Monday, 19 November 2018
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Online Reputation Management in the Real Estate Industry

Written by Posted On Monday, 30 July 2018 07:52
Online Reputation Management in the Real Estate Industry inlTova

84% of people trust online reviews as much as in-person recommendations.

In the real estate industry, building a positive online reputation is an asset. Acquiring multiple online reviews of services rendered can be your secret to nurturing existing client relationships and building new ones.

Online reviews can also be key players in your local SEO strategy, a topic I discussed in a recent post.

A single negative review, however, can topple all of your hard work, even if this review is only partially negative (such as a four-star rating). For this reason, it is vital to attend to your online reputation with diligence.

It is possible to manage your reputation in tandem with other digital marketing strategies. In fact, online reputation management may itself be the best digital marketing tool at your disposal. Here's what you can do to start managing your online reputation now.

Know Your Current Reputation

Many agents pride themselves on their “word-of-mouth” reputation. While word-of-mouth is definitely the best form of advertising, it fails to account for what the internet is saying about your services.

In fact, many brokers and agents are completely unaware of the status of their online reputations. They underestimate the need for reviews in the real estate industry.

Yet consumers seek agents, brokers, and realtors with an eye for integrity, transparency, and real estate savvy—in the same way that they may value authentic and high-quality products. This is because the home buying process, as you well know, is emotionally and financially fraught. You can safely assume that consumers will respond to the services they receive through your agency by leaving an online review or recommendation.

Know the status of your current reputation by performing a quick Google search. If you are registered on review platforms like Yelp, inspect any reviews left here. Many consumers also turn to Google Reviews to assess services, so don’t overlook these.

Once you’ve identified your current reputation, brainstorm a strategy for improvement. If all of your reviews are positive, congrats! Identify steps for maintaining this reputation. If you have a mixed reputation, proceed to ameliorate your losses.

At this stage, you may not even be registered on review platforms. I highly recommend doing so now, as this can be essential for drawing more local clients.

Respond to All Reviews Equally

Any online reputation management strategy should incorporate a process for responding to reviews. I encourage all agents and realtors to respond to reviews equally, regardless of their content.

Do not leave a rating out, even if you are swamped in reviews! Responding to every one shows your commitment to individual clients’ needs.

What does a review response look like? It doesn’t involve much rocket science, I promise. Be concise, gracious, and informative. Most importantly, respond as soon as possible, ideally within days of the rating’s posting.

Here’s a sample response to a positive rating: Thank you for leaving us such a considerate review, Samantha. We were delighted to assist you in finding your dream home in Seattle. If you need any further assistance, you know where to find us! 

Note the SEO keyword I slipped in here: “dream home in Seattle.” Online review management can also help your local SEO efforts!

Treat Negative Reviews Professionally

You heard that correctly. Negative reviews deserve the same amount of professionalism and grace. Even if you feel as if a rating is out of line, use your response as an opportunity to cultivate a sterling reputation.

In fact, responding to negative reviews in a highly professional way can be your life insurance against a damaged reputation.

Here’s a sample response to a negative rating:

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about your experience, Samantha. We are deeply sorry that you did not find our services helpful at this time. We are happy to hear more about your experience and feedback over the phone or in person. Please contact us via our website to do so. 

Note how this response opens the door for further communication. It also casts the agent in a positive light, indicating interest in hearing more about the client’s personal experience.

Take Action if Necessary

In some cases, online reviews can be truly damaging, despite your efforts to “clean up.” It may behove you to take action by consulting employees or partners about a specific experience. Some agencies may need to modify certain procedural approaches or have an in-house meeting about how to handle specific client needs.

Others may have to release a public statement about an experience to clear the air. Still more rely on online reputation management services, which can be effective in healing any gaps.

Don’t lose time on building a rock-solid online reputation. In an industry that depends on positive client relationships, you can put in the effort to ensure that those happy homebuyers keep coming through your doors, and not your competitors’. 

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Kate King

Kate McGunagle is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. Her blog A Lighter Earth focuses on conscious living, mindfulness, and sustainable home and lifestyle practices. Follow her on Instagram at @alighterearth

www.alighterearth.com

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