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Why the Visceral Reaction to Questioning Social Media?

angry face 2

I have no conclusion

I just thought it would be interesting to start the conversation and hear from each of you SM devotees (oh, how social media of me!).

They didn’t call your baby ugly

This was sparked by an excellent post by Ines.  There were several fantastic responses, and some interesting reactions where folks seemed put off that someone dared to call BS on SM activities and predicting it will die out as a fad.  To the point of questioning the intelligence of the person with the opinion. 

I recall another post questioning broad stroke advice on SM that got some interesting feedback.  But, opinions are like noses.  Everyone’s got one. 

I’m not saying I agree with the author of the article Ines sited.  In fact, I think it’s reckless for anyone to make broad sweeping absolute statements, particularly with no data.  Again, opinions and noses. 

One hypothesis

Do SM devotees feel almost part of a cult?  Not a cult as in “The Hale-Bopp comet is coming, grab your Nikes, put your money in your pocket, eat the pudding and wash it down with vodka” type of cult.

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Instead the sort of cult that is purposefully and specifically built by brands, such as Apple or Harley Davidson (I wrote a post about it here) – that makes people believe they are part of a small tribe with a unique common dominator the masses just don’t possess.  AKA – the “cool kids club”.

For now, I’m neutral.  Since there does not yet exist any absolute hard data that proves to me that it’s a highly impactful tool for agents.  Before you kill the messenger with that statement, continue reading.

What I mean is hardcore analytics.  Not “I got three listings from FaceBook in the last six weeks”.  While that’s certainly a measurable output, it doesn’t take all necessary contributing factors into account when measuring success to an agent.

For example, per Heather Rankin’s comment in Ines’ post, it sounds like she’s got a corner on her local market (yay, Heather) so the density of population and agent SM users could be a factor and measure.

Having said that, nor is there any data to the contrary – that it’s ineffective, or less effective than other measures.  So, I’m neutral. 

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A second hypothesis

Nobody likes to make mistakes or errors in judgment.   And when we do, we don’t want to feel worse than we already do if we’ve discovered it.  It’s too much a hit to our pride.  While questioning social media isn’t outright saying a misstep has been taken, it’s implying a poor choice was made.

Again, that can be defended with a lack of data.  And, even with the data, I suspect there will be too many holes to truly determine if we’ve left money on the table by spending valuable time on SM efforts, or earned more as a result.   You just don’t know until you know, right?

I will cut it here.  But I really would like to know your thoughts.  Soon I will dig more deeply into the possible measures for agents and SM.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for being a part of this community and for having met (IRL or virtually) so many great people this year.


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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.



  1. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 24, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Rock it girl. It is cult-ish. And there are no facts whatsoever that SM is a good place to make business. I think since that agent are chatting to someone they must be doing something good!

    “Yeah I spent all day talking to a vendor in hashtags and acronyms about RECBSD—oh just wait we are going to get our YEO on tonight and drink some #mjoitos and do twitpics.

    That’s what goes on literally. That is doing nothing but having fun. Lordy, lordy.

  2. Brandie Young

    November 24, 2009 at 2:44 am

    Hi Kevin,

    I like where I think you’re going with this – that ROI is often equated with the warm & fuzzy associated with communicating. ok…. That leaves me wondering if Wells Fargo will let me pay my mortgage in Whuffie …

  3. MARIANA WAGNER [@mizzle]

    November 24, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Am I the only one making money using social media tools?

  4. Brandie Young

    November 24, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Mariana – nice to hear from you!

    I hope you’re not the only one making money via SM tools! I hope to dive into ROI on a future post.

    Until then, I’d be interested to hear about profit – meaning effort and expertise vs. money earned based on your time and effort spent. Afterall, your time and expertise is what you (and I) sell and both are quite valuable.

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    November 24, 2009 at 7:40 am


    It’s a good question. First let me say that I have made money from social media. Do I think it maybe a “fad”? I don’t, I think it will be blended into our internet use and not so predominate in years to come. It strikes me that this same conversation was occurred when agents starting getting websites and then again when IDX was introduced. Now those are just part of the job.

    Each agent should be taking advantage of the “here and now” aspect of any new tool that comes our way. I’m fairly burned out on teaching social media classes, because people either get it or they don’t and I think it’s just one more tool in my arsenal that not everyone i going to embrace.

    That said… The people that are are against socmed seem to be those that are just curmudgeons in the first place. Those inherently negative people that just can’t seem to stop finding new ways to put people down are sitting around wondering why they can’t engage clients online. If you hate life it comes through in your social media interactions and the only people who are drawn to that type of negativity are unhappy about themselves as well. Who wants to work with unhappy people?!?!

