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Writings about real estate, branding, marketing, media and technology from the principals of 1000watt.

I’m not contrary, I’m just thinking

I’ve been traveling like crazy the past few weeks.

Detached from home, from family and from my Tempur-Pedic mattress, I had lots of sleepless nights. At the end of my trip I spent a few long days hunkered down in the French Quarter.

In the evening, after the parties, I’d sit on my balcony eating and listening to the music that carried over from Bourbon Street just a couple blocks away. It was a welcome departure from the prim and proper California town I now call home.

With my computer and cell back inside the room, ideas, thoughts and questions with no answers that had been marinating in the the back of my mind came forward, ready to be grilled.

I thought I’d turn each into a blog post, but decided I wasn’t up to the task. So I jotted them all down on my plane ride home.

Jots of consciousness I’m not comfortable inside the status quo.

I don’t break rules. I just interpret them liberally.

Brands that do this tend to amass a seriously loyal following.

I disagree with James Surowiecki and believe that the crowd isn’t always right.

Especially when the component parts of the crowd no longer think independently.

I’ve been conflicted lately about the Web. Call it a love/hate thing.

As great as the Web is, it has also eliminated many things that have not been replaced with equal value.

I miss real rock stars. I miss skilled travel agents. I will miss real journalism.

I have a growing distrust of the kids currently engineering our social experiences.

74% of people today no longer believe in advertising yet rely on the opinions of social media “friends.”

But the safeguards that protect us from irresponsible big brand advertising do not apply to our no-name brand “friends.”

Will it matter?

I recently watched a smug Zuckerberg proclaim this as the “new age of conversation” for Facebook.

Valaria asked a good question: “since when is a proclamation a conversation?”

In exchange for our addiction to Facebook, Zuckerberg will earn billions. I’m no longer finding this relationship equitable.

The growth of social media is driven by psychic rewards we receive for how much we say. Not what we say.

As a result, the social Web has become the Gulf of Mexico. Soiled by verbal spillage.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been all over America and didn’t share my location or my experiences with the rest of world.

But you can be assured that I was at baggage claim, rode in a cab, ate at restaurants and crossed some streets.

Some might say that by not documenting my every move I robbed my “friends” of the opportunity to share in those experiences.

Forgive me.

The $10,000 A-List speaker has been replaced by the $5,000 B-List speaker who sort of presents the same thing. She’s just cheaper.

The B-List speaker is replaced by the free C-List speaker. He plagiarizes slides, copies ideas but sort of says the same things.

Now, the C-List speaker is being replaced by the D-List speaker: the vendor rep. They say nothing.

It’s worrisome to me that likes, comments and user sessions are accumulated and offered back to us as intelligence when most of this information is generated without thought in the first place.

Last week I ran into a slew of top producing agents.

One of them closed 26 deals last month and will close 200 before the year is out.

These agents have no Web strategy.

Two weeks ago in Dallas, I heard a broker on a panel argue against the RPR.

Her reasoning was that a new agent should not have access to the same data as a veteran agent.

What can you say about an industry that loves to recruit new agents and then send them out into the world with so little?

Imagine if the medical profession thought this way.

I took one morning off, picked up some breakfast and went to visit my friend Darren.

I spent three hours in his garden watching his 1 year-old son test his walking feet.

I didn’t Tweet it. Foursquare it. Or post pics of it on Facebook.

Does that make me the Mayor of Nowhere?

If a picture speaks a thousand words, how many words would a two minute video about your community speak?

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37 Responses to “I’m not contrary, I’m just thinking”

  1. Ian Greenleigh says:

    Q: You know how you know you’re good, Marc?

    A: I’m no longer involved in real estate marketing, but I read your blog as much as those that are more aligned with what I do–and I enjoy it more.

    Your insights are timely, normally right-on, and applicable to far more than just real estate.

  2. Christian Sterner says:

    Dude…you should write a book…oh wait, you already did!

    I think one common thread in your stream of consciousness here is the idea of quality content and how its value has been diminished via the quantity fueling the real time web.

    Our quality of life off-line is for sure degraded via our ill-conceived need to engage in real-time. I see people posting things about how happy they are to be hanging out with someone else (usually another Twitter user), but that leaves me wondering how happy they really are to be present where they are and with whom.

    I have a more optimistic view of the web because I feel like we are nearing the end of the user-generated craze and that quality content will be king vs mere ordinary content. If this were not true, I would not be here, posting comments :)

  3. Michael McClure says:

    Marc,

    As my experience with Social Media deepens, my view of the role and value of Social Media is changing.

    I find myself seeking respite from the noise.

    I find myself distancing myself from certain people I once held near and dear because they can’t turn themselves off. They feel compelled to share EVERYTHING THEY DO with the world.

    They are literally foursquaring me to death. As proof of this, I enabled a filter on Tweetdeck to screen out all foursquare-sourced Tweets. The volume of Tweets decreased noticeably. And I thought, “WHY do people feel compelled to share all this?”

