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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!

Lesley offers 21 years experience in real estate, public speaking and training. Lesley has a degree in communications and was the recipient of an international award for coordinating media in real estate. In the course of her career Lesley has presented at international real estate conferences and state REALTOR associations, hosted a real estate television program, written articles for trade magazines and created marketing and PR plans for many individuals, companies and non-profits.

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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

Facebook wants your nudes now to protect you from revenge porn later

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook, attempting to get in front of revenge porn, is requesting that users send in all of their nudes.

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In a heroic and totally innovative attempt to combat revenge porn, Facebook has come up with the following solution: “PM US UR NUDEZ.”

No seriously. They want your nudes.

But don’t worry, they’re only going to be viewed by a small group of people for manual confirmation of said nudes, and then stored temporarily… for reasons.

That part gets a little fuzzy. Some sources report that Facebook isn’t actually storing the images, just the links. This is meant to convert the image to a digital footprint, known as a hash, which is supposed to prevent the content from being upload to Facebook again.

Others say Facebook only stores the images for a short period of time and then deletes them.

What we do know, is this is a new program being tested in Australia where Facebook has partnered with a small government agency known as e-Safety and is requesting intimate or nude photos that could potentially be used for revenge porn in an effort to pre-emptively prevent such an incident.

Revenge porn is basically when someone uploads your personal and private photos online without your consent. Rather than address the issue of whether or not it’s such a good idea to take photos on a mobile, hackable device, it’s better to just send a large corporation all your nudes… through their Messenger app. /sarcasm

For your protection.

According to the commissioner of the e-Safety office, Julie Inman Grant, however, they’re using artificial intelligence and photo-matching technologies… and storing the links!

If this isn’t convincing enough, British law firm Mishcon de Reya LLP wrote in a statement to Newsweek, “We would expect that Facebook has absolutely watertight systems to guard the privacy of victims. It is quite counter-intuitive to send such intimate images to an unknown recipient.”

Oh, she wasn’t joking.

I’m not sure how many people still hold onto old intimate photos of themselves, but I am doubtful that it’s enough for this to really be effective as it only prevents intimate photos from being shared on Facebook. At least that’s the plan.

Reactions to this announcement have largely been met with amusement and criticism ranging from commentary on Mark Zuckerberg and Co. being total pervs, and theories of shared Facebook memories: “”Happy Memories: It’s been 1 Year since you uploaded 47 pictures of you in your birthday suit”!

Either way, I can only imagine someone’s inbox is flooded with crotch shots right now, and Zuckerberg has a potential new industry in the works.

Just sayin’.

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Twitter might make a profit for the first time… ever

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter seems to be very popular but it may surprise you to know that this is the very first time they might make a profit.

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Twitter reports that after a year of slashing expenses and putting itself in a position to sell data to other companies, it’s expected to be profitable. What’s surprising (considering how #huge Twitter is) is that this the first time that it will be profitable based on “generally accepted accounting principles” – #GAAP!.

In the 11 years since Twitter took to the field, it has never once met this standard, operating at a loss of nearly 2.5 billion dollars since its inception.

Twitter has struggled of a number of reasons, but particularly after going public in 2013 it suffered declining user growth, the rise of the #twittertrolls (coincidentally, Troll’s are discussed in my favorite TIME piece about the internet – located here), and competition from Facebook for the tough realm of advertising.

Since 2013, shares fell steadily, but things have increased thanks to some optimistic changes – the promise to crack down on harassment and abuse, a feed arranged by algorithm instead of time, and Twitter’s most vocal fan of late, President Donald Trump.

For the numbers fans, Reuters provides some input: Twitter’s loss narrowed to about 21 million down from 103 million this year. They have worked to cut a great deal of expenses -16 percent across the board broadly impacting sales, marketing, and R&D.

This kind of focused core improvement (can) help tip the balance sheet on the expenses side – but generating revenues remains a challenge due to slow growth. Twitter hopes to relieve this by working out some deals to sell data – the currency of the 21st century.

Several months ago, TechCrunch made perhaps the most important observation – that despite the fact Twitter has changed the world, changed our marketing, and empowered us to connect with other people, it has remained unprofitable. Many small and large businesses profit from Twitter, but in these 11 years the company hasn’t #sharedinthewealth.

Twitter is touching every realm of business and for American’s, is touching every aspect of their lives given its new form as the preferred medium of the political sphere. Given that, they have much to do to change.

Facebook commands an audience five times the size of Twitter – and their ability to reach success for the future seems #questionable. And how Twitter’s success changes the scape of influence, outreach, and entrepreneurship is something else to be seen.

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Is Facebook a potential Slack killer?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook’s steady ascent from social networking into the business world is giving Slack a run for their money.

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When it comes to the business realm, Facebook has steadily been increasing their reputation. Though Facebook is pinned as the social network, they are now proving to everyone that they can dominate in the professional sector as well.

Last year, Facebook launched an ad-free version of the site meant for the office called Workplace. Initially, 1,000 companies were signed on to try out this “Facebook for the office” in its starter phase.

As of last week, Facebook announced that 30,000 organizations currently use Workplace. These aren’t just small time companies. Some of Workplace’s users include Starbucks, Lyft, Spotify, Heineken, Delta and most recently Walmart.

It seems that overnight it grew from another side project to a valid rival for other professional communication tools like Slack.

Slack is the go-to site for business professionals. With over 6 million users and acquiring more every day, Slack is the place for teams to collaborate in real-time. It has virtually replaced email and external software when it comes to internal communication.

Slack has been successful at acquiring small corporations to use their service.

The problem is that Slack has yet to join forces with larger clients that have now turned to other applications. Just last year, Uber left Slack because they could not handle their large-scale communication needs.

In addition to being able to handle the needs of large companies, Facebook also offers cheaper services than Slack. A premium account with Workplace costs $3 per user each month while Slack charges double at $6.67 per user each month.

With the rapid growth and major reputation of Facebook behind it, many predict that Workplace will replace Slack, and other sites like it, in the not so distant future.

Recently, Facebook also launched the Workplace desktop app and plan to include group video chat. The biggest obstacle Workplace faces is the association with Facebook. It is ironic, since it is also their greatest strength.

The truth remains that many people think of Facebook solely as a social media network. Many companies forbid the use of it at work so the transition from the personal to the professional realm is still an uphill battle.

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