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Houssee.com: A Digg-like Site for Real Estate Info

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HousseeScreen


Digg This

John Lockwood over at ParticleWave has created a nifty little Digg-like site for real estate.

Houssee.com’s mission is, “to be a promotional tool for Realtors®, mortgage brokers, and others in the real estate blogging community, while putting systems and strong moderation in place to keep out the spam.”

How the Gears Turn

Running on the Pligg platform, users can submit articles from their own (or other) sites. Users will “vote” articles onto the “Published News” page for all to see.

It’s like Digg for real estate.

Uh, Wait…

Someone out there is probably saying, “Isn’t this just like RealEstateVoices.com?”

Yes and no. Have you been to RealEstateVoices lately? It’s been over-run by spam. A few die-hard real estate users seem to be battling it out with the spammers. It’s a gallant effort I’m sure, but the site appears to be hopelessly lost to the likes of those hawking wares regarding anything from French lessons to discount climbing gear to male and female “enhancement” products. And seriously, can a story submitted 662 days ago really be considered “breaking news”?

I registered and submitted a few articles to Houssee. Registering is painless and submitting articles is intuitive. Users can “vote up” articles, and add their thoughts via a comment feature. Unlike Digg, there doesn’t seem to be a way to “vote down” something — probably a good thing as it prevents the often childlike behavior that can be found on sites with “thumbs down” functionality. If you don’t like something, simply don’t vote for it.

If Houssee takes off, managing a site like this could turn into a full-time job, and John has many irons in the fire. But he’s a pretty driven guy, so I suspect that won’t be an issue.

What You Should Do

So take a look. Submit a few of your blog posts or other posts/news items you find of interest. Vote for what you like and think others may find interesting. John promises some linky goodness for top contributers to get this thing kick started, though hopefully that’s not your motivating factor for participating.

Personally, my feed reader has grown like Barry Bonds on steroids and has at times become difficult to wade through. Separating the good from the not-so-swift is tedious and I often just nuke the whole thing and start fresh — all the while wondering what gems I’ve missed out on. If folks can use this site to submit quality articles, it could become a nice one-stop shop for real estate reading — sort of like an on-going Carnival of Real Estate.

I think it should be interesting to watch. Your thoughts would be?

Jay is the Broker / Owner of Thompson's Realty in Phoenix, Arizona. A self-professed "Man with a blogging problem" he can be found across the Interweb, including at the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog where he opines on all things real estate and tosses out random musings.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Ken Smith

    June 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Another site that is like “Digg for real estate” is https://puurple.com/. At the very least it’s worth submitting your posts to it for free links (they are clean links on both Puurple and Houssee). If either of them take off then you will also gain traffic on top of the links.

  2. Ricardo Bueno

    June 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Sounds interesting Jay…worth a look.

    I never really gave Digg too much attention. I guess it was because I wasn’t sure where to post/publish articles to. Seeing as in how this one is centered on Real Estate Related topics it seems a little more fitting.

  3. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    You say its similar to RealEstateVoices, and that RealEstateVoices has been over run with spam – how is HouseE going to deal with spam? Or will they get over run as well once the spammers catch on to it?

  4. Jay Thompson

    June 3, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Great question Jennifer! John is reporting that the version of Pligg he has built Houssee on has improved “spam catchers”. That should help significantly. It will also require close moderation, which John appears to be committed to doing. I can’t say for sure, but it appears the moderators of RealEstateVoices have all but abandoned their post.

    Virtually any site with “user generated content” — blogs, forums, wikis, “diggy sites” etc will at some point be over run by spammers if they are just left hanging on the Internet with no human attention / intervention.

  5. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Sounds interesting, and I’ll definitely take a look at it. Yea, pretty much any site – if theres no one to check on it, will get spammified. Hopefully, John will be able to keep sufficient mods to keep an eye on the site.

  6. Susan Hilton - Texas Aggie Realtor

    June 3, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Always game for a new site that might drive business my way. Thanks for the update!

  7. John Lockwood

    June 3, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Jay,

    Thanks so much for your participation and for this post. I was wondering where people were finding Houssee from, and I’m grateful for the boost.

    To answer the question Jennifer posed about spam, a few thoughts. First, even in its current incarnation, I’m not sure Pligg deals with SPAM very well all by itself. It has a version of Akismet, the venerated WordPress anti-spam module, but to date there’s easy way to configure how it runs, since it just recently was integrated into the Beta. I’m sure it will improve over time. I did notice that it alerted me to one post that I’d linked to on a real estate marketing blog that was about WordPress — I guess it didn’t find enough real estate content, so it red-flagged it.

    In addition to the spam tools that the Pligg developers are working on, there are some other options, at least one of which is available to RealEstateVoices — I’m not sure why they don’t do it:

    1) Have an admin who cares enough to read the day’s posts and manually fight the Spam. This probably sounds a bit more onerous than it is, but I think a half hour a day should take care of it. Only users with an account can submit articles, so with a zero tolerance policy and no qualms about deleting both the spam and the spammers, it should be fairly easy, though not 100% foolproof (I’d have to get to my computer periodically, so the front page may have some lunchmeat getting through temporarily until I could come in and clean out the fridge).