    With all due respect, NO ONE is that interesting. NO ONE.

    When I think of the people I respect the most in Social Media, they are the ones with the highest signal-to-noise ratios. Yes, there IS a social element to Social Media, but some people seem to have lost all sense of discretion, exactly as you wrote previously in your memorable and excellent post, “Foursquare and Five Years Ago: Recalling the Promise of Real Estate and Social Media” at http://www.1000wattconsulting.com/blog/2010/02/foursquare-and-five-years-ago-recalling-the-promise-of-real-estate-and-social-media.html#more-4004.

    Yes, I am a bit of a hypocrite for writing that, but I AM trying and I AM changing my ways.

    Out? Quantity.

    In? Quality.

    Funny how that theme keeps repeating itself everywhere I look…

    Best,
    Michael

  4. Marc says:

    @Christian, Michael

    Overall, for me, it seems we all get swept off our feet too easily about things.
    People are too #superexcited about everything.
    I can understand excitement. But what exactly is superexcited? Sounds like something that requires medication to control.

    I hope we are nearing the dawn of something new but it’s not likely going to happen for a while. Not if Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla and others continue to catalog it, mash it and use it as crowd sourced information.

    Imagine a day when everyone wears a video camera and can live stream their every second onto a website where we can see what they see, and be with each other always.

    Mm. I think I would, at the very least, tune into Ashton Kutcher’s stream.

  5. Bill Lublin says:

    You know, you’re nowhere near the curmudgeon you affect on-line.

    I picture you at say, The Royal Sonesta, listening to the music from Bourbon Street, and I get a sensory memory of my trips to the Vieux Carre.

    We’re not required to listen to the noise – or to over communicate, or even to get #superexcited. But if someone else does – What’s the harm? Your sharing your trip here, the way you wanted to, as back drop to your thoughts, had value to me. You were a break in my early morning routine.

    If what you’re doing is succesful, then keep doing it – whether it involves social networking or not. Real Estate agents don;t need to abandon success for failure, but perhaps some might find success through the use of these tools. And some may never find success, for reasons beyond our understanding.

    I don’t care what Zuckerburg makes, but I’m having lunch with Valeria tomorrow- and our f2f relationship was a direct result of social media. As was ours – I don’t want to be too Pollyanna-ish but life does return to you what you put into it- and the quality of your engagement with life (or social media) is a result of what you bring to that engagement.

    You would be great without social media – but I might not know you – and that would lessen the quality of my life :-) Thanks for letting me spend a minute with a friend during my early morning work routine- it was thoughtful and refreshing as always.

  6. Tim Ney says:

    Hi Marc:

    Sounds like you are ready for another break through… Thank you for sharing your thoughts once again.

    In many ways I feel that the technology that is meant to connect us has clearly created a disconnect. It is amazing what we can hear when we quiet the chatter…

    I used to go hiking for exercise and to make it to the top… Now I listen to my footsteps and feel the wind.

    In regard seasoned real estate agent that does not want new agents to have all the information… There are a lot of people lost in our industry and others. Hope they find there way…

    Thanks for sharing,

    Tim

    Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller.

  7. Marc says:

    Bill,

    I’m a stylish curmudgeon. I stayed at the simple, but chique, W French Quarter.

    Here’s the harm Bill: Almost every speaker now in real estate has become Nostradamus. “If you don’t become part of this revolution, you’ll be out of business in 5 years”.

    Maybe the opposite is true. The agents who are addicted to this stuff might find themselves out of the agent business and into the sending resume business in hopes of landing “social media manager” jobs. They’ll learn quickly that these low paying positions require more skill than having posted 20,000 tweets and a menagerie of fake Facebook fans.

    This isn’t a revolution. It’s a thing. A fad. The big brands, the smart marketers, the media kingpins, they know how to take advantage of it and use it. I think it’s irresponsible to say to a real estate person, “Hey look at how JetBlue does it, you can do it too”.

    Sending 100 posts a day about where you are is not a normal social strategy. Posting every synapse of thought in your brain is not a prudent media strategy. If you think there is no harm to that, speak to Michael. Or Jeff Tuner who recently forwarded a tweet to me where an agent outright calls a fellow agent a liar that clearly transgresses article 15.

    There’s harm here for sure.

    Winners in this game: Slickster speakers with their social media presentations.

    Losers in this game: Brokerages and vendors who now contend with their swelled head celebrity social media managers who are more about pushing their own personal brand that the company that pays them. And loose cannon agents who every day, one steps right across the border of common sense and decency.

    We ought to get clear on what agents should and shouldn’t be doing based on their talent, skill rather than what they need to do to be part of a fad?

    Associations should stop hiring keynote speakers based on how many social media friends they have. They are not doing their members any justice there.

    Brokerages should clamp down on this too and get very smart about what their standards for broadcasting are and follow their agents carefully because after all – THIS IS MEDIA. IT IS PUBLIC.

