The 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]