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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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Social Media

Facebook pays $52M to content mods with PTSD, proving major flaw in their business

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook will pay out up to millions to former content moderators suffering PTSD to settle the 2018 class action lawsuit.

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content moderators

Facebook’s traumatized former content moderators are finally receiving their settlement for the psychological damage caused by having to view extremely disturbing content to keep it off of Facebook.

The settlement is costing the company $52 million, distributed as a one time payment of $1,000 to each of the 10,000+ content moderators in four states. If any of these workers seek psychological help and are diagnosed with psychological conditions related to their jobs, Facebook also has to pay for that medical treatment. They pay up to $50,000 per moderator in additional damages (on a case-by-case basis).

Facebook also will offer psychological counseling going forward, and will attempt to create a type of screening for future candidates to determine a candidate’s emotional resiliency, and will make one-on-one mental health counseling available to content moderators going forward. They will also give moderators the ability to stop seeing specific types of reported content.

According to NPR, Steve Williams, a lawyer for the content moderators, said, “We are so pleased that Facebook worked with us to create an unprecedented program to help people performing work that was unimaginable even a few years ago. The harm that can be suffered from this work is real and severe.”

Honestly, this job is not for the faint of heart, to say the least. Like the hard-working, yet not unfazeable police officers on Law & Order SVU, seeing the worst of humanity takes a toll on one’s psyche. Facebook’s content moderators are only human, after all. These workers moderated every conceivable–and inconceivable–type of disturbing content people posted on the 2 billion-users-strong social media platform for a living. Some for $28,800 a year.

I wouldn’t last five minutes in this role. It is painful to even read about what these content moderators witnessed for eight hours a day, five days a week. While Facebook refuses to admit any wrongdoing, as part of the agreement, come on, man. Graphic and disturbing content that upset someone enough to report to Facebook is what these people viewed all day every day. It sounds almost like a blueprint for creating trauma.

This settlement surely sets the precedent for more class action lawsuits to come from traumatized content moderators on other social media platforms. The settlement also shows this business model for what it is: flawed. This isn’t sustainable. It’s disgusting to think there are people out there posting heinous acts, and I am grateful the platform removes them.

However, they have to come up with a better way. Facebook employs thousands upon thousands of really smart people who are brilliant at computer technology. Twitter and YouTube and similar platforms do, too. They need to come up with a better plan going forward, instead of traumatizing these unfortunate souls. I don’t know what that will look like. But with Facebook’s sky-high piles of money and access to so many brilliant minds, they can figure it out. Something’s got to give. Please figure it out.

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Twitter will give users a warning before a harmful tweet is sent

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter is rolling out a new warning giving users a chance to edit their tweet before they post “harmful” language, and we aren’t sure how to feel about it.

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twitter warning

Twitter is testing out a new warning system for potentially offensive tweets. If a tweet contains language Twitter deems “harmful,” Twitter will pop up with a warning and opportunity to revise the potentially offensive tweet before posting. The warning mentions that language in the tweet is similar to previously reported tweets.

If internal alarms are going off in your head, congratulations, you are wary of any censorship! However, if you read a tweet spewing with bile, racism, or threatening violence against a person or institution, do you report it? Do you want Twitter to take it down? If you said yes, then congratulations, you want to protect the vulnerable and fight hatred.

If you are wary of censorship, yet want to fight hatred and protect the vulnerable, welcome to the interwebs! It’s a crazy and precarious place where almost anything can happen. Despite decades of use, we’re still navigating our way through the gauntlet of tough decisions the proliferation of platforms and ease of use have given us.

First, how does Twitter gauge a potentially harmful tweet? According to Twitter, the app responds to language similar to prior tweets that people have reported. Twitter, like Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms, already has hateful conduct rules in place. In fact, Twitter has a host of rules and policies intended to protect users from fraud, graphic violence, or explicitly sexual images.

Their rationale is detailed, but explains, “Our role is to serve the public conversation, which requires representation of a diverse range of perspectives.” However, they “recognise that if people experience abuse on Twitter, it can jeopardize their ability to express themselves.”

We’ve heard stories of teenagers–or even younger children–killing themselves after relentless bullying online. The feeling of anonymity when insulting a living, breathing being from behind a computer screen often causes a nasty pile-on effect. We’ve seen people use social media to bully, sexually harass, and threaten others.