    2) Add code to decrease the amount of spam. This could take the form of either:
    a) Making it possible for a few users to be set up as moderators, who would have spam-killer rights.
    b) Limiting new users to an “invite only” mechanism, in an attempt to keep the system a little more closed.
    c) Adding a captcha to the story-submission form. There’s already one on the user signup form.

    Naturally I’d prefer to have the site just run itself increase my fame and wealth automatically :), but that isn’t going to happen. So my backup plan is this: if enough people in the community support and contribute to the site (I don’t mean money — I mean stories, votes, comments, and nice posts like this one, thank you, Jay), then I’ll put in the time to nuke the spam either by being a programmer (which as it happens I am), or by being a zero-tolerance-toward-spam SOB, which it turns out I also am. 🙂

    Thanks again for the consideration. Come on over. Submit early — vote often!

  8. Benn Rosales

    June 3, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    John, how many sites are you currently feeding via rss? Feel free to email me if you’re unclear what I am talking about.

  9. Ken Smith

    June 3, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    John no matter how hard you try there is no perfect automated way to remove spam. Spammers get more creative each day as they learn to get around filters and other stumbling blocks put up by site owners. There has to be manual intervention to 100% keep spam off the site.

  10. John Lockwood

    June 4, 2008 at 12:06 am

    @Ken — I agree. Of course the goal, I think, is to minimize the manual intervention.

    @Benn, if you’re talking about Houssee consuming RSS, at present it doesn’t, though my understanding is that Pligg supports that. If you’re asking about my other sites in general, other than unauthorized splogs, so far as I know it’s just the usual suspects: MyBlogLog, Twitter, Friendfeed and the like, plus a few links on ParticleWave.com. If you mean Houssee.com’s consumers, I don’t know, but I imagine it’s quite small.

  11. Ricardo Bueno

    June 4, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Hey John,

    Just signed up for an account and wanted to compliment you on the ease of use in submitting articles 😀 I suppose Digg is just as easy but I got flustered every now and then not knowing which category to post in so Housee.com fits in well.

  12. John Lockwood

    June 4, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Hi Ricardo,

    Welcome aboard. Yes, nice article on mortgage rate locks. I gave it a vote.

    I appreciate the kind words, but Pligg is open source software, and except for a minor tweak or two it’s all to their credit, not mine. Well, OK, I guess I did pick out the categories, so there you go — I are genius. :).

    Submit early, vote often!

    Thanks for checking it out.

  13. Ken Smith

    June 4, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Just an FYI it is very hard to get anything on a real estate site to go popular on Digg. The group of users there are very anti real estate so to have a chance it needs to be something anti real estate…which really isn’t what most of us want on our blogs. I have made multiple stories go popular on Digg, but none on a real estate site.

    Even these gas price cartoons and this cartoon about the subprime mortgage crisis got killed on Digg. They have generated a ton of traffic from other sources, but Digg killed them IMO purely because I posted them on a real estate site. They both got posted originally for fun, that is to pass around to friends, but then decided to see if I could get them to go viral which they did. They both did well and got votes quickly, but Digg users that are against commercial sites buried them very quickly (very common).

    If you are looking for targeted traffic sites like Houssee and Puurple will have the best long term chance of sending you some if they can find a way to get consumers to the site. Another good option is Propeller as they have a real estate section and don’t seem to kill stories for no reason like Digg. Less traffic, but seems like a demographic that most real estate sites would be interested in marketing to.

  14. Chris Shouse

    June 4, 2008 at 10:59 am

    John I submitted my first story too fast w/o a link how do I get rid of the one that says fourth of July Parade?

    Jay thanks for bring this to our attention I look forward to posting there:)

  15. Brad Carroll - Dakno Web Design

    June 4, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I really hope this site takes off. I followed RealEstateVoices and Puurple.com but neither one have been able to get “viral marketing” on their side. I wonder how John’s marketing plan differs from the other Real Estate Social Voting sites.

    Best of Luck John!

  16. John Lockwood

    June 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    @Chris, I went ahead and deleted your post and just reposted it. No worries at all. You might try some more posts using the email I sent you.

    @Brad, thanks for the good wishes. The best thing to do if you want it to take off is to come participate, and tell your friends and readers. I’m an avid participant myself and I always try to give almost everyone a vote or two as they come in to make it worth signing up (with apologies if I missed a story or two). After that it’s pretty much up to the users to decide what stories of their own they want to publish, and which ones they enjoyed enough to vote up.

    As far as marketing plans go, I do have some ideas that may help it along like a Carnival-of-Real-Estate-like traveling Houssee contest. But in the end, if it doesn’t go ballistic and all that happens is I meet twenty or thirty nice new people and we get some link love and good fellowship going that’s fine. My main plan is simply to watch the flow of submissions to ensure that we’re not getting either non-real-estate spam or internal manipulation of the results.

    Then I’m going to sell it to Move.com for $30,000,000.

