What will Web 3.0 look like and how will it influence your business in 2007? No matter what happens, the rate of change is only increasing rather than slowing down.
Over the last three weeks, we have examined how demographic, digital and economic trends will influence your business in 2007. Today’s column examines some of the changes that may result as “Web 3.0” becomes a reality.
#9: Distribution — the latest way to market your listings
Many agents don’t realize that their listings are distributed from one Web site to other Web sites. For example, when you post your listings to Realtor.com, they send their database of listings to AOL.com and to WallStreetJournal.com under co-branded distribution agreements. Agents who place their listings on Point2Agent.com can have their listings sent to multiple Web sites, including GoogleBase.com, YahooAds.com, Trulia.com, Oodle.com, PropertySmart.com, plus many others. They also distribute to their National Listing Service. What’s interesting is that the Point2Agent product does this at no charge.
Opportunity: During your listing presentations, explain to your sellers how you post their properties on at least 20 different Web sites. If the sellers are interviewing other agents, ask the sellers to compare your marketing plan to the plan provided by your competition.
#10: RSS (Really Simple Syndication)
A major benefit of Microsoft’s new Vista program is the ability to receive an “RSS” feed that looks very much like Outlook. RSS allows you to determine the type of information you would like to receive. For example, if you are a buyer who is searching for a Victorian home in San Francisco, the RSS feature can notify you when a new Victorian home comes on the market as well as about articles on restoring older properties or places to find authentic hardware. RSS weeds out unwanted information allowing users to focus on the types of information they want to receive. (Caveat: Early adopters of Vista are reporting problems with their peripherals as well as difficulty connecting to their local MLS. It may be smart to hold off on your upgrade until these problems are resolved.)
Opportunity: If you don’t have a blog already, now is a great time to start one. Blogs work hand-in-hand with RSS. They also help you to achieve better search-engine placement. If you are an expert in a given area or serve a market niche such as relocation, blog about the area or the niche you serve. Creating useful content attracts more business to your site, earns the trust of your readers, and, as a result, generates more qualified buyers and sellers for your business.
#11: Wikis and online communities, not just blogs
Last week, Inman News launched www.InmanWiki.com. Wikipedia.org, the original “wiki,” was the first online, user-generated encyclopedia. It currently has more than 600,000 articles in English (as well as numerous articles in other languages.) Using a similar model, InmanWiki.com launched with more than 5,000 real estate articles. Wikis rely on their users to generate content and to control the accuracy of what appears. Last week also saw the launch of a new real estate online community, www.RealTown.com, which plans to serve both real estate professionals and consumers. According to its Web site, Realtown will be the “home of the most valuable community-generated content in the real estate industry … Over the years, real estate professionals have made nearly 1 million posts to the RealTalk Listserv and other associated listservs hosted by InternetCrusade.” Whether it’s an online community or a wiki, the important point to remember is, “No one is as smart as everyone.”
Opportunity: Web 3.0 will be rich in user-generated content, whether it’s online videos on YouTube.com, wikis or community sites. You can take advantage of this trend in two different ways. First, become active in these sites. Read posts you find to be relevant and chime in with your own comments. Second, create an online community where you and others post relevant information about the lifestyle in your market area. Your goal is to be the source for “all things real estate” for your market area. When you become the “go-to” person for real estate online, chances are buyers and sellers will go to you when they’re ready to list or purchase.
#12: Smarter and friendlier search
Web 3.0 will be much more customized to users’ needs. For example, when you visit Amazon.com, the site recommends books based upon your past purchases. We see a similar trend in real estate Web sites as well. For example, you may be sitting in Hawaii, but if you search for listings, many search engines will show you listings based on your current residence. Also, the new vertical search engines such as Trulia.com and Oodle.com provide searches based upon how the user locates property, usually by street rather than by a specific address.
Opportunity: Capitalize on these improvements by focusing on niche marketing. Today’s Web users are much more sophisticated and employ multiple search terms in the same search. This gives them a more targeted result. Thus, the deeper and more comprehensive your niche is, the more highly qualified clients you will attract for that niche.
What are the other technology trends that will affect your business in 2007? See next week’s article to learn more.
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.