You Are The MP3 – Would I Download You?
In 2007 Erik Qualman released a video called “The Social Media Revolution”. One of the many amazing statistics that he shared was that 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 14% trust advertisements. Think about that for a minute. What percentage of your current marketing is advertising you and/or your company? Considering 86% of people will not trust it anyways, maybe it is time to change the way you market yourself and your business.
While we researched our NAR presentation entitled “Your Online Reputation: What Happens on Facebook Stays on Facebook” my co founder Steve Pacinelli and I stumbled upon something that made us pause. The newest data on peer recommendations has been released and the the already staggering number of 78% has increased to 90% in just the last 2 years. So why the jump? Think about this, when did YOU sign up for Facebook? I bet it was in the last 2 years and the correlation to me is obvious. Have you seen any status updates that read as follows: “Anyone seen The Social Network? Is it good?” “Is the iPad really worth buying?” “My phone just died should I get an iPhone or a Droid?” “Just ate at the new steak house in town, stay away the service was awful and the steak wasn’t much better.” “The Killers new album is awesome I definitely recommend downloading it.”
If you do not believe that these social media “statements” do not drive business and commerce you are on the wrong side of the fence and better start climbing quickly.
So what about the opinions of strangers online? Think they may also affect consumers decisions to purchase or not? Think about Ebay and Amazon.com for a moment. These are 2 of the largest e-commerce sites on the web and what is happening at the simplest level is that people are buying things from people that they do not know based 100% on the opinions/reviews of other people that they do not know. Where it gets scary is that they are NOT BUYING things based on the opinions of people they do not know.
Consumers are being conditioned to look for reviews in just about every industry. Think about the last time you decided to download an MP3 or movie from iTunes. Even though the cost could be as low as $0.99 I bet you still looked at the reviews before buying. Would you finish your purchase and download the song if it had a one or even two star ranking? Been to a restaurant lately for the first time without Googling it with the word review at the end? Is anyone with any sanity buying a car anytime soon without researching the reviews before going to the lot? There is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior (us by the way, we are consumers don’t forget) due to the emergence of the social web and how connected we all now are. I would agree with Qualman’s statement that it is indeed “The biggest shift since the industrial revolution.”
So why does this all matter to Realtors? After all you aren’t an MP3. You don’t own a pizza joint.
I want this in my digital footprint: “Real estate agent review sites will change the entire industry and the way you market yourself online within the next 24 months.”
The Realtor specific sites are already out there and getting massive traffic. You are on them whether you like it or not, you just don’t know enough about the web to locate them (sounds mean I know, truth hurts). Google “Real Estate Agent Reviews”. Incredible Agents, Rate My Agent, Homethinking, Real Estate Ratingz and Agent Scoreboard to name a few will all appear on page one. Go ahead, put in your market or name on a few of these sites and find yourself. Most likely there will be a shadow figure with a very low rating as well as an incomplete profile. Remember that when we (consumers) browse the web for reviews of products and services we are not looking for a lack of negative reviews, we are looking for positive reviews.
Wonder if these sites are getting any traffic? I looked at their analytics by using Compete.com. Their growth rate and number of unique visitors are stunning. The other thing that jumped off the screen at me was the direct correlation to the volume of their traffic and the first time home buyer credit ending. NAR announced this weekend that the average age of the first time buyer last year was 30. An astounding 50% of buyers were first time buyers. Think they may be a bit more web savvy than you? Think they would ever hire you without Googling your name with the word review at the end? I don’t, but hey I am well out of that demographic at 31…
Scared? Good. That is usually what it takes for people to take action. So what can you do about this? I have some ideas below but my #1 piece of advise would be to give people a reason to sing your praises. Then ask them to sing them where it matters.
The worst thing you can do right now is get a hand written testimonial. Not far behind is a testimonial for your website. Why? Well at this point the hand written note is probably evident. As for your website I am pretty sure that if I spent the next 5 years of my life digging through every Realtor website in the country (potentially a worse sentence than death row btw) I would not find one that said they did not provide good service or return phone calls in a timely manner etc, yet we all know that happens in mass (thus the 14% ad belief rate). Stop thinking about “Word of Mouth” and start thinking about “World of Mouth”. I hate to put it this way but if someone says you did a good job and no one on the web hears them then did they really say it? Make getting testimonials on 3rd party sites part of your routine right now. Email your past clients letting them know about these sites, encourage every new client you have from today forward to contribute to them as well. Set up Google Alerts for your name but also for “Real Estate Agent Reviews”. Use Compete.com to gauge the viability of the review sites that will inevitably start to pop up, we are not quite sure yet who the Realtor.com of review sites will be, but there will surely be at least one that will become well known nationally.
The flip side to all this is that it will raise the bar industry wide. There is an underground movement by the re.net to raise the bar in the industry when it comes to professionalism. To those of you involved in this movement I say thank you and be patient. Nothing will stop what is about to happen which is full transparency of every individual agent by the people that matter the most, consumers. Steve actually reached out to an agent in New Jersey that had insanely good reviews and lots of them to see if this had actually impacted her bottom line. 8 closings YTD that she can confirm came from a review site where she is ranked highly. Many agents reading this do not have 8 total closings this year much less from one resource that is FREE to be a part of.
You are the MP3 whether you like it or not. The question is would I download you? Maybe a better question to ask is would you even download yourself…