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How to Utilize Web 2.1, Wikis and Widgets

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Commentary by Stefan Swanepoel

RISMEDIA, Oct. 26, 2007-There is little doubt that next year is going to be a tough year overall – sales volumes will most likely continue to slide downward (as I hope the number of agents will follow suit), foreclosures will increase, the DOJ/MLS battle will escalate together with the rising consolidation of MLS boards…but what will be the next big thing? Will we find the solution to timely harnessing the power of the Web and converting our “old marketing ad expenditures” to the new platforms constantly being rolled out before our eyes?

Is blogging going to explode or implode?

I mean it’s fun and all, but does it justify the time and the effort? Is it not just another form of marketing, another one of many marketing tools in the Realtor toolbox? And if it is, is that wrong?

Probably not, that’s why blogging works so well with social networking.

But I am not here to chit-chat to my co-workers, or debate with other agents across the country about “yesterday’s news” either. But when you consider that these “social” networks are also moving more towards becoming “business networks” as they become a platform to share real estate know-how and expertise – well now the value potential starts to increase.

Incorporate into that a wiki with quality real estate research and information and Web 2.1 has introduced the real estate industry to a new platform to share thoughts (blogging), talk about a need or problem (networking) and obtain valuable information (wiki) – probably without any real hard cost – all this anywhere, anytime.

Wow. Convenient. Powerful.

Now what if I could add to that mix a “widget,” which could help me navigate through the ever-increasing maze. My personal widget could be programmed to surf the social networks and hook up with my other buddies, visit the wiki’s and check on some information and then move virally through the blogs to keep me up-to-date about only the things that affect me.

What in the world are widgets you might ask? Well, widgets could be the next big thing, or so some people speculate. Are they important? Well important enough that Google recently unveiled a program to attract “widget makers” with grants ranging from $5k to $100k, as seed investments.

The e-commerce implications are huge. Instead of utilizing huge destination sites widgets could bring “the store” to the user.

So does that encourage the expansion of avatars? You know, like Second Life. My online life, where I can do what I want and live my dream – maybe live like Donald Trump. Or is that going a tad too far? Either way, with most agents still working on e-mail, Web sites, and auto responders, this expanded world of blogging, networking, tubing, wikis, widgets and avatars is just too overwhelming.

Some days doesn’t it feel like what’s happening to technology and the Web (Web 2.1) is like the dotcom boom, or bubble (Web 1.0), all over again.

With shrewd analysis and insightful interpretations, the Swanepoel TRENDS Report helps real estate leaders still ahead of the curve. Don’t be caught off guard – make sure that you always have the latest edition of this report. Only a few copies of the 2007 edition of the Swanepoel TRENDS Report (www.retrends.com) are still available. RIS Media readers enjoy a special 10% discount as long as stocks last when using the promo code RISMedia at www.realestatebooks.org.

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