Let’s Go Back Two Years
Just over two years ago, the real estate world was rocked by several startups on the west coast. Fueled by an overheated and deteriorating market, disruptive business models began to take shape and focus aim at the traditional mainstream real estate industry. It was difficult for any of these disruptive ventures to attack individuals, or even big brokerage houses, so instead, they targeted the faceless Realtor brand.
Many bubble blogs began to pop up all around the country in response to the instability in the housing market and rally voice against traditional real estate practitioners (including NAR’s Chief Economists David Lereah, and subsequently Lawrence Yun) echoing that the markets were sound, and the world was fine, when reality was proving to be otherwise.
Big Media Never Misses a Crisis
In response to the revolt against established real estate, blogs began to take shape all around the country in self-defense of the bubble bloggers- traditional and non-traditional practitioners responded in kind in a back and forth volley of rhetoric aimed to discredit, all while the aforementioned disruptive brands added a top heavy pressure in the name of “consumer advocacy “against tradition.
Redfin Hijacks The Housing Bubble
On May 13, 2007 CBS NEWS aired “Chipping Away At Realtors’ Six Percent” and reporter Lesley Stahl featured Seattle venture Redfin on 60 Minutes. Suddenly, offline agents not paying attention to the online war between traditional and non-traditional real estate were thrust into the middle by questioning (sometimes outraged) consumers. Online blogs lit up with angry consumers and with Realtors defending themselves and their brands. The National Association of Realtors caught off guard simply responded with talking points and very little guidance, still reeling from the fall of David Lereah. Local and State boards were inept to respond as their means of communication were still traditional in nature- help would be far away, or none at all. Disruption was winning, as the online fight was one sided- few agents blogged, or even knew what a blog was, but for the next year, blogs and national media would be the battle ground while those offline (therefore uninformed) would be the most impacted.
Most notable of the companies set on traditional brand destruction as a paradigm in real estate were Craigslist, Redfin, Zillow, and now defunct Iggy’s House also known as Buyside Realty.
They Love to Hate Us
Today, as thousands of agents have entered the online marketplace, the economy has tanked, bubble bloggers and some agent bloggers vindicated, the voice of disruption has become but a murmur. The big media companies have become your buddies, the NAR has put David Lereah behind it, and Redfin looks a lot like a traditional brokerage.
Those of us that were online during that time will never forget how this quiet and docile place we call the real estate space came to be, and how you as a real estate professional can now enter it without jeers and attacks. A few of the more prolific real estate bloggers of that time are still around, as well as many of the antagonist, but many have moved on as the thrill is gone.
Manufacturing a Revolution
What changed in the Real Estate Revolution? Not really that much. Perception being reality wasn’t truly reality once the dust settled.
From the 60 Minutes Interview:
Kelly Engel (then Redfin agent); “I had done quite a few deals where I spent maybe five hours total working on the deal. I never saw the house. My client found it online and, you know, I would make $12,000 for four hours of work. And I thought this cannot keep going on like this. Someone, I felt like I was going to get caught! You know, someone’s going to see that this is happening and I think a lot of them hold that truth inside of them right now. They’ve got the clients that are finding houses on their own. They make $20,000 and did 10 hours of work,” she says.
It’s easy to spot the manufacturing of a revolution by venture companies even in quotes like the one above where a subtle shift of a person’s point of view shifts blame from a single person to an entire industry. At the time, it would be hard to see any good outcome from such a vicious attack, but believe it or not, some good outcome is occurring.
Consumers Win Despite Tech Upset
The fire ignited by Redfin and others sparked a real, unintended, unforeseen revolution- one inside of the real estate profession where expectations are growing on the infrastructure not only locally, but nationally to modernize. Agents are competing more and more online with national chains and with each other, smaller more nimble brokerages are being born every day, and consumers have some real online choice.
While the expansion of blogging into micro-blogging has scattered the crowds once hell bent on destroying you as a business, it is now providing even more opportunity for you as a business to define your own brand paradigm and reach new audiences once leery of you as a professional… as it should be. In this economy consumers are looking for answers, and agents today (because they’re adopting new online skill sets) are helping provide those answers.
I believe what set out to disrupt and disintermediate you from the transaction failed. Agents did not die like the dinosaurs, and we’re still not a ‘point and click’ home buying society, nor did we go the way of the independent book store. In fact, it’s only made those that make up the profession stronger, and helped to dispel the myth of the “sacrosanct six percent commission.” It has separated those that can from those that won’t in more ways than one and continues to do so (maybe there is hope for independent travel agencies and independent book stores, after all). Is it perfect? Hell no, but it looks nothing like 2007.
Their revolution is dead, ours is just beginning.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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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