Most brokers that went to Real Estate Connect last week probably expected a reprise of familiar topics: transaction management, "the future of MLS", a little Redfin bashing and — wham, bam — see you next year.
What they got was sucker punched by a mind-melting barrage of apps, widgets, bloggers and innovators all somehow part of something called Web 2.0. One general session presentation bore the subtitle "You are no longer in control".
Several brokers I talked to asked what they needed to take home and execute on. Here is some of what I offered:
- Don’t panic. Understand that Web 2.0 as it applies to real estate is really just about engaging people in conversations about … real estate. You have the intellectual capital within your company to do that. It’s just a matter of employing the right tools and getting your sales people to use them.
- Listen to your customers. Put a half dozen of them in your boardroom and have them interact with your company website. Look over their shoulders. Film it. Study the feedback and act.
- Leverage an untapped asset — the knowledge between the ears of every one of your agents — to engage consumers. Right now, I am tapping my 10 years in real estate and technology to help someone solve a problem. You or your agents should be solving problems for buyers and sellers by blogging about street by street neighborhood happenings, reporting on local schools, etc. Applications like blogs help you leverage this asset.
- Create connections. Not getting how social networks apply to your business? Try this: Your agents put people into new, unfamiliar neighborhoods every day — why not connect them? Go to Ning (a company that lets you build your own networks in a flash) and set up a network for every neighborhood you service. Each time you work with a buyer, invite them in to connect with other neighborhood newcomers.
- Fill the technology vacuum for your agents. Many brokers offer little in the way of truly useful technology or training then complain about the awful websites and personal marketing gimmicks agents employ. Make sure this doesn’t happen again. Set up every one of your agents with a blog. Train them to use it as effectively as they possibly can. Have someone in your org familiar with LinkedIn or Facebook run classes explaining how to use (and not abuse) these platforms to make connections.
This is still just a start. What you do, ultimately, may involve a hundred things not mentioned here. But do act — it’s easier than you think.
— Brian Boero