If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about communicating online, it’s that you have to be yourself to be trusted. I’ve read far too many forum sites, reviews, blog comments and online testimonials to believe that they ALL must be real or true. I’m far too sceptical these days to believe everything I hear or read.
You should only really trust people you know, but we as consumers like to find out what impartial, third parties think about products, services and people as well, so we do a bit of research online and find a myriad of comments, reviews, discussions and blogs about them. Some good, some not so good. So how do we know which of these are real or not?
The simple answer is that we don’t. It’s far too easy to create a false profile, go onto a site, make a negative comment or leave a bad review, and then disappear off the face of the cyber-planet. The ones that I lean towards are the ones that have engaged in conversation about the product, service or person, on more than one occasion. These are far more likely to be real people expressing real opinions.
I was researching a certain (unnamed) site today to see if it would benefit real estate agents in their quest for communicating with people online and what I found was nothing short of disturbing. Defamatory comments, accusations and flaming are rife in the online community, and the responses are supposedly from third parties, but sound as equally attacking which makes me speculate as to whether they’re actually made by someone from that company out of spite.
The ones I believe, are the ones that state their experience, not the ones that try to attack out of spite or anger (regardless of whether they’re the original review or subsequent comments). For those that use review or forum sites for the purposes of flaming I have to say that it’s hard for me to believe you if you don’t tell me what your experience was – defamation to me, isn’t a credible way of telling people not to buy or use a product or service.
So how does this fit into online communication in real estate? Well the point I’m trying to make is that you need to be yourself. If you find a review of yourself, your product or your company, reply as yourself. If you want to make a review or comment on something, be honest, and if you’re truly serious about your statement, give people a way to see you’re real (link to your online profile perhaps).
We have no way of knowing if a person online is who they say they are, unless we know them. Be yourself, and communicate freely online, and you’re that step closer to building trust with people and creating real online relationships.