I was talking with a very busy, successful Realtor in Lane County, Oregon recently and suggested that she should become an ActiveRain member. Her response was to essentially ask why it was worth her time and money. This is a question that all good businesses should ask themselves constantly, not just at a year-end review when planning for a new year.
So I ask my fellow ActiveRain members, “Why should I invest my time and money in ActiveRain?” The question is not a rhetorical one. Businesses that provide goods and services like ActiveRain must always strive to provide a high perceived value for its customers in exchange for their investment. Does ActiveRain do this, whether as a free member or a Rainmaker?
I am not an ActiveRain newbie. I'm not on the level of Russel Ray, Todd Clark, or Lenn Harley, but I'm not a novice either. I’ve been an ActiveRain member since 2009 and a Rainmaker for almost a year. I’ve posted almost 700 times to my blog, although those have been mostly listings for my clients. I’ve made almost 1400 comments and received over 1000 in return. I’ve invited 29 new members and most of these have accepted my invitation. The 370,000+ points I’ve earned currently rank me 2nd in Lane County, 5th in Oregon, and in the top 350 amongst ActiveRain’s 218,000+ members. Is all this time and money invested worth it?
That depends in part on what an active member wants to get out of it. After sifting through many posts, I’ve gleaned a lot of good information and ideas that I could apply to my business and my clients’ businesses. I don’t have to be a Rainmaker to obtain this.
A real estate virtual assistant’s two main target markets are Realtors and loan officers. These are the primary users of ActiveRain. I rank 1st in points among all virtual assistants on ActiveRain and am one of a relative few virtual assistants active on the Rain. Yet I’ve only been contacted once in a vague way by a Realtor on ActiveRain inquiring about my services.
My business has a waiting list of prospective clients and my workload is too heavy as it is. But what of those people who are hoping that ActiveRain will provide a good source of leads? Not one of the Realtors who I invited has received a client referral or lead through ActiveRain and I’ve seen less than five buyer or seller leads come through this year for Lane or Linn County, Oregon.
Is it because ActiveRain has a network of 218,000+ members? Or does it? AR has been around since 2007 and grown rapidly. But how many of these “members” are really members actively contributing to the community? Points are a good indicator of member activity. Over 216,000 of our members have 100,000 points or fewer. Nearly 200,000 of our members have fewer than 8700 points.
Is it because members can interact with other top real estate professionals across the U.S. and Canada? I’m well aware of who the top Realtors are in my area. Only one local Realtor in the top 150 for sales volume in 2011 is active on AR. The very few other active local AR members have less than $400,000 in closed transactions for 2011.
Local members that were once very active bloggers, participating in blogging challenges and regularly commenting on posts, are now nowhere to be seen on AR. Their point totals may give them a high ranking, but the number remains unchanged as the months creep by.
AR is a social media blogging platform for real estate professionals. It must be the Google juice that makes AR such a good investment of time and money. An AR post of mine was featured recently (http://activerain.com/blogsview/2647519/what-do-realtors-really-want-from-their-lender-when-they-refer-a-client-). It has generated almost 4100 views, over 2700 clicks, and 115 comments to date. My profile has over 4500 views to date. Yet I can’t point to even one lukewarm lead for possible business from all this activity.
Blogging requires a significant investment of time. Our time has a much greater overall value than the monthly or annual cost of a Rainmaker account. I have been unable to convince even one of the top Realtors that I work with that this investment in blogging is better than spending their time and money on their sphere or other lead generating activities. Blogging is a long-term strategy that few are willing to commit to for more than a few months without seeing solid results.
These issues aren’t new, and I’m sure that the AR brain trust is always looking for ways to create value, energize and retain current members, and entice new members to join, become active, and upgrade to a paid membership. Building a solid real estate business foundation requires generating a steady pipeline of good leads, converting them to clients, and resulting in closed transactions.
For many AR members, learning SEO and becoming a proficient blogger is part of a long-term strategy to fill their pipeline with leads. Meanwhile, top producers are closing transactions and collecting commission checks. Are these top producers in your community using AR as a component in their success or are they successful because of other things that they are doing?
I have invested quite a bit of time each day in ActiveRain for my clients and me. Every day I strive to demonstrate to my clients why my service is worth their investment. They trust my judgment and recommendations on how we can help to build their business. I'd like ActiveRain to be a part of that.
Can you help to convince me:
Why should we invest our time and money in ActiveRain rather than spending it elsewhere?