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Coldwell Banker Just Threw Up All Over The Real Estate Blogosphere

Caution_coldwell_bankerA recent inquiry to the Real Estate Tomato lead to the discovery of Coldwell Banker's latest effort to provide their agents with competitive online tools. 

It seems that in an effort to appear relevant and current, Coldwell Banker has developed a templated blogging platform for their agents to publish their personal real estate insight and wisdom.

The result is the epitome of an underwhelming corporate provision meant more to quell the curious than actually serve as useful.

First impressions:
Disclaimer: I use the term 'blog' with Coldwell Banker's tool very much gratuitously.  Perhaps I should have used: "blahg".

1. The Design is Canned.  Every blog is identical.
If your blog is something that can't be customized, it will always appear as such.  The ability to create a custom design not only adds personality and professionalism to your online image, but also has you feeling much more comfortable in your ehome.
To see for yourself, just change the node number in the URL below.
http://blogs.coldwellbanker.com/node/99

2. No Search Engine Presence.  No pings, no spiders.
The search engines have never 'heard' of blogs.coldwellbanker.com.
I performed over a dozen "quoted search phrases" from the content of several of these Coldwell Banker blogs and received no results whatsoever.  This means that none of the content on these blogs has ever been spidered.  It is standard that the information we publish can be found in Google in as little as 24 hours after it was posted.

3. Zero Blogging Navigation.
Categories, archives, recent posts, recent comments, keywords, top articles, etc are all common ways to improve the organization of the massive amount of content an active blog contains.  Coldwell Banker must not be anticipating their agent's need to sort their whimsical posts.

4. Faux Permalinks.
Normally a permalink is a be unique addresses for each and every article written on a blog.  The permalink is one of the most important elements of a blog's success in the search engines and in it's syndication and sharing.  For reasons why read: Your Blog Is An Army and Wikipedia's Permalink entry
The permalinks in the CB blogs are not by definition anything close.  The address of each article is just: http://blogs.coldwellbanker.com/the-article-title.  Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that this would prevent any two articles from having the same title.  And, what would happen if they did? 

5. Dead-end Comments. 
Other bloggers leave comments on your blog to be seen as the commenter (a link back to the author of the comments).  No such functionality is available here; all comments are left without mention of the author.  In addition, being notified of new comments is essential to get readers to return for updates, these blogs have overlooked this functionality as well.

6. No Trackbacks. 
With the above challenges with their permalinks and comments, I can't expect this one was even a consideration.

7. No Social Bookmarking.
Again, I think we are asking too much of these blogs:  With something as useful as Web 2.0 Social Bookmarking, Coldwell Banker would have too much trouble trying to explain what is was to see it as useful to the corporation.

8. No Search Functionality
Great blogs have a great amount of content.  Being able to search through it with one click must be seen as essential. 

Mattress9. No Customization of the Code in the Sidebars, Footer, nor Header.
If the site doesn't allow its user to access the raw code, because it is a "shared" corporate platform, then one can not install essential blogging tools such as robust statistic analytics, spam blockers, plug-ins, widgets, javascript, chicklets, API's etc.

10. Questionable Multimedia Support
Do these blogs have Video support? Podcast support? Javascript support? Custom Form support? File support (PDF for example)? even Image support? I don't see any evidence that the blogs support anything other than the text articles themselves.

11. Lack of Template Creation and Management. 
It appears that there is only one standard look and functionality to the blogs. Since that is the case, nothing can be added or subtracted from the program: headers, sidebars, buttons, footers, frames etc. are all either impossible to change or impossible to implement.  This prevents the site from ever being anything more than just a shell to hold quietly written articles.

All that, and I haven't even looked under the hood yet.

My opinion is that these blogs can hardly be called blogs.  They don't offer any more marketing value than a diary carelessly hidden under a mattress; the only readers you'll ever garner are those to whom you reveal its location.  Any effort put into filling up these pages with content is the perfect example of "shouting into a hurricane" - lots of effort that goes unnoticed.  Run for your life.

…and just when you thought Coldwell Banker had the hang of this Web 2.0 thing.

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» Sunday Morning Goodness - 1 April 2007 from SuccessCREEations by Chris Cree
Just poking around my feed reader this morning and there is so much great stuff out there you oughtta see. For example, The Real Estate Tomato dissects a corporate business blogging debacle in Coldwell Banker Just Threw Up All Over The Real Estate Blog... [Read More]

Comments

Is this not something that they can improve on? It seems like a decent effort as long as they will work to improve it.

Jim, ARRRRRGH! The Internet is overloaded with templated agent Websites that ALL LOOK THE SAME, HAVE THE SAME CANNED CONTENT, HAVE THE AGENT'S LISTING and A MLS SEARCH (most of which a consumer has to register to use). We saw this (templated blogs) coming over a year ago. The NEXT NEW THING will always be canned so every agent has the opportunity to say "SEE, I DO IT TOO." This is and will always be a "me too" business. Thank gawd for the real deals. I can't wait for RE/MAX to offer me this kind of tool to elevate my exposure. NOT!

ps: sorry about the caps. just wanted to seem a bit outspoken.

There's always room for improvement. But the one thing that will hold them back is the same thing that always has large corporations lagging behind: If it's not good for the company, it's not good for the agent. So regardless of what the agents might really need to make this work, CB may never be willing to spend the time, money, effort to cater to their blogging needs.

