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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’s Résumé takes another shot at LinkedIn

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook took another swipe at LinkedIn by introducing a new Résumé feature.

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resume On This Day load bob alice terrorism trends fine spam facebook advertising jobs earnings

Any job hunter is likely familiar with the little section somewhere during the application process where you’re asked to enter in social media information. Thankfully, Facebook is usually an optional field.

While I try to keep what the public can see of my social media profiles toned down enough as to not cause my grandmother to blush, I’m still not quite comfortable sharing my profile with prospective employers.

I’m sure many out there feel the same, and Facebook knows this.

Tinfoil hat theories aside, LinkedIn may be shaking in their boots as Facebook begins to advance their growth in the professional sector in their pursuit of social media domination.

Facebook has begun experimenting with a new Résumé/CV feature that works as an extension of your standard “Work and Education” section on a Facebook profile page, allowing users to share work experience in more detail with friends and family but most importantly: potential employers.

Luckily, the new Résumé/CV feature won’t be sharing personal photos or status updates, but will rather combine all the relevant information into a single, professional-looking package.

So far this feature appears to be rolled out to a small number of users, and it’s unclear when it will be officially launched, but this isn’t the first time Facebook has dipped their toes in the waters of the job sector, or took a jab at LinkedIn.

Several months ago, Jobs was launched, a feature that allows Business Pages to post job openings through the status composer, and keep track of them on their Page’s Jobs tab.

A Facebook spokesperson commented on the intent behind the new Résumé/CV feature, “At Facebook, we’re always building and testing new products and services.

We’re currently testing a work histories feature to continue to help people find and businesses hire for jobs on Facebook,” and so this is just the beginning of Facebook’s plan to become a one-stop-shop and create a more seamless way for people to find and get jobs.

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Tag photos, connect with friends, order food?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seems to be sprawling into every nook and cranny of life and now, they’re infiltrating food delivery.

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food delivery facebook

Facebook is now bringing you food! Although, no one was really asking them to.

In the age of Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook is attempting to transform into more than just a social media platform. They have partnered up with food delivery services to help users order food directly from their site.

They hope to streamline the process by giving users a chance to research, get recommendations and order food without ever leaving the site.

Facebook has partnered with their existing delivery services including EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow and Olo in addition to restaurants to fast track the process.

The scenario they imagine is that while scrolling through the newsfeed, users would feel an urge to eat and look to Facebook for their options.

After chatting up friends via Facebook Messenger to ask for the best place to go, users would visit the restaurant’s page directly, explore their menu and decide to order. When ordering, you will have the option to use one of the partnered delivery services either with an existing account or by creating a new one.

The benefit is you stay on one site the entire time. With the time you save, the food can get to you faster, which is a plus for everyone.

Assuming that people already live on Facebook 24/7, this seems like a great update. If you like getting recommendations from your favorite social media resources, it’s even better.

The problem is that in recent years their younger audiences have dropped off in favor of other sites. Regardless of what they think, not everyone is flocking to Facebook for their every need.

My guess is that this service will benefit those already using Facebook, but is less likely to draw new audiences in.

Adding more services may not be the key to success if Facebook can’t refine their other features. They have already been criticized for their ad reporting practices, though they seem to fix everything with a new algorithm.

Facebook has continued to stray away from their original intent, and food delivery won’t be their last update.

Facebook wants to be everything, but not everyone may want the same.

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Social Media

Hate Facebook’s mid-roll ads? So does everyone else

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Those pesky ads that pop up in the middle of that Facebook video, aka mid-roll, seem to be grinding everyone’s gears.

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mid-roll

In an ongoing effort to monetize content, Facebook recently introduced “mid-roll” ads into videos by certain publishers, and it has now been testing that format for six months. If you aren’t a big fan of those ads interrupting your content consumption experience, you aren’t alone; publishers aren’t crazy about them either.

In a report on the program, five publishers working with Facebook’s new mid-roll ad program were sourced and all five publishers found that the program wasn’t generating the expected revenue.

One program partner made as little as $500 dollars with mid-roll ads while generating tens of millions of views on their content.

Two other partners wouldn’t specify exact revenue number, but they did acknowledge that the ad performance is below expectations. As far as cost goes, certain publishers mentioned CPMs between 15 cents and 75 cents.

That range is large because a lot of the data isn’t clear enough to evaluate their return on investment. According to the Digiday report, publishers receive data on total revenue, along with raw data on things like the number of videos that served an ad to viewers.

The lack of certain data points, along with the confusing structure of the data, makes it difficult to assess the number of monetized views and the revenue by video. For context, YouTube, as arguably the biggest player in video monetization, provides all these metrics.

Another issue is that licensing deals are cutting into margins. Facebook pays publishers, via a licensing fee, to produce and publish a certain number of videos each month. In exchange, Facebook keeps all money until it recoups the fee, after which revenue is split 55/45 between the publisher and Facebook.

While these challenges doesn’t change the fact that revenue is low, it does make it difficult to dissect costs in a meaningful way.

Why is revenue so low to begin with?

For starters, a newsfeed with enough content to feed an infinite scroll probably isn’t the best format for these kinds of ads. As a user, when I’m watching the videos and the ad interrupts the experience, I’ve always scrolled right on through to the next item on my feed. It’s a sentiment echoed by one of the publishers in the Digiday story.

Because of that, Facebook’s new Watch program, which creates a content exclusivity not found on the news feed, might produce better results in the future. Either way, Facebook will need to solve this revenue challenge for publishers, or they might pull out of the programs altogether.

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