The @Zoopla #ZPP100 ‘game’

Is the @Zoopla #ZPP100 losing its value?

In a recent post, I wrote about how the #ZPP100 could be a useful benchmark to help decide whether your estate agent was able to market your home using one of the most powerful mediums in the world; Social Media.

Whilst I haven’t fundamentally changed my mind on this, the very competitive nature of the #zpp100 seems to have, in itself, created a problem.  Before the list came into being, there were a number of, less publicised lists that showed a range of agents and agency suppliers who scored highly on peer index and Klout etc through, in the main, the fact that they were widely followed and quoted for their property knowledge and opinions. However, since the list came into being and, it’s usefulness as a means of increasing business prestige, personal ego and business levels has became apparent, it now appears that the list is being ‘gamed’.

What do I mean by this?

In simple terms, the #ZPP100 has a fatal flaw. It uses a relatively simple measure to assess score. Don’t get me wrong; simple can be good but, ‘simple’ is often open to willful/ cynical abuse and, simple just doesn’t do ‘subtle’ very well.

Let’s take the scoring. Klout uses a relatively simple algorithm to assess its score which it updates at around 16.00 hrs GMT every day. The scores are based on a certain number of points for a re-tweet (RT) or shares on Facebook, a certain number for number of followers (and followers to following ratio), a certain number for tweets favourited (‘likes’ on Facebook) and, for engagement etc. It also adds extra points if the people who like, share or RT a persons posts are, themselves, highly ranked on Klout. So far so good.

What Klout DOESN’T do, is assess what a persons posts are about or, whether someones followers are genuine or ‘bought’. For example. If I wanted to cynically increase my score on the Zoopla leader-board, I could Tweet all day about Justin Bieber or another high trending subject or personality and I could pretty much guarantee that my Tweet would be picked up and run with by a very large number of people; thus pushing up my score as an ‘influential estate agent’. But; would I still be an influential, knowledgeable estate agent or, just someone who makes a clever noise?

I could, just as easily, buy a load of new followers for my Twitter account (I’ve seen spam mail offering me this option for as little as a fiver for 5,000 followers!). This too, would have an almost instantaneous positive effect on my score. Another way of gaming the system might be to tweet or mention big name influencers who will almost always tweet back (corporate #SM account managers are required to ensure that mentions by customers are responded to promptly and treated politely; and so, will usually respond and engage with even relatively way-off-topic subjects, rather than be seen to be ignoring someone). Any such conversation will give an immense short-term boost to the score of anyone who employs such a tactic or, a good long-term strategy to keep a regular increase going.

I would like to say that this isn’t happening and that this blog is a ‘what could be’, rather than, what I believe it to be; a ‘what is’. But consider this:

  • Klout scores generally increase slowly over time and, the higher you get, the more difficult it is to increase and keep that increase. Getting from 0 to 50 is a relatively quick process if you are using social media regularly. Getting from 50-60 takes a little more time and, once you get into the 60’s, your progress is usually measured in increases of 0.5 or less a day (and that’s if you are doing well and working hard at it). To illustrate this, see the attached graphic using the Klout API to see how the top 15’s scores change over the period of a day (a daily average change of just 0.12 across the board).
  • Is it not odd, then, when some people in the top 100 make seemingly massive jumps up the leader-board and their scores increase by factors that are several hundred percent above the norm?
  • Look a little closer at a few of these Twitter lines, follower numbers and scores and it would appear that, at best, their influence score is not exclusively based on property market knowledge*. This is not to say that these people are not experienced, professional agents, as I am sure they all are but, it does rather discredit the scoring system which aims to show  “A leaderboard for the most influential Estate Agents in Social Media”

    K Index   ZPP100 Realtime ish

    ‘Snap-shot’ of real-time data taken at 21:00hrs on 31.8.13

Will I withdraw from the #ZPP100?

Not at present. As I have consistently said, it’s just a bit of light-hearted fun with a relatively serious side to it.

Is this just sour grapes that I have dipped a couple of places in the past couple of weeks?

