Online communityThe pandemic has created the best of times and the worst of times for real estate firms and their agents. It was not long ago that we were helping firms to engineer more welcoming, collaborative, and efficient office environments for agents. A great manager and a cool space attracts new agents and retains existing ones. The cadence of remodeling the office every five years is as relevant today as it was before the pandemic, but the new focus needs to be on creating better community on your intranet.

Your intranet is the private and password gated back-office website that you provide for your agents and staff to communicate with each other and access the software that you make available. WAV Group studied a handful of leading intranets to determine if they were good at building community. The results were pathetic and proved to be yearning for improvement. The importance of this is increasingly relevant – given that more agents are working from home than ever before.

P.S. These tips would apply to MLS systems too.

Here are a few tips that you can use to bluster your community:

Add Music

Create playlists on Spotify and stream them to your intranet. If you are using wordpress – here is how to embed a spotify playlist. Beyond music, you can also add some podcasts or short training snippets. I especially enjoy motivational podcasts and comedy.

Add User Profiles and Chat

Usernames are fine, but avatars are way better. When people are chatting, a little effort to see a photo of the person you are chatting with goes a long way. And chat is great. One of the things we really like to see in chat is a multithreaded chat. There can be a general chat where people will feel comfortable posting something as simple as “GM” – Good Morning! Other channels can be dedicated to chat about specific things like marketing, prospecting, listing presentations, etc. The list goes on.

Add Voice and Video Chat

Text chat is good, but if you really want to build community, you can add voice chat and video chat. Not surprisingly, voice chat is the most popular. More community members will feel comfortable listening in and occasionally joining the conversation. Video chat is great too, but less popular because people are often fatigued by experience of being in front of a webcam.

Stream Events

Many firms did a great job during the early days of the pandemic of having virtual meet ups on Zoom. As the world opened, many firms stopped this. Bring these virtual meet ups back and also think about extending the programming to have guest musicians, DJs, coaches, or anyone else that might bring interesting flavor join your live stream.

Hire or appoint a community manager

Having a dedicated community manager (or a few of them)  who is online 24/7 is a fantastic best practice. There is nothing more disheartening than a shout out by an agent on your company intranet that goes unanswered. This person can also focus on your social media presence. It’s a full-time job.

Real estate firms need to wake up to the recognition that it is as important to develop a digital community for your company as it is to develop real life community. If you look at the most remarkable growth companies over the past decade in real estate such as Keller Williams and EXP, you see one defining feature that separates them from everyone else – community. If you do it, they will come.

Need help? Contact WAV Group. We can assist you at evaluating the opportunities that you have with your current intranet. We are happy to work with your existing vendor to discuss enhancements to their platform to enable these features. If necessary, we can also support you at building or replacing what you have.