The Ugly Side of Twitter For Real Estate Agents Online

Twitter is taking the Australian real estate industry by storm at the moment and I have to apologise about another post on the topic in such short time, but I think this is very important. Whilst its potential to do good is huge like most powerful web applications it has a dark side just waiting to come out and bite you for the wrong reasons. Social networking and the internet in general has allowed a voice for everyone including your biggest critics.

I searched all major real estate groups on twitter to see what they are doing on Twitter and two things really stood out.

LJ Hooker is getting really hammered on twitter right now. As at 8:48pm tonight , the 27th of May, searching “LJ Hooker” on Twitter (http://search.twitter.com) provides a total of 16 results. One of these had no relationship with LJ Hooker Real Estate and four where by LJ Hooker offices themselves. That leaves 11 posts by third parties nad 6 of those were negative damning comments. That’s more than 50%.. hell that’s still nearly 40% of all posts returned being negative. That’s got to ring alarm bells for somebody at LJ Hooker HQ. It may turn out to be an anomaly but they need to monitor it to find out.

Just in case anybody questions the results here are the screenshots.

Click to view the full size screenshot

Click to view the full size screenshot

Another thing that stood out was a campaign being run by a solicitor in Frankston under the twitter name of @frankstonowners (soon to be renamed @baysideowners apparently) who is a “Bayside Homeowners Group.Exposing Bad Practices in the local real estate communities of Frankston (E,N,S), Seaford, Mt Eliza, Patterson Lakes,Carrum & Chelsea”

Click to view the full size

Click to view the full size

What’s particularly interesting here is that this last post clearly infers that they had to censor their own posts and that those posts might not have been polite or HONEST. That’s a little dangerous and irresponsible don’t you think? I wonder just what the deleted posts contained. Anybody who has used Twitter for 5 min or longer knows that a Tweet’s lifespan is counted in minutes so the damage to somebodies reputation was done well before it was deleted.

The thing that confuses me with this is that Grade 10 maths will teach you that for every property sold OVER the median there will be one sold UNDER the median. Its just impossible to sell every property over the median unless its over last months or last quarters median price and prices are on the rise.

I don’t think any agent in Australia would try to convince you that that the whole industry is a totally full to the brim with saints, but neither do I think every agent in the district of Frankston are shonky. If you give everyone a voice something like this bound to happen.

The best way to monitor your profile, and that of your real estate group is to use a service like Twilert. Watch what people say about you and protect your reputation…. and don’t forget to thank the people that praise you on Twitter as well.

Social Networking, social networking real estate, Twitter, twitter real estate

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About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology. Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

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28 Responses to The Ugly Side of Twitter For Real Estate Agents Online

  1. Glenn Batten May 28, 2009 at 7:26 pm #

    Sal,

    Whether you can jump on board Twitter yourself or not, this problem has the ability to reach out and touch everyone.

  2. Greg Vincent May 28, 2009 at 7:27 pm #

    Another thing to watch out for is that there is a service called http://tweleted.com/. This allows people to search through other people’s deleted tweets.

    This is taking the transparency of the internet to a scary level.

    Here’s a post where they have included deleted tweets of some celebrities. http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/chi-deleted-tweets-pg,0,5996156.photogallery

    Facebook is the same Glenn. There’s one group in there that is slamming Ray White & people jump on the bandwagon telling others about their bad customer experiences. http://tr.im/mC7R

    You’re going to find this becoming more & more prolific and companies have been getting slammed all over the world by Web 2.0 for years. Twitter has simply made it easier to share stories about both good & bad service.

    Here’s an example of a site that’s set up just to bag out companies. http://companynamesucks.com.

    The best way for agents to combat this is to be on the front foot & make sure that they have their own social media & online marketing working for them.

    This will help them build an online network of raving fans that will gladly support them.

  3. A Hurst May 28, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    Good article – good information.

    I would think median pricing would only be relevant for trends in the market. If it is moving up or down over time

  4. Hodges Real Estate May 28, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    Great article. We have an office in Frankston and I am now following the group so that we have a voice / opportunity to reply to any concerns.

    Online reputation management is critical when embarking on a social media marketing strategy. Twilert is a great tool.

    Thank you
    Warren Tate
    Franchise Manager
    Hodges Real Estate

  5. Michael Shaw May 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    Hi Glenn,
    Your article is a well balanced and informative view of the online world of social media and the power it has to influence the minds of real estate clients or potential clients.

    A great and simple strategy for any business is to automatically monitor Twitter TweetBeep.com and Twilert.com
    are free services you can use) and other social media (FaceBook, Bebo, etc) for comments and feedback about your business and staff.

