I need a new book to read. Not some business / self-help / save the planet book. I want mindless entertainment. Mainstream fiction, historical fiction, perhaps a biography. Suggestions?
Within minutes, I started getting suggestions from my Facebook friends. Dozens of suggestions. Of course the humorists in the bunch suggested things like “Everybody Poops” and “Goodnight Moon” (which I can still recite from memory some 15 years after having last read it to the kids for the ten thousandth time). But I would expect nothing less from my friends…
As the suggestions rolled in, I created a Wish List on Amazon — Check it out here.
That list currently has
73 79 books on it (including a few I’ve already read). As I added books to the list, I read some of the reviews on Amazon to help me decide which book to read first . For the record, I wound up picking Keith Richards autobiography “Life”. I *think* next up will be Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” — but who knows.
What I chose is neither here nor there.
Sifting through the suggestions, and reading reviews on Amazon got me to thinking about “crowdsourcing”, and being someone obsessed (possessed?) with all things real estate, I also started thinking about how social media connections and crowdsourcing and reviews might impact real estate. More specifically, how people pick and chose a real estate agent to work with.
What is “crowdsourcing”?
According to Wikipedia, it is:
… the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call… Crowdsourcing is a distributed problem-solving and production model. In the classic use of the term, problems are broadcast to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. Users””also known as the crowd””typically form into online communities, and the crowd submits solutions.
OK, so maybe asking your friends for suggestions on what to read (or what real estate agent to use) doesn’t exactly fit into the traditional use of crowdsourcing. But you get the idea. Ask a bunch of people for help with something — help picking a book, or a real estate agent — and use their input, along with other resources like reviews to make a decision.
Coincidentally, late last week I talked to a reporter with Smart Money about real estate agent reviews. She wanted some opinion on why agent reviews haven’t gained the traction that other businesses, services and products are seeing. Great question. I’m a fan of agent reviews, and have written about them a few times. I even created a little site to assist our clients in leaving reviews for our agents.
Sooner or later, agent review sites will gain traction, whether agents like it or not.
And why not? Let’s face it — input from our friends, our “social sphere” and even what random people say and think about a service or product is important. In 2009, a Nielsen study found that, “Recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising.” Hasn’t everyone looked at reviews for movies, books, restaurants, cars, electronic products (and more) when making purchasing decisions? Professional services like doctors, lawyers, even schools and teachers are widely reviewed online.
So why not real estate agents?
Those agent review sites are out there, and they will at some point gain more traction and use. It’s a matter of when, not if. It’s already happening to some degree.
Clearly picking a real estate agent is not like choosing a book, deciding where to eat, or what movie to watch. But there are similarities. Whether picking a product, a service or a service provider, we trust our friends opinions. We trust human opinion — hence the popularity of review sites.
If you are in real estate and you think people are not out there asking their friends and family for recommendations, then you’ve lost your mind. People have asked, and will continue to ask friends about what real estate agent to use, what real estate site has the best information, the best home search solution. They even ask their friends where they should live and what they think about a particular home or neighborhood.
“Crowdsource” a real estate agent?
Sure, why not?
What say you?
Disclosure: Amazon Wish List and book links are affiliate links. I’ve made $8.52 on Amazon links since July 5, 2009.