, you better be careful.  You are a female and letting everyone know where you are on a regular basis.  I laughed it off at first as I only accepted friend requests from people I actually knew in real life.  However, he raised a good point.  You can see a previous post I wrote on my concerns of real estate agents and their safety with location based social applications.

With all of these concerns is there a use for location based tools and real estate?

Trends and statistics back up the fact that consumers are looking for hyper local content.  On one side, I think there are huge benefits as far as truly building yourself as a local community expert.  Using FourSquare or TriOut to check into local businesses in your community can help solidify your expertise in the area not only in real life by learning everything you can about your community, but also by showcasing those visits and sharing tips in a social networking world.  In can also help you connect with others that frequent the same community spots as you.

On the other side, perception is everything. Most real estate associates work 7 days a week and long hours most days.  It is not odd in their world to spend 30 minutes at the mall in the middle of the day on Monday when they have a free moment since they spent all day Saturday and Sunday showing and staging properties.  Yet, most of our real estate clients live in a 9-5 world and would be shocked and even upset to see their REALTOR checking in to a store in the middle of the day when they should be trying to sell their home.

There is even a new application called 4Mapper that, once you give it permission to link with your FourSquare account, will map out all of the locations you have checked into.  Again, a great application to showcase yourself as a local community expert, not so great for those midday errands if you’re a real estate agent.

And the new Facebook Places feature?  There are plenty of great posts out there by experts giving you the download on this new feature, so I won’t delve into that.  What do I want the real estate professional to remember?  Every time you use Facebook Places to check into a location, it posts to your wall and thus into the feeds of all of your Facebook friends.  Remember, perception is everything.

So how do I use TriOut and FourSquare?

  • I check-in to places that I feel comfortable with others knowing about; an office, a restaurant meeting friends, cool local community businesses, a networking event, an event or a place where others might be interested in or see value.
  • I add tips to local restaurants and cool stores I like and post photos when I can.
  • I post places of interest to Twitter, never to Facebook, as I personally don’t feel I should post to my profile that many times a day.
  • And I don’t check in at my local Target anymore or my local coffee shop… and definitely not the dog park.

Agree? Disagree?  What’s your two cents?

Now that you know a little bit more about FourSquare and other location based apps, the big question is what does that have to do with real estate?

There are lots of articles on the internet suggesting real estate agents add their listings or open houses to FourSquare or other location based applications.  My two cents? Not necessarily a good idea.  Remember, most times your listings are still someone’s home and adding it to a location based application could be considered an invasion of privacy.  You could also receive some unwanted comments (or tips/reviews as they are called) or disparaging remarks about the property in this platform.  Also, not necessarily a good thing.  What if the property is vacant you might ask? Even the more reason not to broadcast that information on the internet.

Soon, even Twitter will be offering geo-tagging (identifying your real time location) to tweets.  Now, tweeting about hosting an open house or about helping out a client is one thing.  Letting them know exactly where you or your client is at that exact moment, is another.  So be careful when it comes to letting people know exactly where you are.

Your safety.  I don’t necessarily agree with promoting your Open Houses on these types of location based applications either.  Most of the time you are hosting these open houses solo.  Your safety is the number one concern and broadcasting your ‘real time’ open house info on this platform is not, in my opinion, the best idea.  Yes, they can see your open house info on all other types of real estate sites, but this is a bit different environment.  However, that being said, keep your safety in mind first!

Well, I’ve expressed my two cents on how I don’t see these applications fitting into real estate.

So, how do I think you CAN you use these apps for real estate?

Hyperlocal information is becoming a more integral part of real estate. Consumers are looking to work with area experts.  So, instead of just checking into FourSquare or TriOutNC, add tips for other users and photos of businesses.  FourSquare often feeds out user added tips to other FourSquare users when they check into nearby locations.  For example, last week I checked into FourSquare at the North Hills Movie Theatre.  As I was checking in, FourSquare let me know that Lisa Coleman (CBHPW Associate and Midtown Realtor) suggested I check out the nearby Mura restaurant and order a certain sushi roll that she thought was fantastic.  Just by adding a tip, I was ‘introduced’ to Lisa Coleman and really did begin to see how she just very well might be a ‘local expert.’

One last thought.  Remember, perception is everything.  You don’t want to broadcast your ‘check-ins’ all throughout the day if they are personal in nature.  Even though it may have only taken you five minutes to stop by the mall today, if one of your clients sees that post, they may be agitated and wonder why you aren’t busy trying to sell their home instead of stopping by the mall.

Agree? Disagree? What’s your two cents?

Ahh, Postlets. I can see the stress begin to leave a real estate associate’s face just as the word is mentioned.

What is not to like?  It is convenient, easy to use, quick and effective, makes it very easy to share listing information to your sphere, real estate websites, social media sites, other clients, etc.  And did I mention how easy it is to share the listing?  I can tweet the listing out, add it to my LinkedIn status, send it to all my friends on Facebook and share it on over a 100 websites with the simple click of a mouse.

Wait, what?

In my opinion, the potential danger of Postlets lies in the fact that it is so easy to share on social media sites.  I do like Postlets. Actually, I like Postlets a lot when used appropriately.  It is an affordable service that does allow for easy promotion and sharing of information about the homes real estate agents have on the market.

However, sometimes I worry Postlets makes it too easy to share this information on social networking sites.

The success of your participation in social networking comes with adding value and engaging with other people on these platforms.  What is the best way to promote yourself or your business?  Don’t promote yourself at all. Be authentic, engage, meet new people, have good conversations, build relationships, build trust.  The business will come naturally.  People like to do business with people that they, well, like.  To be an effective participant in social networking, regardless of the platform, you have to not only wholeheartedly believe in the above sentiments, you have to practice them.  But this is an entirely separate post.

Postlets does help real estate associates quickly and easily share their listings’ information with the simple push of a button.  Great right?  Not necessarily.  Too often I see real estate associates with a Facebook Business Page or Twitter account that has little to no real activity on it.

No value. No engagement. No conversation. But, I sure do see a whole lot of those darn Postlets links to homes they have for sale.

Just because Postlets makes it easy for you to share information, doesn’t mean you should always take advantage of it. If you are not actively engaging in social media platforms with people and building relationships, then firing off your listing information will do your business more harm than good.  People will label you, if not officially, a spammer and choose to ‘un-follow’ you or ‘un-like’ you or worse, completely ignore you. Your business certainly won’t grow that way.  In my opinion, it would be better not to participate in a particular social media platform, then to simply use it as an ‘billboard’ to promote your business.

So before you press that ‘share’ button on Postlets the next time ask yourself this, “If roles were reversed, would you find value being on the receiving end of that ‘share?’”

Agree? Disagree? What’s your two cents?

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