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Behold the Unrepentant Convert

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The R Word

There was a time when I didn’t want to hear the “r” word. In fact, the mere mention of the “r” word would launch me onto a soap box where I’d spent considerable time and effort preaching the purity of the real estate search and the evils of requiring registration before people could see what they came to see.

Step one of the conversion took place the first week of August when I asked several friends to look over my web sites and see what was missing. Where was the disconnect between the traffic I recorded and the number of leads I was generating through the Internet. Because, after all, having a website truly is a form of lead generation if done correctly. (When done incorrectly, it’s a waste of server space.)

One of the answers that came back quickly was the need to add registration to the searches. I hemmed. I hawed. I equivocated. And then I told @mizzle, “Okay, I’ll try it.”

You Have to Be There

Five minutes later, registration was a reality on my six websites. And within the hour, the first registrations started to roll in. Until Jay Thompson jumped in, no one registered as Donald Duck. There have been a few interesting ones since, but those contacts are easy to delete.

Despite what I believed to be the case, there was little objection to the requirement. Those who didn’t want to provide real information didn’t and they still gained their access. But more importantly, at least to me, there were dozens of people willing to share their information with me. And this a new line of business was born.

Two weeks ago, I closed escrow on a house purchased in Westbrook Village by someone who had been browsing the site. Where was the added value to justify my request for information? It was in the design of the site itself, a one-stop shop for information on the community. Not a blog, mind you. But a blogsite that provided just about all anyone looking in the area would need, with the IDX feed as the hook.

Today I opened escrow with a second client who came through one of my neighborhood blogsites and registered.

What do these cases have in common? Both were looking with purpose. Both were ready to buy. And both would have pulled a real estate agent’s name out of a hat if I hadn’t proactively called them. As David Knox says, you don’t always have to be good. You have to be there. I was there – only because I turned on the registration for the website.

Basic Business Reality

There will be those who will criticize me for turning to registration. And that’s fine. Until the last couple of months, I would have joined their side of the conversation. But then I realized, I’m not providing listings and other information to attain some theoretical level of moral perfection. There’s no grade in real estate for artistic impression. This is a business. And as such, the bottom line is the bottom line.

No one is required to use my services, though depending on the community in which you’re looking I’m a bit difficult to avoid. (And that’s intentional.) But if you are going to use the information that I pay for and that I provide to my clients, then I believe it’s fair to ask who’s doing the looking. A simple quid pro quo.

Maybe hearing the confession of an unrepentant convert will not convert those who see registration and other such tricks of the trade as some sort of evil. But for those who may be on the fence, I urge you to give it a try and see what happens. (Unless you’re in Phoenix. Then you’re welcome to leave registration off.)

Once can be a fluke. Twice is the beginning of a trend. And frankly, if I’d been smarter about this earlier in the year, this year’s 18 escrows (and counting) would be far closer to 30 for this one-dog show.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Brian Wilson

    October 22, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Jonathon, welcome to the dark side. I have read a lot of posts about how IDX registration is a betrayal to the customer and do not understand that perspective. I don’t know any other industry that criticizes each other for having the audacity of requiring basic contact information in exchange for information the customer wants. Your experience shows why the NAR VOW polcies are so important. Imagine in sites like Trulia or Zillow could show all the MLS lisings in the nation… they would not require registration and imagine how that would effect the amount of people who would come to your site to search homes.

  2. Megan L

    October 22, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Great article Jonathan. This question has been up for debate for a while now on our message board. Opinions range from turning off registration completely – the idea that registration will scare potential prospects off, to having various registration parameters, or enforcing a full registration to capture those serious buyers – all with varying results. Glad to see you’ve had some success as a fairly recent convert to the ‘yes for registration’ side of the debate!

  3. Jay Thompson

    October 22, 2008 at 11:32 am

    You shouldn’t have to repent for the way you chose to run your business (assuming it’s legal of course). You are free to run your business however you see fit. We’ve had this conversation, you know i struggle with picking up the phone. It’s silly, but it is what it is.

    That reluctance may, or may not change. Who knows. The bottom line in this business, and something I love about it, is there are many different ways to make it work. Some tactics work for some and not for others.

    I keep flip-flopping on the registration thing (though the fact that I’m even considering it is a significant change from my past actions). One day I’ll settle in, who knows on which side. Articles like these help, as it’s nice to hear success stories on any method. Appreciate your sharing JD!

  4. Missy Caulk

    October 22, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Jonathan, I am standing on a chair clapping. (((clap, clap))) (well besides the fact you stole my last topic, LOL)

    You know how I feel on this issue, I know some Realtors don’t like it, but hey I don’t like print ad’s or open houses. I like what works and brings in business and the site I have that it is required, is what brings home the bacon.

