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Yelp for Realtors – with 50 million monthly users, do you know if you are being reviewed?

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Yelp’s tremendous web growth

Yelp has seen its ups and downs, its lag in adoption and even lawsuits, but the public doesn’t seem to know about it and they keep on using the review site. Mostly known for restaurant reviews, Yelp has made strides to expand their offering to include coupons to compete with Groupon and we imagine they’ll eventually offer a restaurant reservations competitor to OpenSeat.

Recently, Yelp has hit some important milestones as it has officially surpassed 17 million reviews but more importantly is attracting 50 million users per month. Everyone uses Yelp, it is the Google of review sites- you can’t seem to not use it, even if you want. Even my father uses it (and leaves lengthy hilarious reviews like this one, complete with cuss words).

Tech blogger Jason Kincaide, “CEO Jeremy Stoppelman says that the service is seeing a faster rate of growth for both contributions (reviews) and users than it has historically— in Q1, users wrote 2 million reviews, while most quarters average 1 million.”

Yelp and real estate

Yelp use is on the rise and its growth is expanding. We believe much of their growth is with their mobile users as their app is pretty handy when on the road (we use it when traveling quite a bit).

But all that growth doesn’t mean their value proposition is universally understood. Recently, when talking with an agent friend of mine, Yelp came up and she insisted that it was restaurants only. I had to show her that it was literally a review site for everything with a mailing address. We searched for her name and nothing came up, but her brokerage did and she was braced for the worst but it was mostly positive.

Some Realtors take Yelp seriously

Some Realtors have taken Yelp seriously and behaved like a business owner by adding their logo, some of their headshots or pictures of them in action, outlining their service area on the map and actually soliciting reviews. The great thing about Yelp is that reviewers are very accountable as all of their reviews are public under their profile and the language is much more natural than some Realtor review sites where you see the same testimonial copied and pasted (that was clearly written by the agent).

Sean McCormack in Austin, TX is a really great example of a Realtor reviewed on Yelp that takes the time to make sure it is an inviting place for consumers when they find him. Out of kindness, we won’t highlight a bad example, you’ll find that on your own.

So if you aren’t aware of Yelp, hop on, do a search for your brokerage and your name and see if anything pops up. Claim your name or team as your business through Yelp and spice up your Yelp page. It’s easier to ask a consumer for a review where they already naturally congregate than to ask them to put their name on an arbitrary website they’ve never heard of, so maybe it’s time the real estate world paid better attention to Yelp?

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. LesleyLambert

    April 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Good reminder, I keep “meaning” to spend time at Yelp.

  2. Genevieve

    April 6, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Our brokerage is actually top rated on Yelp! in the DC Metro area with the most 5 star reviews… Uhm… hello… we LOVE it! We remind our happy clients to send their Yelp! lovin’ to the page and they enjoy doing it just as much as we enjoy spreading the word! It is exciting when you get to read the shining reviews about yourself and nerve-racking to think that someone you may have ticked off is possibly going to bring their pack-o-pooches to your front porch (throat clearing- thank goodness we aren’t in Texas any more, LANI). Thanks for reminding people to make Yelp! the valuable resource that it is.

  3. Anna Altic

    April 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I use Yelp Extensively. I have actually the yelp Elite badge and from time to time get invited to fun networking events around town. This year, I have started recommending a number of my vendors on there that I particularly like and trust. I then send them a link to my review and remind them that favorable reviews and referrals are very important to me. Their SEO is amazing as well so your recommendation of a particular vendor may put you front and center to someone contemplating the purchase and or sale of a home. I also interact with folks on the discussion forum in which Real Estate does come up from time to time. I have used the bling my blog widget with a map feature and love the listing by category feature as well. The cool thing about Yelp to me is that it’s a valid Social Networking tool that encourages you to be an expert about your community. Your reviews and reputation are certainly an important part of Yelp but it can be so much more!

  4. sfvrealestate

    April 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Lani, I posted this yesterday on Activerain under my real name, Judy Graff:
    Fellow Realtors, have you been told to encourage your clients to write a review for you on Yelp? I have, and I have. Three clients have written great reviews for me. But if your clients do this for you, make sure you copy and paste those reviews someplace else, because they may disappear soon.

    I just had a long conversation with a sales person from Yelp. He pitched me on one of Yelp’s premium packages. (I don’t have the money this year.) In the course of the conversation, he told me that if a reviewer isn’t a regular reviewer on Yelp, the Yelp algorthym usually deletes their review. He says this is to keep people from going on just once to review something at the request of the business. He noticed that two of my reviews were from non-regular Yelp posters, and told me they’d probably be going away soon. Even if you buy a Yelp premium advertising package, the algorthym will delete reviews from non-regulars!

    I still believe in Yelp. However, I’m going to make sure my reviews are posted elsewhere as well as there!

