Several agents have alerted me to the fact that D Magazine has “spanked” a couple of agents (ever so lightly) for sharing one of the company’s “Best Realtor” ballots over the Christmas holidays. In fact, for awhile, the “secret ballot” was one of the magazine site’s most highly trafficked pages as people pulled it up, logged in and started sharing … until the company figured out what was happening and put a stop to it.
I dialed up Chelsey Shockley, Editorial Marketing Manager at D, to ask her just what happened?
“Every year, we publish and post a homeowners ballot and send it exclusively to a list of new homeowners in the Dallas area, and it got shared on social media,” she says.
D selects and controls the new home buyers polled for Best Realtor. That is, buyers of homes that are both new and pre-owned, all who have purchased a home within the last year.
“The new homeowner ballot is intended to gather feedback from a balanced distribution of recent homebuyers across the region. For that reason, the circulation of this ballot is controlled by D Magazine staff,” said Chelsey. “By sharing this link on social media or to client lists, it sways the integrity of these results to unfairly favor specific realtors/mortgage professionals/insurance agents.”
The ballot is part of the process of how D determines the “Best Realtor” agents it publishes later in the year. In the past, the company had used a form-builder page called Wufoo, but this year they built the ballot in-house and it lived on the magazine’s site, where it was quickly picked up by sharp web-searching agents, who then shared it to Facebook, other social media and clients.
This is not a Facebook or popularity contest, says Shockley.
Did they admonish the agents who did the sharing?
“We asked anyone that shared the link to remove it,” says Chelsey (I just LOVE her name). “No realtors will be or have been penalized in any way for sharing the link. All ballots received through social media will simply not be counted.”
So who are these homeowners? Shockley confirmed to me that a D subscriber would be more likely to participate, but not all are subscribers. D mails them a physical survey and a link to an online form, which was sitting on their site ripe and ready.
The second part of the “Best Realtor” secret sauce is peer surveys, letters sent to actual real estate professionals: agents, mortgage brokers, and insurance agents. They are allowed to vote for an internal vote, one person within their group, and then an outside vote. Results of BOTH surveys (peer scores and the homeowner ballots) are then weighed within a secret editorial-approved algorithm.
Says Shockley: “We value peer feedback and homeowner experience above all in this program.”
How did the form get shared? Likely, says Shockley, a Realtor purchased a home and received one, or maybe someone’s client received one and passed it on. A Dave Perry-Miller agent was one of the first to share it, prompting a note to the management similar to the message this agent received.
Veteran agent Kyle Rovinsky, now of Coldwell Banker, had an interesting observation on the coveted list:
“I don’t take as much value in the Best Realtor list, but rather I highly value the Top Producer list, which D also now publishes,” said Kyle.
Best Realtor is subjective and based on relationships, he says, whereas Top Producer is objective and based on fact: how much dirt an agent actually sells.