    In fact every business should be doing this Offline AND Online, because listening to your market is the best way to show you are a great business to work with. Offline you can get your clients to do surveys or provide you feedback on paper. Now Online its even easier for your clients to help you improve your business with services like Twitter.

    You can also set up Google Alerts which will send you a message when your business or staff are mentioned online.

    When you get feedback, or see comments online, turn this into an opportunity to give better customer service, or solve a problem. Often you toughest critics or clients can become raving fans when you listen to them and satisfy them in some way.

    Respond directly to the person who wrote the comment or post in a positive way and thank them for their feedback and for giving you an opportunity to do a better job for them. You’ll be amazed how much this can change your business reputation both online and offline.

    Thanks for letting real estate agents know how they can use the web to improve their business and give great customer service. I’m a property investor too and I would be most impressed if some of the agents I have dealt with were more internet savvy!

    May you get all the success you deserve and desire
    Michael Shaw
    Smart Practice Systems Blog

  6. Liam McLennan May 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    This seems like a good thing to me. It is great that consumers have a voice. Companies can protect their reputation by not being evil. The public is smart enough to know that one angry person doesn

  7. Glenn Batten May 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    Liam,

    Could not agree with you more. However if you are unfairly targeted, or there is another side to the story it is helpful to know when someone is saying someone bad about you so you can offer.

    In the case of LJ Hooker head office, they need to know the tone of the market against their offices. I am sure they will not like it, but learn from it they must.

    I do not profess to understand just what is going on in Frankston at the moment, but on first glance the posts put out by FrankstonOwners on Twitter appear to be highly inflammatory, unfair and if you read between the lines at least some of the deleted posts were dishonest.

  8. Charlie May 28, 2009 at 7:31 pm #

    Very interesting and so topical. Without getting too

  9. Greg Vincent May 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    Twitter complaints will be something that agents will need to keep monitoring very closely.

    I

  10. Carsten Andersen May 31, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    Real Estate Agents seem to be more concerned about commissions than their reputations. What is happening to Frankston home owners is akin to what is happening to short-sold shareholders on the ASX.

    When real estate agents cause harm to entire suburbs by underpricing, it is hardly unnatural to expect mom & pop homeowners, most of whom are mortgaged, to be silent. Twitter empowers victims to stand up for everything they have worked for and to say

  11. Sal Espro June 1, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    If I understand you correctly, Carsten, you believe agents are convincing sellers to accept ridiculously low prices. is that correct?
    Why don

  12. Glenn Batten June 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    Frankston must have something in the water. Everywhere else knows that the current state of the economy is to blame for falling real estate prices. Blame the US and world bank system probably, the governments who let it happen maybe

  13. Greg Vincent June 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Wow! Check out this great tool. It’s called Twoogle.

    You can search Google & Twitter side by side within the same window.

    Created by Browsy the search function is located on one of their subdomains at http://twoogle.browsys.com/

    Here’s what you get when you search for Real Estate Sydney ~ http://twoogle.browsys.com/?q=real+estate+sydney

    It’s a cool search tool because people can now search real time content from Twitter, SEO based content & Pay Per click content from Google all at the same time.

    I also thought it was timely with Microsofts new search engine, ‘Bing’ being launched in Australia tomorrow.

    I wonder if Bing will integrate with Twitter & create Twing? ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Sal Espro June 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Gee, Greg, so little time, so much rubbish!
    I can feel a new relevance-based search coming on!

    Ps Twing.com.au is available – but not .com !

    Sal ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Carsten Andersen June 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    Many Frankston owners, particularly the elderly, feel betrayed by commission-hungry local agents who find all sorts of convincing reasons to persuade them that the world is about to end and that they should sell in a hurry – at prices that are massively below the median. A public meeting last month was attended by several hundred enraged local homeowners who have had enough. These are ordinary people, not investors or lawyers.

    Sal

  16. Greg Vincent June 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    Whilst the township has banded together to rally against this, it is really hard to comprehend that it is really an isolated case like this.

    In my experience within the industry, the biggest problem has normally been that some of my competitors would go out & inflate prices to win listings & then the properties don

  17. Glenn Batten June 3, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    Carsten,

    That is just illogical and irrational and sounds like to me that someone is playing on peoples fears and emotion in a stressful time. I bet that even ACA and TT have too much integrity to run with a story like that and thats saying a lot. The whole country, in fact much of the whole world is experiencing significant falling of real estate prices

  18. PaulD June 3, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    Hey Carsten, I have a great idea. Tell all those people who are being forced to sell their properties at low prices, to stop using an agent. Tell them to put private for sale boards out the front, tell them to put whatever price they think the property is worth as the sale price, tell them to do the negotiating themselves. See how many properties sell.

