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Is Redfin.com a True Web2.o Experience?

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018-04.jpgWell, I would surmise by my own appraisal of Redfin.com that you can easily do more than Redfin is doing, and probably are already. With the transparency debate exposed all over the blogosphere, I look at Redfin and wonder, where exactly is the transparency?  They’re counting on momentum from sensationalism, name recognition and a liberal cause to carry them forward, and any business head knows that will only go so far. What any 2.o service based industry must provide is information and Redfin offers none.  It does offer a 13 step pdf on the how they work and the basic steps to their process, but there’s no meat in it that would teach a buyer or seller, only information to pacify a consumer and a lot more of the “why we’re better” mixed in.

Look at their website https://www.redfin.com, on the main page you get the infamous map.  I personally think it is pretty neat- you can make an offer, you can save your searches, you can even talk to an agent- great! What is so new about that?  This functionality has been around for years.  There must be something more! Click on Buyers and what do you get? Tons of information on how to buy a home? NO! Click on Sellers and you get more of the same nothingjust more clean 2.o white space. It lacks the Why? What? When? How? All of that is missing on Redfin.com; why?  They’re not a teaching company, they’re a profit company just like any other major corporation. The only difference being that they aren’t profitable– not in the slightest. What would happen if they actually gave the consumers the transparency they preached?  Consumers would actually take the knowledge and cut Redfin.com out all together because Redfin offers the same Where? that most Realtors already offer freely.

As Web2.o sites go, Redfin.com falls flat and appears guilty of their own arguments against the status quo. The only information a consumer will get on Redfin.com is about Redfin- they just cannot stop their verbal diarrhea about themselves. Realtor Non-2.o sites in general offer more in their informational teases than you’ll get on Redfin.com.

Now, I do not like to point out a bunch of negatives and not offer any positives- Redfin.com is definitely web2.o looking, and feeling; you can search homes, they do a decent job of marketing homes in their local areas via their blog, but they always end up talking about their most favorite subject-themselves. But there’s just no heart or soul on the redfin.com site itself with the only exception being the picture of the random agent on each page. It is just another search site that actually charges thousands of dollars. You could do that on almost any Realtors site and never once talk to the agent, learn how to buy and even sell on some sites, and never spend a single penny. If you listen to those who proclaim Redfin as the end all be all, even they say they can write their own contracts- what does Redfin really do that is any different that has not already been done-to death? Not much.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing really 2.o about redfin.com under the surface- as it completely lacks in the social networking department. A blog, and the Sweet Digs idea are not really innovating the industry any further than it was. 

Now, if you really want to give consumers what Web2.o is really about- Realtors, if you really want to know what Web2.o really looks like- Realtors, if you really want a constructive model of how to orchestrate your own site- try this . I am by no means saying you should or should not finance Zillow by advertising with them, nor am I saying a Zestimate is good or bad. What I am saying is you can have a Web2.o looking and sounding site all day long, but if you’re missing the information and social networking element- you’re missing the point altogether. Zillow.com IS real estate 2.o- too bad they didn’t trademark it.

Web2.o nutshell:

  • Information & lots of it
  • Look & Feel (green is the new gray, lots of clean open white space)
  • Social Networking
  • Easily Relatable Professional Copy
  • Free (as in there’s no need to give up anything including your personal information)

Again, as a closing note, this is not about commissions or whether I like Redfin or not- honestly, I really don’t care. What I am looking for (as are all Realtors) is the way forward. Redfin.com isn’t it- but it is  a start.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. David G from Zillow.

    June 13, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Love the new look to this blog! What a difference a little white space makes.

    My favorite web2 definition is the simple title Richard McManus chose for his blog namely; “read /write web”. Web 1 was the internet everyone could read. Web 2 is the internet everyone can write.

  2. B. R.

    June 13, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Awesome point- I absolutely agree. It is very hard to explain to folks that they really need to knock the dust off of their old 1.o and let the folks add the content. That is what makes Zillows Guide so up to speed

    Thanks for the notice, David.

  3. Sock Puppet

    June 13, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Much better. Looks too wide across the screen in IE7 though.

    -Athol

  4. John Lockwood

    June 13, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Way more better design. Looks awesome. The brain’s cool too, but if you could stand a suggestion, just a little more bright blue highlights if possible.

  5. Alex Mather

    June 13, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    i agree, but has anyone really said that Redfin is web 2.0? i’ve personally never grouped them with Trulia or Zillow outside of the context of being disruptive, well-funded companies trying to change real estate.

    disruptive != web 2.0.

    i’ve always felt they were simply a traditional company exploiting the fact that a lot of us geeky young’ns are willing to do a lot of the work on our own (using the Internets) to save some money.

  6. B. R.

    June 13, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Alex, thanks for stopping by, great blog btw… I promise to spend time over there tomorrow.

    Yes, they TMd realestate2.o, the shell is 2.o, and new to 2.oers are looking for the direction to take their sites. They aren’t like zillow, but why not? they argue transparency, that puts them in the running.

  7. B. R.

    June 13, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    read here on the touchy trademark issue:
    https://realestate20.wordpress.com/2006/09/18/cease-and-desist/

  8. B. R.

    June 13, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    John, kiss my brain 😛

  9. Alex Mather

    June 13, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    B.R.

    thanks for the kind words, i look forward to your feedback on my blog!

    wow – i actually read that 2.0 blog back when it was written and for some reason I attributed the C&D to Zillow. Oops.

    Trademarks are silly. Do they really think that, alone, they can create Real Estate 2.0? It reminds me of Ze Frank’s brilliant ‘waves’ episode:

    https://www.zefrank.com/theshow/archives/2007/02/020507.html

    More on this on my blog tomorrow!

  10. John Lockwood

    June 13, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    Now, now, let’s not have any cerebral innuendo or asexual harassment here… 🙂

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Business Marketing

Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.

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Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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small businesses new tech

While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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skilled worker

The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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