  6. Janie Coffey

    November 24, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Brandie, I am not quite sure how anyone is ever going to get a hard cold analytic on SM unless that was the ONLY thing they were doing and/or they did very discreet testing (and most agents are not going to go to that extreme). With the interlocking hub and spoke of blog (or website) being fed, in part by SM and other efforts by some agents, how would someone be able to clearly quantify that? When I ask people how they found me, most say “oh, the internet”, they really don’t know which site they happened to click on (or FROM) to get to the point where they picked up the phone or emailed me. Now, I personally CAN tie some of my clients specifically to some media or avenue, but I plenty of others it is simply not possible to know where the chain started.

    If it works for some and they are happy with whatever prospecting someone uses, I am not quite sure why others get up-in-arms to dispute them. Why do we feel the need to attack or question what works for some?

    Yes ROI measurement is a helpful tool, but not everyone is going to do it and I am not sure it can always tell the whole story, especially as intertwined as many agents’ internet presence is online.

    • Janie Coffey

      November 24, 2009 at 7:59 am

      and my ROI measurement comment is from experience. I spent 6 months measuring every single new person who contacted our office through each step of the buying or selling process to see if I could distill where the best use of our time and money was (down to every single prospecting source we have). Far too many were really difficult to drill down to really know their true source (some were very easy) of first contact was. In the end, I had to rely more on “gut” instinct than the analytical side of me would like, but unless someone can show me a clear way to accurately measure ROI for this medium, I am going to have to go with what I see and feel.

  7. Ken Brand

    November 24, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Shhhh, let the unbelievers sleepwalk. Without statistical, verifiable, clinical, empirical, dead-bang data, it really is a waste of time. Until they have reams of analytics, it’s wise to continue building trust, communicating and conversing as per old-school usual – mail some post cards, run ads in the paper and magazines, bump into people randomly at the grocery store or the gym, try to reach someone on the phone and hope and pray for connection and conversation.

    Seriously, the problem with gathering all the ROI data, etc. is that if the people you’re analyzing don’t know what they are doing, it’ll look lame. It’s the same if you analyze the ROI of Holding Open House, Direct Mail, FSBO, Expireds, geographical farming, eLead follow-up, etc. It all depends on who the chef is.

    I preach SM till the cows come home, the 82 agent icons in my office are complain that their ears are bleeding, I preach on. Using SM correctly is no different that old fashioned networking, it’s simply done on-line, for free and conveniently. Team members in the office can specifically attribute SM efforts to individual closed sales and current active listings. As a sales manger, I don’t list and sell anymore, but this year, I’ve referred 6 leads that came directly from Facebook, my blog and Twitter.

    When used well, SM is a money maker and a time saver. Like other marketing mediums and methods, when the agent is passionate, trustworthy, likable and remarkable, their success with SM is greater. When they are less attractive, the results wain of never blossom. If unbelievers doubt, no worries, more for us.

    PS. Next week my blog post is about revisiting The Long Tail Theory. Social Media was a rumor back when the book was written (1996).

    Cheers Brandie:-)

  8. Becky Boomsma

    November 24, 2009 at 8:20 am


    You raise important points of consideration and ruffle a few feathers in the process – 🙂 gotta luv that! Until concrete methods of analytics and data can be applied to social media to gauge the ROI the jury will be out on the true financial benefits of social media networking. However, there is no question that social media and the networking aspects build brand, awareness, followers, and loyalty. Word of mouth alone tells us so. And when you can capture that kind of attention through these effective means that are very low cost, albeit sometimes time intensive, you are garnering business and brand awareness through it, that’s a valuable marketing tool, not to mention the pure enjoyment of networking with some very cool people. It may evolve in many different fore, but social media is here to stay! Thanks for your post!

  9. Duke Long

    November 24, 2009 at 8:53 am

    First of all GIRLLLLL ,you keep getting my attention! I think we may have commented back and forth about this before. The basis of the comments were, Is SM BS and what will we be saying 5 years from now?

  10. ines

    November 24, 2009 at 9:42 am

    The analytics aspect of measuring success puzzles me Brandie and although I totally get your point and curious where this study will take you. You see people like Mariana who feels comfortable giving us numbers and where they come form and others like Janie who tell us it works for them without the specifics – I tell you that anywhere between 70-80% of our business comes from SM (to the extent that many of those clients are absentee owners that we never even get to meet F2F EVER! some we have already bought and sold a few properties with us).

    SM is definitely nothing more than a tactic and one that should be used carefully because it CAN be a time suck and you CAN be hypnotized by the “warm-and-fuzzy”, But ultimately, if there is no ROI, what’s the point? Some can even argue that it’s another way to brand and expose yourself – a successful agent in my immediate marketplace used to do a weekly ad in the local paper and when I asked her how much money she made from that she simply answered “it’s the perception of the ad that I’m after, not the direct ROI”.

