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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

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.

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Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.

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Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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Social Media

Brace yourselves: Facebook has re-opened political advertising space

(SOCIAL MEDIA) After a break due to misinformation in the past election, Facebook is once again allowing political advertising slots on their platform – with some caveats.

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Facebook open on phone in a wallet case, open for political advertising again.

After a months-long ban on political ads due to misinformation and other inappropriate behavior following the election in November, Facebook is planning to resume providing space for political advertising.

Starting on Thursday, March 4th, advertisers were able to buy spots for ads that comprise politics, what Facebook categorizes as “social issues”, and other potentially charged topics previously prohibited by the social media platform.

The history of the ban is complicated, and its existence was predicated on a profound distrust between political parties and mainstream news. In the wake of the 2016 election and illicit advertising activity that muddied the proverbial waters, Facebook had what some would view as a clear moral obligation to prevent similar sediment from clouding future elections.

Facebook delivered on that obligation by removing political advertising from their platform prior to Election Day, a decision that would stand fast in the tumultuous months to follow. And, while Facebook did temporarily suspend the ban in Georgia during the senate proceedings, political advertisements nevertheless remained absent from the platform in large until last week.

The removal of the ban does have some accompanying caveats—namely the identification process. Unlike before, advertisers will have to go to great lengths to confirm their identities prior to launching ads. Those ads will most likely also need to come from domestic agencies given Facebook’s diligent removal of foreign and malicious campaigns in the prior years.

The moral debate regarding social media advertising—particularly on Facebook—is a deeply nuanced and divided one. Some argue that, by removing political advertising across the board, Facebook has simply limited access for “good actors” and cleared the way for illegitimate claims.

Facebook’s response to this is simply that they didn’t understand fully the role ads would play in the electoral process, and that allowing those ads back will allow them to learn more going forward.

Either way, political advertising spots are now open on Facebook, and the overall public perception seems controversial enough to warrant keeping an eye on the progression of this decision. It wouldn’t be entirely unexpected for Facebook to revoke access to these advertisements again—or limit further their range and scope—in the coming months and years.

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