"Going Loco Over Localism!"

By
Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

Let me begin by saying that this is undoubtedly the LONGEST blog post I have ever written! I apologize in advance, But the subject matter is crucial to gain a better understanding of where we're going...

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It's been interesting, to say the least, to observe the response and resultant discussions across the Network regarding the recent private BETA launch of the new Localism.

Member comments have covered the full spectrum from thrilled elation to threats of mutiny. We're either the best thing since sliced bread or the Anti-Christ. In a social network of our size, it's rare that you please everyone, most of the time, regardless of how hard you may try.

First, let me just state for the record that the powers that be at ActiveRain have always been open and responsive to the opinions, input, and feedback of their members. They have never turned away a deaf or uncaring ear, but have consistently remained sensitive to the needs of their valued members. That's been one of the primary hallmarks of this platform, and a main reason for its success.

Additionally, they have always been extremely transparent and forthright about their plans and intentions. They have worked very hard to earn/merit the trust and respect of this community.

If, for whatever reason, your voice/opinion has gone unnoticed or without meaningful response, please do not take that as any indication that your thoughts are not valid or appreciated. We genuinely attempt to answer any and all questions. We have repeatedly posted numerous 'featured' articles in response to your questions and concerns, and have been busily responding to literally hundreds of member posts by interjecting informative comments. In spite of all our efforts, we've still missed many of your concerned thoughts, either in posts or comments. We apologize if it appears we're inattentive or uncaring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Since its inception, the phenomenal success of ActiveRain has been the direct result of a mutually beneficial cooperative collaboration. The visionaries/designers of the platform created/streamlined the vehicle, and our members provided the fuel (content). Together, we've achieved some truly amazing results - results that have been beneficial to all of us.

However, there are some clearly pronounced concerns over the direction we've taken with the new Localism. We have some truly passionate local content contributors who have invested a significant amount of time and energy. They have valid concerns and deserve reasonable, intelligent answers.

It is my intention here to help explain and clarify a few things, and to simply offer my $.02 worth as to why I feel contributing to Localism makes for a wise investment of your hard work/effort.

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The guiding vision of Localism was to create a viable on-line environment where real estate professionals and consumers could have a meaningful dialog, and talk with each other.

In order to understand the value proposition of the New Localism, we need to revisit what was offered in the previous version.

When the Old Localism was first introduced, we all jumped on the Local Content bandwagon. I think my first Localism article was about crabbing (Gee, fancy that!). We all busily populated our local City, County, and State pages with various articles, market reports, listings, etc. Our posts were proudly displayed in the relevant geographical location for all to see. And, if we amassed enough points, our profile pic showed up as the "Featured" member. Life was good!

  • Never-mind that Localism was never released from its BETA form.
  • Never mind that few consumers ever found their way there.
  • Never mind that, due to various reasons, Localism was put on a back burner, and lie dormant for months on end, without any content updates.

Nonetheless, because we were publishing our wonderfully relevant local content through our AR blogs, the search engines were happy, and consumers were finding us!

And now we come to the New Localism. It's not like the old platform. It's different. There's been some changes made. And Lord knows, many of us are resistant to change. Which is rather interesting, considering the fact that we pride ourselves as an industry for embracing change!


The basic premise isn't any different - "contribute good, relevant local content to engage and attract consumers to your blog."

"Content will always be King here on ActiveRain."

Those who achieve the greatest success with Localism will be those who consistently write/publish helpful, practical, informative articles for consumers, period. There are no shortcuts to that process. True success at blogging takes time, effort, and commitment.

THEN & NOW

In the past, when you would categorize and publish your articles to the old Localism, your listings would show up under 'Listings,' your market reports displayed promptly under 'Market Reports,' and depending on geographic location/topic, your posts would show up under the respective City, County, or State locations. When the site was being updated, the articles would be pushed/shifted down the page by subsequent articles, and become part of the indexed archives. Each article would also become part of the respective blog author's archives.

In the New Economy, all articles, with the exception of listings and market reports, show up on Localism within 10 to 15 minutes. They remain on the respective page until the Localism editors review it. If the article is approved, it will remain on that page. The length of time that a particular article remains in view will depend on how many other subsequent articles are approved, and push/shift your article down in descending order. Any articles not approved simply become part of the author's post archive on Localism. In the near future, there will be a link button for listings and market reports that will redirect you to a separate page for that respective geographic location.

That being the case, what we need to ask ourselves is this:

"What's more important - that YOU see your articles showing up on Localism, or that consumers find YOU through your articles?"