    Those that register, stay !

  5. Ben Goheen

    October 22, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Good article Jonathan. I used to be against registration but now I’m all for it. I had the same feelings about it being intrusive and scaring visitors away. But in my case only people I personally told to register would actually do it to get updated listings.

    Now I let visitors get a taste by viewing a few listings (5) then I ask for registration. They’ll see that my IDX is far superior (I also use Diverse Solutions) and want to keep looking. If they don’t then so be it – I won’t really know anyways.

    Good luck and I hope it keeps working for you.

  6. Mariana

    October 22, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    🙂
    My theory is this: People are not stupid. If they don’t want you to have their information, they wont give it to you. If they give it to you, my experience has shown that more times than they EXPECT you to contact them and welcome your assistance.

    However, it all boils down to comfort level and who you align yourself with. But it is good to note that there is not a right or wrong way to do this…

  7. Paula Henry

    October 22, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Jonathan – Congrats on the business! I too use a site which requires log-in and recently wrote about whether I should use asite which doesn’t. Right now, I have two set up and am testing. Initially, the site required log in site brings me more names and more business. I personally don;t like to pick up the phone and call people, but it works – and I really appreciate the way Mariana explains it.

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Social Media

BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.

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social media - bereal app

BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.

According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.

It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.

As the app says when you go to its page:

Be Real.

Your Friends

for Real.

Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.

A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.

BeReal app

The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”

Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.

And fake.

Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.

For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.

None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.

We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.

It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.

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Team of deaf engineers at Snap create feature to help users learn ASL

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Snapchat engineers known as the “Deafengers” have created an ASL Alphabet Lens to help users learn the basics of ASL.

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Snap ASL feature

A team of Deaf and hard-of-hearing Snapchat engineers known as the “Deafengers” at the company have created an ASL Alphabet Lens to help users learn the basics of American Sign Language.

Using AR Technology, the Lens teaches users to fingerspell their names, practice the ASL Alphabet and play games to “put their new skills to the test.”

The Lens, launched last month, is the first of its kind and encourages users to learn American Sign Language.

In a press release Snapchat said, “For native signers, in a world where linguistic inequity is prevalent, we believe AR can help evolve the way we communicate. We look forward to learning more from our community as we strive to continuously improve experiences for everyone on Snapchat.”

Austin Vaday, one of the deaf engineers who helped develop the Lens said helping the world understand sign language is important. He shared his story with NBC correspondent Erin McLaughlin on TODAY after the Lens was released.

Vaday didn’t learn American Sign Language until he was 12. Before then he relied mostly on lip-reading to communicate. ASL changed his life. That life-changing moment helped inspire the ASL Alphabet Lens.

The ASL Alphabet Lens was designed and developed over six months in partnership with SignAll.

There are approximately 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States, according to the National Association of the Deaf.

Vaday said the ASL Alphabet Lens came from the desire to find a way to appropriately and properly educate people so they can communicate with those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Vaday said the team focused on the core values of intelligence, creativity, and empathy while working on the project and it’s a step to opening communication for all Snap users with the deaf and hard of hearing community.

The ASL Alphabet Lens is available to all Snapchat users.

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Social Media

Easily spot if your social media marketing service provider is a con artist

(BUSINESS) When hiring a professional marketing service, did you know there are actual questions you can ask to spot a con artist?

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con-artist

In this day and age the cult of positive thinking and “the law of attraction” are still very much alive and well in the business services industry. Here are a few simple questions that you can ask prospective business service providers to help you gauge if they are the real deal or just caught up in the fad of “say yes to everything,” or “outsource everything” being populated online by countless “thought leaders” and cult gurus. Classic con artist.

Lots of people will ask, “What’s the harm of people trying to make something of themselves?”

Well, I’m here to tell you there is huge harm in taking risks with a client’s money and manipulating people into trusting their “expertise” when they have none.

Business owners: Due diligence is more important than ever these days.

There are whole communities of people helping to prop each other up as experts in fields they know nothing about while outsourcing their tasks with little or no oversight into the actual work being done on your behalf.

It is nearly impossible for you to tell if this is even going on. Don’t worry. I am here to help you avoid a con artist.

How? By showing you how to weed out the bad actors by asking really simple questions.

This set of questions is perfect for people who need to distinguish if the expert they are talking to is really just an expert in bullshit with a likable personality.

Why do these questions work? Because people who are into this kind of stuff are rarely hesitant to talk about it when you ask them direct questions. They believe that what they are doing is a good thing and so they are more open to sharing this information with you because they think by you asking that you are also into similar things.

It is a fun little trick I picked up while learning to do consumer polling and political surveying.

