NAR’s Trying To Reach Out to You

avatarthumbnail.jpgThe National Association of REALTORS is trying to hire a social media manager. What’s a social media manager? In short, someone whose purpose is to try and represent NAR on the various social media platforms – the many, many real estate blogs, Twitter, presumably Facebook and LinkedIn, etc.

The question is whether you, the members of the general public, want to hear from NAR and, more importantly, will you find validity in what that organization has to say?

If there were approval ratings for the class that is “real estate agents”, the best that could be said is at least we’re not the President or Congress. There’s a low degree of trust which those of us who are competent have to battle on a daily basis.

Some of that comes from a natural distrust of people working on commission. Some comes from bad experiences in the past. Some comes from a misunderstanding of what exactly needs to be done in order to complete a real estate transaction. And some comes from NAR’s to-date ham-handed approach to public relations – tired statistics, fuzzy mantras and an almost constantly rosy outlook.

If done correctly, a social media manager could start to reverse the damage. This is a job where you need a scalpel and not a hatchet. (Where have I heard that before?) You’re not so much laying down the law as molding opinion one comment at a time.

The big question among the real estate blogging world is whether NAR understands this. Reading the tea leaves, and based on past performance, our answer mostly has been no. Maybe it’s that NAR is requiring their Social Media manager to work out of the home office in Chicago rather than wherever they may already live. Maybe it’s because there’s a “punch-a-clock” undertone for a position that frankly doesn’t run only in business hours.

Or maybe it’s because NAR posted the position on Monster.com rather than compiling a list and conducting interviews, then announcing the creation of the position along with the name of the hire. I don’t think the New York Yankees would post their manager’s position on Monster.Com, do you?

Or maybe it’s the overall idea that NAR’s leadership lacks the ability to surrender control of the message – maybe not the core, but at least the nuance – to the degree necessary to make this position effective.

In office meetings over the past couple of years, I’ve heard other agents say they want to see more come from the local associations – the Arizona Association of REALTORS and the Phoenix Association of REALTORS (as well as the other local boards) – to try and combat the “bad press” about the real estate market.

This hope misses the point. Yes, there’s such a thing as bad press. But the idea is not to combat the negative aspects of the market because they really do exist. The idea is to try and find the balance, the flip side, the stories of those moving into homes they would not have been able to afford two years ago. That’s what is missing.

Many of us who write for our own real estate blog try and present that second side of the story, though it’s on a somewhat more limited scale than the television news. The local associations could do more, but only if it’s done correctly. (For a lesson in how to do this right, check out Virginia’s VARBUZZ.)

My hope is that if the local associations ever attempt the social media route, they use the success of VARBUZZ as a blueprint. (And I’m easy to find if they want other advice, as are several of my peers.) I also tend to hope NAR follows that blueprint, even as I remain more than a little skeptical.

Of course, none of that matters if at the end of the day the message is ignored by the public at large. Communicating with real estate agents on a wide scale isn’t the problem. Working in the arena of public opinion is the challenge.

NAR wants to reach out to you, and hopefully productively. The question is, are you going to listen when they do?

[tags]Phoenix real estate, NAR, social media[/tags]

About Jonathan

Jonathan Dalton is a 30-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.

  • Wow, Jonathan, thank for the vote of confidence on what we’re doing here at VAR. I think we can do better at VAR, but we’re trying hard and you’ll see some changes for the better at VARbuzz in the months to come. I wish NAR the best of luck. But I agree that that the way this has gone down so far, it looks like it’ll be an uphill battle.

  • Somewhere down the line, Ben, this turned into a referendum of whether the RE.net believes NAR “gets it.”

    With 5% of precincts reporting, CNN projects the answer is no.

  • I didn’t weigh in on the discussion at AG, because I saw the thread a bit late (yesterday afternoon). I can’t stand it when people (and I mean anyone), formulates a strong opinion, based purely on speculation, and not on actual performance or action. The reaction I primarily saw at AG was a reaction based on speculation (and existing anti-NAR angst), and not on action, which immediately drives me away from the conversation, because it isn’t a conversation, it’s grandstanding.

    Anyway, the only action NAR has taken is to post a job offering, with a job description. Reading that job description, it looks to me like NAR is trying to find someone to teach NAR what social media is about, and to keep the current people at NAR aware of what’s going on in the online world, and help current NAR people participate in that world. Although NAR might be blamed for being a little late to the game, certainly wanting a person like that in their fold, to help bring the old dogs up to speed is a worthy endeavor.

    The job description does NOT say this new person is going to be a public spokesperson for NAR.

    Really, I see this new NAR social media person being much like Rudy at Trulia. Rudy runs around and comments lightly on everyone’s blog (nice post!), and brings to Trulia management’s attention anything that may be anti-Trulia or pro-Trulia, so that Pete (and company) can decide what to do. Although I’m not 100% sure of it, I highly doubt that Rudy is actually at liberty to create policy for Trulia. I’m quite sure his online persona is highly scripted and tailored to present Trulia in a way that senior management want to be seen. And in my opinion, Rudy does a pretty good job of that.

    And if the new NAR guy or gal does anything remotely different, I’d be highly surprised. This new person might not be as good or as pervasive as Rudy, but I doubt they will behave in a significantly different way.

  • If the position gets modeled on what Rudy does, it will be a victory.

    You’re right in as much as judgment’s being passed before anything happens. But NAR tends to handle things like this so ham-handed, it’s hard to be optimistic.

  • Excellent post Mr. Dalton.

    I was discouraged (but not surprised) to see my post on this at AG be met with calls that the NAR has failed (interesting, since they haven’t even really started). I say we give them a chance, see who is chosen for this position and see what it evolves into before we just sit back and doom it to failure.

    Yes, it’s hard to be optimistic, and believe me, I’ve not been shy about saying exactly what I think of the NAR at times. But to just write them off before they’ve even had a chance to execute seems a little unfair.

    A position like this has been needed in the NAR for a long time. The fact that they are at least attempting something is encouraging. At least to me. Others have made it crystal clear they don’t see it that way. And that dichotomy will likely exist in this position for quite some time.