    When I started blogging, I did it in Active Rain and after 6 months and not making any money was about to call it quits (although the relationships I created there are priceless) – and then realized that I was blogging without an audience in mind. So the goals need to be clear and the way the tools are used needs to be tweaked and retweaked or just simply scrapped. My point – be clear about the goals and be honest to yourself about the reasons you utilize the tools.

  11. Matt Stigliano

    November 24, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Brandie – To your question – yes. It is a bit cult-ish in terms of the “cool kids club.” Who knows what systems, services, and products will be around tomorrow and how they might change, but in the here and now, social media is here and useful. Why do people act so defensive over it? My guess (and reasons for defending social media) is that many are tired of hearing “Is XXXXX dead?” When I was in a rock band, I got tired of hearing magazines like Rolling Stone, who’s very foundation was built on rock and roll, call rock “dead.” Whether it was hip-hop or electronica, they were always looking to put the final nail in the coffin of a genre that I truly don’t see going away – ever. Change? Yes. Die? No.

    Yes ROI measurement is a helpful tool, but not everyone is going to do it and I am not sure it can always tell the whole story, especially as intertwined as many agents’ internet presence is online.

    In regards to Janie’s comment, I think she’s dead on with the last bit (that I bolded). I’ve written about it before. How do you quantify the actions of a user’s brain? Picture this scenario. You send out a tweet about how you’re the mayor of Business XYZ on foursquare. You happen to follow it up with a tweet about a blog post you wrote about Business XYZ, because you really love the place. A local that follows you on Twitter sees the link and follows it and enjoys the post. They love Business XYZ too! So they stick around your blog and see what else you’ve written. They see a post about a neighborhood you wrote a year ago. They’ve always been curious about it, because they drive by it on the way to work. They visit YouTube to look at all the video you’ve shot in the neighborhood. They wind up googling you and learn you have an ActiveRain blog and look at that, they see that you also wrote about another neighborhood they like, so they read that. They follow a link on ActiveRain back to your main site and use your fancy IDX to search for homes. While thinking about buying, they write a question about the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit on Trulia Voices. You have an alert for your area set up and you wind up answering their question. Your answer is excellent and they remember seeing your name before. Two days later, they call you and you’re under contract on a home in the original neighborhood they wanted to buy in.

    What sold the house? What made them stick with you? What piece of that social media puzzle was the key that needs to be measured for ROI. Each piece took different amounts of time and in some cases, different amounts of money. What’s the ROI on a post that took you an hour to write, but didn’t return anything (as mentioned in my scenario) for a whole year. It may have taken an hour, but to wait for a return for a year surely needs to considered as a long term investment, which changes it’s current value at any given time.

    I think the quest to quantify every little thing we do is becoming more and more difficult. Perhaps if we could follow each user with a small microchip implanted in their brains…

    Even when you ask a client “How did you come to use me as your agent?,” many respond with “the internet.” Ok…where? Many of them don’t remember or didn’t take notice. They just know they were at their keyboard and there you were.

  12. Janie Coffey

    November 24, 2009 at 10:27 am

    question, for those who use events such as Chamber of Commerce involvement, or name your group(s) of choice, to build their business how do you measure ROI on that? Lunches, calls, events attended, dues over years? Some build very very successful businesses from that and only that (I can name a few right now) but you really couldn’t measure the input of this very accurately. Isn’t SM, in a way, the same exact thing, meeting people, building relationships for longevity? I am in no way saying SM is the only way to go nor is it for everyone, it is just another way to reach those who’d you would like and if it works for you, great, if not, there are plenty of other options out there that will.

  13. Mark Brian

    November 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I would like to hear the number of closed transactions from the past year for some of the social media devotees and critics. If you do not show any evidence to support your claims, it does make it an easy target for the naysayers.

    I do see traffic from my SM efforts, but not any sales yet.

  14. MARIANA WAGNER [@mizzle]

    November 24, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I think that the line defining ROI is kind of fuzzy … Social Media and other real estate contact/marketing efforts are sometimes greater than the sum of their parts.

  15. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Hi Matthew,

    I always appreciate your perspective. Thanks for weighing in. Anytime you get to use ‘curmudgeon’ in a sentence, you know it’s good.

    I hear you. As new tools become available it’s smart to check them out.

  16. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 11:30 am


    I’m with you – I don’t know how it can be exactly measured, and I think we are a long way from that.

    I find your statement “ROI measurement is a helpful tool”. I come from a corporate background, so for us it’s essential. I hear you, though. It’s not easy to measure when one relies on networking, IRL or online, and especially a combination of both.

    Net-net: Nobody should be attacked for what they do … thus my original question of why attack those people that raise questions.

  17. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 12:29 pm


    It’s always an honor to hear from you.

    Question: Why is one an unbeliever if they want data? And, for some people I know, that old school way is making them seven figures – today. Should they change their ways? The big question is could they make more, or would they make less by incorporating SM?

    Question: If you had someone on payroll for $50 per hour, 40 hours a week purely to engage in SM, would that adjust the way you measure its success?