The Questions:

    • Who influences you professionally?

 

    • Do you follow any “thought leaders” “gurus” or coaches? If so, who?

 

    • What “school” of thought do you ascribe to in your profession, and where do you learn what you know?

 

    • Are there any industry standards you do not agree with?

 

    • How do you apply the services you offer to your own company?

 

    • Can you please tell me the background of your support staff and can I see their CVs?

 

    • Do you outsource or white label any of the work your company does?

 

    • May we audit your process before buying your services?

 

    • May we discuss your proposed strategies with others in your industry to ensure quality?

 

    • Would you be open to speaking with an independent consultant that is knowledgeable about your industry about your proposals?

 

    • Can you show me examples of your past successful jobs?

 

    • Do you have any industry-accepted certifications and how many hours of study do you do in a year to keep your knowledge up-to-date and current?

 

    • How many clients have you had in the past?

 

    • How many clients do you have currently?

 

    • How many clients are you able to handle at one time?

 

    • How many other clients do you have that are in the same industry as my company?

 

    • How long is your onboarding process before we start getting down to actually making changes to help solve the issues my company is facing?

 

    • Can you explain to me the steps you will take to identify my company’s needs?

 

    • Have you ever taken a course in NLP or any other similar course of study?

 

    • Have you ever been a part of a Multi-Level Marketing company?

Fun. Right? Well, we aren’t done.

It is not just enough to ask these questions… you have to pay attention to the answers, as well as the WAY they are answering questions.

And you also have to RESEARCH the company after you get your answers to make sure they ring true.

You cannot keep accepting people at face value, not when the risk is to your business, employees, and clients. There is little to no risk for a person who is being dishonest about their capabilities and skillsets. They will walk away with your money, ready to go find another target for a chance meeting that seems amazingly perfect.

Do not leave your business decisions to chance encounters at networking events. Research before saying yes.

No matter how likable or appealing the person you are speaking with is.

How do you research? Easy. THE INTERNET. Look at the website of the company you are considering working with.

    • Does it look professional? (do not use your website as a standard for professionals unless you have had it done by a professional)

 

    • Can you see a list of their past clients?

 

    • Do they effectively tell their story as a company or are they just selling?

 

    • What do their social media profiles look like? Do they have many followers? Are they updated regularly?

 

    • Do they have any positive reviews on social sites? (Yelp, Facebook, Linkedin, etc)

 

You can also do some simple things like running SEO Website Checkers on their websites. There are tons of these online for free and they will give you a pretty good indicator of if they are using best practices on their websites – you can even do this research on their clients’ websites.

Also, if you know anything about SpyFu, you can run their website through that to see how they are doing their own online marketing (the same can be said for their clients if they are selling this service).

Facebook also has a cool section that shows you ads that a Page is running. You can find this info connected to their business Page as well as the Pages they manage for their clients as well. None of these things automatically disqualify a potential service provider, but their answers to the question of “why” things are the way there are might be very illuminating to you as a business owner.

This may seem like a lot of work, and it can be if you do not do these things regularly and have them down to a system, but the cost of not doing these things is way too high. A con artist is born every day, thanks to the internet.

You have a right as a business owner considering services from a vendor to ask these questions.

They also have the responsibility as a service provider to answer these questions in a professional manner. Sometimes the way in which they answer the questions is far more important than the actual answer.

If all of this seems too overwhelming for you to handle, that is okay.

    • You can ask one of your staff in your company to take on this role and responsibility.

 

    • You can hire someone to come in and help you with these decisions (and you can ask them all the same questions as above before taking their services).

 

    • You can reach out to other business owners in your network to see if they have recommendations for someone who could help you with things.

 

    • Heck, you can even call up companies that look like they are doing as well as you want to be doing online and ask them who they are using for their services. Try successful companies in other industries as your competitor won’t likely be interested in sharing their secrets with you…

 

What is important is that you are asking questions, researching, and ultimately making sure that you are doing as much as possible to ensure making the best decision for your company.

Final thoughts:

“But, Jay, what’s wrong with taking a risk on an up-and-comer?”

The answer to that is NOTHING. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance on someone. Someone being green doesn’t make them a con artist.

The issue I am raising is in the honest portrayal of businesses and their capabilities. It is about honesty.

I am a huge fan of working with people who are new and passionate about an industry. But I only work with people who are honest with me about who they are, what they can do, and how their processes work.

I have worked with tons of people who are still learning on the job. It can be quite educational for a business owner as well.

Just make sure they are being honest about everything upfront. You are not obligated to give anyone a chance when it comes to your business’s success, and it’s not right that someone might manipulate you into doing so.

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