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How you can actually use location based apps in your real estate practice

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It was less than two years ago that my boyfriend brought Brightkite onto my radar. At first I was leery, why would I want to tell people, strangers, where I am? I approached with caution, but was willing to explore. Just as I started to “get it” and think of creative uses that didn’t put my personal safety at risk, suddenly there was Foursquare and Brightkite was yesterday’s news.

Now, I use Foursquare and my boyfriend prefers Gowalla and it seems daily that a new location based game is hitting the radar. Yelp also added geotagging to their application and many people tell me they prefer that over both of the other leaders. This week a new game was brought to my attention, Scvngr, which has a partnership with Homefinder.com.

How can one keep up with the trends?

What the heck are these and why would you even WANT to use them? I thought I would put together a top five list of what is out there and the reasons why a REALTOR may want to explore.

Foursquare

#1- FOURSQUARE – from their home page, “foursquare allows you to check-in to places, meet up with friends and discover new places.”

This is the application that I use the most. There are more users on this platform, so it makes it interesting to see where everyone is going. It integrates easily with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, although I don’t push my check ins to them because I go A LOT of places each day. If a person allows it, you can text them directly from their check in, which I have used and enjoy. If you check into a location the most you become the mayor of the site. Certain businesses offer specials to their Mayor, like a free coffee drink at Starbucks. You can also earn fun badges for different check ins.

I think there are a few uses for real estate professionals:
* create a check in at your office and share what you are doing there. For example, your check in might say “in the office prepping for showings this afternoon”.
* prove your area expertise with lots of check ins in your market with helpful information included.
*- offer a special to people in the vicinity of your office ie: “stop in to see Lesley for a free market report”.

Gowalla

#2- GOWALLA– This platform gets the nod from my boyfriend (Morriss Partee) who has tried all of the services since their inception. He loves their artfully crafted check in icons. From their home page: “Discover, capture and share places and events with your friends. ”

Gowalla’s check ins can also be forwarded to your other social media profiles, if you want to share your stops there. Gowalla adds the fun of a virtual geo cache hunt. Each stop may have an item that you can pick up or drop off. For instance, a bridge may have bats that you pick up and you can leave any other item in your collection for someone else to find. Additionally Gowalla offers a new addition, event check ins. This is a great addition for tweet-ups and office gatherings, but has real estate applications, as well. Another great feature is the ability to create a trip with multiple stops.

*If you have an open house you can create a Gowalla event and ask friends to visit and check in to the event.
*Take pictures of your home for sale and post them as an attachment to the location.
*Create trips of historic homes, restaurants or other important locations and be sure to mention your business in the description ie: Lesley Lambert of Park Square Realty brings you this tour of historic homes.

BrightKite

#3- BRIGHTKITE– Brightkite’s home page states: “We’re all about helping you keep up with your friends, meet new people, and discover new places. All while you’re out and about.”

This was the first geotagging service that I ever tried and it does still have applications, I just can’t be checking in with multiple programs and have been leaning towards Foursquare.

Brightkite has a status feature that you can use without checking in (very much like Twitter and Linkedin) and the check in feature. With the check ins here you can add photos, also.

New on Brightkite is their group text application. Group text from Brightkite gives you free, unlimited, group text messaging from your iPhone or iPod Touch. With this application you can send a text to a group – when anyone replies, everyone gets the message.

*check in with a photo when you show a listing, at your office or an open house to keep yourself in front of the public as an active real estate agent.
*group text your contacts has a lot of functionality as a real estate agent to peer product: text fellow agents when you get a new listing, price reduction, open house, etc.

Yelp

#4- YELP -Touting themselves as “the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great – and not so great, in your area,” Yelp has been the leader in business reviews for some time. When they added geo tagging check ins a lot of people I know left Foursquare and Gowalla to use Yelp exclusively.

I don’t have any personal experience with the mobile application and check in aspects on Yelp, but I love the idea that they are combining the check in with review aspects. I would love to hear from readers how they are using Yelp’s mobile application.

*set up a profile on Yelp and make sure your company is listed, too!

Scvngr

#5- SCVNGR – this new platform is untried by me as of this story, but sounds interesting and could have some applications for tech savvy real estate agents looking for fun marketing ideas.

From their home page: “Go places. Do challenges. Earn points! That’s the core of it, but there’s a whole lot more. Discover cool new places. Do exciting new things. Share what you’re up to with your friends. Unlock badges (and even real world rewards) by doing quick, fun challenges at your favorite places as you go about your daily life.”

Homefinder.com is running a contest built on this application which was announced in this press release. Their event is a huge house hunt with a grand prize of a down payment for a house.

*An individual real estate agent or brokerage could do a hunt with a massive weekend of open house touring or historical homes for sale or with a broker open house tour.
*Work with other agents in your market place to group your listings by type and host a tour with a contest reward that you all pitch in towards.

So how are you using location based game applications? Got a great real estate marketing idea for one or many of these apps? Share it!

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Greg Afarian

    July 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I enjoy using FourSquare but, I must admit, its sort of a pain to check in and I many cases I am in a building and it doesn’t function properly. That said, it’s fun becoming a Mayor and getting other designations which is what social media is all about. Not to mention some places offer deals when you check in! I like it, and defiantly see a value in users telling their friends what places they like most. Great post!

    • Lesley Lambert

      July 20, 2010 at 12:14 pm

      I am getting in the habit of remembering, but it took some time! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Jeff Belonger

    July 21, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Lesley…. I am glad I read this one. I am usually the person 1 to 2 years behind such apps. I don’t know how so many people keep up with these things. My Blackberry was just stolen last weekend and once I get my new one, I plan on using Foursquare. I see this being used the most on Facebook.

    In any case, thanks for sharing these… I have made a pledge this past month to start keeping up with all of this technology. Besides, I am a loan officer, so it’s not like I sell houses.. and I can see where these kinds of apps. would be most useful for real estate agents. thanks

    • Lesley Lambert

      July 21, 2010 at 9:55 am

      Glad to be informative! There is a lot of opportunity with these applications, I am sure that people will get creative over time.

  3. Lisa Archer

    July 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Leley,
    I love foursquare now and have actually started generating new leads for our real estate team because of the mayorship battles. Thanks for the great post.

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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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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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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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