    I can’t wait to read your post!

  18. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 12:29 pm


    Good to hear from you. Really, it wasn’t my intent to ruffle feathers. As I stated a few times, I’ve got no dog in this fight. I was just wonder why, if questions are raised, the person raising them come under attack (am I now?).

    Interesting you use the term “effective means that are very low cost”. Perhaps you hit the nail on the head for me. I don’t consider time low cost – but expensive, since that’s effectively what I “sell” through my practice.

  19. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 12:30 pm


    Thanks again for your thoughts. Interesting point I picked up: that your efforts help you with NOO’s. As an investor who’s has never seen any of my rentals (they are out of state) I can see where one would seek out the agent that’s most knowledgeable about the local market. In essence you’re strategically targeting via SM. Awesome.

  20. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    @reorockstar – very nice to hear from you! Thanks so much on addressing my curiosity.

    Your example is great. And multiple activities do feed into and off one another. Same question I posed to Ken above: If you had someone on payroll for $50 per hour, 40 hours a week purely to engage in SM, would that adjust the way you measure its success?
    While I see this is working for many people, I’m still the curious sort that would like to know how well.

  21. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Janie (hi again)

    To answer your question in this scenario, yes and no. Yes it’s networking, albeit IRL, but networking. The difference being the relationship started IRL so you probably have a better idea the starting point of the new relationship. Online – say on Twitter or FB, you may not be quite as sure when the engagement began if they were silent on the other end. So, you never truly know the amount time your valuable time was spent fostering the relationship by the time it came into being. Make sense?

  22. Louis Cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Hi Brandie

    I think that proponents of social media as business media have a vested interest in promoting that it works-other wise who would listen to them as social media gurus at the conferences?

    There is also an element of “it MUST work” (even if there is not compelling evidence that it does) because “EVERYONE” agrees that it must.

    Oddly people engaged 24/7 in social media don’t realize that the vast majority of people are not so engaged, so the outcry you hear is from those that spend most of their time on social media. The more casual users don’t care enough to comment. If it doesn’t work, so what?

    Questioning the business benefits of social media may not be akin to telling someone their baby is ugly, but you are raining on someone’s parade and perhaps livlihood as a social media guru.

    That’s when the smuggness kicks in-non users don’t “get it”


  23. Matt Stigliano

    November 25, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Brandie – I’m sure I would be looking for strong performance from someone if I was spending that kind of money on it every week. How would I quantify that performance though – it’s the question I don’t have the answer to because of my feelings of how social media work (as in my example).

    Of course, having said that, I wouldn’t pay someone to engage in social media for me. That drops the whole idea of “social” out of it and it now just becomes media in my eyes. Why not just hire a publicist at that point?

  24. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 2:28 pm


    Thanks for contributing. It sounds like both Ines and Mizzle can provide some color for you.

  25. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 2:28 pm



  26. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Louis,

    Great to hear from you. Hope all is well.

    Strong opinions … thanks for sharing them.

  27. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Matt –

    Here’s where I was going with this: It’s actually not “free” to engage in social media. The tools are free, but your time is valuable and, like me, in essence you “sell” your time (as well as your smarts). Therefore the question.

  28. Mariana [@mizzle]

    November 25, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Here is another set of my 2 cents … (By the time I am done, y’all will have about a dollar…)

    Social Media IS and SHOULD be free – both monetarily and time-wise. Meaning … You should NEVER replace your current money making activities with something – ANYTHING – until you see it MAKING you money. Until I started seeing results, I just replaced my sudoku and solitaire and “American Idol” time with social media. I was just wasting time anyway … I was throwing social media at the wall to see if it would stick. (Those of you who think SM is crap … there is a nice metaphor for you.)

    Lead with revenue.

    Only AFTER I started realizing closed transactions from blogging and social media did I start integrating it a bot more – spending more time and money on it. But not MUCH more .. honestly.

    We are business people here, right? Although quite fun and entertaining, “social media for business” is and should be a business decision… just like deciding how large of an ad to put in the Real Estate Book (<- I still do that) or when to do an open house (<- I do not do that…).

    Of course we can all waste time on social media, but those who DO waste time on social media are the same type of people who waste time at open houses that do not work in their areas or run newspaper ads that do not make the phone ring… It is a character flaw of a real estate person who should not be a real estate person. They will not be in the business long enough for any of this to even matter.

    It is a matter of just being SMART about it, folks! And, yes, there is a way to be smart about it … and reap in the great rewards of "social media for business" …

    My monetary results from social media are listed in my comments here:

  29. Ken Brand

    November 25, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Good questions Brandie:-)

    I’m not saying, “if someone wants data” they are an unbeliever, what I think is. it’s impossible to specifically quantify the ROI.

