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Reputation Management: Placement of Online Reviews Matter

October 25 2016

social searchMore often than not these days, real estate consumers are researching agents and brokers online to verify their reputation before contacting one to buy or sell a home. While it is an effective marketing strategy to increase your sphere of influence through content on social media, blogs, and broker websites, potential clients really want to hear what others are saying about you. While proactively engaging clients to provide online reviews can bolster your reputation as a real estate crackerjack, the neutrality of the venue that consumers find agent reviews makes a difference in credibility and trustworthiness.

The authenticity of Realtor reviews on home finder websites can seem dubious for consumers. Anecdotes abound about agents using these sites to repeatedly provide themselves with positive ratings--or, worse yet, exchange positive reviews with their fellow agents quid pro quo to bolster their numbers. Even more, these websites tend to provide little or no oversight over the quality or validity of the reviews. Potential leads are internet savvy enough to know that online reviews on home finder sites are an open field for abuse and gaming of the system.

While free review sites also share the bias created by allowing anyone to anonymously say anything without any proof, they can be even more difficult for consumers to understand. Since free review websites were not intended to be inclusive of service industries like real estate, they do not effectively address the complexity of the agent and client relationship. In these venues, it is difficult for agents or brokers to respond to negative reviews as Realtors are bound by a code of ethics and confidentiality agreements that can inhibit online candor, especially with regard to complicated transactions. As a result, consumers cannot distinguish between business misunderstandings, real complaints about an agent, or concocted stories written by a competitor.

In comparison, consumers are more likely to trust reviews of agents or brokers when the information is validated by a neutral source. For instance, the Real Excellence Program (REP) outlined on page 49 of our 2016-17 Technology Guide2016-17 Technology Guide offers real estate professionals the opportunity to solicit industry-specific consumer reviews after the close of a legitimate transaction. Agents have the option of displaying the results of the Customer Satisfaction Survey on RatedAgent.comRatedAgent.com as well as their realtor.com profile. Since the end-to-end review process is handled by a research company positioned as a disinterested third party, consumers can place confidence in the information and make better decisions in selecting their agent or brokerage.

Converting online leads requires a strong reputation management strategy. Consumers are quick to leverage the power of the internet and spread their opinions online, so it's important for Realtors to actively mitigate reputation damage done by unverified bad reviews. Our online Technology Guideonline Technology Guide provides information on key questions to ask when selecting a reputation management product or service.