I am very heavily involved in the overseas property markets. I run some "social" sites and I've been observing over the past few months how some of the real estate agents have been coping in collapsing markets.
One thing stands out above all else. Those that are active on forums, e-communities and blogs are the ones still in business. Those who I know (and there are many) who have no online social involvement are literally on the verge of closing their doors. In countries like Spain and Bulgaria this is very much the case.
Let's take Spain for example. The property market has crashed to such low depths it will take years to recover. From an estimated 40,000 estate agents just a couple of years ago, estimates show that over 50% of those have already shut up shop...and the others are hanging on for dear life.
I have many realtor friends who are not active on any of the social networking sites. Even though they kept saying that they'd "get round to it soon". It's too late.
The majority of people use the Internet to research everything before buying anything these days, including property. Those agents who actively put themselves out there, offering advice on forums, blogging about their lives/ business, those are the ones which are still doing ok. Don't get me wrong, it's still tough for them too but it looks like if anyone is going to survive the downturn, it's these.
It does take time to participate in online communities and the results may take time to come, but in the long run it is worth it.
The problem is that the majority of people in business just "don't get it". They don't understand what being socially active online can do for their business.
I suppose it's good for those who DO get it....such as you folks reading this! Don't stop, keep doing what you're doing!