    Here’s why. The expertise, personality, social skills and selling skills will all impact the ROI. Sorta like trying to figure out if car is a beater of a race car by how fast it goes around the race track. It would depend on the skill of the driver. The skill spectrum in the real estate industry goes from your front porch to Pluto.

    IMO, Social Media doesn’t really attract strangers (new business) as much as it creates Top of Mind Awareness, which leads to an agent having more of her sphere call when buying or selling or just as profitable, refer their friends. Social Media is just one in a dozen of connection/Top of Mind Awareness tools. A successful agent uses many new and old school others. Who’s to say which touch-tool worked? They all did, the combination of touches made it happen. It wasn’t the entrée or wine the makes the meal, it the whole experience and you’re dinning with.

    Good question about the 7figures old school Icon. Should they change? I think not. Rather, not much, but a little. I think they should evaluate what they do, eliminate what seems to not work as well (think print ads) and begin adding new tools, like Facebook for example. Facebook, when used properly is a 1000watt conversation, communication, relationship and Top of Mind Awareness tool. I am certain they would attract more business and profit if Social Media touch-tools were used. Because, I’ve seen it with my own eyes…as long as they choose and pointed the touch-tools correctly.

    A paid Social Media person? I believe SM is personal. I think an overwhelming percentage people (clients), choose an agent they know and trust themselves or who have been referred by a trusted friend (studies show this). When it comes to real estate, I think most people don’t have a relationship with the company per se. The relationship it’s with one of their agents, trust and confidence are placed with both. When a company has a positive brand image, it benefits the agent like wearing a fine suit would. It makes the agent look more attractive, but their clients are buying the agent, not the suit specifically, although the suit helps.

    I wouldn’t recommend paying someone to engage my sphere, any more than I would pay someone to go to all my social functions on my behalf (actually I don’t go to many social functions, so in reality, nobody goes to mine;-). I would recommend hiring a whipper-snapper-smart someone, to help teach which tools to use, how to effectively customize them, best practices, etc.

    If I was a broker, I’d hire a Social Media person to teach me everything, so I could build velcro like relationships with my team members and to help me recruit and build relationships with talented people who were working for the wrong broker. I’d also turn this whipper-snapper S&Mer toward my agents, not for a beating, but to teach them best practices. Then, instead of having 1 S&M queen, I’d have a army of social media empowered agents, sharing and talking and broadcasting and prospecting across the inter webs. In this case, the way I would measure ROI would be to listen to my agents and ask lots of questions.

    Here’s the important part for the broker, because they (the broker/leader) are also empowered, they would know what success and connections and conversations their agents were having with their spheres, because the Broker is not part of the conversation and connected too. When listened to and asked, the agents will tell you when Social Media created a new transaction. The problem is, as I described earlier, It’s difficult to nail it down, due to variables; the tool, the personality, the talent, the ability to close, the willingness to follow up, etc.

    Selling success is part science and hugely art. How do you calculate the art part ROI? You can’t.

    So there’s my 2cents. Don’t know if it’s very helpful.

    Thanks for listening and the compliment.

    Cheers Brandie and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours:-)

  30. Louis Cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    The biggest drawback of social media for business for Realtors is not the medium but rather its (mis) use.

    I would say its a fair observation that some Realtors spend enormous amounts of time interacting with each other at bar camps, on twitter, on facebook, on blogs and at conferences to the detriment of interacting with potential clients

  31. Jay Thompson

    November 25, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I wish I could peg a ROI to a specific social media / networking tool. Matt nailed it in his comment. It’s too intertwined to dissect. Mariana nailed it when she mentioned the sum being greater than the parts.

    Case in point:

    I just finished showing homes to a couple from out of town. It was Twitter where I first “met” their son who lives here. Then we met IRL at a non-real estate Bar Camp type of thing. He reads my blog on occasion.

    He asked me to represent his parents.

    Was this because he felt comfortable from knowing me on Twitter, was it something I said in the 10 minutes (max) we chatted IRL or was it something I wrote on the blog? My guess is it was a combination of the three that even he couldn’t specify. If one of those parts was missing, would I still be working with his parents? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not.

    There is no question that actively engaging in SM takes time, and clearly time is money. I don’t spend all day on Twitter. I have Tweetdeck up on a second monitor most of the time I’m at my desk. The vast majority of my “twitter time” is spent at the same time I’m doing something else. It’s called multi-tasking. We all do it. It’s not like I schedule this stuff.

    Let’s see, Twitter from 9:00am – 10:15. Then I’ll write a blog post from 10:18 – 10:43. Oh, Facebook is from 2:45 – 3:07 on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

    I sent two dm Tweets sitting at a red light this morning. Did that really “cost” me anything? One of them was to a potential client who *prefers* communicating that way. I don’t believe sending those tweets cost me a nickle. In fact, it makes sense to make useful time while you sit at a red light. I can’t go anywhere, I may as well work.

