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The Power of Relationships & Influencers – Industry is the Antisocial Part 2

Are You The Antisocial?

In part one, we discussed the antisocial at some length, and for good reason. In social media there are two sides of every fence- Industry and those that see themselves as the consumer of Industry.

Serving Salad Inside the Walled Garden

Industry is often perceived as the Big Wall. We’re served exactly what an Industry wants served and nothing more. There is no collaborative relationship in a 1.0 universe, and relationship potential is non-existent. Customer service centers are stationary and one dimensional, they take calls and repeat scripts designed to lump each individual input into a category. The Industry chooses to use the feedback for growth, or it doesn’t– often leaving the consumer cold and unheard. By proxy, the consumer can gauge no influence on the product (negative or positive), leaving a negative mark on the Industry. Multiplied many times over, you can begin to understand how the reputation of a business can suffer within the collaborative social media environment.

As previously discussed, social media is a collaborative universe. Consumers are excited to work with those that offer a collaborative environment around their product or service. Rather than a walled garden, you’re often presented with a decision maker related to the product. A personal relationship is possible, and the consumer can gauge relationship potential.

Feed Me & I’ll Feed You

Early on, due to budget constraints, an Internet startup owner is often the voice within the new media space for the concept. The business owner is looking for input and wants desperately to share their product concept with influencers and gain wisdom from the crowd- exactly the polar opposite of walled Industry.

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Perceptions and the Antisocial Elephant

In the case of the real estate space, agents are beginning to understand little by little that by presenting themselves as “REALTOR,” they align themselves inside of the perceived walled garden of the establishment that is real estate industry- a perceived one dimensional world. Social media has allowed individuals to begin breaking down the perception that the REALTOR (NAR) is the antisocial. The antisocial has preached themselves into the red that real estate is X and only X, in an environment where the consumer wants real estate to be exactly about them, they want to influence their experience, and in many cases, they want to influence others. The consumer is seeking a collaborative environment, they wish to be more than a statistic, and are eager to give input and knowledge.

Collaborative Sally

The consumer using the wisdom of the crowd through reviews, forums, and over other conversational media are confirming that they’re not alone in this desire. Millions of others will share information willingly and are socially endorsing not only the product (in this case, a house), but also services of agents they’ve seen that are collaborative in nature. They’ve had opportunity to interact with a person (Sally the agent) in media spaces and have learned that Sally wants to help everyone, Sally helps others freely, Sally refers free material, and Sally isn’t pushing the pontificated message of Industry or advertising. Sally often disagrees openly with the walled garden Industry and does things more like a consumer. Sally thinks like a consumer, and is a consumer, so by definition, is part of the group outside of walled Industry and is socially endorsed to others by the consumer- this is the brilliance of social media, this is a collaborative relationship with valuable potential.

The good news for REALTORS is that many in the profession have opted to maintain a close relationship with the term REALTOR and have embraced social media principles at the same time. This works well for the Association so long as the individual continues to act as Sally does or risks spending social capital granted to the REALTOR brand created by Sally and the Association possibly becomes alienated as antisocial.

Yeah! What the Crowd Said!

This is not a new concept where brand and reputation are concerned, but social media allows for the magnification of messages, both negative and positive as online and offline realities continue to merge. Social capital in new media spaces solidifies negatives and washes away any positives with individuals who rely on the messenger for endorsement and recommendation. In this case, the consumer joining the conversation to gain wisdom from the crowd related to real estate will avoid the antisocial (and those around it) at all cost, and collaboratively share warning with those seeking the same related knowledge, thus the viral nature of expensed capital.

Branded Industry will find it very hard to manage reputation within the one dimensional walled garden as they are often viewed as the antisocial. Disintermediation is taking place where newer, smaller, more approachable collaborative models engage within the new media space- we’ve witnessed this first hand with IDX/MLS issues over the past several years.

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Who Are You?

We’re also seeing one dimensional industries join social media spaces on a daily basis designed to pontificate and control the message as opposed to simply correct misconceptions. They are antisocial in nature as they do not outwardly share knowledge and information, relate themselves outwardly as individuals, instead they relate themselves as the company logo or brand and not as an individual speaking on behalf of the brand. The misunderstanding of the collaborative space leaves them pontificating into the red as they’re not interested in the message of the crowd, nor its input to make the product or service better, nor does it give endorsement to those who wish to improve or collaborate- it remains one dimensional in a multi-dimensional universe- nothing more than an advertisement.

Ninja Me This…

I find this to be unfortunate. The concepts of 1.0 models often began at the dinning room table (much like today’s 2.0 startup) and blossomed in the 1.0 world. Heart, soul, and experience was put into the product or service as well as the support mechanisms designed to serve the consumer. Many I’ve met and worked with in the boardroom are defensive when they hear that their companies are actually failing to meet the consumer head on because the bulk of their expense already is in fact customer service- they already believe they are engaged, and that they do listen. Most of the failures of so-called social media “gurus” advising executives can be traced back to their inexperience in either the independent business world or the corporate business world, having only experienced one and not the other. It’s not a personality flaw, rather an inexperience that limits understanding of the walled garden and how to merge the two.

Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?

Reputation management hasn’t become more complicated, it’s gone multi-dimensional, and all Industry can succeed much like Sally the agent, but change and understanding will be necessary. Gone are the days of the bully pulpit of machine, and born are the tiny gears that make up the collaborative space we now know as social media.

Jefe, what is a plethora?

Who will teach these old dogs new tricks? The real estate industry will. The misunderstanding of those outside of real estate is that the industry has one million employees when the reality is that the industry is made up of one million independent business owners that practice real estate and are removing the corporate stigma of the industry brand in their own way; it’s just Sally and about how special she is to those who collaborate with her on their experiences. Although less than 10% of all REALTORS are engaged in social media, we are witnessing in real time the largest hands-on model of how industries can manage reputation, shed the stigma of Industry, engaging the consumer head on- a single collaborative agent engages a single collaborative consumer one at a time, outside of the walled garden where influencers are influenced.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. David Taylor

    January 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I am a Google Adwords Professional in Australia focusing on the Real Estate industry and just wanted to say what a great real estate blog you have.

  2. Ken Brand

    January 7, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Benn, ummm….this is a lot to digest. I’ve read and reread. As a sales manger, leading a team of REALTORS, I strive to point and support them in the direction you speak of.

    I believe they will shine above the mass average by extending their perception beyond REALTOR. I believe one key to success is to be the provider of what ever someone needs. Not the literal provider, but the Go To Person, Problem Solver and Amplifier for what’s needed – home, family, real estate, local lifstyle, etc.

    The beautiful thing about various social media tools/platforms is the ability to share/reveal the personal you. People naturally choose people they like and trust. Sorta like Daniel Pink’s “thin slicing”, I believe people can sense who and what you are by reading what’s been shared in Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.

    As you shared, this freedom of information, crumbles the walls of convention and predisposition…by consumers and colleagues alike.

    It’s a whole new world…I wish I was 30 instead of 52…the future will be so beyond today’s imagination.

  3. Mark Eckenrode

    January 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    good read, benn. i’m going to try and nail down what i see here:

    there’s good old fashioned B2C marketing where the business speaks to and markets to the consumer. sometimes, they even allow the consumer to talk back. it still works, but for many reasons may not necessarily the best method for an agent.

    where we’re at now is C2C marketing. consumer speaking to consumer. as you stated in your first article, you’re a consumer at heart. hell, even Mr. Guerrilla Marketer me is a consumer at heart. for a number of different reasons, speaking as a consumer to your consumers builds a more profitable business and a more trustworthy brand.

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