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Is Understanding Social Media A Top Priority for NAR?

February 15, 2008

I know I take contrarian views to much of the received wisdom on the, but… well, I can’t help it.  Since I’m not flogging any product, or trying to get leads from this blog, or any such thing, but just write on topics that interest me, I suppose I find it more fun to disagree or to take a different angle on a story.

Which might explain why I am mystified about this story:

Does the NAR “get” blogging and other aspects of social media? I believe the answer is clearly no.

So why should the NAR hire a “Social Media Director”? (Director, Guru, Advocate, Manager – pick a title, any title.)

To help bring them into the 21st century.
To improve their brand recognition.
To improve their brand reputation.
To accelerate their learning curve on the implementation of all aspects of social media.
To take advantage of all social media has to offer.
To engage the “” to help turn some into advocates for the NAR.
To develop and provide training and systems for the NAR membership to take advantage of social media.
To provide an active conduit between the membership and leadership.

You tell me, what else could a NAR Social Media director do? I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with a disadvantage. No can do.

The Internet and social media can be incredibly powerful tools if they are used properly. With a good Social Media Director, the NAR could trim hundreds of labor hours from the learning curve and use the power of social media marketing and networking to reach out to not just its membership, but the general public as well.

Basically, the author (Jay T.) of NARWisdom blog, made a public appeal for a Social Media director position at NAR.  That sounds like a good idea, except… well, let me get to the exceptions in a bit.

The commenters are in a happy tizzy because Dale Stinton, the CEO of NAR, showed up in the comments with a generally encouraging comment:

I have been reading a lot of blogger comments about social media lately that suggest NAR is late to the blogosphere party. I guess the way I see it, we’ve actually been going to a lot of consumer and communication parties lately – but the bottom line is: most of these folks’ observations about our participation in blogs (no matter how kind or unflattering) are right!

We need to engage in the real estate conversation everywhere, not so much to convince, but to show we give a hoot. While blogging as a genre is hardly mainstream yet, especially to us more traditional communicators, we need to encourage and participate in all media. The old axiom – “the medium is the message” couldn’t be more apropos.

The advantage to us is we probably have more information on almost any aspect of the real estate business or marketplace than any other single entity – it seems pretty darn short-sided not to be making it available to those that care enough to enter the blogging fray. The worst possible reason not to actively participate is that we might get our feelings hurt. I’ll gladly take that chance if we learn something from it.

So this is an early valentine to all of those out there who ‘lead by blogging’ – congrats to you for your passion – whether there’s one or one hundred or one thousand other voices out there in the wilderness, at least you are engaged. My pledge to you is simply that we will do better, make more of an effort to be good ‘blogging’ citizens, and engage our members and the consuming public we so zealously claim to serve, in a more hearty debate and sharing of ideas.

My apologies if my grammar may not be the best, but I own it – in the words of the immortal Dr. Frasier Crane – I’m listening!

How cool to have the CEO himself drop by in the comments and pledge to do better, make more of an effort to be good ‘blogging’ citizens!

What I wonder about, however, is whether this really is where NAR needs to be focusing right now, given its legal problems, and the image problems of the real estate profession, of the Realtor brand specifically.

And in that context, the notion that Social Media is a panacea for the ills of Realtors (and NAR by extension) is… shall we say, quaint?  Blogging and making Facebook profiles is going to improve the brand reputation of Realtors?  Really?  Engage the to turn people into advocates for NAR?  When NAR is busy making Realtors look like asinine fools out of touch with reality?

Then again, I’m not a Realtor, therefore not a member of NAR, so maybe I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.  I am a marketer, however, and I care about the real estate industry.  I do think NAR has an important role to play, but not until it recognizes the real threats to the industry.

Social Media, or lack of understanding of Social Media, is pretty low on the list of real threats to the industry.

High on the list is the utter devaluation of the Realtor brand, tied directly to the fact that there are far too many people carrying the Realtor tag (which means no meaningful differentiation between a Realtor and a non-Realtor real estate agent) combined with no real skills and knowledge that comes with the tag.

I contrast the Realtor brand with the CCIM brand (or better yet, SIOR) in commercial real estate, and the difference is visible.  Contrast the Realtor brand with something like the Esq. brand or the MD brand or the CPA brand and it starts to get out of hand.

High on the list for NAR, I would imagine, is figuring out what the value proposition of a Realtor is in the post-MLS world that we are swiftly approaching thanks to companies like Trulia and Zillow.

I’m glad that Dale Stinton and Jay T. and senior people at NAR are paying attention to the, and to bloggers, and to social media.  But I don’t know that they’ve really thought through what “social media” in real estate really means.  Nor do I know what their priorities are for NAR to be able to judge just how high on that list “understanding social media” really is.

I just hope it isn’t in the Top Five issues….


2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2008 6:43 pm

    RSH – I don’t think I said the NAR should be focused on social media, nor that it was a panacea for the ills of Realtors/ the NAR. At least I didn’t mean to.

    Yes, there are bigger fish to fry. And maybe (MAYBE) better use of social media would help fry those fish. The NAR is woefully behind the times in many respects. Believe me, as a Realtor I see it every day.

    You make excellent points about areas the NAR c/should be focused on. The sad fact is, a significant portion of the 1.4ish million Realtors out there have zero clue about what NAR is, or isn’t doing. I just happen to think that using the tool that is social media could help in the battles that you so aptly discuss.

    Never meant to imply that is should be a top priority or was a panacea.

    “I’m glad that Dale Stinton and Jay T. and senior people at NAR are paying attention to the, and to bloggers, and to social media.”

    I don’t really fit in with Dale Stinton and senior people at NAR. I’m just a real estate agent doing my best to make a living. I have zero clue where (if at all) the NAR places social media on their “to do” list.

    The vast majority of my business comes from my blog and web site, so I don’t just pay attention to the “”, I live it every day.

    Am I encouraged by the fact that the CEO NAR stopped by and is engaging? Yep. At least it shows someone at NA is not completely clueless. And given how clueless the NAR can be, that’s at least somewhat encouraging.

  2. February 15, 2008 10:03 pm

    Hey Jay – thanks for stopping by, and for your comments.

    For what it’s worth, I agreed with everything you wrote, but I’m just a little bit leery of all the hype around “web 2.0” and “social networking” and such in the real estate space.

    I just thought it was bizarre for Dale Stinton for pay such homage to social media, when he hasn’t done anything I’ve read/seen to address the truly big problems that Realtors and NAR have.

    I’m encourage that he stopped by and engaged. I hope he’ll stop by and engage here too, although that’s probably a bit too much to hope for since (a) I’m not even a Realtor, and (b) I am ranting a bit :). But more than that, I hope for all of you guys’ sake that NAR address the big issues the industry faces.


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