You go to a real estate website.
You click “Find an agent.”
On the “Find an agent” page, you login using your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google or Foursquare account.
You are then presented with a list of agents in the company with whom you share a connection, an interest, a shared experience, employer, hometown or other commonality.
You can see, for example, that agent Mary Jones shares your interest in antiques. She also happens to be connected to your cousin on LinkedIn.
Or that agent Mike Thomas worked for Microsoft in the 1990’s, just like you. And you’ve both been checking in at the same gym for the past few months â€“ you just never crossed paths.
Or even that agent Angela Davis has three friends that went to college at Ohio State around the same time you were there.
These discoveries, while not necessarily conclusive in your choice of agent, do provide you with a starting point. A basis for engagement. And, hey, you may even call your cousin to see if she’s got any background on Agent Mary.
This isn’t conjecture. It’s possible right now with a new app called Peep.ly.
The social graph as catalyst for commerce
Peep.ly has been under the radar for a while. It’s now in something of a semi-private beta.
Peep.ly exposes the connections and commonalities that lie beneath the surface of the Web, deep in the social graph. It thus aids consumer decision-making, builds trust and uncovers a host of information that can serve as indicators of compatibility.
You can try it out here on the site of one of peep.ly’s beta partners. Just click on “Agent Match” in the left-hand navigation.
Rather than offering the same old marginally useful “find an agent” page, brokerage companies using peep.ly can instead match prospects to agents in a novel and meaningful way.
An individual agent can use this too. They’ll be able to create a peep.ly profile and place the app within their own site.
I like this app because it leverages the social graph to drive business connections in a way that’s both expansive and targeted. Your connections, contacts and preferences â€“ bits of life that may spark a bite of interest â€“ are made available to any prospect, but in a controlled one-to-one manner.
You can filter out connections, check-ins and “Likes” that may not be advantageous in a business context too.
Dispersing the “Undifferentiated Realty Mass”
Differentiation â€“ or, for that matter, any ranking or sorting of agents â€“ is usually anathema.
Most brokers or MLSs won’t do much more than provide keyword and alphabetical “Find and agent” functionality on their sites for fear of playing favorites or clipping some dubious area of expertise.
Media sites don’t like to categorize or rank agents too specifically for fear of limiting the ad space they can sell.
And agents themselves â€“ too many of them â€“ struggle to set themselves apart from what I have called the “Undifferentiated Realty Mass.”
Peep.ly cuts through all of that in a way that avoids the political crap while also being useful.
For better or for worse, choosing a Realtor is not always a rational decision. It’s sometimes based on personal rapport. More often, it’s based on a referral from someone you know who has some sort of connection to a real estate professional.
Of course, there are tons of obvious use cases for peep.ly in other industries â€“ and, indeed, for a general consumer audience. But the company seems intent on making peep.ly work well as a real estate app. At least for now.
I’m digging this app. What do you think?