Twitter cites research showing women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other vulnerable populations are more likely to stop expressing themselves freely when someone abuses them on social media. Even Kelly Marie Tran, who played Resistance fighter Rose Tico in Star Wars, took down her Instagram photos before taking a stand against haters. And she had Jedis in her corner. Imagine your average person’s response to such cruel tactics?

We’ve seen hate groups and terrorist organizations use social media to recruit supporters and plan evil acts. We see false information springing up like weeds. Sometimes this information can be dangerous, especially when Joe Blow is out there sharing unresearched and inaccurate medical advice. Go to sleep, Blow, you’re drunk.

As an English major, and an open-minded person, I have a problem with censorship. Banned books are some of my favorites of all time. However, Twitter is a privately owned platform. Twitter has no obligation to amplify messages of hate. They feel, and I personally agree, that they have some responsibility to keep hateful words inciting violence off of their platform. This is a warning, not a ban, and one they’re only rolling out to iOS users for now.

I mean, in the history of angry rants, when was the last time a “Hey, calm down, you shouldn’t say that” ever made the person less angry or less ranty? Almost never. In which case, the person will make their post anyway, leaving it up to masses to report it. At that time, Twitter can make the decision to suspend the account and tell the user to delete it, add a warning, or otherwise take action.

Every once in a while, though, someone may appreciate the note. If you’ve ever had a colleague read an email for “tone” in a thorny work situation, you know heeding a yellow flag is often the wisest decision. This warning notice gives users a chance to edit themselves. As a writer, I always appreciate a chance to edit myself. If they flag every damn curse word, though, that will get real annoying real fast. You’re not my mom, Twitter. You’re not the boss of me.

This isn’t your great granddaddies’ book burning. This is 2020. The internet giveth; the internet taketh away. It’s a crying shame that evil creeps in when we’re not looking. Speech has consequences. Users can’t edit tweets, so once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even if they delete a tweet within moments of posting, anyone can screenshot that baby and share it with the world. Part of me says, “Good, let the haters out themselves.”

Twitter has shown itself to be open to differences in opinion, encouraging freedom of expression, and has opened up a whole new line of communication for traditionally underrepresented populations. They are a private company, and their rules and policies are posted. What, you didn’t read the terms of use? Gasp!

It’s Twitter’s rodeo, after all. This warning gives users a quick, added heads up to posting something that will likely be reported/removed anyway. For better or worse, Twitter’s still leaving it up to users to post what they want and deal with the potential fallout. Hey, I have a great idea! How about we all be respectful of each other on the internet, and Twitter won’t have to come up with this kind of thing.

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Yelp adds virtual services classification to help during COVID

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Yelp constantly adds new classifications for how to find a business to meet your needs, now because of COVID they have added virtual services.

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Yelp virtual services

Yelp is making efforts to accommodate businesses whose operations are adapting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Several new features will help businesses display updated services.

The company has added an information category titled virtual service offerings. Business can display service option such as classes, virtual consultations, performances, and tours. Yelpers can search for businesses based upon those offerings.

Yelp has already noticed trends where users are incorporating virtual services into their business profiles. In an report by TechCrunch, Yelp’s head of consumer product Akhil Kuduvalli said “With these new product updates, businesses of all types that are adapting and changing the way they operate will be able to better connect with their customers and potentially find new ones.”

Virtual services in categories like fitness, gyms, home services, real estate, and health are already increasing in popularity. Yelp intends to showcase businesses that are providing those services by creating new Collections.

Once business owners update their virtual service offerings on their Yelp for Business profiles, we will surface those updates to consumers through new call-to-action buttons, by updating the home screen and search results with links to groups of businesses offering these new virtual services, as well as surfacing them in other formats like Collections,” said Kudvalli.

Also in the works is a curbside pickup category for restaurants. Additionally, Yelp introduced a free customized banner for businesses to post updates on their profiles. About 224,000 businesses have used the banner so far.

Yelp hasn’t stopped there. It’s made its Connect feature (which allows businesses to share important updates to all Yelpers on their profile and their email subscribers) free to eligible local businesses as part of the Yelp’s commitment to waive $25 million in fees to support businesses in need during the COVID-19 crisis.

During COVID-19 businesses and consumers need all the help they can get, and thankfully Yelp is there to – help.

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