    Events planners need to become more selective about who they hire and put a lid on evangelist speakers trying to convert the masses using charm and pop culture rather than good information.

    Social media is very powerful used right. But it’s not the only way. If you can’t master it, master door knocking. Master print advertising. Master volunteer work. Community outreach. Join a local advocacy group for clean energy. And socialize that way.

    These are the things that I see top producers doing. Maybe they don’t have 8000 friends. Instead, they’re closing 40,50, 100 deals a year and more.

    Finally Bill, I hear what you’re saying about meeting people through SM. But I think, if I stood on the street corner and greeted everyone that passes, I’d meet people that way too. But at what point does it all become anti social?

    This is what I am grappling with daily in an effort to help those who count on me for good advice.

  8. Christian Long says:

    Powerful piece of writing/reflection. It is the paradox, to be sure, of our day/age. And there is a compelling truth in there, a piece of a larger — still to be defined — truth there.

    Thanks for sharing it with me. I’m a believer, ultimately, in not siding with either ‘for’ or ‘against’ (our political economy/spirit is proof positive that we are nearly devoid of an ability to make good decisions, as opposed to just confirm our suspicions); instead, I value the strengths of both/all systems (travel agents we know for years vs. on-line reservation social networking that crowd-sources the right fares/destination reps) and avoid what doesn’t serve the questions I’m seeking to answer.

    I also think that there is a real tension for folks who believe that they are ‘experts’ no longer being ‘the’ expert….and trying to figure out why they matter or have value professionally, and that we are also served by a need for quality over quantity/ease of access. And that is what matters to me most: quality.

    We’ve for ages (ever?) assumed that the authority was ‘right’ and that we were obligated to embrace their word; now we are able to dismiss what we don’t want and seek a expedient answer/option/voice that ‘feels’ more true now. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve always been committed to ‘quality’ – then or now.

    Me, I don’t care if you write with a pen every note you send or you rapid-fire respond in 140 character bursts. What I care for is whether the pursuit of long-range ‘quality’ is what is at stake, and whether ‘then’ or ‘now’, quality has rarely been the underlying currency.

    So, I work with a gestalt or collage principle: use the tools and be inspired by the metaphor of the tools, but still grasp that human relationships and authentic experiences matter more than being ‘right’ or being ‘in the moment’.

    ***

    christianlong2000@yahoo.co.uk | 817.371.6263 | Twitter profile | Linkedin profile

    Founder, Be Playful | Studio + Design website/email coming soon

    Curator, TEDxBloomington | May 14, 2011 | christian@tedxbloomington.com

  9. Todd Carpenter says:

    “Associations should stop hiring keynote speakers based on how many social media friends they have. They are not doing their members any justice there.”

    I agree. But at least at NAR, there’s more to the problem. I give input on every speaker submission for our annual conference that involves social media and the web. The excitement is now so high that almost everyone is submitting on social media.

    Mark, considering that Alan Dalton made the same Nostradamus like proclamations of a social media revolution at Midyear lest week, I think the noise is is going to grow before it quells.

    I think we had too much SM content in San diego last year. Those who submitted a non-social media related topic to speak at NAR this year have a better chance of getting accepted than those that followed the noise. I submitted myself. Neither submission on social media.

  10. Jeff Turner says:

    Marc, I am struggling with some of the same thoughts as you are, though not nearly so organized.

    And that is what has lead me to the conclusion that what’s really missing from all of this social media stuff/hype/revolution/fad/thing is discipline. At the individual social media level, absence of discipline is actually rewarded. Absence of discipline is being passed off as transparency, or sharing, or real-time location-based marketing or some other social media buzzword of the day. It’s perplexing.

    And I don’t have a conclusion for this comment.

  11. Max says:

    Very cool post, kind of sad thought :)

    “It’s worrisome to me that likes, comments and user sessions are accumulated and offered back to us as intelligence when most of this information is generated without thought in the first place.”

    Personally, I like to have an opportunity to read other people’s comments or reviews. I realize the “herd mentality” and always sift through to pick out the criteria that I care for. If I’m looking for good sushi place, and some one giving it a bad review because they had to wait longer than average – it doesn’t affect my choice. It would be different in a Starbucks or a grocery store.

    As for the “likes” and thumbs up/down – I agree there.

    As for the social media and “new age” Nostradamuses:

    This is not new, it just we have the technology to broadcast and reach out to masses. If before we could (mostly) hear people that had something to say, now we hear those that just have to say something… Since early 2000s everyone gradually proclaims themselves a guru and evangelist of xyz. Every time there is an economical crises – there more seminars (now webinars, ebooks and youtube videos) on how to survive or get rich in this market… The Bible says – “teach man to fish…”, but there is another old saying (at least in Russian) – “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” And I won’t be surprised if those with 200 transactions a year with no web strategy will come out just fine. Why? Because they probably are not easily manipulated and do what works without jumping to conclusions while being #superexcited. A lot of agents are concentrating on the wrong things. Of course, there is a strong generation of competition growing, but they are not the masses of social media “gurus”. I believe in natural selection :) Those who don’t adjust, don’t understand and misuse, like you said, will probably move onto looking for a social media gig, become consultants, speakers… and might even write a book. But I don’t think it will affect out industry – I think we’re at the early stage of big house cleaning :) and the rest of the big brands will wake up sooner or later as well. Don’t you think?