    Just kidding! 🙂

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot. You can win a genuine picture of a tee shirt:

    https://www.activerain.com/blogsview/530053/Publish-and-Vote-for

    Admittedly, we may need a classier looking award…

  17. Brad Carroll - Dakno Web Design

    June 4, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    John: Sounds good. I signed up, submitted a story and told some friends to sign up.

  18. ines

    June 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Just added a couple of posts – sometimes it’s tough to find new real estate articles outside of my rss feed and think this is a great idea.

  19. Dan

    June 18, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Ummm. I don’t know about you guys, but when I went to houssee.com all I see are Japanese characters. Anyway, realestatevoices seem to be working fine. It’s nice to see the real estate industry embracing the web 2.0 phenomenon. Anyway, do you want to see another site that’s also a web 2.0 phenom?

    It features Real Time Listing Tweets by State. If you’re interested, just click on my name 🙂

  20. Jay Thompson

    June 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Dan –

    Two years ago when this post was written, Houssee.com worked. Apparently in the intervening years, it changed.

    I also wouldn’t put anything into realestatevoices.com. Given that their “breaking news” page has articles posted from 47 to 157 days ago, it looks like it’s not really a viable site either.

    Goes to show how things change on the internet.

  21. Dan

    June 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    @Jay,

    Lol. I noticed. I think this has to do with the Digg syndrome. People who have marketing agendas are hard pressed to market on digg – for various reasons. So people who are disenfranchised tend to think that creating another site with the same functionality will work. I guess, there’s not enough real estate professionals who appreciate a digg for real estate news.

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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.

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Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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Need design help? Ask a Designer offers free peer-review for better design

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Good design is more than just slapping some fonts and colors together. Ask a Designer promises free design advice on their new website.

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A white sign in an urban setting reading "In Design We Trust" with glowing yellow lights above.

With the necessity to create and maintain an online presence for our businesses nowadays, content creation is essential. One impact this proliferation of content has had on entrepreneurs, bloggers, and small businesses is that many non-designers have had to take a stab at design work. Sometimes this works out for the amateur designer, but often it could be better: More effective, accessible, and appealing. This is where Ask a Designer comes in.

Creating designs online can be fun, but your average Canva, Squarespace, or WordPress user, for example, has no more of a sense of design than the man on the moon. Design work encompasses so much more than just slapping some words on a stock photo and calling it a day. While there are truly incredible and helpful free or inexpensive DIY design and business tools out there, nothing beats the power of knowledge and experience.

Ask a Designer provides one more level of professional review and counsel before a business owner puts their DIY (or even paid) design work out there for the world to see—or worse, not see. As a writer, I have always valued editorial reviews, comments, and feedback on my writing. Second eyes, third eyes, and more almost always serve to improve the content. It makes business sense to get as much feedback as possible, even better to get expert feedback.

For example, an experienced web designer should have a good idea of how to incorporate and test for UX and UI purposes, thus making the user interaction more functional and pleasant. A skilled graphic designer knows what colors go together for aesthetic appeal, accessibility, and even the psychology behind why and how they do.

Take logos. Pick a color, image, and font you like, and go for it, right? I’m afraid not. There is a lot of data out there on the science and psychology of how our brains process logos. There are examples of logo “fails” out there, as well. Consider the uproar over AirBnB’s logo that many thought evoked genitalia. Or the raised eyebrows when Google changed their color scheme to one similar to Microsoft’s palate. Just search for “logo fails” online to get an idea of how a seemingly innocent logo can go horribly wrong. I haven’t linked them here, because they would need a trigger warning, as many of the worst examples can be interpreted as some sort of sexual innuendo or genitalia. Searchers, be warned.

It always makes good business sense to use professional designers when you have the option, just as it makes sense to use professional writers for copywriting and professional photographers for photography. After all, if you have the chance to get something right the first time, it saves you time and money to do so. Rebranding can be difficult and costly, although sometimes rebranding is necessary. Having a designer review your design (whether logo, WordPress, blog, or other) could possibly help you from missing the mark.

How does Ask a Designer work, and is it really free? It’s super easy—almost like designers had a hand in it! Know what I mean? First, you go to the website or app and enter your question. Next Ask a Designer will assign your question to the appropriate type of designer in their network. Within 48 hours, they’ll get back to you with feedback or an answer to your design question.

While Ask a Designer is available to anyone to use, the website suggests it is especially helpful for developers, teams, junior designers, and business and product owners. They suggest, “Think of us as peer-review in your pocket.” The team at Ask a Designer will provide feedback on specific projects such as websites, logos, and portfolios, as well as answer general questions.

Examples of questions on their website give a good idea of the scope of questions they’ll answer, and include the type of feedback they provide. Sample questions include:

  • “How do I choose colors for dark mode?”
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Ask a Designer is new, and so they currently list 2 design experts, each with 20 or more years of experience in their fields. They promise to add more “desig-nerds” soon. It may sound too good to be true, but from what they state on their website, this expert design review service is free. Considering the other excellent tools out there with some free components out there for business, it is possible that this is true. Whether they will add a more in-depth paid version is yet to be seen. In any case, it’s worth trying out the app or website for your burning design questions and reviews.

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6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

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    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
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    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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