Feb 05 2012

RIP Reorb. Meanwhile, welcome NegNet – another network

Two years ago, I met software developer Tom Inglis to talk about Reorb, an online social network he had founded in August 2009 for professionals in the commercial real estate business. In the face of strong competition from magazine-backed rivals such as Property Week‘s Property Network (post) – which now has 5,603 members – and Estates Gazette‘s community – 473 members – as well as generic business network platforms such as LinkedIn, Reorb struggled to prove commercially viable. It was put up for sale by its board last summer, but I don’t think any buyers came forward, the site closed, and the Reorb.com domain name now just takes visitors to Tom’s company website, Feusd. (Meanwhile, I also encountered another would-be property community, Enska (@Enska), but its website was down when I checked it today.)

Now there’s another venture targeting a similar market: NegNet, “the social and professional network for Estate Agents“. This was launched quietly only last week – I learned about it after being followed by @NegNetUK on Twitter – with a website platform based on WordPress and its Buddypress plug-in. The site aims to be: “THE online hub for Estate Agents where you can network, discuss industry news, socialise, search for and advertise jobs.

The site is light on details about its founders (I always like to know who’s behind anything I join), but some quick online research revealed the domain is registered to Brentford-based Joe Shrimpton, a former Barnard Marcus branch manager who now runs Red Residential, a lettings agency focused on studio flats in west and central London.

Despite the apparent willingness of estate agents and other professionals to join online networks, Reorb’s experience shows it is difficult to translate this into online success. Time will tell if NegNet can do better.

3 comments

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  1. These days where everything appears to be connected, it might be easy to think that building an online community is a no-brainer – people will find you and join. However it is a sight more complicated than that.

    Without some other attraction and before critical mass, visitors to your community site have no reason to come there.

    Most of us are very set in our ways about how we use the internet, and expecting us to come and give our time and effort to learn a new platform isn’t something that should be entered into lightly. Even with a large off-line following, I doubt that the online communities of print publications will make it pay unless the audience (who are, like all of us, busy people) continue to get some real value from being there.

  2. Good point well put, Su.

    I have talked about this in presentations about online communities, sometimes dubbing it the ‘Field of Dreams’ challenge. If you know the film, you will recall the repeated exhortation: “If you build it, he will come” – however, with online places, there is no guarantee that if you build it anyone will come.

    And even if people do come, what do they do when they get there, and do they return? The challenge for many communities is to get people to return regularly and to contribute in some way, with participation not just the reserve of a few activists. Otherwise, such sites are just lists of people who maybe visited just once – they are not communities.

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  1. […] Ning-based network (post) and other real-estate communities. When I last made that comparison in February, the latter had 5,603 members, while EG’s had yet to reach […]

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