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The Flip Side of the Bad Data Debate Cont. The Agent’s Fault…

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emortgageprocreditWrecking Listing Data’s Good Name?

After some intense debate both on and offline about how third party media companies are wrecking the listing data’s GOOD name, we set out to find out some reasons that data inaccuracies seem to be common place on third party websites.  We wanted to know how in the world it could be possible that sites like Zillow, Trulia, Vast, among others could possibly still reflect a listing as active when the unit had obviously sold weeks, days, months, or even a year ago. Seriously, how could this be?

In a perfect world

In case you did not know, data is typically taken directly from brokers via one huge file dump, and then distributed to the third party network as it’s seen.  So if today you post a property as pending, then more than likely, 24 hours later after distribution, your listing should reflect the new pending status. Makes sense, right? Clean data comes from the source and is updated dynamically via the same feed the original listing came from – no problem… in a perfect world, this is what happens.

So again, where’s the problem? We set a course to find out. We asked David Gibbons with Zillow exactly about the process and he verified that data comes from the broker’s direct feed (you should ask your broker if they syndicate) and populates Zillow.  So we asked David how in the world is could ever be possible that a listing could remain active when it had been withdrawn, expired, etc and his response? Ultimately, time and time again, it goes back to the agent who syndicated the listing.

WHAT?!

Yes, you read that correctly, but note that he said “agent who syndicated the listing.” If your broker does not update or syndicate feeds to Zillow, chances are that your virtual tour company, or possibly your flyer company does, and this is an accepted feed from Zillow and a service that many vendors offer agent consumers.  The main problem with this is that the agent allows the virtual tour to remain in existence, ACTIVE and alive for the world to see, long after the listing is gone. David Gibbons admits this has been a real challenge for them, but believes it goes back to agent education and some training where syndication is concerned.

Let me Google that for you

David suggests that you Google your listing address when changing the status of your listing. This will allow you to see everywhere your listing is populating and if need be, go in and turn it off or change the status.

Check, check, one, two

Our suggestion to build on that thought is to create a closing checklist of where you manually displayed your listing- that gives you a quick and easy reference of places that you’ve been the point of syndication (P.O.S.).  Make note of each web property you’re using that offers to syndicate for you, “especially virtual tour companies,” says David.

Like we said, David admits that this has been a challenge for them, to the point that they rank the level and quality of a syndication source on the back end, but this method could ultimately be double checked by the responsible agent who probably isn’t even aware of their culpability. David points out that many sites and tools that syndicate for agents do notify agents requesting an update, but not all, and most notices go ignored either because the agent continues to show off their incredible marketing, or they simply forget- so make your checklist for those closed, sold, and withdrawn properties and protect the data that agents hold so dearly.

Summary

So if you’re a great listing agent and you’re making sure your marketing goes up, we must make sure it comes down, as displaying an inactive non-existent for sale property in anyone’s book is unethical. We suggest that if you want to display a demo of your property marketing, you utilize the product’s demo or ask the company to copy a demo of a past listing that is syndicated with the proper status for you.

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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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Megan Lust

    April 1, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I agree with David Gibbons. A lot of times agents aren’t sure where they’ve had their listing syndicated to, or they forget where they’ve manually added listings online. That’s the beauty of having listings syndicate directly from an MLS. Agents and Brokers are sure to keep their listings updated at the MLS level, knowing that any marked sold will then be removed from syndication. If an MLS syndicates to a large network of syndication partners, then the likelihood of agents needing to enter listings at various websites manually would surely lessen.

    • Benn Rosales

      April 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

      from an mls, or from realtor.com, either way, the data would be back in control of the industry at the very least, standards met, and end debate. 3parties could then pay to play, which is how it should have been from the start – agents are paying the carrying cost of 3rd parties, why not recoop that loss and make realtor.com free.

  2. Michael Sosnowski

    April 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    How about this….don’t provide any information to Zillow, Trulia, etc and work on creating the best web presence for you own website. All these big sites do is eat up space in the local SERPs – providing little or no value to agents. Just a thought.

    • Benn Rosales

      April 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm

      Good luck getting that cat back in that tiny bag, I’ll be watching with interest.