    One thing is for sure, they won

  19. Sal Espro June 3, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    Carsten,
    As Glenn noted, I certainly wasn

  20. Sal Espro June 3, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    Greg,

    RE: Your statement that, “unfortunately agents we have 2 customers within any sales department. A seller & a buyer. ….which customer is right?”

    This is a common misconception and should be addressed for your own and the wider industry’s benefit.

    Despite wanting to keep the buyer happy to keep the on the line as a prospective listing client, you must only have one client!
    Your client is the seller if it is they by whom you are being paid. (Generally based on commish %).
    Your client is the buyer if it is they by whom you are being paid. (Generally based on commish %).

    Apart from lacking morality, not acting in the best interests of your vendor client would have 2 adverse affects on your business:
    1. Vendors would be wary of you crunching their agreed price with you.
    2. Buyers you helped to ‘crunch’ the vendor would be wary of using you to list in future.

    Sal

  21. Carsten Andersen June 4, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    With respect Greg. Most agents are just like you. (i refer to your comment

  22. Glenn Batten June 4, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    Carsten,

    That was certainly worded poorly by Greg. I think what he meant to say is that an agent has two relationships. The seller is a client relationship but the buyer is a customer relationship.

    An agents fiduciary duty always remains with the seller however he still has a customer relationship and along with that goes legal, moral and ethical responsibilities to that buyer.

    If agents are genuinely breaking their duty to their client I dont have a problem with them getting punished and personally I would actually encourage it. Just like the fact that there are dodgy solicitors, accountants and car mechanics.. so is there dodgy real estate operators and they should be weeded out but let the facts lead the way not attacks on peoples reputation because those claims had better be true.

    The sheer breadth of the claims covering so many people and the cloak and dagger stuff smack of a smear campaign run for somebody

  23. Glenn Batten June 4, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    Sorry.. as Sal points out.. sometimes your buyer is the client and the seller the customer if you are a buyers agent. That is still pretty rare in Australia but it is growing.

  24. carsten andersen June 6, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    If its not on A Current Affair, then everything must be above board so there is no harm done.

    If the government hasn’t nabbed any rogue agents yet, then everyone must be doing the right thing out there.

    The above themes perpetuated by some of you do not even once answer the plight of the elderly who are often given the lowest sales figures for the suburb when being persuaded to sell. How ethical is that? No it may not be criminal. But its a grubby practice being used extensively in Frankston. Affected agents shouldn’t cry “defamation” about twitter when they themselves wreck their own brand names.

    Hasn’t anyone a moment ot consider the elderly, the weak, the uninformed?
    Or are our commissions more important than people?

    I’ve been told to put up or shut up by Glenn. And kindly but petulant Sal told me I might be sued for defamation (although not by him) if I kept this up. He may not have meant it to be a threat but its the usual sort of bullying that agents tend to use when facing criticism. The Customer is NEVER right -and agents can do no wrong.

    Again – people, please answer me: How ethical is it when elderly people are scammed with improper sales evidence and are too weak to put up a fight or complain. What sort of Darwinian society do you agents live in that you ignore this sort of misbehavior? When replying, please attend to the issue of the elderly first.

    Twitter empowers the weak to stand up! Honest agents have nothing to fear. Slimy ones should think about doing the right thing or leaving the industry.

  25. Sal Espro June 8, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    Carsten,
    Would you mind just focussing your complaint please in order that we might better address it?
    At the moment you have made a very broad-sweeping claim against all agents dealing with all vendors in the broad Frankston region. Apart from personally finding this pretty difficult to believe, I would be interested in how many cases the untoward agents in whichever region you are really talking about have ‘rorted’ and how many of such agents you have thus far isolated. If there is a case to answer, you will need to provide such information. And then, I’m sure, you will begin to be ‘heard’ as a more rational complainant.
    Hope this assists.

    Sal

  26. carsten andersen June 12, 2009 at 8:12 am #

    Thats right – ignore people who complain and try to obfuscate. Agents who scam the elderly for personal profit don’t exist.? What burden of proof do you want? Do you expect someone in a wheelchair to testify on Today Tonight before you believe it? Just how much evidence do you need before you stand up and condemn it

    http://www.jenmanfightsback.com.au/item.php?id=29
    I

  27. Glenn Batten June 12, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    Carsten,

    Agents who scam the elderly for personal profit don

  28. Sal Espro June 12, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Quite agree, Glenn. We don’t support scammers in any industry and would like to assist you and your efforts if you wouldn’t mind providing some details please, Carsten. After-all, even A Current Affair would want some real info to proceed.

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