The window of opportunity/time for people to actually 'see' a given article is limited. The realities are that, initially, most consumers are going to be searching the Internet using key search terms, and will find your articles/profiles through their searches, not by necessarily accessing/viewing the Localism pages. As Localism gains traction through our aggressive promotion, and becomes a viable consumer destination, we will be incorporating numerous RSS feed options that allows people to subscribe to specific content segments.

On the Old Localism, depending solely on your AR point score, you had the possibility of having your profile pictures displayed on your respective city, County, and State pages as 'Featured' agent/member.

On the New Localism, we have 'Top Neighbors.'  Since Localism will eventually be partially populated by people who are NOT ActiveRain members (local residents, merchants, etc.), a more equitable method for determining 'Top Neighbors' was needed in order to be fair to all participants. Scoring for 'Top Neighbors' will be primarily derived from the amount of content you contribute to a particular region/community. Additional points will be awarded for 'approved' posts, pictures, and videos. Like ActiveRain, we will also award points for comments made on Localism posts.

Let's take a few minutes and talk about the 'sponsorship' of communities and neighborhoods. Many people are looking at this 'option' with an attitude of the glass is half empty. Their contention is that anyone can come in and sponsor a neighborhood/community. Without posting a single article to Localism, they can drop down some cash once a month, and pay for space on the neighborhood/community page, similar to a Google AdSense or Sponsored Links campaign.

Will some ActiveRain members adopt this mindset for sponsorship? No doubt. Some people are always looking to gain additional exposure. Will it be effective without any meaningful content to back it up? That's hard to say. When you search for something on the Internet, how often do you click on the Sponsored Links? Or do you normally access the Organic search results instead? Sponsorships should be like 'MSG.' They are designed to bring out the flavor of all your Localism ingredients!

But this 'purchase-only' mindset is simply one strategy. There are many other positive 'glass-is-half-full' strategies that can be employed by members who have consistently invested and contributed solid local content.

Imagine if you've been farming a particular residential development. You may even live there, and be active in the Homeowners Association. What better way to solidify your position and enhance your sphere than to sponsor that specific development on Localism. Send out a mailer and solicit involvement on the development page for all the residents. Have it become the local community bulletin board to share upcoming events, advertise garage sales, school events, whatever. And guess what? There you are right in the middle of it all!..

Maybe you're representing a builder for new construction, a downtown condo project, or an older upscale resurgent neighborhood. Perhaps even a commercial development could be created?...the possibilities are numerous!

Sponsorship is only an 'option.' You don't have to 'pay-to-play.' Many members will most likely continue to publish good relevant content to Localism, as they have been, and enjoy excellent returns on their contributions without sponsorship. According to Jonathan Washburn, Co-Founder of ActiveRain, sponsored areas will only comprise less than 5% of the overall content of Localism.

In the end, regardless of how much information we share, or how many times we attempt to explain our vision/direction, there will continue to be those who are suspicious and/or critical. That's okay. We welcome your concerns and continue to solicit your input in the process. Hopefully, over time, your outlook/opinions will transition to one of cautious optimism, and eventually, heartfelt support.

The long-term vision of Localism is huge, and we are only seeing a small portion of that vision right now. There is a tremendous future and potential for this community of ours, to make a positive impact in our industry, and in the communities we serve, as we all continue to work together!

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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.

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Rainmaker
236,386
Debbie Summers
Charles Rutenberg Realty - New Smyrna Beach, FL

Rich...  Thanks, I read that in the post, I'm not trying to be difficult.  I guess I just don't understand "yet" what the editors are looking for, I'll keep trying.

Jul 30, 2008 03:46 AM #132
Ambassador
1,023,277
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Brilliant!  (You and ActiveRain) - I had no idea what I was signing up for when I joined ActiveRain, and it has done nothing but benefit me.  'Guess that means I need to trust the ActiveRain gurus and not second-guess them.

Jul 30, 2008 04:27 AM #133
Rainer
23,647
Daniel Gates
Insure Consulting - Palm Bay, FL

I am a bit sad because I was getting a two for one special before; blog on AR get high ranking there and on localism.  I guess I will just have to work a little harder, as a lazy man that just does not sound fun.

Jul 30, 2008 05:12 AM #134
Rainmaker
201,806
Stephanie Edwards-Musa
thredUP.com - The Woodlands, TX
knitwit at thred UP

Rich,  Bob just answered my question about the 'green living' on his post and I'm happy now.  I still am confused about content that is currently on localism and about what is 'acceptable', but I'm thinking that can probably only be answered in time. 

