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Follow Me on My Quest – Say No to Bad Photos & Virtual Tours



My Quest:

This is my quest, to rid the real estate world of bad photos and awful virtual tours! Recently taught for MABA, an exclusive buyers agent group and we had an animated discussion on virtual tours and photos.

From Maba, Rona Fischman, a blogger for Boston Globe’s “Boston Real Estate Now”, and
Sam Schneiderman offered these thoughts.

Clients hate bad virtual tours

Rona said, “My clients hate bad virtual tours. There is nothing to be learned from dark, distorted or wavy pictures of empty rooms. A bad virtual tour is worse than bad pictures. Many of my buyers gave up on seeing decent ones and don’t even open them.”

“Buyers that look at these tours want to see the important parts of the house: the kitchen, the bathrooms. They want to get a sense of the flow, so a tour that shows the walk from the entry to the kitchen, from the garage into the house, from the living room out to the yard. Isolated rooms are a waste of bandwidth.”

Another client of mine had a study done by an independent consultant. They research what buyers look for in a real estate multimedia presentation (also known as virtual tours). What they found was that many agents forget that what a seller wants to see is not what a buyer wants to see. Sellers don’t buy homes buyers do.

Buyers most desirable multimedia content

• Photos of different kinds and angles
• Photos that show character of the property
• Photos of closet spaces, flooring, garage and other details
• Neighborhood photos and information
• Detailed photo description that described amenities and dimensions of the room

The best-of-breed multimedia presentation will feature:

•Large, clear photos
•Photo description next to the photo
•Written descriptions of important facts about the property
•Floor plan or layout map
•Panoramic views of the property’s surroundings/neighborhood

Rona also asked buyers for me in a recent blog post of hers and some of the comments are in this post. PLEASE help me on my quest! Dulcinea? Where are you? Help!!!

Amy is a national technology speaker who can inspire, train and help people implement technology strategies into their business. To find out about her training, coaching or webinars visit her website at

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  1. Jennifer Fivelsdal

    February 28, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Good information, buyers certainly want to see the things that are not as important sellers. I suppose I will need to tell my sellers that virtual tour is not for them. I will never be able to put a vitual tour together again without thinking about this post.

  2. Missy Caulk

    February 28, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Amy, I like that comment about not JUST doing the same photos’ in the VT as the still shots. Applies to video too.

    What’s the point. I recently offered to blog agents in my office listings if they wanted me too.

    Several did and I am horrified at some of the photo’s. Horrified.

  3. Sandra Mathewson

    March 1, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I have started a collection of “stupid photos” such as bathrooms featuring a toilet with the lid. Recently I tried to get an expired listings & sent the seller my marketing plan, a CMA, my advertising and he picks the agent that originally sold him the house. What did she do? Instead of going out and taking her photos, she “lifted” the photos from the expired listing. How sleazy and unprofessional. The photos were of the lawn chairs in the family room and odd pieces since the house is vacant. Is the new “Staging”? Oh, her office is less than one mile from the listing. I only have to give 10% effort to beat her.

  4. Barry Wolfert

    March 1, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Good points made here. I am amazed at how many agents can’t use a point and shoot camera or flash.

    I typically like to get 25-30 shots for a virtual tour so I shoot more and select the best. I don’t need to see a close of granite or backsplash. In my opinion, the purpose of a VT is to generate enough interest for an actual visit.

    I don’t think you can really communicate the feel of a house only from pictures. And, I don’t need 10 shots of the house from the curb, driveway, front door. I need all of the critical space and special features. After that, the buyer or agent advising the buyer should have enough info to include or exclude it from the list of possible homes.

  5. Claudia Gonella

    March 1, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    FOREM just reported that WellcomeMat, the online video host, is banning video slide shows from being hosted on their site. Look like they are also moving towards best-of-breed multimedia presentation formats.

  6. Steve@Amazing_Video_Tours

    March 1, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Your quest is an ambitious one! I am trying to do the same thing by raising the bar regarding how homes are marketed via photos and full motion video tours.

    I think the public will be the driver. As the public becomes more aware of the quality that is possible in marketing their homes, they will start to demand higher quality photos and video from the agents that list their homes.

  7. teresa boardman

    March 2, 2009 at 5:42 am

    I wrote something similar to this last fall for Inman news. I do a virtual tour but I also lay out all the photos so that they can be seen in a glance. People like to hop around the internet and stop on what catches their eye. I give them as much eye candy at a glance as I can so that they will linger and look at the photos. Videos also slow web surfers down.

  8. Chris Fyvie

    March 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Pick a good song and a good 6 photo’s and you can’t go wrong with!

  9. Brad Claghorn

    June 22, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Say No to Bad Photos & Virtual Tours – Spend on on quality photo gear. Big, Clear Pictures.

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Business Marketing

Video is necessary for your marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As technology and social media move forward, so do marketing opportunities. Now is the time for video content social media marketing!



video content

As an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard the phrase “pivot to video” countless times over the last few years. It’s the path a lot of media companies are on, but even brands that aren’t directly talking about this pivot have increased their video production. This shift stems in part from studies showing users spend more time on pages featuring video content. Social media has also played a significant role, and recently, new social platforms have made the pivot to video even more important.

Snapchat and TikTok are leading the social video sector as emerging social media platforms, but the audiences for these platforms skew especially young. The content on these platforms also tends toward the meme-worthy and entertaining, raising the question: are these platforms a good use of your time and resources? The answer depends on your industry, but whatever your field, you can certainly learn from the pros dominating these new platforms.

The promotional angle

One of the primary ways that businesses use video content across platforms is by creating promotional content, which range widely in style, cost, and content, but there are a few strategies that can really help a promotional video succeed.

First, a great promotional video hooks the viewer within the first few seconds. Social media has shrunk everyone’s attention span, so even if your video is on a longer form platform, the beginning has to be powerful. Having a strong start also means that your video will be more flexible, allowing it to gain traction across different platforms.

Audience matters

What you’re promoting – what your business does and who it serves – plays a critical role in what kinds of video content you make and what platforms you use. TikTok is a lot of fun, and it’s playing a growing role in business, but if your entire audience is age 30 and up, there’s not much point in trying to master the form and build a viewership there. You need a sufficient youth-heavy market to make TikTok a worthwhile investment, but Snapchat, which also serves a youth-heavy market, might be a different story.

Even if you don’t intend to make heavy use of Snapchat, the platform recently made a big splash in the video sector by opening up its story tools to other platforms. That means businesses will be able to use Snapchat’s tools on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they may already have an audience. It will also make crossover content easier, allowing you to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. You may never download Snapchat proper, but you may soon be using their tools.

It’s all about strategy

However you choose to approach video content, the fact is that today video is a necessary part of your content marketing strategy. In part this is because, while blogs aren’t going anywhere, and short-form social media is definitely ascendant, both make use of video, but that’s not the only reason. Video is so powerful because it’s deeply personal. It makes your audience feel that much more closely connected with you and your brand, and that alone is enough to change buying patterns.

Another key advantage of video is that, consumers genuinely enjoy well-made videos. Unlike blogs, which most users will typically only seek out if they need information, there are brands out there who are known for their video content. They’ve found a way to hook viewers and make them feel like they have two products: entertainment and whatever it is they actually sell. You, too, can do this with enough creativity and today’s social media tools.

It’s critical that you don’t let your brand fall behind on video right now, because if you even stop for breath, you will be left behind. As TikTok and Snapchat have made clear, video doesn’t stop for anyone. At this point, video isn’t the future of social media or ecommerce – it’s the present.

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.



Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.



Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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