This week I wrote an article on the Real Estate Revolution circa 2005-2007. In this time, traditional real estate was attacked at virtually every level, and the MLS was target #1. The launch of Zillow.com signaled that radical change was eminent, but no one was really clear of what the change might look like as Zillow head Rich Barton was tight lipped in those days, allowing curiosity to drive buzz behind the funded giant.
It is what it is
“I think that people go into a first meeting with a realtor right now in a very disadvantaged position”- Rich Barton
What we knew of Mr. Barton at the time was that he headed Expedia.com which did revolutionary things
within the travel industry, and he suddenly dropped big bucks into real estate behind the brand Zillow. Zillow in the beginning went with valuation models in the form of Zestimates attempting to level the playing field for consumers when dealing with Realtors and the MLS. In an interview with NPR’s Michele Norris, Barton was asked, “do you think you’ll have a similar effect on the real estate industry?” Barton responded, “well, I think our effect will be different but the inspiration is the same. Expedia was a travel agent and Zillow is not a realtor. It’s up to the consumer as to what they do. I think that the industry is at kind of a cross roads…” Barton went on to say, “you know, I think that people go into a first meeting with a realtor right now in a very disadvantaged position. They don’t know too much about actually what’s going on other than scuttlebutt and what they’ve heard. And I just can’t think it’s a bad thing for people to educate themselves and get smart and to have their own information source so they can sit down with that realtor and have an educated conversation.”
There is nothing wrong with the intent of this model as on the surface it is consumer advocacy, however, what Mr. Barton appears to be alluding to is a new MLS not in the hands of the Realtor brand, and instead monetized and now open to the public via Zillow.
What Mr. Barton also implied was that Realtors were no longer to be trusted as the consumer advocates they had proclaimed themselves to be.
They really don’t need you
There has never been a retraction of this sentiment because it’s stated fact- the only difference is that Zillow supposedly needs Realtors to populate listings and fill out their Zillow Forums and Mortgage Marketplace. But do they really need agents for that? Their model says they don’t- they’ve populated the consumer’s data for them. What Realtors fail to realize is that their participation is expediting the creation of an alternative to themselves.
Thousands Points of Light, or Thousand Tiny Shackles Spin
From 2005 through 2008 the housing bubble and the ensuing mortgage meltdown were the masked ploy to wedge consumers against real estate professionals wearing the Realtor brand, when all the while the MLS was the target. Data being the target, Glenn Kelman of Redfin says that the MLS is “a thousand tiny shackles on innovation,” according to a September 2006 New York Times article “The Last Stand of the 6-Percenters?” in relation to its limited use or display. Columnist Damon Darlin opines:
The Internet has radically changed the way consumers buy books and airline tickets, trade stock and learn news. But the real estate industry has resisted change — and protected its commission structure — by controlling the information on its Multiple Listing Service database of properties for sale.
The drum beat of the message by venture based companies like Zillow and Redfin were captivating, even to big media (evidenced by the image shown above from the New York Times article), as the bubble in Seattle, California and other places were at their peak. Home prices had skyrocketed, and commissions sored, creating the perfect storm for a mass media campaign to discredit and breakup the broker relationship model known as the MLS.
A new Realtor like brand? No Thanks!
Zillow’s Rich Barton has clearly stated they have no intent to begin an agent model, and why would they? Their sole goal is to provide an alternative means to information not controlled by brokers, and how Realtors continue to practice real estate is not their concern as their model is clear- open information for consumers, supported by ads. Barton in this February 2006 New York Times article said, “people want Realtors. But is it rational to pay Realtors what they are paid?” Reporter Damon Darlin added, “he [Rich Barton] says he thinks they are overpaid because customers are doing more of the work themselves.”
You’re an accessory
Today, Realtors continue to feed Zillow’s forums, and brokers continue to feed Zillow’s listing data, but we’re not really sure to what end because in 2006, the industry was focused on hypothetical situations whereas now, all intentions are clear. The National Association of Realtors and its one million plus members have acted as an accessory to their own demise in that Zillow never needed agents to populate listings or its forums, as they’re counting on the reality that consumers will do it for themselves (and they are). Zillow has become integrated into your IDX and is found on almost every alternative real estate webpage out there and continues to brand itself as the consumer’s “edge in real estate” but I have to ask- whose throat is the “edge” against?
Reels: Why Instagram can’t compete with TikTok… yet?
(SOCIAL MEDIA) The future for Instagram Reels is uncertain, since even Instagram has acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead of them, but what does it mean for their future?
If you’re a TikTok user, chances are you’ve scoffed at Instagram’s attempt to compete with the hype. Yes, I’m referring to the Reels feature.
In an attempt to step in and absorb all the TikTok user run-off in August, when Trump announced the TikTok ban, Instagram launched Reels. Short, catchy and sharable clips, Reels are almost exactly like TikTok videos – but are they catching on?
In an interview with The Verge’s “Decoder” podcast, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that he isn’t yet happy with Reels, stating that TikTok is still “way ahead”. While Reels is growing in terms of shared content and consumed content, it’s not nearly where Instagram hoped it would be by this point. Perhaps this is because TikTok is still alive and well. Or perhaps there’s something else to it.
It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular Reels on Instagram are simply reposted TikToks. This poses the question: Is Instagram’s Reels simply a channel where the ‘cream of the crop’ TikTok videos can get posted in a second location and exposed to a new audience, or is it actually a platform for creators?
Mosseri also hints at some sort of consolidation across Instagram’s video features (i.e., IGTV, in-post videos, Reels). Without being entirely sure what that will look like, I’m already skeptical – is this all just another example of Facebook (via Instagram) trying to hold a monopoly on the social media sphere?