No; I have maintained a steady top 10 position since I entered the list shortly after it started and a few places up and down now and then don’t really phase me. I have always said that being in the Top 100 in the UK is an achievement in itself. I do, however, like to play on an even field and hope that an improved scoring system can be implemented to ensure that the list retains credibility

*Don’t get me wrong, almost everyone (bar the highly focused corporate accounts) has a bit of fun and off topic, lighthearted conversation on Twitter and Facebook (I certainly do) but, I am trying to make the point that the scoring for the ZPP100 should be, in the main, about property and property market opinion and knowledge.

P.S. Please don’t ask me where or how I worked out the API code for the index. ‘I’ didn’t but, I have a few friends who work in IT who occasionally like to be given a challenge for a bit of fun but, equally, like to keep their skills hidden from the limelight.

Chris Wood 31.8.13

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, he lives in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest, his two dogs and his elderly Uncle. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

13 thoughts on “The @Zoopla #ZPP100 ‘game’

  1. Absolutely spot on Chris – volume of Tweets too influential – valuable content that genuinely “influences” people should be the major element taken into account – plenty of people in the lists don’t “influence” very much at all in my view!

  2. Absolutely spot on Chris , seems to be plenty of people just chatting to their friends constantly via twitter but not exactly being influential. It was fun at first but once I could see how easily it could be manipulated I lost interest . We all know who the real influential people are and there are at least 3/4 in top ten that I’m sorry to say don’t fall in that category . Obviously you do Chris !!

  3. I’d second what Julian has said above. Although the #zpp100 has given agents something to ‘puff their chests out’ with and connected those that perhaps wouldn’t have done so without the leader board, it needs to adapt and be driven by genuine ‘influence’ in property matters. Hats off to you for blogging on this as I have had similar views for sometime, that’s not to knock the #zpp100 as I do think its a positive thing, but like you suggest, it should look at scoring in order to retain credibility.

  4. For the record, I started using Social Media as a way to learn from my peers and connect with like-minded professionals to share views and discover new ideas. I then realised that by creating a network of local people, whether they be in trades related to property or not, we could assist each other by spreading the word about what we each do. I might publicise a local mums-and-toddlers group, for example, by retweeting one of their posts; in return they might retweet something I write which may then be read by some local parents with growing families who are just thinking they may need to move. It’s free. And as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. One thing that I hadn’t budgeted for when I started was that it’s also, dare I say it, fun. I’ve “met” – virtually over the internet as well as in reality (Penzance for example) – people in the industry that I may never have spoken to otherwise. I have a laugh with people – estate agents, letting agents, people who have nothing to do with the profession at all – who make me smile. I combine property-related chat with idle banter. I try to amuse, sometimes I win, mostly I fail. The fact that Zoopla decided to put together a league table of agents who tweet a lot had nothing to do with me. I didn’t ask them to do it. But the fact that my name appears on the list has clearly offended some, so I have instructed Zoopla to remove me. I couldn’t give a monkey’s, to be honest. It won’t affect what I’m doing on Facebook, Twitter, etc, but at least I won’t have to feel guilty that by tweeting about my cat, rather than about buy-to-let yields, I won’t be getting in the way of those agents who are so much more worthy. I will continue to use Social Media, “socially”.

  5. Hi Martin, you seem to have taken this personally and that, most emphatically, is not what this post was about. I thoroughly enjoy your tweets, they are interesting, often hilarious and always a good read and I enjoyed our meet-up and hope to have more. I certainly don’t believe for one minute that you have been gaming the index.

    The main point of my post is that the index IS open to gaming and is not a good way of showing who is influential on purely property matters (some of my own scoring comes from non property related stuff and should not count, but it does).

    The other point I make is that the index DOES appear to have been gamed by people who don’t just see the index as a bit of fun but appear to have other agendas. I believed that was worth writing about as it is unfair on the majority who ‘play by the rules’, such as they are. Whilst I am not going to be drawn on who I think has been gaming it, the statistics and timeline content of some index members do indicate that this has been the case.

