Secrets to Rocking Online Reviews

November 11, 2013

In order to attract the next generation of clients and agents, brokers have to control their reputation online. The best way to do that is to treat the Web sites where consumers post reviews as social media sites.

“Yelp has been a game changer,” said Vanessa Bergmark of Red Oak Realty in Oakland, Calif. She said many of her agents now get a majority of their leads from Yelp because her brokerage decided to be proactive about using the social review site to promote the company.

“Everyone hated it at first,” said Bergmark. “But then we realized ... this is just a bit of a paradigm shift and we’re going to have to work with them.” Bergmark said it’s not easy to get clients to use the site because they have to post several different reviews to get past the authenticity filters in place at Yelp, but it’s definitely worth it.

“If it’s not in your neighborhood yet, that’s perfect because you can start paying attention to it now,” she advised. “If you get more Yelp juice now, it's very hard for people to catch up.”

“You gave away the Yelp secret!” joked Lane Hornung of Colorado-based 8Z Real Estate.

But how can agents stay on top of their comment stream and still run their business? Hornung has a secret tip for attendees: Hire social media managers to monitor agents’ online accounts, responding to what consumers are saying online and freeing up agents to practice real estate.

“They know there’s somebody there, answering [clients’] questions,” he said. Agents “get paid too much to be Facebook posters.”

Better Homes and Gardens CEO Sherry Chris’ big secret was the existence of a newer company ranking and review site called She said it’s not well-known yet, but encouraged attendees to start a profile for their brokerages before their competitors get on it.

“Start getting people to rank your company,” Chris said. “But that’s just for this room — don’t share it with anyone else!”

—Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine

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