  12. Marc says:

    @Todd, If feel for you. And compliment you on the move to extract social media evangelism from the NAR. I didn’t submit anything thinking no way would I ever be asked to speak but probably should have.

    As for Alan, I am not surprised by what he is doing. It’s irresponsible on his part and he should know better. Besides, what in God’s name is he even doing talking about social media? It’s like he woke up a few months ago, discovered it and now is now born again. And the crazy thing is, no one, I mean no one, advises him to back off.

    Alan preaching social media is like Glen Beck preaching the legalization of weed. It’s simply so bizarre to me.

    So, Alan, back off. There are as many ways to make it in real estate as there are agents. No one has to adapt to technology or to social media or anything to succeed now or in five years when social media will replaced by mental telepathy. Or some other new fad.

    @Jeff – the man who contributed the word of the day. Discipline. Amen.

    @Max and the rest. If you all could read all the emails I am getting from people who agree but are afraid to publicly admit it for fear of retaliation from “friends” for speaking the truth and from their heart.

    Is this where it’s all led too? Has this fake notion of transparency all brought us to a place where we are fake about everything in fear of how we are perceived by the whole world? It’s high school all over again. Only worse?

    This is no way to live. Liking things you don’t like. Thumbing up things that you can’t stand. Making believe you care where your friends are. Not standing up and speaking about your true feelings because they might not be popular or because you might loose some fans.

    Please.

    Do me a favor, stop emailing and telling me you secretly agree with me. I don’t really need that pat on my back anyway. If you are so apt to post every waking minute of your life online but resist exposing your true feelings on a blog post, then how can I trust anything you ever say?

    Other than that, though, I am having a pretty cool day over here.
    :)

  13. Bill Lublin says:

    Marc:
    I think you’re condemning the automobile because of a profusion of bad drivers and sleazy salesmen. The issue here is not social media or social networking or new media – they’re all facts of life and extensions of technology that has become ubiquitous. The issue is how they are used, and who is misdirecting the public through their claims of expertise or instant success. I like Jason Falls’ statement about what a social media expert is , when on a stage with Choirs Brogan, Brian Solis, Valeria Meltoni and others with he said, “None of us are experts because none of us are using all of it!”

    The issue is not whether to use social media, that horse has been let out of the barn, but how to use it , both personally and professionally. I don’t know that I would use the word discipline as Jeff did, but I would suggest that people need to use prudence and common sense because there is way too much noise and way too many people jumping on the bandwagon without considering what works and what doesn’t, what is appropriate and what isn’t, what is legal or moral, what may be dangerous and what isn’t.

    As I said in my first comment here, if you’re doing things that work – keep doing them. If you can utilize social media for your personal or business use in a effective, ethical and responsible manner, then do that.. but none of it is about magic bullets. If you aren’t good at what you do, social media won’t make oyu a star.

    There is obviously way too much “chaff” in the atmosphere from people that confuse quantity with quality, or chaos with purpose. But that doesn’t mean that the vehicle is flawed, merely that we, in our enthusiasm, run the risk of confusing glitter and glitz with jewels of knowledge. But we should remember that shoddy options, bad choices and slick approaches to foisting things onto unsuspecting real estate agents and companies predate social media by a ton.

    My concern for the industry is the lack of understanding, focus, and discrimination (in the good sense of the word) that seems to permeate so many of the social media speeches that you mention – which threaten to drown the good messages and appropriate uses of the social marketing venues.

  14. Christian Sterner says:

    One thing is for sure: the biggest opportunities on the web are ones of filtration. It’s why you see AOL declaring itself a “content company” and the NYT getting prepped to toss up their pay wall.

    Page rank isn’t cutting it. Once it’s proven that “likes,” en masse, afford some kind of gain (within the social and search spheres), we will find likes being gamed, farmed out in 3rd world countries etc.

    People make the argument that anything that can be digitized will not be paid for. In the case that we are speaking about quality content, I have to hoist the bullshit flag. Why? Because you have to traverse the digital ghettos (like YouTube) to get to it.

    “But it’s free!” we declare. Yes, but it’s noisy, so noisy-in fact-that people are about to start paying real human beings again, to curate, filter and create the best content. Having seen the dark side, I’ll be the first in line with my Visa, ready to pay for quality and Rupert knows it.

    People will pay valuable people…period the end.