  3. Brian Rutledge

    April 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Michael, you bring up a good point. What many agents don’t realize is how easy it is to outrank those sites for your listings. A small investment in an affordable indexable IDX+a few hours a week of linking, tweeting and facebooking will have you outranking the syndicators in no time.

  4. Benn Rosales

    April 1, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    We can argue 2005-10 points of view and we can also take responsibility for the data we’re syndicating at the same time. Agents cannot continue to complain about bad data if they’re responsible for syndicating it.

  5. Michael Sosnowski

    April 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Yes, the cat is out of the bag. It is truly a same how little agents really know about marketing on the web and the future of online real estate. Nonetheless, I would really like to know, from agents. how many clients and potential clients are looking for homes on websites like…..Vast, Oodle, Frontdoor, Cyberhomes, HotPads and all those who are similar. The fact is, very, very few. We have sold our souls to realtor.com, tulia and zillow, but can we at least draw the line on these ^%$#* sites! Must we support every online venture that “claims to offer” exposure? We build these sites up out of fear and ignorance.

    I will not get off the soap box.

  6. David Gibbons

    April 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Ben,

    Listing websites operate like the MLS in this regard; if you post a listing for sale online it remains advertised until it’s taken down. Syndication services add some complexity in that they propagate listings to multiple sites but all that’s required to update syndicated listings is that you update the source. If virtual tours are left posted online after a home is sold, the agent is effectively continuing to advertise the listing (regardless of whether it’s syndicated.)

    Syndicating your data (in this case, listings) is a smart online marketing strategy. The trick is to do it responsibly and efficiently. My recommendations for listing agents are:
    1) Use as few syndication services as possible and use only one such service for each site that you want to publish your listings on. That way, you know where to go when you need a syndicated listing updated.
    2) Ask your technology provider for your website / virtual tour / MLS / single property website etc. whether they plan to syndicate your listings. Have them switch this feature off if they aren’t the single syndication source you’ve selected.
    3) Update the source of your listings whenever you update the MLS – that way you won’t forget. Better yet; speak to your MLS to determine whether they could be your syndication source (or whether they could partner with one.)

    I hope that helps.

  7. David Gibbons

    April 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    P.S. Sorry, I obviously meant Benn

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Social Media

Twitter to start charging users? Here’s what you need to know

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media is trending toward the subscription based model, especially as the pandemic pushes ad revenue down. What does this mean for Twitter users?

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Twitter and other social media apps open on a phone being held in a hand. Will they go to a paid option subscription model?

In an attempt to become less dependent on advertising, Twitter Inc. announced that it will be considering developing a subscription product, as well as other paid options. Here’s the scoop:

  • The ideas for paid Twitter that are being tossed around include tipping creators, the ability to pay users you follow for exclusive content, charging for use of the TweetDeck, features like “undo send”, and profile customization options and more.
  • While Twitter has thought about moving towards paid for years, the pandemic has pushed them to do it – plus activist investors want to see accelerated growth.
  • The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted ads, though Twitter’s ad market is significantly smaller than Facebook and other competitors.
  • The platform’s user base in the U.S. is its most valuable market, and that market is plateauing – essentially, Twitter can’t depend on new American users joining to make money anymore.
  • The company tried user “tips” in the past with its live video service Periscope (RIP), which has now become a popular business model for other companies – and which we will most likely see again with paid Twitter.
  • And yes, they will ALWAYS take a cut of any money being poured into the app, no matter who it’s intended for.

This announcement comes at a time where other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Clubhouse, are also moving towards paid options.

My hot take: Is it important – especially during a pandemic – to make sure that creators are receiving fair compensation for the content that we as users consume? Yes, 100%. Pay people for their work. And in the realm of social media, pictures, memes, and opinions are in fact work. Don’t get it twisted.

Does this shift also symbolize a deviation from the unpaid, egalitarian social media that we’ve all learned to use, consume, and love over the last decade? It sure does.

My irritation stems not from the fact that creators will probably see more return on their work in the future. Or on the principal of free social media for all. It stems from sheer greediness of the social media giants. Facebook, Twitter, and their counterparts are already filthy rich. Like, dumb rich. And guess what: Even though Twitter has been free so far, it’s creators and users alike that have been generating wealth for the company.