    I teach a lot of SM classes, and in every one, I tell people point blank that social media isn’t for everyone. I tell them in crystal clear language that they do not have to use any of this stuff to be wildly successful in real estate or life.

    But they damn well better understand it. It’s *not* going away (yes, the tools will change). And it’s WAY too easy to whack your reputation if you don’t at least have a basic understanding of how SM functions.

  32. Matt Stigliano

    November 25, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Brandie – I do see your point with the value of time, but of course, a lot of the time I spend in social media is combined time. I can be on Twitter and writing a post. I can scroll through Facebook while eating my breakfast (I try not to make phone calls when I eat breakfast – it never ends well). Sure, I do spend some time strictly in social media and possibly could find ways to maximize that time as well. Overall, thanks to multi-tasking, I find myself about to do it pretty well, without absorbing all of my time.

    Don’t get me wrong though – your point is well taken.

  33. Jay Thompson

    November 25, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Hey Louis –

    I hear from people pretty frequently that I spend an enormous amount of time on Twitter.

    My response is, “How much time do I spend on Twitter?”

    No one has ever been able to answer that.

    “Oh well, it MUST be a lot.” doesn’t count.

  34. Louis Cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Jay
    that’s the same answer that I get when I ask people who use social media how much business they get using it -they say ‘a lot”
    You point has always been the best one-don’t use social media to get business, but rather use it as an extention of your self and your business with no hard sell.

    Unfortunately, many have fallen prey to the exhortations that one must be on twitter or facebook or they will go out of business. So they rush there, make no money and then complain its a waste of time.
    We get the same complaint for some homegain users -they sign up and then expect something to happen with out any effort.

    Social media, homegain or any marketing device is really only as good as the person using it.
    Jay, you are a master of many methods (your forced registration web site, the PHreguy blog,your twitter, your in persona presenece etc) but they are extentions of who you are-not ringing endorsements of the methods

  35. Louis Cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I don’t believe there is credibility in the notion that “spending too much time” on social media is a waste of time.

    Indeed if one is using social media to be social and choses to spend all day on social media that’s not too much time. The user makes a choice to spend their time socializing.

    If however some one is on social media solely for business (a mistake we both agree) AND they and up spending all day talking to other realtors with the expectation that somehow they are going to get business from that endeavor (other than the odd referral) then they are “spending too much time” on social media merely because they probably could get business in more time efficient manners than talking to other realtors all day

  36. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Mariana & Jay

    Wow. Thanks you so much for your thoughtful contribution. (Mariana – I think you’re at $6.89)

    Something I found interesting:

    Although all 3 of us are service providers, we view time very differently. In parallel to one another, we all are paid for our time and our intelligence in our respective fields. The difference is, if your transaction falls through, you get nothing (which sucks) where as I am paid for the hours I’ve worked. Therefore, it seems I view time more similarly to an attorney vis-a-vis billable hours, and have a different perspective.

    So, a question to both of you: Why does it ruffle feathers if someone questions social media? Not bashes, claiming it to be a fad … but just asks questions – as I did on ROI? Clearly there is much passion around the subject. And, as a person that is always asking questions to learn alternate perspectives, it’s east to feel attacked by the passionate responses.

  37. Jay Thompson

    November 25, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I agree completely Louis (about these tools & methods only being as good as the people using them. Not sure I’m a master, but thanks. That means a lot coming from you).

    Here’s another analogy I use…

    I have this guitar. It’s not “entry level” but it’s no Les Paul either. I’ve tried playing that thing for years. It sounds like crap when I play it. I have a friend though that can pick up that very guitar and it sounds *beautiful*.

    It ain’t the guitar.

    Same story with my golf clubs. I was convinced my clubs, specifically my driver, were the reason my golf game stunk. One day on the tee box another friend of mine who’s a 3 handicap grabbed my driver and launched one about 280 yards down the middle of the fairway.

    There wasn’t anything wrong with that driver.

    It’s how you use the tools, not the tool itself.

  38. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 5:10 pm


    I appreciate the time you took here. Thanks, yes it’s helpful and also interesting to hear your perspective.

    I don’t know that it’s impossible, but I do think it’s really, really difficult. That’s why I asked the “if you paid someone” question. I wasn’t implying you should, or it’s a good idea to do that. I was digging in to try and determine if you would have a different set of expectations around the results if there was a hard cost. i.e. how would you know that person was doing a good job?

    As I said to Matt, it’s actually not “free” to engage in social media. The tools are free, but your time is valuable and, like me, in essence you “sell” your time (as well as your smarts). Therefore the question.

  39. Brandie Young

    November 25, 2009 at 5:12 pm


    Interesting that you, Jay and Mariana seem to all “squeeze in” your activities. I guess agents rock at multitasking. I wish I could do that and create some extra time!