  15. Max says:

    “..I am getting from people who agree but are afraid to publicly admit it for fear of retaliation from “friends” for speaking the truth and from their heart.”

    I’ve heard that too from agents I know and from people at the recent barcamp here in Phoenix. I don’t think they necessarily “afraid to publicly admit for fear of retaliation”, they are just dragged into the mass religion they don’t get and don’t understand its “bible”. But they are being preached to from every corner, that this is the way to go. So they try, and they think they’re failing at it, while everyone else is raving about it.

    At the barcamp some one had a direct simple question – he was in real estate investment business and he asked how he can make money with social media. He didn’t want to hear any bull, just the specific things that will make him a living. None of the speakers could answer the question. The pitiful part was, that they couldn’t even explain the “benefits” of what they were promoting. He asked if there was anyone who believes that amount of time they spend on SM is actually giving them a good return on investment, and of course, no one from the audience said anything…

    This is where the “herd mentality” shines – if you don’t understand it, shut up and follow the rest, and hope that you’re not being dragged over the cliff.

    But you know, this doesn’t bother me… it’s always been this way, no matter what it is – it’s still up to us to choose the path we walk. What bothers me, are the leaders that ride on the wave of “famous for being famous” and when asked about their business models or strategies, it appears – they don’t have one. So they will be, as long as the herd keeps blindly following them. To paraphrase Joseph de Maistre – every community has a leader it deserves, and I believe so.

  16. Marc says:

    Well Max, that simply feeds into my general concerns about BarCamps. While I love the concept and the idea that local agents can get together locally and discuss and share real estate and ideas, today’s BarCamp is not that and subject to lots of people on soapboxes lathering up the crowd with nothing other than an agenda.

    How do I really feel? Basically, due to the great thirst for knowledge, BarCamps offer an open door to anything with a drink. But no one is checking the alcohol content.

    My detractors say, then why don’t I attend and provide clear, unbiased, unadulterated sound advice? My response is then it’s no longer a BarCamp. It becomes a conference. But know this, if ever a BarCamp took place locally where I live, where my local agents are, where no one from outside my town swoops in with their agenda and attends, I’ll be there and like an open book share everything I know.

  17. Todd Carpenter says:

    ” But know this, if ever a BarCamp took place locally where I live, where my local agents are, where no one from outside my town swoops in with their agenda and attends, I’ll be there and like an open book share everything I know.”

    So you were in Walnut Creek today?

  18. Todd Carpenter says:

    Marc,

    I thought you lived in the bay area. My mistake. The great thing about REBC is that more of the events you describe are happening without fanfare.

  19. Jay Thompson says:

    Walnut Creek, CA — where RE Bar Camp East Bay took place today is, according to Google Maps, 16 miles from Oakland. To my knowledge, no one from “outside” swooped in with agendas…. I wasn’t there though, so I could be misinformed about that.

    I also know, for a fact because I facilitated the session at Phoenix REBC, that there was at least one session where it was *clearly* discussed that “social media” isn’t a cure all, and is in fact, not even necessary for success in real estate.

    Was there some session at REBCPHX where someone thumped the SM bible? Probably. There were roughly 70 independent sessions that day. If an attendee in the real estate investment business couldn’t get an answer to a specific question, then he should have “voted with his feet” and moved to a session where he could get an answer. As one of the primary organizers of that event, I’ll take the blame for not explaining that option clearly.

  20. Marc Davison says:

    Jay,
    I don’t know since I’m town for other business and did not attend this local Barcamp. My statement and generalities are born from a collective of past experiences seen from the outside. I am self admittedly skeptical of any event that has, as you describe, 70 sessions where any one or all can be led by anyone with or without qualifications. I often imagine what school or religion would be like if classes or sermons where dolled out in that fashion.

    I realize this is harsh and biased and a very unpopular point of view. But I am also not prone to making outlandish claims without merit. For all the potential good a Barcamp offers, it has a history of being a vendor feeding ground – and since I am and have always been an activist, sensitive to the plight of the agent who has been swindled by snake oil, I have refrained from going gaga over the whole thing and why I have made the personal choice to never speak at one since I am, by definition, a vendor.

    Nevertheless, knowing you as I do, I am pretty confident that if there could ever be a model of how a Barcamp should operate, yours would most likely be it. And if it did not include speakers from California, New York and all points in between, I marvel at that accomplishment.

    Todd
    My company is based in the Bay Area but I live south in what locals refer to as the Central California Coast. The complete opposite of NYC where I grew up.

  21. Jay Thompson says:

    “I am self admittedly skeptical of any event that has, as you describe, 70 sessions where any one or all can be led by anyone with or without qualifications. I often imagine what school or religion would be like if classes or sermons where dolled out in that fashion.”

    But Marc, in a properly formatted Bar Camp, it’s not someone standing up and teaching class and/or preaching. It’s a collaborative and participative thing. All a “leader” in an REBC session does is facilitate the participation. In theory, someone completely unqualified on a particular topic could facilitate a session that would, ideally, have participants of all levels of expertise.

