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Zillow’s purchase of Trulia means the two websites have combined forces — leaving many agents feeling more frustrated than excited. While some agents have benefited from the additional exposure the Zillow/Trulia merger provides, many Trulia.com users who logged in after the merger found the client reviews out of compliance with Zillow’s review policies had been removed.

Zillow is not willing to reinstate the deleted reviews — but it is an important lesson for real estate agents to not put their online presence fully in the hands of third parties. The real source of an agent’s online presence needs to be the agent themselves.

Editor’s note — Inman News, the original source of the story, is an affiliate of the California Association of Realtors (CAR). CAR has been extremely critical of online listing aggregators in the past.

To avoid losing client reviews, agents need to focus on getting positive client reviews posted on at least two to three different sites.

Agents may ask their clients how and where they located the agent’s information. If it was from a particular site, for example, Facebook, the agent may ask their client to post a review there. If the client was referred or did not find the agent online, the agent may request a review from the client after a successful transaction, and post the review as a testimonial on the agent’s personal website.

Create a personalized website

The first place client testimonials need to go is on the agent’s own personal website. Having a personalized website is advantageous: it gives the agent a space to post listings, photos, videos and real estate related news.

Elements every real estate agent needs to consider adding to a personalized real estate website include:

  • a URL which includes the agent’s name;
  • an easy-to-locate contact page containing current information;
  • links to additional social media sites;
  • client testimonials; and
  • a real estate blog.

Once the website is up and running, agents need to learn some basic search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to the site. SEO tips to implement to a personalized website are:

  • integrating keywords the agent’s targeted audience uses into the text of the website;
  • adding images;
  • adding a description to the images which include keywords; and
  • using easy-to-remember URLs.

Additionally, any marketing materials or other online profiles from social media, third-party listing aggregators, the brokerage’s website, etc., need to include the agent’s personal website URL.

Tips for using social media for real estate

For many real estate agents, Twitter and Facebook provide an easy way of making connections with past and prospective clients.

To make the most of the ready access to potential clients, agents need to consider:

  • asking former and current clients who have had a positive experience to post a review on their personal website, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media sites;
  • spending ten to fifteen minutes a day checking in on the accounts;
  • posting quality content such as real estate related news or positive on-the-job updates such as open houses or pictures with happy clients;
  • using a social media post scheduler like Buffer to automatically post content throughout the day; and
  • showing personality by sharing appropriate jokes or photos which cultivate their brand or neighborhood expertise, e.g., posting photos of a recent garage sale they helped organized in a key neighborhood they farm.

However, aimlessly posting to social media can result in a huge investment of time for little return. A few social media don’ts are:

  • spamming followers with the same message or ad;
  • posting only advertisements;
  • negatively responding to a comment in a way that makes the agent look rude, childish and uneducated;
  • inconsistent posting of content; and
  • mixing private, personal messages, opinions and postings with their professional brand.

Other social media sites agents may use to attract clients

Agents may also use other popular social media sites to post online reviews, boost their online presence and market themselves.

Pinterest may be used to showcase:

  • listings;
  • home décor tips;
  • lifestyle advice;
  • home staging tips; and
  • DIY home projects.

Create and post YouTube videos on their website or other social media sites covering topics such as:

  • performing easy home maintenance tasks;
  • tips and tricks for home projects; and
  • a video profile of the agent, so prospective clients get to know a bit more about them.

On LinkedIn, agents increase their professional growth by joining groups to:

  • respond to other real estate professionals’ comments;
  • give opinions;
  • connect with agents from different areas;
  • give or ask for advice; and
  • find a broker.

Using third-party sites, such as Zillow and Trulia, is an excellent way for agents to extend their reach, but they do not have control over how these third-party sites are managed. Agents need to have their marketing material, brand and client testimonials housed in more than one location, and ideally doubled in a central website controlled by the agent. This way, agents may maintain their online presence without worrying about interference from third parties.

 

Re: “Agents grieve loss of many Trulia reviews in Zillow profile consolidation” by Inman News