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Inman Series on Social Media

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It started with MySpace (Not really, but let's say it did anyway), but now it's morphed into niched markets, and Active Rain is one of those. To what do I refer? Social media that is. The Web 2.0. 

Inman has done an excellent three-part series on the rise of social media, what's working and what's not, and the role real estate is playing in it. (Registration is required, darn it.)

Part One
Of course, when it comes to social media and real estate, AR is king of the hill. Part 1 of the series devotes much of its content to AR...

"ActiveRain, the most prominent real estate-focused social network, emerged last June and in less than a year has amassed more than 20,000 real estate broker and agent members. The site now gets about 150-200 new members each day, and site traffic has doubled in the last month and a half, according to co-founder and CEO Matt Heaton." (I watch the counter at the top of the page and that number exceeds 200 in any one day as best I can tell.)

The article goes on to suggest that, while social media is good for networking with colleagues, etc, it may have limited bearing on sales. "But even as thousands of real estate agents flock to ActiveRain, the way homes are bought and sold remains unchanged. Many industry professionals are enthusiastic about new social networks, but are also unconvinced that these sites will change the habits of top-producing agents," states the article.

Here's the thing. It's the consumer, stupid! (Actually, I'm not calling you stupid...it's a take-off on something Clinton said years ago about the economy...ah, guess you had to have been there.)

Consumers are using social media in all forms. That's really the issue. The Web 2.0 has empowered them to share information, ideas, recommendations and referrals. Hello! They are talking about you! We need to be listening to what they have to say and getting in on the conversation. That's one reason it's important that we participate in the same social networks they do, and the reason we need to blog. If we don't have a voice in the conversation that's already going on, we become irrelevant. 

It's not really about figuring out a way to use Web 2.0 to generate leads. It's about staying relevant with the vast number of consumers who are living their lives online. It's about creating personal relationships with these people that, hopefully, will result in transactions. It's creating a transparent environment where trust can be achieved and where you are perceived as a knowledgeable expert. It's about putting the "real" in real estate. (Corny, but I couldn't stop myself.) I know, I'm preaching to the converted. 

Part Two
Part 2 of the series continues to talk about AR and centers around blogging as the glue that makes the Web 2.0 stick. It also references our dear friend Mary McKnight. One salient point Mary makes in the article is that agents are using AR as a way to increase their search engine rankings. That's actually happening too! So, see, all the time you're spending on the site is actually good for something! :-)

(Reading through the series as I blog here, I'm beginning to think Matt paid Inman or something. So far, it's really all about AR! Just kidding...just kidding!) 

Oh, one other thing. The article says AR is a good place for new bloggers. While I'm not new to blogging, I do concur, it is a good place to be. And, if you happen to be a new blogger, is it a GREAT place to get your feet wet.

Part Three
Part 3 does move on to other social media sites (guess Matt didn't pay enough to get traction in all three articles...again, just kidding!), including the now infamous Twitter, which up until a couple of weeks ago no one had ever heard of even though it has been around for about a year. 

That's the nature of the Web 2.0. It tends to have a quick rise and fall, not unlike some pop culture superstars. Here one minute, gone the next. 

"Julie Jalone, a Realtor for Lyon Real Estate in Roseville, Calif., is experimenting with Twitter, a tool that allows people to send quick, short text messages to update the world on what they are up to at any given point in time, from a phone or from a computer. Of course, someone has already developed a Google Maps-based Twitter mashup, at Twittermaps.com, that maps the location of folks who sent recent messages to the Twitter site." 

The article also mentions Real Estate Voices, which is like Digg, only for Realtors. As an aside, REV is built using a software called Pligg, which anyone can use to build similar sites. That's the thing about Web 2.0 usability, anyone can do it. The next generation net is not about technology, it's about people. It's like Google's new coop search engine thingy. Anyone can build a niche search engine using Google technology...easily, quickly, and at no cost. But, then again, you can do that with Rollyo or Swiki, and even your own social network using Ning. Truth is, you can create your own Web 2.0 empire using these and other tools. Again, for the most part, it's all easy and free.

Ah, but I digress...

Let me suggest a social media strategy. Keep in mind the overarching principle:  The consumer is in the driver's seat. They are really the marketers. It's their opinions and recommendations that others are listening to, not our marketing messages. We've been largely tuned out.

That being said, you need to:

  1. Establish a beach-head in the Web 2.0. Your blog is one way to do that. It gives you a stake in the game.

  2. Listen to what they are saying. Use sites like Technorati, subscribe to RSS feeds, and watch Homethinking.com to get a sense of what the consumer is saying about you, your company, the industry, etc.

  3. Get a seat at the consumer's table. It's important to not merely listen, but to engage. That means doing things like setting up a MySpace account (or some other social network), commenting on consumer's blogs. and updating your own It's their show, but you need to be sitting on the front row. (Does that make sense, or am I trying to hard to create meaningful metaphors?)

The value of Web 2.0 for Realtors as I see it at this point (and, keep in mind, my opinion is subject to change with or without notice), is a) sites like AR are great for collaboration and we need to take advantage of them for networking, encouragement and instructional purposes, and b) our use of social media from a sales and marketing standpoint needs to be less oriented toward creating our own structures, and should be geared more toward getting involved with the consumer where they are. 

Whew! I've said more than I know, but I would value your contribution to the conversation, so please add to it. Disagree with my assessments, or confirm them. Whatever you do, don't let this 30-minute diatribe be only a monologue. What's the fun in that.  

Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Coldwell Banker Realty
Paul - Thanks for an excellent article.  One thing popped out - homethinking.com does not appear to have accurate data - it has Suzanne and I listed in Chandler, AZ at our previous brokerage - we were never based at the Chandler location and moved brokerages August 2006. 
Mar 30, 2007 03:04 AM
Joan Mirantz
Homequest Real Estate - Concord, NH
Realtor, GRI, CBR, SRES - Concord New Hampshire

Paul...my comment is also on Homethinking .com.

I'm curious about how their information is input? Do they pick it up off some MLS site and incorporate it? I'm asking cause there are many agents NOT listed!

Would you reccommend we ask our clients to post on there after the completion of a transaction? (only if they're happy of course!)

Thanks for such a helpful and informative post!

Mar 31, 2007 10:00 AM
Paul Chaney
Transparent BPO - Crowley, LA

I really don't know that much about HomeThinking, so I can't comment on how they work. I would certainly recommend that you ask your clients to write a positive review. You can be sure they'll do a negative one without needing encouragement!

Apr 01, 2007 12:25 AM
Susan DeRosas
Medford, MA

Hi Paul,

Great summary on the Inman Social Media series!  I'd like you to take a look at my new Real Estate social networkhttp://www.MyAgentBook.com

What is MyAgentBook?
MyAgentBook.com is an online social network community for real estate agent professionals, providing the opportunity for members to communicate with each other across the country for the purposes of building and cultivating professional relationships, sending or receiving referrals and sharing professional information.

Here are a few Reasons to Join MyAgentBook.com:
- Network of Real Estate professionals
- View listings of other realtors
- Read informative industry information
- Network with others to send & receive referrals

Aug 13, 2007 03:59 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

GOOD ONE  I'm on it.

 The future is uncertain, that's for sure.


Oct 04, 2007 06:10 PM
Joe Manausa - Tallahassee, FL
Joe Manausa Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Tallahassee Real Estate
Nice post Paul. I think social networking is really starting to break down walls. I look forward to see how our industry is going to embrace this in the years to come.
Oct 07, 2007 12:27 AM
Brett Baker
Realty Executives of MId Missouri - Jefferson City, MO
E-Pro, GRI
If you find that information about you is incorrect on Homethinking.com take controll. You can update the information listed there yourself without paying any fees and it is very important to do so. It is very simple to do. I have also found that the person who created Homethinking is very easy to deal with as well. She is actually an AR member too. I found that there were 3 profiles for me and none were accurate. I quickly got them changed and updated to reflect the most current information. What I am currious about is how many other sites are out there that have incorrect information about me.
Apr 04, 2008 04:44 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I have not ever heard of homethinking.com.  I will go there right now and see what they have on me!

Jan 31, 2009 09:38 AM
Mark Artesani
Keller Williams Realty - Fountain Valley, CA
Huntington & Newport Beach, Fountain Valley Homes

Thanks for the review and comments. I am trying to get a handle on social networking. I am on facebook and have a twitter account but am never there. I am trying to find examples of how others are successfully walking the fine line of using social networking for business with out abusing it.

Thanks, Mark

Apr 16, 2009 03:23 AM
Sandra Mathewson
RE/MAX 4000 - Grand Junction, CO

I subscribe to Inman News and attribute my growing technology expertise to things I read about and research on Inman.

I have also read many books about Facebook, Twitter etc. that explain how to use it, what not to do etc. So many Realtors just jump in and usually end doing it all wrong.  The key is "relationships", not posting flyers and blurbs like  "Call me for RE in Peoria".

Thanks for the good article!


Apr 18, 2009 02:34 AM
Marcia Hawken
Naples Luxury Specialist

Paul, I am new to all of this but have found I could be spinning my wheels if I did not know the right way.  Thanks for the excelent post!

Aug 21, 2009 09:31 PM
Emily Medvec
eXp Realty LLC - Santa Fe, NM
Broker | Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

Your three recommendations are right on the mark. Establishing a beach-head somewhere in Web 2.0 is critical. The effort I invested in microblogging paid off in two substantial buyer sales in 2009. This was also an easy way to participate at the consumer table another one of your key recommendations. The best way I track myself online is by googling or binging myself and looking beyond ranking and more in the details given the real time data now available there.

I am now using postlets to make it simple to find my listings in one click and focusing more on conversation and relationships to make a difference.

I could not agree more with your excellent summary and post. I still have tons to do both here on Active Rain and blogging. Your post was a reminder to stay open minded and keep adapting as we enter this new year and decade. Thank you for your generous efforts.

Dec 27, 2009 10:43 PM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Paul another excellent post, as always. I did find my name but it was way down the list.

Feb 16, 2010 11:39 PM
Marcia Hawken
Naples Luxury Specialist

Paul, Nice meeting you in Orlando.  Look forward to hearing from you tomorrow at the FAR convention. 

Aug 25, 2010 01:37 PM
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Really good post. Good concise thoughts.

I guess we should all go to homethinking.com and check on the accuracy of their information,

Thanks for the post.


Mar 02, 2011 08:36 AM
Mary Borth
Bloomington-Normal, IL

I love all things Inman! This is a great resource ~ thanks for sharing and putting it all together in a bite size format.

Mar 05, 2012 10:00 AM
Todd Mack
Coral Springs, FL
Property Manager Assistant

Wow! Your post is almost 5 years old and it still has legs! Shows how social media just keeps growing.

Best wishes


Mar 20, 2012 05:11 AM
Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239
Real Estate One - Commerce, MI
Michigan homes for sale ~ yesmyrealtor@gmail.com
I am still trying to perfect my presence on the web. It is a great place to be
Jul 27, 2012 08:43 AM