  5. Sara Bonert

    April 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Yelp is a wonderful place to build an online reputation. One word of caution I’ve heard from a handful of Realtors now… They sent out a mass email to their database asking for reviews, and of course got a bunch immediately as a result. Because of the large number of reviews to one profile in one day, Yelp saw this as spam and pulled their whole profile down and none of the reviews got posted. So if you proactively request reviews, piecemeal your requests out.

  6. Bobby Carroll

    April 8, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Great reminder Lani! People are reviewing agents more and more. I say get on Yelp and be aware what is being said. It’s called reputation management.

    Here is one awesome idea I heard @NashvilleBrian share at #RETSO 4.0 last week.

    1. Write a genuine review for a local business. My mom always said if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Following my mom’s advice, write a genuine, heartfelt review for a local business. Here’s where it gets cool!

    2. Print the review (with your profile info/image on it for all to see)

    3. Frame the review

    4. Deliver the review to the business owner

    5. Then watch as the business owner places your framed review for all to see right by the place where there will be the most traffic… at the cash register!

    6. Then go write a business spotlight post (you do have a local business spotlight category on your blog…. right?) and tell why you love that business and why you are stark raving fan of theirs!

    7. Then “Like” their FB business page and be sure to “Like” it from your business page. And don’t forget to go back and show them the post you wrote on your blog about their business! You’ll make new friends for life and at least a few more readers will show up on your blog.

    Items #6 and 7 I threw in there for good measure. 😉 Thanks Brian Copeland for sharing this great idea at #RETSO!

    • Lani Rosales

      April 8, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Good reminder of the round robin effect. We wrote some time ago about a pizza maker that was getting so many bad Yelp reviews that they made a joke of it, put the bad reviews on t-shirts in huge font for their employees to read and wouldn’t you know it, their foot traffic and loyalty increased.

      It’s not just about the good reviews, it’s the bad reviews that are an even bigger opportunity, a bigger chance to really win loyalty.

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Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.

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Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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Can you legally monitor your employees’ online activities? Kinda

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are they ways you are monitoring your employees online even legal? Did you know there are illegal methods? Yep.

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Edward Snowden’s infamous info leak in 2013 brought to light the scope of surveillance measures, raising questions about legality of monitoring tactics. However, the breach also opened up broader discussion on best practices for protecting sensitive data.

No company wants to end up with a data breach situation on their hands, but businesses need to be careful when implementing monitoring systems to prevent data loss.

Monitoring your employee’s activity online can be a crucial part of safeguarding proprietary data. However, many legal risks are present when implementing data loss prevention (DLP) methods.

DLP tools like keystroke logging, natural language processing, and network traffic monitoring are all subject to federal and state privacy laws. Before putting any DLP solutions in place, companies need to assess privacy impact and legal risks.

First, identify your monitoring needs. Different laws apply to tracking data in transit versus data at rest. Data in transit is any data moving through a network, like sending an email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requires consent for tracking any data in transit.

Data at rest is anything relatively immobile, like information stored in a database or archives. Collecting data at rest can fall under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which typically prohibits unauthorized access or disclosure of electronic communications.

While the SCA does not usually prevent employers from accessing their own systems, monitoring things like Gmail accounts could get messy without proper authorization.

Who you’re tracking matters as well regarding consent and prior notification. If you’re just monitoring your own employees, you may run into disclosure issues. Some states, like Delaware and Connecticut, prohibit employee monitoring without prior notice.

The ECPA also generally prohibits tracking electronic communication, but exceptions are granted for legitimate business purposes so long as consent is obtained.

Monitoring third party communications can get tricky with wiretapping laws. In California and Illinois, all parties must be notified of any tracking. This can involve disclosures on email signatures from outbound employee emails, or a broad notification on the company’s site.

Implied consent comes from third parties continuing communication even with disclaimers present.

If you’re wanting to install DLP software on personal devices used for work, like a company cellphone, you could face a series of fines for not gaining authorization. Incorrect implementation may fall under spyware and computer crime laws.

With any DLP tools and data monitoring, notification and consent are crucial. When planning monitoring, first assess what your privacy needs are, then identify potential risks of implementing any tracking programs.

Define who, where, and why DLP software will apply, and make sure every employee understands the need for tracking. Include consent in employee onboarding, and keep employees updated with changes to your monitoring tactics.

Protecting your company’s data is important, but make sure you’re not unintentionally bending privacy laws with your data loss prevention methods. Regularly check up on your approaches to make sure everything is in compliance with monitoring laws.

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How to spot if your SEO, PPC, social media marketing service provider is a con-artist

(BUSINESS) When hiring a professional, did you know there are actual questions you can ask to spot a con-artist? Too often, we trust our guts and go with the gregarious person, but too much is on the line to keep doing that with your business.

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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.

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 a 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 is really just an expert in bullshit with a likeable 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 by 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 CV’s?
  • 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 skill sets. 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 likeable 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 professional 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 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 up front. You are no obligated to give anyone a chance when it comes to your businesses success, and it’s not right that someone might manipulate you into doing so.

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