Connect with us

Real Estate Marketing

How to copyright photos, and solve the issue of ownership

While the social and legal debates go round and round, safeguard your photos with Fotag. This new app gives photographers and listing agents control over listings and syndication, allowing for copyright, and thus profit from photos.

Published

on

video marketing

The day has come and you are ready to finally put your house on the market. You contact a realtor, they snap a few pictures of your house, and post it for sale online. It’s that simple, right? Well, not quite.

For the past several years, there’s been an ongoing debate about the pictures that realtors take of homes for sale regarding true ownership of those images. Some claim the photos belong to the homeowners, others place ownership on the realtor, some on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and many others in between.

The American Genius has hashed out these issues several times, with evaluations of various MLS Terms of Service, syndicated sites, and even a class action lawsuit but the issue persists. Who truly owns the photographs?

Copyright ownership over the photographs has become convoluted, as many entities stake claim on the photos, each coming with its own special circumstances.

Here’s a breakdown of the issue:

– Many assume ownership of the photos resides with the homeowner, as it is their property being photographed, advertised, and ultimately, sold.

– Then argument is made that the photos instead belong to the photographer, unless released with a full or limited license. Some photographers may have more detailed restrictions, or acceptable usage policies, which complicates things further when real estate photos are posted on Multiple Listing Sites (MLS) and syndicated sites such as Zillow or Trulia, or on blogs that produce “real estate porn.” While MLS Terms of Service often outline a transfer of ownership upon image upload, syndicated sites seem avoid the conversation altogether, and assume the right to use the photos, further adding to bigger real estate syndication

– From the other side of the table it’s being argued that if the listing agent purchased the photographs from a professional photographer, or took them personally, they indeed belong to her. Or even higher, the broker of the listing agent claims ultimate ownership since responsibility and liability of the photographs and the listing is ultimately theirs.

Why does this debate even matter? It’s just pictures of houses, right? Well, when those photos are generating revenue, everyone wants a piece of the pie. And in fact, various entities claim rights to the images, complicating the issue endlessly.

In the lawsuit against CoreLogic, professional photographer Robert Stevens claimed the MLS site stripped identifying metadata, including photographer name, geolocation data, time, camera settings, etc. from images.

These images were then sold to other real estate databases without permission or compensation. Litigation appears to be still pending in this case, but its outcome may help outline regulations for future discussions about real estate photography ownership.

While the social and legal debates go round and round, safeguard your photos with FOTAG. This new app gives photographers and listing agents control over listings and syndication, allowing for copyright, and thus profit from photos.

FOTAG is portal that allows realtors to take photos, upload them to a listing, and share with consumers. With both desktop and mobile functionality allows for on the go updating and browsing.

With the click of a button FOTAG allows realtors the ability to change listing status to “Sold,” thus withdrawing all photos from syndication sites.

Best of all, every listing that is created in FOTAG is automatically registered with the US Copyright Office and is continually searching for infractions and unlawful use of photos. FOTAG allows for the buying and selling of photos, creating a way for photographers to further monetize their efforts, while preventing the historical debate about photo ownership.

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on IndywithKids.com. With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.

Real Estate Marketing

Vanity metrics exist everywhere, even real estate

(MARKETING) It is often easy to fall for vanity metrics, everyone does it. But “being number one” is so stupidly subjective, don’t cave.

Published

on

Man working on laptop representing vanity metrics in real estate.

How many times have you seen or heard “#1 in sales,” “x number of satisfied clients,” or “highest-grossing broker?” Probably more than once. What do these phrases mean? Are they even really measurable? More likely than not, phrases like these come under the heading of “vanity metrics.”

Vanity metrics are things and data sets that are easily manipulated. For tech, it can include things like the number of downloads, page views, and registered users; rather than components that are truly important, such as profits and customer retention.

Vanity Metrics in Real Estate

Real estate, like any other field, has its share of vanity metrics. “Being number one” is ridiculously subjective.

While some associates/brokers/offices have absolutely earned the right based on hard data, many have not.

“Being number one” could mean receiving an award from a random blogger friend, buying an award online, or just plain paying to have the title printed on business cards and in the newspaper; it really doesn’t mean there’s anything tangible or concrete behind the statement.

