If you haven't heard by now, we are in 2010, (twenty-ten, two thousand ten, or my favorite, oh-ten) and as this new decade begins I see this year becoming more of a shift in the way consumers gain the information they need as well as how other consumers share their experiences with others. I read an article the other day about consumer review based site Yelp being offered 500 million from Google to be purchased. Yelp, however, turned down the offer from Google.
This being said, I really feel that as this year carries forward you will see more companies adopting the principles of consumer based reviews and question/answer sections on their sites. The other day, I heard of a company called Formspring which allows you to easily add a Q&A to any site that you use. This is a free service that takes virtually no time to set up, but could be very beneficial to your business. Why? Well, it is rather simple:
1. Gives consumers an easy place to ask you questions about your business or your area.
2. Gives you the ability to share your knowledge in a non publication type of arena with consumers.
3. Allows consumers to find answers to other questions they may have without needing to fill out a form & feel as if someone will begin spamming them for business. They can simply look through past questions & answers and possibly find what they need.
I said all this to get to the point of my post which was to tell everyone about what I have been up to these days. In addition to recently starting my own Social Media Consulting business with Jason Crouch called 210 Consulting, I also recently started a new job as a community manager for a company called SmartHippo. SmartHippo is a site designed to allow the consumers a place to come and ask questions of lending professionals and receive free top quality answers directly from lenders.
Another awesome feature that SmartHippo offers is a platform for consumers to write reviews of the lender they used to benefit other consumers. This should help to raise the bar of customer service provided by lenders as well as give other consumers a place to come and read unbiased opinions of a lender before making the largest decision of their life. A customer can read whether the rate quoted online was the same they received, the loan closed on time, the lender was prompt in returning calls, etc. SmartHippo's main focus is to empower the consumer with as much knowledge as possible before getting a mortgage through these lender reviews.
The last thing that SmartHippo allows which I think will be very beneficial to real estate agents is the ability to refer your customers to a site where the buyer can compare ALL the rates available in their area. Unlike other sites that offer similar things, they will not be selling the leads to the highest bidder. This means that buyers can see all the rates available in their area and make their own decision based on the reviews of the lender, the Q&A responses of the lender as well as the rate offered by them.
As a real estate agent, I see this being a great new tool to offer to your buyers to assist them make an informed decision on a mortgage as well as keep you from having to "recommend a lender" which we all hate to do for the liability associated with it. You are no longer needing to make up lists of available lenders to share with a buyer or anything. We all know how awkward that moment is when the buyer asks you "Which lender would you recommend?" You simply give the buyer a website and allow them to get all the information they need.
So what are my duties with this new position? Well, as the community manager, I have a few different roles. The first is to help build our community through various different social media platforms. (YouTube Channel, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc.) My other main task right now is to create and manage our community blog that will consist of some of the top bloggers in the lending industry. This includes writers like Ken Cook, Eleanor Thorne, & John Cannata. The community blog known as "The Herd" will provide valuable content to buyers who are in the process of purchasing a home. I hope over the next few months to add several other top notch bloggers into the community.
I am really excited to join up with this SmartHippo and am really looking forward to what the future holds. So, if you are unfamiliar with SmartHippo, please take a few minutes to check out their site here. I think this can be a great tool for your customers to "Join the Herd, Save Money" as their slogan states. Also, check back on my blog over the next few weeks as I will keep you updated about some really exciting features & updates of what is happening at SmartHippo!
I am the Co-Founder of 210 Consulting- Social Media Advisors. I have traveled the country as a social media speaker. If you would like more information on any of the topics discussed in this blog, please contact me directly. We specialize in social media training, online consulting, and the creation of your own custom WordPress site.
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