Online Conversations Will Change This Industry

Posted by: Mike Farmer on April 16th, 2008

Well, Max and I spent a day at the Masters last week—now I hear he’s traveling the country. I wanted to get a picture of Max at The Masters but the no-camera rule made it too difficult to find the right place outside the crowded gates.

We had fun, though, and Thursday night got into a long discussion about social networking in the online world of real estate.

A lot has been written lately about the meat and potatoes of practical lead management. To get leads and not manage them effectively is like hitting the greens close to the hole and not making the putts (Max came up with that—he’s all about golf analogies, now).

Organization and follow-through seem to be key, but once a system is in place to handle a large amount of leads effectively, then an agent can concentrate on increasing leads and assessing the quality of leads.

Wayne wrote a good article about lead quality. A big part of efficiency and getting results is quality control—once you are generating quality leads and wringing out the inefficiency of cold leads that aren’t amenable to warming, then the system is creating solid results and the conversion rate climbs—I think keeping an eye on conversion rate is critical to any quality control effort.

It doesn’t matter how strong the leads might seem, if all they create is work on your part with no conversion to sales, then it’s a red flag that the leads might not be that good or your system of management and conversion might need improvement—it could mean, in this downturn, that buyers are simply cautious and not in the buying spirit, but determining which of these is the problem area is important.

Social networking among agents is a good way to help determine where the problems lie.

By talking with people all over the country, agents now have a broad source of information to put their business practices in perspective. Although there are local differences, the trends nationwide affect everyone, and certain principles work anywhere.

As non-competing agents all around the country discuss lead management systems and marketing plans and disclose results, it helps to learn what’s working and what’s not working—it fosters experimentation with new methods and prevents agents from doing the same old things that aren’t working over and over again expecting different results.

The internet has been the conduit for a real estate discussion that is ongoing and growing.

More and more agents will utilize it as time goes on and learning will be enhanced by new voices and ideas. As agents get more comfortable with this online conversation, it will also, hopefully, change the industry for the better.

Old ideas that have harmed the industry and have been circulating around local offices like germs keeping everyone sick will be disinfected as information flows in from all over.

It can also be compared to a country that has been freed from ignorance after years of dictatorial rule—information flows in and people are enlightened. The conversation has the potential of channeling the best of the industry into a direction of positive change—and as consumers join the conversation, they also are educated about new ways of buying and selling, and they understand the real estate industry in a more healthy way that combats the stereotypes which have placed agents in a negative light for so many years.

As agents and consumers all participate in the conversation, everyone listening with open minds, the evolution of real estate practices takes off.

While it’s hard to listen to some of the criticisms leveled by consumers against agents, it’s necessary if minds are going to be changed. In the same vein, consumers will realize their part in the misunderstanding by examining their old ideas and prejudices.

Now, I think the social network formats themselves must evolve to allow for the best means of communicating. Blogs such as HomeGain, Sellsius, Bigger Pockets and Bloodhound are on the right track to bring people together and keep the conversation going in a meaningful, useful and, sometimes, entertaining fashion.

I encourage those who are sitting back in the shadows reading but not participating to participate.

It seems daunting in the beginning because it appears everyone is established and confidant, yet you don’t know how to break in—you don’t have confidence in making that initial plunge. I say—Just take it. Ask questions, make comments, gradually get to be known.

Sometimes the comments are better than the article—and many times the comments complete the article by adding something the author didn’t consider. The social networking formats should always be cognizant that people are lurking and would like to participate, and they should encourage participation and make it easy.

Too many times cliques form and forget about the world looking in outside the clique. New blood is vital to the growth and dynamism of the conversation.

Please, speak up, everyone needs you. You might even have a question for Max who is a fountain of information. I’m sure he’s connected and can answer all questions from the road.

To read more from Mike, click here.



7 Comments on “Online Conversations Will Change This Industry”

Brian Brady

This is a meaningful, practical discussion about an important matter.

Mike, I am buried in “inquiries”, once again. The problem is making time to discern between the potential customers and the curious.

Perhaps we should spend more time taking to each other about this issue .I’m glad you started the conversation. It’s one of huge interest to me

Mike Farmer

Yes, Brian, I’m buried to and I’m preparing to carry the conversation I have with prospects to a more honest level. I don’t mind providing information and service, but the conversation has to change from a one-sided situation of the prospect demanding and me jumping to an open conversation based on mutual understanding of our goals and the expected outcome and time-frame.

I hope to become more direct in my corresondence and get some kind of committment to the consumer/service provider relationship.

Wayne Long

Mike – I think your are dead on. As I have shared some results back and forth between non-competing Realtors – I have noticed that conversion per online lead is much lower than one might expect. This is important as it will keep you from just giving up because you are not getting a high conversion rate.

A lot of people will tell you that online leads are worthless and that they never convert them.

The truth is that the conversion rate is low and slow but if you keep working the program you will end up with a good business from them. Thanks for opening the discussion. :)

Mike Farmer

Wayne, I’m a true believer in online leads — they have paid for me — now that the leads have sharply increased, I’ll have to do a better job of discerning which are the best. The more efficient I become at managing this process, the more time I’ll have for other marketing projects.

Mike Farmer

Oh well, I thought thousands of lurkers would rush to comment. I should have offered free chocolate.



Its hard to predict which posts will attract the most comments. I’ve thought about this and came up with a few ideas (some of which have nothing to do with the blog post itself):

-the day of the week and time it is posted
-what was posted before or after it
-whether other blog posts are receiving comments (generally commentors have energy only for one post)
-whether there is a comment to the blog post that attracts more comments
-whether the blog post is open ended
-whether it has a call to action
-whether the blog post strikes an emotional chord on a controversial topic
-whether the blog poster generally responds to comments

My personal reaction to Online Conversations Will Change the Industry” was this was insightful and found myself saying to myself “True, True and True”

I held back the reaction of commenting “nice post” choosing instead to contact you directly to let you know how much I liked it.

I’ve had this conversation with other bloggers and they never know which of their posts are going to strike up the conversation with most or at all.


I have been working on trying to increase conversion as well.

As far as posts I can never figure this one out. Sometimes I will write a quick post that gets lots of attention. Other times I spend a lot of time on posts that it seems almost no one reads.

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