  40. Jay Thompson

    November 25, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Brandie asks: “Why does it ruffle feathers if someone questions social media? Not bashes, claiming it to be a fad … but just asks questions – as I did on ROI?”

    I *love* getting questions on social media. That’s the biggest reason I teach some classes on it, I like to get questions. They make me think. Thinking = good.

    The SM ROI question comes up a lot. It bugs me because I can’t answer it in the detail that many people want. Prior to real estate I was in engineering for years, so I’m a pretty analytical guy and I appreciate data in ways lots of people don’t. Heck, I actually enjoyed my statistics class in college and took an additional semester of stats for an elective. How twisted is that?

    This, and the fact I use social media and networking almost exclusively to get and grow my business, makes it aggravating that I struggle determining the ROI. Believe me, I’ve tried.

    I’m pretty passionate and opinionated (seriously. I know that never shows) and I don’t intended to come across as having my feathers ruffled when someone asks a question or opens a debate on SM. I didn’t intend to attack you in any way and I apologize if I came across that way. You asked a great question. I don’t think there is an answer. I hope I’m wrong.

    I’ll admit I get a little ruffled when people just dismiss social media and social networking. Just because it doesn’t suit them, or threatens their business model (as I think was the issue with Mike Parker in the article Ines first cited), doesn’t mean it can’t work for some.

    I *know* it can work. I also know that no tool or method is the right one for everyone.

    Questioning, debating, all that is good. Just don’t dismiss me, or how I run my business because you either: 1) don’t believe me; or 2) don’t understand it.

    (Not “you” as in YOU. “You” as in collectively the “I don’t care what you say or do I don’t believe it” disbelievers / naysayers. Of which there are many.)

  41. Louis Cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm


    I like the analogy and actually use a similar one with the Les Paul guitar.

    Here is the difference between the Les Paul and social media.

    NO one in their right mind thinks that in order to sound like Jimmy Page all they need to do it buy a Les Paul or to sound like Jimi Hendrix to buy a Fender Strat. You still need to practice practice practice or know how to play the guitar already extremely well.

    A bad guitar player can excuse his blunders on a shoddy guitar (“its the guitar not me”). If however, purchasers of Les Pauls or Strats do not sound like their respective guitar heroes after their guitar purchases they couldn’t with a straight face blame their guitars -such is the reputation of the Les Paul and Strat. (just as casual users of social media should not write off social media)

    Social media, unlike the Les Paul, does not yet have such a reputation as being the place of choice for the creme of the creme or where legends are born- in real estate or otherwise.

    Most “top producers” in real estate ( I know you hate that word) or the arts are not making their fortunes on twitter or face book. The successes of the arctic monkeys and paranormal activity are still the exception rather than the rule. In these examples the content it self was good and social media gave them a boost. There is still no substitute for good content and good marketing. Just being on social media gets you no where fast.

    Also just because Dell and other large companies are using social media to their advantage, doesn’t mean they owe their success to the medium-something many social media conference organizers and gurus fail to recognize as they cite corporate examples as validation that “it works”

  42. Jay Thompson

    November 25, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    “I wish I could do that and create some extra time!”

    I highly recommend twittering at red lights and while you’re waiting in the drive-thru (both of which agents spend a lot of time doing).

    I do NOT endorse nor recommend twittering while actually driving a motor vehicle.

  43. Louis Cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    @ Brandie
    There does seem to be a bit of defensiveness on the efficacy of social media for real estate
    Note this from Roost
    “Ines sees the value in social media and knows it works”
    Why the need to say something works if it does-if it was self evident there would be no need to say it.

  44. Jay Thompson

    November 25, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Dammit Louis, please stop making perfect sense. You leave me with nothing to argue about.

  45. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    You are so on it in here. Lemme tell you! Here’s my rub—from your comment:

    >>Unfortunately, many have fallen prey to the exhortations that one must be on twitter or facebook or they will go out of business. So they rush there, make no money and then complain its a waste of time.
    Louis, my problem is with the exhortations. There’s no ying to the yang. It’s all “yeah, yeah, it works. Kool aid, Kool aid, chug the social media kool aid. It works. It’s great”

    In a previous post, Matthew Rathbun commented on the success of yielding a client at an open house:

    Somewhere in my desk I’ve got a report that says that less than 3% of open houses yield a client.

    Well, if Matthew feels that open houses are a failure @3% success rate—I would bet that the success rate on SM/time invested is much, much, much less than 3%.


  46. louis cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 8:40 pm


    Almost two years ago I wrote about the failed promise of web 2.0 for reason estate with the subheading is the becoming

    Since then the number of real estate agents on social media certainly has increased, but probably not the number of profitable agents.

    An entire sub culture has grown around “bar camps” tech conferences and adolation of speakers who “get it” (many of who never sold real estate in their lives) .

    This sub culture produces the most tweets, blog posts etc so their points of view drown out anything that might be viewed as a criticism of their methods.