For those of you that are still ticked about communities and do niche marketing, think outside the box.  Condo Living, Pets, Waterfront living, etc.  Bob in his post is sponsoring a football stadium for football fanatics and tailgate parties. 

For about 3 weeks now this was my biggest concern.  SOOOO, glad that it was answered.

Jul 30, 2008 05:39 AM #135
Rainer
68,685
Alan 'AJ' Nisen California Contra Costa Mortgage Officer
A Large Bank in America - Lafayette, CA

Rich, I have had too much reading for one day.  My eyes are tired.  AJ

Jul 30, 2008 05:43 AM #136
Rainmaker
272,575
Ross Quintana
Real E Smarter - Spokane, WA
Real E Smarter Real Estate Coach - 509-362-1966

Spokane Washington Real Estate Expert Well, I have to disagree with the direction of sponsored experts. As you said the old system put you as a top agent if you earned the most points in the prospective neighborhood. This was the right thing to do. You can't build a community on a point system then take away the rewards of the hard work you used to give.

That is like saying if a team wins the most games by putting the most points on the board at the end you will sell the trophy to whoever buys it first. Active rain isn't about a platform, that can be duplicated, it is about the people period! and the great success is that point system that encourages people to put good content in the system. But I don't care about points just for the sake of saying I'm the top guy to other Realtors, Showing up in the public view as top makes the work worth it.

Localism didn't get much traffic but I was the top local expert, the revamp should have been to get more traffic so the agents who earned their spot would get more value. Now the site has gone way down in value because my points don't matter. You guys are missing the mechanics of what made AR successful and the further you get away from it the worse you will be.

If you forget where you came from you are on your way back.

Jul 30, 2008 06:15 AM #137
Rainmaker
577,215
Dena Stevens Coriz
Rocky Mountain Realty - Canon City, CO
Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004

Since way back when I've loved Localism. Queen of the contents of my own closet, the only way I can describe it.

Never mind that few consumers ever found their way there.  EVERY lead I've ever had from A.R. has been directly from localism. I've been to busy to explore the new localism since it's changed. But I'll manage and if everyone else were smart about it they will too.

Jul 30, 2008 11:23 AM #138
Ambassador
1,090,376
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
(RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE

I do believe you did a great job on this Rich...and no matter what...it's nice to see the opinions of all and your giving sound feedback. I appreciated it. :)

And I'm with Steph...the communities have no limit. Once it was explained to me... instead of beating around the bush and expecting me to read minds :) then I was okay. There has to be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel...otherwise, how are we ....as members supposed to promote or agree with it?

 

The light....patience....being creative and using the platform for our own niche in the community...is a grand thing. :)

Jul 30, 2008 02:06 PM #139
Ambassador
581,117
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Ross: Ultimately, the points don't matter. In as far as your involvement here on ActiveRain and the articles that you've published to Localism have earned you points, they were conceived to generate friendly competition and spur participation. And yes, with the old Localism, your points allowed you to gain a visual prominence in your area. However, what truly drives your level of success here is the quality and consistency of your content. Good relevant local content that offers valued information and resources to consumers rules the day. That is what will attract consumers to your blog, and eventually translates into business. The New Localism will offer the same, if not greater amount of exposure for you, but it's the value of your content that will engage readers.

Just for the record....Sponsorship doesn't assume or infer expert anything. When someone sponsors a neighborhood, community, city, etc., it simply affords them some additional exposure on the respective page for that neighborhood/community. The sponsored content of Localism will constitute less than 5% of the total platform. What you do with the remaining 95% is up to you.

Jul 30, 2008 03:45 PM #140
Rainmaker
409,241
Karen Monsour
Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert!

Rich,

Did you get any sleep last night... LOL???

I just posted 3 issues to Bob's blog about the Localism issues, not his current post but the one before it.  It is just for issues relating to Localism... Seriously though...

This is what has me the most upset...when you make changes, such as changing a post to a "member's only", they are not coming back off of Localism.  This need's to work...especially when a benign blog...goes "postal"...

And a few other uploading issues... It's at least a hour, not 30 minutes for a post to show up.  I posted a listing to AR and sent it to Localism as well over an hour ago...and it's still not there on my site...and the updates as posted to Bob's post did not correct either.