My opinion? As long as TikTok is still in operation, it will reign supreme. While the two apps have a ton of overlap, they are simply different cultural spaces. TikTok is a trend-heavy, meta-humor creative space that relies on engagement between users through effect, duets, and other TikTok-exclusive features.
Adversely, Reels is a space for Instagramming millennials and Gen Xers who might be choosing to opt out of TikTok (which has sort of become the cultural epicenter for the younger Gen Zers). The feature might also be used by Insta influencers and creators of all ages who toggle between the two apps (i.e., reposting your viral TikTok on Instagram to gain more traction).
Whatever the reason is for engaging in Reels, I’m fully certain the feature will never amount to the success of TikTok – but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Instagram has in store for us next.
One easy way to organize your influencers inbox, get paid for fan DMs
(SOCIAL MEDIA) Superpage is a contact page for influencers that also allows users with a fanbase to charge fans money for guaranteed attention on their message.
At times, our inboxes can get out of control. Besides email from our family and friends, marketing and spam emails wind up in there, too. While for some of us, it isn’t too bad to handle. Some people might find it a little harder to manage because of the great influx of messages they receive. And, some of those people are influencers.
Well, that is one company’s target – if you have a fanbase, you have an influence. Superpage is a “contact page for influencers.” According to the company’s website, their product will help influencers declutter their inboxes and offer them a better communication setup.
“DMs & e-mails were built for generic human communication. With huge follower-base & more people seeking their time, influencers need a slightly different communication setup – designed just for them. That’s what we’re building at Superpage – a communication system uniquely crafted for influencers,” wrote Superpage Founder Srivatsa Mudumby.
Who can get Superpage?
Superpage is meant for influencers, creators, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and just about anyone with a social media presence.
What does it do?
The platform allows fans to directly connect with influencers by letting them send a message through the influencer’s Superpage. So, instead of hoping to receive a reply from the DM they sent on Instagram or TikTok, Superpage guarantees a reply, as long as it isn’t illicit or spammy of course.
But, while Superpage lets fans communicate with their idol, it doesn’t do so for free. Fans “pay what they want” to send a message. However, the website doesn’t make it clear whether what you pay makes a difference. If someone pays more, will their message get prioritized? I doubt a $10 ticket gave anyone the chance to choose between general admission or VIP.
How does it work?
You sign up and set up your personalized page by adding a bio, display picture, cover photo, topics you’d like to discuss, etc. Once you link your bank account to your Superpage account, you can share your page on social media, website, or blog post. Through your unique “Superpage link” anyone can send you “Super texts” (messages).
In your Dashboard, you can view, manage, and reply to your messages. Superpage uses “restricted messaging”, which means each sender receives a limited number of messages to follow-up. Once you’re finished replying, the conversation will automatically close.
Fees and Payments
There is no monthly fee to use Superpage. The company makes money by charging a 5% commission plus credit card fees. And, it uses Stripe to process payments directly to the influencer’s bank account.
“People want to talk to influencers of the world but because of huge volume of messages & poor incentivization, influencers can never respond to everyone mindfully. We spoke to a ton of influencers and almost everyone complained “my inboxes are spammed,” wrote Mudumby.
Superpage does provide a new way for fans to reach out to their idols, but is it more like a way for them to charge for office hours? One thing is for sure, it’s a way for influencers to reach out to fans, but make money in the process, too. It’s up to you to decide if it’s something you’d put your money into.
As for a decluttered inbox, it does seem like all those emails and messages might not end up in your messy inbox. Instead, they will live on the platform’s dashboard in a, hopefully, more organized manner.
If you’re not on Clubhouse, you’re missing out – here’s why
(SOCIAL MEDIA) What exactly is Clubhouse, and why is it the quarantine app sensation? There’s a few reasons you should definitely be checking out right now!
Developed by ex-Google employee Rohan Seth and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davison, Clubhouse has only been gaining in popularity since lockdown. Here’s why you need to join immediately:
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is like if subreddit pages were live podcasts. Or maybe if niche, topic-centric Zoom chatrooms could connect you with people from all over the world. But it’s ONLY audio, making it perfect for this period of lockdown where no one truly looks their best.
From networking events to heated debates about arts and culture to book clubs, you can truly find anything you want on Clubhouse. And if you don’t see a room that peaks your interest, you can make one yourself.
Why is it special?
Here’s my hot take: Clubhouse is democratizing the podcast process. When you enter a room for women entrepreneurs in [insert your industry], you not only hear from the established experts, but you’ll also have a chance to listen to up-and-coming users with great questions. And, if you want, you can request to speak as well.
If you click anyone’s icon, you can see their bio and links to their Instagram, Twitter, etc. For professionals looking to network in a deeper way, Clubhouse is making it easier to find up and coming creatives.
If you’re not necessarily looking to network, there’s still so much niche material to discover on the app. Recently, I spent an hour on Clubhouse listening to users discuss the differences in American and British street fashion. It got heated, but I learned A LOT.
Did I mention there’s a TON of celebrities on the app? Tiffany Haddish, Virgil Abloh, and Lakeith Stanfield are regulars in rooms – and often host scheduled events. The proximity to all kinds of people, including the famous, is definitely a huge draw.
How do you get on?
Anyone with an iPhone can make an account, but as of now you need to be “nominated” by someone in your contacts who is already on the app. Think Google+ but cooler.
With lockdown giving us so much free time that our podcasts and shows can’t keep up with the demand, Clubhouse is a self-sustaining content mecca. Rooms often go on for days, as users in later time zones will pick up where others left off when they need to get some sleep. And the cycle continues.
Though I’m still wrapping my brain around it, I can say with fair certainty that Clubhouse is very, very exciting. If you have an hour (or 24) to spare, try it out for yourself – I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
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