    I teach a lot of blogging classes. I consider myself fairly well versed in most aspects of real estate blogging. But I learn, in every single class, something from someone who is *totally* unqualified in that realm. So why can’t an unqualified person facilitate a Bar Camp session? They can, and they do. Often, these are the BEST sessions as fresh, unclouded thoughts and discussions often arise from the uninitiated / unqualified. They ask the questions grizzled veterans have forgotten about.

    Granted this is the ideal session. Are they all like that? Of course not. But many are. That “atmosphere” isn’t something one can really pick up in a Twitter stream, or via a blog post, or by word-of-mouth. or from the outside. It really has to be experienced. In real life. No offense intended and with all due respect, but you’ve never had that experience.

    You say you’ve “made the personal choice to never speak” at a REBC. To be honest, that statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding or misconception of what a REBC is (or is supposed to be). There aren’t speakers there.

    Are REBCs perfect? Absolutely not. Is every session a collaborative and participative love fest? Nope. Are there vendors plugging their wares? *Occasionally*, but the recent REBCs I’ve been to have been FAR (and I mean FAR) less a vendor feeding ground that a typical Inman / NAR / Association conference.

    I’ll readily admit that I’m a REBC fan boy. I attend a lot of conferences, and as many REBCs as I can. Almost without fail, I learn more and grow more at REBCs than I do at any traditional conference. I was at NAR Midyear last week, and was practically assaulted by vendors. Already my inbox is filling up with their spam. If I go to a REBC session and a vendor takes over or pushes something, I get up and walk out. I tried to turn and walk away from vendors at Midyear but was only greeted by other vendors. That simply does not happen at REBCs.

    I can only recall getting one email from a vendor that came via a REBC. (Well, except for Inman News sending repeated spammy emails about a REBC discount for Connect).

    REBCs are vendor feeding grounds? Not from what I’ve seen. But I’ve only attended seven REBCs. Maybe some of the others have been vendor fests. I can’t say, I wasn’t there.

  22. Joel Burslem says:

    I do hear you and am listening Jay. But please know I have, on more than half a dozen occasions been asked to “speak” at a BarCamp weeks, even months prior to the event taking place. So I figure, if I’m being asked, others are too. That’s where I am coming from. At that moment, that BarCamp is no longer a BarCamp – it’s a conference. Given the move to be transparent, perhaps those events should be aptly renamed so attendees understand (and me too) the distinctions between true, blue, BarCamps and those leveraging that moniker to ulterior motives.

  23. Jay Thompson says:

    Joel? or Mark? – I know people are asked to “speak” at REBCs. Heck, I’ve been asked. And you’re right, at that point they become conferences.

    And there is nothing wrong with conferences (generally, some suck others are outstanding — of course).

    There has been a lot of discussion about the compromising of the term “Bar Camp”, the “spirit” of Bar Camp, etc.

    The “Virtual Bar Camp” is a perfect example. By definition you can’t have a virtual bar camp — at least not with one-way webinars as it’s done now. Not dissing VREBC, but it’s not a Bar Camp. It should be called what it is — a series of educational webinars.

    I think part of the problem is the nature of the beast. There is no primary organizer or “owner” of the REBC name. So there is no control over how it’s used (or abused). Take Inman Connect for example. It’s developed over time to have its own flavor and style. I’m pretty sure if I spooled up “Jay’s Real Estate Connect” attorneys from Inman would be all over me. And rightfully so. Inman owns “Connect” and can control it. No one owns or controls “REBC”, leaving people to jump on a popular name either intentionally to ride the coat tails, or because they are just caught up in “the movement”.

    It’s an interesting issue….

  24. Marc Davison says:

    It’s Marc. Sorry responded from Joels computer.
    Yeah, nature of beast and all part of trying to tame it.
    :)

  25. Joshua Keen says:

    You say:

    “Last week I ran into a slew of top producing agents.
    One of them closed 26 deals last month and will close 200 before the year is out.

    These agents have no Web strategy.”

    Question:

    Are these agents selling REO’s? That level of production would seems in line with the top tier REO agents/teams in any given market and I know that most of them do NOT have a web strategy. Though I would argue their production would be higher if they had a web strategy and video production strategy that humanized the process of buying foreclosures in today’s market (in my market it seems we have an extremely high fall out rate on foreclosure transactions due to a less than transparent process, and bad blood created between buyer and bank)

    I’d also want to know what strategies these agents are using to create 200 closings in today’s market? Are they long time agents relying on a strong SOI and referral base? Cold Calling? Door Knocking? Geographic Farm?

    We all know … regardless of what many social media pundits want to say about creating relationships … that closing high volume in real estate is about numbers. How many potential clients in the funnel = how many happy clients closed.