Nothing tangible

Take for example the person that might say, “over 2,000 satisfied clients.” Sure, that sounds great on the surface. They must be doing something right if they’ve made that many sales. Wait? Does that mean they’ve made over 2,000 sales, or does it simply mean they’ve met 2,000 people?

It doesn’t say, “I’ve successfully sold over 2,000 homes and I have the documentation to prove it.”

It’s also another vanity metric that is intensely subjective. You need more concrete information to make a judgment on the validity of blanket statements such as these.

Also, should you really choose a Realtor® based on something so subjective?

Show me a Realtor who has been in business for more than ten years with no marks on their record (ethical or otherwise) with their local association, and has the documentation to show they’ve successfully sold homes to “happy” customers (read: they come with many recommendations) and I’ll show you someone I’ll put my faith in.

What you can focus on instead

Every team is different. This isn’t to say that major (and minor) sales milestones shouldn’t be celebrated, because they should. Rather, this is meant to be a reminder to us all the vanity metrics are so easy to fall for; we’ve all fallen for these lines, likely more than once.

Instead of looking to data sets with no meaning, teams should focus on internal metrics.

How many clients do you have right now? How many of those clients have bought a home from you? How many showings have you done in comparison to sales? Are you getting positive recommendations and feedback? How much money are you making?

Things like this can tell you where you need to improve; it is concrete data (the recommendations might be a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea).

Listen to your team. Listen to your clients. Set attainable goals and reassess them as needed. Don’t worry about those catchy little phrases, because you know what you need to do to close your sale and keep everyone happy.

Continue Reading

Real Estate Marketing

Real estate pros, never use Facebook stories for this reason!

(MARKETING) Facebook Stories are a fantastic marketing tool, but open up a huge Pandora’s box – and it’s better to nix them.

Published

on

facebook stories on iphone

For over a decade, we’ve been touting the importance and merit of social media, educated the industry on best practices, pioneered the culture, and played a role in so many of your campaigns.

This may confuse some of you who are thinking we’re out of touch old folks, crapping on social today, but that’s not the case at all. We care about your rear end. Hear me out…

Last night, I saw an amazing Facebook Story (which disappears, just like Instagram Stories).

A Realtor friend of mine in Texas was sharing the interior of a new listing he had, and it was absolutely stunning.

But he made some mistakes.

Most of them were rookie mistakes that you know not to make (calling a neighborhood “safe” which is subjective and makes you legally vulnerable), but others were pretty serious. He noted that the listing was near a mosque, so it was perfect for his “fellow Muslim friends.” Can you say steering? Fair Housing violation?

I reached out to him to learn his process. What did he say?

“They’re gone in 24 hours, it doesn’t matter.”

Okay, but it could matter to the person who screenshot all of the Facebook Story whose calls you never returned, and because they’re Protestant, they now believe you’ve discriminated against them because they aren’t Muslim like you.

It matters to the person who watched and thought “my car was broken into on that street, it’s not safe,” and shares your Facebook Story, mocking it.

Of course this can happen on any social media platform, in any format. It can happen in email. Why are Facebook Stories so unique?

Because they aren’t archived (unlike Instagram Stories where you can turn archiving on).

In the practice of real estate, you are required to keep copies of all communications, files, and marketing for a specified length of time, depending on your location.

How can you keep record of something that disappears, leaving you completely vulnerable, especially if someone else has saved a copy of it? You’re saying “who cares if they saved a copy?!” but I’m saying that if someone else saved a copy and you didn’t, they can edit it any way they wish with no records to compare it to, and a judge may not see your side of the story.

Skip Facebook Stories altogether.

Do Instagram Stories and archive them, if you must, and if you’re ultra tricky, turn on archiving on Instagram Stories, then cross-post them to Facebook Stories. That way, there’s a record of you that proves whether or not you’re liable.

You already have Groups, Pages, and your personal News Feed to update – put Stories on the backburner, even if they’re a great promotional tool. Future You Being Sued will thank you. #cya

Continue Reading

Real Estate Marketing

How to keep your website optimized for digital assistants & voice searches

(MARKETING) With the use of voice searches and digital assistants on the rise, it is more important now than ever before that your website be optimized.

Published

on

Women typing on laptop representing sites optimized for voice searches.

Voice control’s effect on web content

One-in-five mobile users rely on voice searches to find information or control their devices according to a recent study. Considering many cars now enable you to control your music, messages, and email through voice, this isn’t too surprising. What does it mean for web content though?