I see these blogs mostly as a way to just say to their agents: "See, we have all the tools you need." "You want to blog? Go ahead, blog on our platform."

The reason this is so reckless is that it is a futile effort at helping, where in fact they are at best frustrating those who take the time from their busy day to type into a black hole.

Jim - why don't you tell us how you REALLY feel? I am not surprised that the product would not be that great. I am a CB agent and their current agent sites only directs business to them, never to the agent. On their defense, we, as CB agents, have not been presented with the blog idea yet, which means no one is blogging yet, which makes sense you cannot find anything yet either. You know how I feel about blogging and what my intentions are, and will not see me using their blog template.

Actually, it is a brillant move on CB. They just increase their brand name with this "new web 2.0" . They have links all over the pages and they pop up as a huge ad for CB. Tell the agents what a great free tool for them to use, no or low cost, and they can use it as a new marketing tool. No matter that the agent really doesn't get its real value for CB. Most don't and don't care. Hey, it's free and new. I use to drink the Kool-Aid, but no more. Where's my meds??? has anyone seen my meds........

And this surprises the Tomato? The big regional firm I work with is always touting its tech tools too. Always a day late and a dollar short. It's nice to see them trying, but if you are just getting into the game now, why not spend a month or two to get it right before launching. I mean, we waited for Vista didn't we? ;)

One of the problems I had when CB bought the company I worked for is that they wanted consistency in all their marketing. Fine for them, but not for me after spending 15+ years trying to differentiate myself.

The Coldwell Banker blogs do look terrible. The look about as tasty as cornflakes made from chopped up credit cards.

Still... about half of those points apply to Active Rain blogs too. Should we bother there either?

It is a smart move for CB. They get free content and eventually they will figure out the technical shortfalls of their current platform. You have just given them a nice little road map. The agents, however, would be slightly short sighted, imho, for blogging on the company site. What happens when an agent wants to leave CB and they have built up a strong blog with a good following but its on the CB site? Golden handcuffs.

I think it is very funny. Most of the agents wont know the difference anyway, they are still without websites, lol.

Jim, it looks like a "beta" version to me. Given the words "template mission" at the root of http://blogs.coldwellbanker.com (i.e. insert text here)...and your #2 point of "No Search Engine Presence" is likely on purpose.

Spot on coverage of another pathetic attempt by mega-brokers to lure and appease less-than-the-best agents. Any agent committed to growing a successful business, does not need a mega-broker. (I'm not saying they don't choose mega-brokers to work for, just that they don't NEED mega-brokers.)

This attempt seems a surefire way to get the few agents that may use their CB blogs to decide "blogging doesn't work" when they get no results from their efforts.

I found this little gem at http://blogs.coldwellbanker.com/node/54 -

"You're the 0th unique visitor since 12.31.69"

1969? It looks like the search engines may have never 'heard' of blogs.coldwellbanker.com but apparently, CB heard about blogs 38 years ago! Ya gotta love it.

The VP of Marketing at our local affiliate here in Columbus was introducing this in a workshop a couple weeks ago. It isn't set to roll out, at least here, for a couple more weeks.
He did say it was not very customizable but that essentially it was every bit as SEO'd as any blog on Blogging Systems.
Not having seen it yet, I can't really comment on it but the idea that the agent is blogging inside a Coldwell Banker branded page isn't very enticing.

Call me old school I guess, but this kind of offering from CB is not blogging.

I'm actually looking forward to the tidal wave of 'canned' RE blogs. It will go over like a lead balloon. And when the dust settles the blogs with the best content will continue to do the job only it can do.

They may increase their functionality over time...one would hope. A local realtor in my area finally started blogging. One post a month it seems. I tried to leave a comment but her blog required me to have a password to leave a comment.

I sent her an email to ask her why, she didn't know. I'm not sure she even wrote the post.

That's just typical of the agents who like to use canned products. Some of us just don't like canned, we prefer it fresh.

Gosh, next thing you know CB will be wanting them to all become e-PROs. ;-)

Jim,

I thought we let that sleeping dog lie... :)

Fresh Tomatoes versus canned? Duh!

I couldn't resist...

Brad Nix:

"Spot on coverage of another pathetic attempt by mega-brokers to lure and appease less-than-the-best agents. Any agent committed to growing a successful business, does not need a mega-broker. (I'm not saying they don't choose mega-brokers to work for, just that they don't NEED mega-brokers.)"

Amen Brad! Well said....

As a marketing tool for CBKT, I think it is a good effort for them. As a company would I rather my agents use blogger or my own system?

It has a lot of limitations and such, but when you create a 1-size-fits-all system for a program that needs to be individualized what do you expect?

As a competing agent, this is another benefit of the small-independent agencies.

Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad etc. are all 'one-size-fits-all' and yet they have set the standard for blogging functionality.

Got news for you...

I just googled "Real estate blogs" and the Tomato didn't show up until the 5th page. Not too impressive.

And if this sounds nasty, then it should fit right in with the tenor of the original post.

I'm a CB Agent and I don't believe these have been launched yet. Looking forward to see how it works though.

I see that the Tomato sells agent blogs.

Does the tomato feel threatened by the prospect of corporate blogs cutting into his bottom line?

Is the tomato afraid of a little competition?

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