Focus on Content

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Brian Boero over at 1000 Watt makes some great points:

Let's be frank:

  1. Most agent blogs are really bad
  2. Most brokerage attempts to participate in social media deliver little more than PR value
  3. Most Web 2.0 plays in the online real estate space have failed to ignite large scale consumer use

Social media is not a cosmetic for fundamental business blemishes. In fact, it may actually aggravate them. A bad blog is worse than no blog. Display of previously unaccessible real estate or community data without intense regard for quality and context does little more than pique curiosity, or, worse, create confusion.

New applications are great, but that's the easy part. Content creation is the hard part. It's less sexy, but it is what will win in the long run. This applies both to online real estate companies and brokerages. [Emphasis added]

Brian, we couldn't agree with you more.  Read the whole thing.

With one caveat on the highlighted part above: all data creates confusion, without proper interpretation.

For example, let's say I give you a data point like, "S&P is up 22 points".  Is that good or bad?  If the Dow is up 200 points, and NASDAQ is up 75 points, then the fact that the S&P is only up 22 might be a very bad thing.  If the S&P had been in the doldrums for the past six months, then went up 22 points, that's a very different thing than if it had been gaining 22 pts a day for three weeks.

Furthermore, what is meant by "data quality" anyhow?  One of our data wranglers posted on this topic not too long ago:

In the most basic sense, data quality refers to the degree of excellence in relation to the portrayal of the geographic “phenomena” being examined, all contributing to the data’s fitness for use.

How can we say what makes “good” data? When you talk about a good book or a good movie, isn’t your judgment dependent on certain subjective qualities — interests, mood — that are individual to you? To a degree, yes, but there are also certain aspects that must be present without fail in order for a book or movie to be considered “quality.” A book must be free of unintentional spelling and grammatical errors, for instance, and a movie needs to have clearly identified characters and some form of plot.

The overall quality of data can be thought of in the same way. While the specifics of what makes good data will vary according to the type of data you’re seeking — real estate data as opposed to sports statistical data, for instance — there are non-negotiable elements that apply to data as a whole.

It might be interesting for real estate professionals to read a data professional's take on what makes for quality data.  To quote the sage Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means, what you think it means."  And fact is, the vast, vast majority of real estate people are simply not suited to be rendering judgment on quality of data.  Onboard Informatics would not be in business otherwise.

Nonetheless, I agree wholeheartedly with Brian's main argument: it is about content.  Brokers and agents need to pay far greater attention to quality content.  When presenting data, whether about the market or the local community, it is important to contextualize data so that it becomes useful information.  We are 100% on board (pun!) with that advice.

-rsh

Image Credit: Photosteve101 on Flickr.com