• Word-of-mouth recommendations have a certain authority among consumers; 88 percent of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Of consumers, 19 percent are likely to write a review after a bad experience, and only 17 percent would do so after a good experience.
  • Many agents worry that a bad review will be detrimental for their business. However, many consumers are skeptical of or distrust reviews that are all positive.

Building a strong collection of online reviews is a powerful way to set yourself up for success in the long run.

Despite all of the research showing just how important it is for real estate professionals to maintain a positive online reputation, many agents still have not fully embraced the need for online review management.

There are many commonly given different reasons — including an insisted lack of need or the fear that it’s too great of a task to take on. More often than not, however, these beliefs are unfounded and can be quite detrimental to business.

Here are five of the most common-but-false myths about online reviews for real estate agents:

1. Because most of my business comes from word-of-mouth, I don’t need to worry about online reviews.

There’s no denying the fact that word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways for real estate professionals to attract new business. But even the friends and families of your past clients will be interested in knowing a little bit more about the person they’re about to trust to help them make such a major financial decision.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find many people who, even if they were referred to you by a close family member, wouldn’t at least take five minutes to Google you online. There’s no avoiding that people are going to look for information about you — and you want what they’re finding to be positive.

2. No one trusts online reviews.

Far too often, we hear agents say that they’re not interested in managing their online reputation because no one trusts online reviews.

But in reality, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they trust word-of-mouth recommendations.

Sure, there are tons of fake testimonials and biased review sites out there, but the overwhelming majority of today’s consumers are intelligent enough to tell the difference between those and the legitimate and credible client-submitted review platforms.

3. It’s too easy for a few negative reviews to damage my reputation.

You might be surprised if you knew how many real estate professionals shrug off online reviews because they think that all of their efforts will be wasted if they get a couple of negative reviews.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Negative reviews are a normal part of business and today’s review-savvy consumers expect them. In fact, only having spotless five-star feedback might cause some potential clients to have doubts about its authenticity.

In many cases, negative reviews can be more powerful sales tools than positive ones because they give you the opportunity to respond to the unhappy party and showcase your customer service skills and willingness to work with and satisfy all of your clients.

4. Reviews are out of my control. Only dissatisfied clients leave reviews.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just unhappy clients who leave reviews. Most reviews out there are positive, and according to poll results, only 19 percent of people are more likely than normal to write a review after a negative experience.

Compare that with the 17 percent who said they’re more likely to write a review after a good experience, and you’ll see that it’s even less significant of a number than it looks.

One reason is that modern technology has made it simple for anyone to write a review about anything in just a matter of minutes — it takes little more than them pulling out their cellphone or tablet.

Because of that, it isn’t very challenging or imposing for you to ask your past satisfied clients to take a few minutes and leave some feedback to help you grow your business.

5. Online reputation management is either expensive or time-consuming.

The web is a big place, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard to manage your online reputation. Sure, there are a lot of different review platforms out there, but it doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming to make sure that prospective clients see an accurate portrayal of your skills, knowledge and level of professionalism.

Through the use of comprehensive review management platforms, you can centralize all of your online feedback in a single place that can then be shared across social media and on your personal or brokerage website. This can be a highly effective way to convey your record of past client service to new potential customers.

Actionable steps for online review management

By now, I bet you’re beginning the see the importance of online review management. The good news here is that it only takes a few minutes for you to get started developing a positive digital presence. To help you on your way, I’ve put together these five actionable steps:

  • Set up your accounts on online review platforms.
  • Get in touch with recent clients who were happy with your service, and ask them to spend just a couple of minutes leaving some thoughts about their experience.
  • Share your top reviews across social media as social proof for potential customers.
  • Use widgets to instantly synchronize reviews to your personal or brokerage website.
  • Respond to any negative feedback in a polite, professional manner.
  • Rather than attack or attempt to discredit the reviewer, respond empathetically and in a way that shows that you’re willing to work to resolve the problem.

Despite the myths, online reviews are here to stay

No matter how many different myths there are floating around, online reviews are here to stay. By now, it’s hard to discount just how important they are to the real estate industry. You can get a head start by building your online profile using the power of reviews.

Riti Verma is the Founder and President of RankMyAgent. You can follow her on Twitter (@rankmyagent) or LinkdedIn.

Email Riti Verma.

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