It’s not clear how active the users of ActiveRain will remain, as the real estate social site seems to be reaching a watershed moment following its latest move to further merge with Trulia.
Bloggers on ActiveRain moved quickly to choose one side or the other after the site announced last week that it will live on Trulia’s Web domain. Activerain.com has become activerain.trulia.com, and every blog post — more than 3 million that exist on ActiveRain today from about 250,000 bloggers — that appears on the site will be redirected to a new URL with the new structure. (Trulia bought Market Leader, which operates ActiveRain, last year.)
“I was part of a mass migration from Trulia to [ActiveRain] when Trulia started making changes that hurt the agents who helped make their site what it is,” Scott Godzyk, broker-owner of Godzyk Realty Group in Manchester, N.H., writes in an ActiveRain blog post. “I fear that Trulia will do to AR what it has done to its own site — one that does not care about agents, makes changes without thinking how it will hurt the agents, and has a Q&A section that once was the gold standard but now is loaded with spam.”
Godzyk tells REALTOR® Magazine that he noticed “the service started to change” at Trulia a couple years ago when the real estate hub began implementing strategic shifts in its business. He worries that as ActiveRain more closely aligns itself with Trulia, the social site will suffer the same fate. “Trulia was once a great place to get leads for buyers and sellers,” he laments. “Then they started charging for everything. They made changes that affected the most active agents without any thought or care.”
Godzyk notes that ActiveRain’s “unique community” offers a place to connect unlike any other, where he can “reach out to anyone, from local buyers and sellers to a person looking to relocate to my area from 2,000 miles away.” But if the site’s service begins to give way to profit mongering, he says, it will ruin a site he has come to know as a go-to source of industry information.
“I’ll stay at ActiveRain and wait it out” before deciding whether to leave, Godzyk says. “But I speak for many as we wait, see, and pray that Trulia lets ActiveRain continue to be the ActiveRain we have all come to love.”
In its announcement of the merger, ActiveRain says the move is meant to connect its members to a much wider audience: the 35 million monthly unique visitors to Trulia’s domain. “Our own SEO experts, as well as a number of outside experts we have consulted, believe that the two domains combined will be stronger than either domain standing alone,” the site says. “ActiveRain is going to remain as an independent community of real estate professionals that encourages open discourse, sharing ideas, and growing as a community.”
ActiveRain blogger Anita Clark, ABR, CRS, an agent with Coldwell Banker SSK, REALTORS®, in Macon, Ga., agrees that ActiveRain needs the SEO boost from the Trulia domain. “Purely from a blogging standpoint, I think it is a good move,” Clark says of the ActiveRain/Trulia merger. “ActiveRain blogs had been losing traction with Google, and this was a way to help them gain some of their momentum back. As long as Trulia doesn’t mess with the platform, I believe this nearly transparent switch will have very little, if any, impact on the ActiveRain users in the short-term.”
Others are standing steadfastly by ActiveRain during the URL transition. Melissa Zavala, broker-owner of Broadpoint Properties Inc. in Escondido, Calif., says the most important thing ActiveRain has provided her is a way to connect with new friends across the country. And no move that ActiveRain could make will change that.
“I don’t give a lick that activerain.com is now activerain.trulia.com,” Zavala writes in an ActiveRain blog post. “That doesn’t change who I am, what I’ve learned, how I conduct my business, or what I will do on the site. It doesn’t change how we can benefit from the network, and how the network can launch your career. … I cannot even begin to mention all the friends that I have made on ActiveRain. I have established relationships with amazing real estate professionals across the nation — all of whom I can call in a heartbeat if I need something.”
But a good number of ActiveRain users remain uneasy, or at least confused, about what effect the site’s incorporation into the Trulia domain will have. Kat Palmiotti, an ActiveRain blogger and agent at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in Central Valley, N.Y., admits that she’s a little lost when it comes to the hype around the move.
“To be honest, I don’t know enough about the backlinks or SEO to be able to intelligently comment on the change,” she says. “What I can say is that I received a call two days ago from a business I had written about three years ago. The three-year-old post showed up in their news feed as ‘new,’ even though I hadn’t made any changes to it. So I’m thinking the URL change may have given some new oomph to older posts. Other than that, I have to admit, I’m clueless on what this change may mean for me.”
A vocal group of ActiveRain users are pulling back on their use of the site. Alex Popovic, founder of Semper Find My Home in Phoenix, announced in an ActiveRain blog post that he would no longer be an active user — at least temporarily.
“I can tell you that I’ll be changing over to my own WordPress blog and cutting back on my participation on ActiveRain,” Popovic writes. “While I choose to accept the merger, my participation is another story. I will let time dictate if the merger is a good or bad thing. I just think [ActiveRain will] become bogged down with Trulia’s history of shortcomings. I’ll be back from time to time, but no longer on a daily basis.
“Trulia, prove to me and us ActiveRainers that you won’t lose us to spam or the experience most REALTORS® have had with you in the past. The ball’s in your court.”