Entrepreneurs and web designers launched a slew of social real estate applications over the past two years – literally hundreds of social networks devoted to real estate, multi-author real estate blog/magazines, and a variety of listings sites. Most of these sites still plod along with plateau traffic volume.
Even a year ago, it may have seemed like a great idea to build a social application for the real estate niche, but today’s reality is a niche application can’t build any critical mass versus an established “elephant” competitor. Today, my good friend Deb Madey gave me the idea for this article in a discussion of various real estate agent review sites. Yelp, by virtue of the sheer numbers of reviews of real estate agents eclipses any smaller niche review site that have little traffic, few reviews, and are hard to find. Social media user bases are consolidating to the biggest player in each space, simply because everybody is there. Facebook reportedly has an overwhelming 25% page view share and a hardy few can remember the names of Twitter’s early competitors.
This trend is one more strike against startups. Fast growing apps like Foursquare and Gowalla can hit a wall when (not if!) Yelp copies its features, like it did with Foursquare’s location “Check-in” feature. Twitter have implied that their strategy is to add geolocation features that may also rival Yelp and Foursquare.
It’s now harder to be a game changer when the rules of the game called social media are solidifying / consolidating. Two years ago, no social network really dominated its niche… now lines are being drawn.