With the rise of digital assistants and talk-to-text, should web content be re-evaluated to ensure it is compatible with Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and others?

Deep learning

Digital assistants have certainly contributed to the rise in popularity of voice searches, talk-to-text, and deep learning. Deep learning is an artificial intelligence (AI) process that imitates the workings of the way the human brain processes data and creates patterns for decision-making. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning in AI that has networks that are capable of learning unsupervised from data that is unstructured.

Deep learning is a type of machine learning that uses complex systems to carry out their “learning processes.”

Given the complex algorithms and “learning” involved for deep learning to be fully functional and optimal, it’s not surprising that voice searches are on the rise; the more it’s used, the better it “learns.” Every day more and more people are choosing to say what they need, rather than type it out. With this rise, also comes the need for entrepreneurs and businesspeople to optimize their SEO and web content for voice searches. How can you ensure your site is compatible and flawless optimized?

Phrases instead of keywords

The first thing you should keep in mind regarding your content is how voice users search for content. Instead of searching for one or two keywords, voice users typically ask a question in the form of a complete sentence. For example, you might hear someone say, “Hey, Siri. What’s the best way to make chocolate chip cookies?” Then, Siri might respond with a recipe. How does Siri know what you what? Deep learning.

How does Siri know what to show you? Deep learning and website optimization.

Soon, instead of focusing your SEO on selected keywords, you may be focusing on key phrases (also called long-tail keywords) which will likely answer the questions a voice user would ask. By humanizing your content by thinking about your answers in full sentences, you’ll be one step closer to optimization. For example, think, what would a consumer likely ask in order to find me? Do I have the answer to these questions on my pages and SEO? Not sure what to ask or answer? Answer the Public is a great tool for helping you dig deeper into your content and gets things optimized. In addition to re-evaluating your SEO, you may want to develop questions you think searchers might ask and then include the answers in your Q&A content (thus, making your site higher up in the result ranks).

Mobile friendly/Covering your bases

Another way to make sure your site is ready for voice searches is to make sure it is also mobile-friendly. Google recommends responsive web design, along with several other points you may want to consider to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Wondering if your site is mobile-friendly? Google developed a test to help you. Simply click here, and enter your site’s URL in the box and it will let you know if your site has passed the test.

If your site does not pass, Google will suggest what could be changed to make your site more mobile friendly.

Also, keep in mind mobile users will often reference microdata, like a business’s location, phone number, price, and more (think: when people speak the phrase “find near me” or “nearby.”) You can ensure voice searchers can find you by making this information easily retrievable for digital assistants by creating a comprehensive sitemap for your site, including your address, relevant contact information, directions from main highways, etc.

Understanding digital assistants

One final thing to keep in mind: Siri and Cortana are not search engines. They default to Bing to collect and collate web-based results. Google Now, will, of course, collect from Google. Given the popularity of both Siri and Cortana, is there a possibility that Bing will outpace Google?

Probably not, but you do want to make sure that you are optimized for both search engines or your business might lose out on voice searches.

If you want to ensure you do not miss out on Siri and Cortana users, you may need to do a bit of research on what works best on Bing. For example, Bing prioritizes local results, whereas Google gives the most popular topic priority. Google is better at semantic search, while Bing is better with specific keywords. Again, both are useful search tools, but if you want to ensure maximum traffic, you should be aware of the difference. (Side note: some tech-savvy users know how to re-program Siri and Cortana to pull from their favorite search engine, but I do not think the larger majority of users choose to do this).

The future of voice searches

Technology enthusiasts are absolutely going to continue to use their keyboards for some things, however, voice searches are on the rise simply because they are more convenient. If the trend continues, and I think it will, it is a worthwhile step to have your site already prepared and optimized because as the capabilities and value of voice continue to grow, so will the need for marketers to evolve. Emphasis will need to be placed on sentences, phrases, and topics rather than keywords. And the demand for mobile-friendly sites will be paramount. What do you think – is your site optimized for digital assistant and voice searches?

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Partners

Get The Daily Intel
in your inbox

Subscribe and get news and EXCLUSIVE content to your email inbox!

Still Trending

Get The American Genius
in your inbox

subscribe and get news and exclusive content to your email inbox