    In my opinion, adding a solid web/new media/social web/internet strategy to support an already thriving business is ideal. It’s like having the best of both worlds. Old school sales on the mass dial/contact levels made legendary by Mike Ferry, et al + the targeted “niche” relationship marketing made possible by a new school real estate websites. I’ve been perfecting this system (and continue to perfect and add spokes to my lead generation wheel) for about a year and a half.

    Sort of like the THIRD TRIBE ( http://www.copyblogger.com/third-tribe/ ) of real estate sales.

    After all – we are in salespeople and we are marketers, right?

  26. Marc Davison says:

    I don’t know their strategy. They were in the audience at a speach I gave in New Orleans.. They are with ReMax. They have a team. That’s all I know. But, I’m now as curious as you so I am going to find out and report back to you guys. Maybe, I’ll publish in an upcomming issue of Spotlight.

    But honestly, what does it matter if they are doing REOs or not? Sales is sales. Marketing is marketing. If you are in business to make money rather than fans, these are the numbers that are mist important. Having both is, of course, best of all.

  27. Joshua Keen says:

    I think it matters. If only because 200 transactions a year is most “easily” achieved in today’s market by selecting the right lead generation strategy. Expertise in the REO and distressed sale markets being where you will experience the highest ROI. But then, you must fully commit to playing by those rules — and few agents have the desire to do that. I also believe production levels in today’s market are directly influenced by how strong your business was heading into this current real estate recession. If you’ve been in the business long enough to have an established brand / reputation for results (imperfect as it might be) it will keep the phone ringing on rainy days and, as a result, you’re more likely to close transactions than a new agent without that foundation. Regardless of how often that new agent tweets his whereabouts, how many fans he has on facebook or how high his results are for his name in GOOGLE.

    Of course a solid online presence will create positive impact for most anyone. But if you’re choosing the social web as a primary method of lead generation (as a new agent) then maybe you should be realistic about how many deals you will close in today’s market. Not that 200 is impossible … with the right attitude, approach and strategy I think it is. But you must be clear on the approach and strategy.

    I think the problem with the industry today is that we’ve allowed the technology (and all the talk about it) to interfere with the fundamentals of business strategy. And too many agents are distracted and allow too many things to influence and inform their daily activities. Their business strategy is fragmented as a result. They may have one or two short sales, one or two REO listings from a local asset managers and spend 2 hours a day tweeting and facebooking other professionals in the industry. It’s ad hoc and it won’t work.

    I got a lot from Seth Godin’s recent blog post on choosing a “media channel”:

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/05/do-you-have-a-media-channel-strategy-you-should.html

    “Harder to grapple with is the idea that the media channel we choose changes who we are and what we do. But this channel, this place where we can spread our message, determines what we do all day, impacts the pace of the work we do, informs all of our decisions.”

    Choosing the right media channel / lead generation model will impact the growth of your practice — I believe anyone can create 200 deals through the use of new media and a strong web presence … but that could mean staying home and connecting with buyers and sellers who you can help rather than networking with agents at a conference.

  28. Tucker Wannamaker says:

    “74% of people today no longer believe in advertising yet rely on the opinions of social media ‘friends.’”

    I really like social media. I have been connecting with many great people lately and I also have been experiencing a lot of noise. I see things like “Jane Doe likes this and 20 others” and it frustrates me. Now, just like the masses of advertising I don’t trust, I also don’t trust the slew of “likes” everyone has and I tune them out. The “likes” almost seems worse than advertising because atleast there is a reason for all the advertising being there. It has made me think about what I “like” a whole lot more. I don’t want to stop liking things, I just want to be more intentional with what and who I like. Have purpose and depth behind it. Have intentionality with it.

    I feel like the opportunity in the online world and social media will end up not be for those who are everywhere online, but those who are online with intentionality. Because real and deep (on and offline) relationships happen many times when I am intentional with people and go out of my way to be of better value to them. When I am intentional with what I say, when I am intentional with how I engage. I have also hurt real relationships(thislast week I had an awesome example of my own non-intentionality blunder) by not being intentional with what I say, even with the right motives, by sending out a bunch of noise.

    It made me also think about your blog and why I follow it. You are an example to me of someone not only with a gift of writing, but way more importantly, someone with a “go out of my way to be of value to people” type of person. You are intentional with what you write about and it is inspiring and of great value… and for that I wanted to say thank you. I’m inspired to go write a blog now.

  29. Michael McClure says:

    Tucker,

    I rarely comment on the comments on other people’s blogs, but I simply had to tell you that I totally agree with what you wrote.

    In fact, I have to say…I really…”liked” it. (Sorry… :)

    Having an “intentional” mindset is crucial to success in Social Media, I believe.

    As already stated in an earlier comment on this post, for me it all comes down to “signal-to-noise ratio.”

    And the author of this blog post – Marc Davison – has *about* the highest signal-to-noise ration of anyone I actively follow in Social Media. He’s ALL signal.