 

Jul 30, 2008 03:54 PM #141
Rainmaker
251,783
Katrina Madewell
Charles Rutenberg Rlty- More than 5,000 agents(813) 777-1196 - Tampa, FL
Tampa FL Homes for sale | Tampa Bay - (813) 777-1196

Ya know Rich, the sad part is... I can only IMAGINE the amount of time, effort, money, planning, programming, and endless hours is must have taken to folkes, to ENVISION, START, CREATE, INSPIRE, FERTILIZE, FLOURISH this WHOLE concept.  It takes off, SO MANY people reap the benefits, and then get upset because your vision goes further and you deserve some money in return?  

That is just selfish for ANYONE to think this is UNFAIR to start charging for sponsored communities, when it has been a priceless resource, advantage, and amazing SEO tool for everyone!

Perhaps people should be weighing their results from participation in A.R. and the shifting money from something that DOESN'T work (like a full color page ad), to something that has proven over and over again to work with amazing results.

Katrina in Tampa

Jul 30, 2008 07:43 PM #142
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581,117
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Katrina: I'm not going to deny that's it's been somewhat disheartening and frustrating to hear so much complaining, especially given the fact that Localism is still in private BETA form, and will obviously require some tweaking as we go. ActiveRain itself went through many changes/revisions when it was first launched, and we all survived just fine. Many of our member's have invested a significant amount of time and energy into Localism. Their concerns are certainly understandable, and need to be addressed. However, I think some people are focusing too much on peripheral issues, and not allowing themselves to see the larger vision. Hopefully, as we move forward, this vision will become more evident.

Jul 30, 2008 08:27 PM #143
Ambassador
699,208
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

Rich, I just spent ½ an hour trying to get a grasp on your post and all the responses!  I understand that some who have invested time in Localism may be concerned but am I incorrect in that someone can pay to sponsor an area BUT if someone else adds content videos, images etc. they will also get their share of exposure? 

Raleigh Realtor - Pamela St. Peter

 

Jul 31, 2008 02:38 AM #144
Rainmaker
338,442
Gary Bolen
McCall Realty - South Lake Tahoe, CA
CRS - Lake Tahoe Real Estate Information

great talking to you. but this post was good enough for me to finally understand it. wasn't as far behind as I thought. very helpful.

 

Jul 31, 2008 11:20 AM #145
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

Food for thought: AR is about us, about real estate and consumers are a part of that. Localism is about our communities.  So if we focus on helping those in our communities become a part of localism, isn't it possible it will turn into something that makes them money as well? Then we have the best of both worlds and everyone is happy.  Good things will come back to us and I'm not speaking in platitudes, it really happens.

Jul 31, 2008 05:40 PM #146
Rainer
1,674
Lorrie Smith
Newberry Realty, Black Diamond - Black Diamond, WA

Thanks. Bieng new to Active Rain. I really had no idea what Laocalism was all about anyway. So I am excited adn understand it alittle better thanks to you...Lucky for me I was on here early this morning and could sponser my city before I really knew what I was doing. Hmmm sometimes it pays to live in a small town.

Aug 01, 2008 08:01 AM #147
Rainmaker
47,320
Rick Turner
Key Realty - Toledo, OH
Puts People In Their Places!!

Rich,

I think the key phrase from your blog was this... "Those who achieve the greatest success with Localism will be those who consistently write/publish helpful, practical, informative articles for consumers, period. There are no shortcuts to that process. True success at blogging takes time, effort, and commitment."

I bet there are folks that are chomping on the bit to get their neighborhood, city or community and think that "buying into Localism" is a key to instant sucess.  NOT!!

The folks that will have the greatest sucess will get up from in front of their computers and take their notepads & cameras and go out and interact with their communities. 

Simply put, this is not Netpaying or Netsitting it is Networking!  If you are willing to engage your community and effectively write about it, AR's platform will help Google find you! 

By the way, Good Job!!

Aug 03, 2008 04:09 PM #148
Rainmaker
1,431,110
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I am not sure about these changes and am still getting my head around them.  However, my page has not changed.  They put up pictures from a neighborhood in Southern California (Brentwood) with the same name as my city in Northern California.  Southern California is of OJ Fame, but is not us.  I have offered to do other pictures for them without a response.

Sep 29, 2009 04:47 AM #149
Rainmaker
1,938,655
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Changing anything without thought, consideration and input from the players before the changes can lead to a poor sour taste in a previously harmonious relationship that was fun, easy, simple and not complicated. No one likes to be spun. Watching the propaganda orchestration is tedious.

Jan 10, 2010 04:19 AM #150
Ambassador
581,117
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Interesting comment, Andrew. Care to illuminate?

Jan 10, 2010 06:42 AM #151
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