So why do they want even more now?

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TikTok enters the e-commerce space, ready to compete with Zuckerberg?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Setting up social media for e-commerce isn’t an uncommon practice, but for TikTok this means the next step competing with Facebook and Instagram.

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Couple taking video with mobile phone, prepared for e-commerce.

Adding e-commerce offerings to social media platforms isn’t anything new. However, TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, is rolling out some new e-commerce features that will place the social video app in direct competition with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instagram.

According to a Financial Times report, TikTok’s new features will allow the platform to create and expand its e-commerce service in the U.S. The new features will allow TikTok’s popular users to monetize their content. These users will be able to promote and sell products by sharing product links in their content. In return, TikTok will profit from the sales by earning a commission.

Among the features included is “live-streamed” shopping. In this mobile phone shopping channel, users can purchase products by tapping on products during a user’s live demo. Also, TikTok plans on releasing a feature that will allow brands to display their product catalogs.

Currently, Facebook has expanded into the e-commerce space through its Facebook Marketplace. In May 2020, it launched Facebook Shops that allows businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram stories into online stores.

But, Facebook hasn’t had too much luck in keeping up with the video platform in other areas. In 2018, the social media giant launched Lasso, its short-form video app. But the company’s TikTok clone didn’t last too long. Last year, Facebook said bye-bye to Lasso and shut it down.

Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok by launching Instagram Reels. This feature allows users to share short videos just like TikTok, but the future of Reels isn’t set in stone yet. By the looks of it, videos on Reels are mainly reposts of video content posted on TikTok.

There is no word on when the features will roll out to influencers on TikTok, but according to the Financial Times report, the social media app’s new features have already been viewed by some people.

TikTok has a large audience that continues to grow. By providing monetization tools in its platform, TikTok believes its new tools will put it ahead of Facebook in the e-commerce game, and help maintain that audience.

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Your favorite Clubhouse creators can now ask for your financial support

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Clubhouse just secured new funding – what it means for creators and users of the latest quarantine-based social media darling.

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Woman talking on Clubhouse on her iPhone with a big smile.

Clubhouse – the live-voice chat app that has been taking the quarantined world by storm – has recently announced that it has raised new funding in a Series B round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

The app confirms that new funding means compensation for creators; much like the influencers on TikTok and YouTube, now Clubhouse creators will be able to utilize features such as subscriptions, tipping, and ticket sales to monetize their content.

To encourage emerging Clubhouse creators and invite new voices, funding round will also support a promising “Creator Grant Program”.

On the surface, Clubhouse is undoubtedly cool. The invite-only, celebrity-filled niche chatrooms feel utopic for any opinionated individual – or anyone that just likes to listen. At its best, Clubhouse brings to mind collaborative campfire chats, heated lecture-hall debates or informative PD sessions. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m actually obsessed.

And now with its new round, the video chatroom app will not only appear cool but also act as a helpful steppingstone to popular and emerging creators alike. “Creators are the lifeblood of Clubhouse,” said Paul & Rohan, the app’s creators, “and we want to make sure that all of the amazing people who host conversations for others are getting recognized for their contributions.”

Helping creators get paid for their labor in 2021 is a cause that we should 100% get behind, especially if we’re consuming their content.

Over the next few months, Clubhouse will be prototyping their tipping, tickets and subscriptions – think a system akin to Patreon, but built directly into the app.

A feature unique to the app – tickets – will offer individuals and organizations the chance to hold formal discussions and events while charging an admission. Elite Clubhouse rooms? I wonder if I can get a Clubhouse press pass.

Additionally, Clubhouse has announced plans for Android development (the app has only been available to Apple users so far). They are also working on moderation policies after a recent controversial chat sparked uproar. To date, the app has been relying heavily on community moderation, the power of which I’ve witnessed countless times whilst in rooms.

So: Is the golden age of Clubhouse – only possible for a short period while everyone was stuck at home and before the app gained real mainstream traction – now over? Or will this new round of funding and subsequent development give the app a new beginning?

For now, I think it’s safe to say that the culture of Clubhouse will certainly be changing – what we don’t know is if the changes will make this cream-of-the-crop app even better, or if it’ll join the ranks of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in being another big-time social media staple.

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