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User-Generated Content and Your Business

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RISMEDIA, Feb. 9, 2008-Web 2.0 is alive and kicking in all industries, including real estate. We keep hearing this term–which is really all about interaction, access, social networking and immediacy–everywhere we go. To prove that point even further, websites are now popping up left and right offering consumers the opportunity to rank, rate and comment on everything from agent job performance to dirty carpets and overgrown grass. This phenomenon certainly doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. So how do we adjust? In this three part series, three industry execs offer their thoughts on user-generated content sites and explain why real estate professionals may just have to get used to–and even embrace–this newer method of information sharing.

What’s your take on user-generated content websites that rank and rate real estate brokerages and their listings, as well as service providers?

Working Under a Microscope

Phil Koserowski
Vice President, Interactive Marketing
Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC

As consumers, we have come to rely on the Internet as a unique medium for sharing information and experiences on virtually any brand or product. By the same token, as real estate professionals, we must recognize that it is our responsibility to know what is being said about our business on a daily basis via user-generated content Websites. The Internet has put the good and bad of our industry under a microscope, providing for an increased level of transparency. Its community aspect encourages consumers to share their experiences and provides a greater perceived value than that of industry professionals.

In this type of environment, where just one, dissatisfied consumer can cause serious damage to a firm or brand’s reputation, real estate professionals need to maintain a disciplined approach to tracking these Websites. Such efforts will yield opportunities to address negative feedback, solicit new business, and manage one’s reputation and perception.

For those who find this a daunting task, there are many services that can help with online reputation-management. For example, Google Alerts is a free service that provides e-mail updates with the latest relevant results on a given keyword within its search engine, blogs, news and even video.

For more comprehensive monitoring of user-generated content, consider investing in online reputation-management services through consultants–like RelevantNoise (www.relevantnoise.com)–that employ technology and best practices to help manage your identity/reputation in social media.

User-generated content websites will continue to play a large role in our industry. The best thing real estate professionals can do is become comfortable with them. At the Sotheby’s International Realty¨ brand, we are helping our affiliates do this by encouraging the use of user-generated content through our new Intranet, which features executive blogs readers can respond to, engaging the author and all readers in a discussion of the topic.  

Here are some tips for becoming an expert in online reputation management:

  • -Learn all you can about user-generated content websites.
  • -Sign up for free tools like Google Alerts and Yahoo! e-mail alerts.
  • -Identify the user-generated sites that are the most influential in your markets.
  • -Consider investing in one of the many firms that provide online reputation-management monitoring.
  • -Surf the Internet to develop a list of the major Websites or bulletin boards you want to track daily.
  • -Develop a response plan for posts that need to be addressed.
  • -Encourage satisfied customers to post their experiences.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week, where Paul Sheng, CEO of iHouse Web Solutions breaks down the two main components of user generated content on the Web.

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