    The ZPP100 is a system that needs a more subtle, more intelligent, scoring system such as Zoopla have said they will introduce when they add in scoring weighting for ‘ask an expert’ on their portal. The problem with that, though, is that few members of the public use that part of the Zoopla site and, again, it could easily be dominated by a few players who have the resources to put into answering any questions that arise rather than an open competition for all sizes of agents across the board and UK.

    In simple terms; Zoopla rate agents on their ‘sociability’ not their ‘professional influence’. If Zoopla want the index to have ‘professional’ meaning, they need to find a better scoring system.
    I sincerely hope that you will re-instate yourself on the list and look forward to chatting with you on Twitter in the coming weeks
    Regards
    Chris

  6. Agree Chris.

    I’ve noticed an increasing and huge volume of, often rather banal albeit social, dialogue between a small group of agents that can result in literally dozens of tweets per day, all of which list all the other “members” of the conversation. This, given the Zoopla methodology, will see these agents increase their standing on the list. Whether this is deliberate, or a side product of the activity, I am far too diplomatic to comment on!

    Now, it is social media and shouldn’t all be about business etc. but I prefer to chat at length over the phone or by DM.

    Fortunately I don’t count as an agent for Zoopla’s purposes but regard myself as a more than interested observer!

    Mike

  7. Hi Chris,

    Just before I start, this is my own personal opinion so please don’t reflect this upon the estate agent I work for.

    I totally agree with this one in terms of the scoring system but I believe there is an over riding factor of what is influential and how do you actually determine if someone is influential or not? For example, something that may be influential for a London based agent may not be regarded as any kind of news for other agents based elsewhere as it doesn’t concern that property market but that doesn’t mean that the other agent isn’t influential just because they haven’t posted an article etc.

    There’s a lot of different things to consider when talking about being influential but I believe influence should be reflected in your sales / lettings portfolio as after all if your being influential, then you should be generating business from it, and in my own personal opinion I think that’s the real analytic to measure along side of course customer satisfaction (although that could bring a whole different conversation about it completely).

    I totally agree with Martin in regards to RTs etc for local business and economy and to raise awareness of other services through each others networks. Sunderland have just passed a Business Improvement District vote which in some form is related to this as its all about local businesses supporting each other, and bringing in more business for the area.

    I also totally agree with your point about others using tactics to jump the board and without names etc I’ve had the personal experience of one agent duplicating content and then once blocked searching my own personal social media accounts to get a snoop of what i’m doing (they’ve even done so with my girlfriend!)

    I do think it’s vital that people do keep it social, and keep engaging with each other but there has got to be the over riding issue that let’s not forget it is a marketing tool and from my experience we’re doing well as we’re getting enquiries generated through our SM accounts about our property listings which is our primary intention.

    Overall I think the zpp100 is great for estate agents until it’s taken too literal and overrides their marketing and focus.

    Cheers,
    Dean

    • Hi Dean
      Thanks for taking the time to pen that. As I tried to make clear in my bog, this about a flawed scoring system in a property index, not a personal dig at the way anybody uses social media. As I say in my blog, the ‘problem’ with the scoring system is that it does allow the system to be played and whilst the vast majority of people are very happily tweeting away giving no thought to manipulating their scores; some appear to be gaming a very easily gamed system. As you say, perhaps a local or regional system should be employed with weighting to allow for head of population for a national comparison. That’s not for me to judge or, to try to work out. What I do believe is that the system itself has worked ‘ok’ up until now but, is now in need of an update/ re-write.
      Chris

  8. Excellent blog Chris. For #zoopla100 to have any real credibility, the majority of tweet content should relate to the property market. EA banter is fine, but this engagement should not be contributing to #zoopla100 as the volume completely outweighs what this index is supposedly based upon. I tweet for Nick & I receive more RTs on non related industry news which surprises me. This could be because my property tweets don’t interest people but my banter does? Whatever the issue, the scales certainly don’t balance.

    Saying that, I have had many enjoyable chats with fellow EAs and I thoroughly enjoy sharing the twittersphere with you all!

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