    In fact, he’s one of the few people from whom I would actually LIKE a little more noise from time to time… (You’re the best, Marc!)

    Best,
    Michael

  30. Marc Davison says:

    @Joshua. I reached out Re/Max and hope to get a formal introduction to the agent I referenced. When that happens I will call, ask a few questions, and write a follow up. But really, whether they are doing 200 deals a year in REO’s or running a team that allows them to close 200 regular transactions a year the bottom line is, they found a strategy that has results. I suppose that makes them the Mayor of success. A moniker I think everyone is really after.

    @Tucker. I think we are all part of an burgeoning group of people coming down from the effects of the social media hallucinogen.

    Like you, I’m fond of SM. And transparency. And sharing and connecting with friends. I really am. What has disrupted my experience is how “friends” have chosen to use this otherwise wonderful platform we all know and love as social networking.

    Trust me, the urge to resist “noise” has been hard. I’ve released my share of it over the years. But I guess I’m wired to constantly monitor results and reevaluate strategy so over time, there has been less and less of it.

    I’ve also stated this many times, I have come to a place where I view social media as media – a vehicle to broadcast “something” to the social network. As such, I play close attention to what that “something” is and am uniquely positioned to do that as someone schooled in marketing and broadcasting. This is where SM speakers, teachers, evangelists go off track. They are not wired to understand media, how it works and who to affect it with clear brand messaging. Instead, they are capitalizing more on being part of the phenomenon rather than being part of it’s constant evolution.

    @Michael. Signal to noise. Like advertising, social media, in its current “public” construct is a form of personal advertising. In that regard, I have come to believe that there should not be any noise at all. Others might disagree but that’s more about their right to defend their noise due to not having any signal at all. (That’s bound to stir up some controversy). Noise belongs in a private space. Instant messaging. Texting. Where it’s one on one.

    We’ve been seduced into believing that sharing our noise publicly is a fast track to friendship. I’m a hold out. I don’t buy it. I know the RE.Net is in complete disagreement over this citing the friendships made there from their cacophony. I can’t dispute that. I do however, wonder how much more influential this group would be collectively if they reduced the static with some real content.

    Over time, I sense a mass migration away from noise when it becomes clear that the payoff for all the time spent is minimal and a turn toward better, more valuable, useful content. Perhaps this is already beginning.

    Mutual respect yo!
    To everyone.

  31. Ira Serkes says:

    Just some random thoughts.

    The most productive agents I know are likely doing their social networking in real life.

    I’m playing with blogging, twittering, facebooking and foursquaring – but mostly because I see them a bit like the 2010 equivalent of Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 homestead act. Don’t have the 160 acres, but sometimes feel like a mule (or more accurately, an ass for spending so much of my limited resources on them)

    I’m wondering if all this connecting with people and quest for transparency isn’t simply breeding a new generation of narcissists.

    You know I’m also from NYC – I strive for WYSIWYG-ness and the last thing I want to be is transparent – at least, how I perceive it.

    And growing up in NYC during the Mc Carthy Era, whenever I post, I always assume it will end up on my permanent record. I wonder how any people will look back in the future and regret having been so open with what they did and with whom.

    Whenever I travel, I usually go “dark” – Yes, I miss out on some opportunities to get together with some folks, but no need to let the world know where I’m not.

    Love your posts!

    Ira, who you can take out of The Bronx, but not take The Bronx out of

  32. Designer Freelance says:

    Hi Marc

    Thanks for sharing, I really love your post.

    I also have a Love/Hate relationship with Internet. The beauty of Internet is that it allows you to be active in the search of Information. The awful part is the distractors, to many distractors.

    I always try to be positive and avoid distractors online. Everyday I disconnect especially on weekends. You could say I “disappear ” on the online world and concentrate and Focus on the Real World. I even turn off my cell phone.

    Great Post

  33. Jay Spencer says:

    Marc,
    What a great conversation starter. You bring up a number of important points that need further discussion.

    As I tell people who want to use Facebook or other modes of social media as ONE of their marketing tools…One would not run down the isle of their church screaming “I have a great three bedroom home for a great price…hurry it won’t last long!” Nor should they do the same with their Social Media outlets.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  34. Marc says:

    Jay

    Arguably, if an agent is prone to running down the aisle pushing listings, my take is, go ahead and do it on Facebook too. Why not? If someone uses Facebook to network with friends, they can decide where and when it’s appropriate to bombard them with real estate info. In my case, I bombard my friends with my interests, hobbies, etc. It’s ok IMO. In these cases, the tribe will decide and steer the squaw. If said agent is overdoing it with he real estate – people will either say something or unfollow.

    Listen, I think we are both on the same page when it comes to the fact that there are too many agents using social media to broadcast some of the most ridiculous things imaginable as it relates to professional adults. But I do believe in the right context, as it relates to how the market is doing and the general interest people have in real estate, a savvy posting strategy on Facebook regarding real estate can work wonders as it is for several agents already.

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