    The mantra goes, get with the “power of social media” or be left behind, toss in a “whoo hoo”, a reference to winetv or Zappos and a few statistics on how many trillions of people are on facebook in your neighborhood alone and perhaps recommend some twitter tools and your bona fides are complete to join this sub culture.

    Selling real estate is secondary

  47. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 8:57 pm


    Yes, the culture totally takes real estate out of the equation. That’s what I’m noticing.

    Engaging others? For what? Just for the off chance that they may have a real estate need?

    Hour to hour…I’d rather be at an open house.

    I find myself mitigating my outflow. I can only talk to so many people in a day. And the people I talk to MUST be my clients or potential new clients–NOT potential new friends.

  48. louis cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Cmon kevin its all about YEO don’t ya know?

  49. louis cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I had a boss who used to say
    “want a friend? -Get a dog.
    Want to make money, work with me”

  50. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    No no no. I want my clients to call me when they have a real estate need. Is that weird?

    Like your CPA or your attorney. Where did the idea come from that real estate agents need to be friends with their clients?

    My CPA is not my friend. But I would recommend him all day long.

    Kevin Tomlinson—“Your Realtor for Life!” OMG that’s so cheesy.

    Further YEO to SEO? SEO wins all day long. Write good stuff…and Google pays you back forever!

  51. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm


    You gave me hope. Someone does really get it.

  52. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:10 pm


    I don’t know what it is…

    I do like FB and Twitter–I’ve met a lot of people IRL—and have learned a lot. I’ll give SM that. I mean I’ve learned a TON. I’ve met stunning people that I will know for rest of my life.

    In terms of gleaning clients. None. That’s my story. Those are my SM results.

    I know SM too. I have a Miami Beach Real Estate fan page with over 1600 fans. I’d still rather send out a mailout.

  53. louis cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    BTW you don’t see lawyers and accountants with fan pages. ITs the quality of their services that should be the attraction not the quality of their tweets or how “engaging” they are.
    Realtors should pride themselves on their realtor skills not their faux SM marketing skills
    oh #justsayin LOL

  54. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    I was contemplating on Twitter selling my @miamibeach handle.

    Yes, I like to liken myself to any other professional. A CPA, Attorney, etc.

    I take it back, I’d rather write a kick a** blog post and do a mailout. Covers present and future business.

  55. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    You know we are gonna get banned from AG for talking this way, right?

  56. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:20 pm


    Are you working Fourcubed? I’m on it. I will be the fourcubed champ!

    Here’s how I’m doing things now: WWDLD (what would Dolly Lenz do?) If she wouldn’t do it….then I ain’t .

    Google Dolly Lenz.

  57. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    I’m sitting here annoyed thinking that about 80% of the real estate vendors have no clue about the reality of the real estate biz.

    Sometimes I just wanna stand up and go “did you just say that? or Why are you speaking on this panel? or “Oh, that’s right, I’m at Inman. We’re only gonna get the ‘vendor perspective.'”

  58. louis cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Yes, Prudential Douglas Ellman I am sure they are kicking themselves why be on “old media” like tv when you can have your own fan page on facebook?

    Why sells tons of real estate when you can hit up a dozen or so bar camps a year?

  59. louis cammarosano

    November 25, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Kevin -You mean the “sponsors perspective”

  60. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I thought the barcamp thing ended. I would only go to @jfsellsius’ in NYC.

    If Joe talks about Fourcubed there, I will be so dissappointed.

  61. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm


    Very interesting. SM/real estate is so not happening in NYC, yet it’s the most expensive real estate in the country?



  62. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I’m going to Inman to see my friends…and of course go to Nello at 63rd /Madison.

    But what am I going to learn at Inman that helps me sell real estate? I want to learn something MORE than I already know.

    I’m kinda over being “told” what I need to do by vendors.

  63. Jay Thompson

    November 25, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Kevin –

    Shouldn’t you be sitting in an open house, or connecting with real estate clients and prospects, not chatting back and forth on a blog?

    This thread has more activity than the Twitter stream.


    And you can’t be serious comparing and correlating the prices of NYC real estate and the social media activity level there can you?? NYC has had some of the most expensive real estate on the planet LONG before social media came around.

  64. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Yeah but….Jay that’s splitting hair. If you read the comment stream here–there really isn’t much to support the culture’s level of enthusiam for closing real estate deals from SM.

    I think back to Laurie Manny. Many have chastised her for somehow gaming the system.

    Looking back at it—Laurie is way right. Where time be best spent: spending 4 hours writing two killer blog posts….or YEO’ing in FB n Twitter?

    No one is gonna search a twitter stream for Phoenix real estate.

    So–for me…and the ying to your yangs, give me a keyword-stuffed blog post anyday.


    Happy Tky Day.

  65. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 25, 2009 at 11:55 pm


    in the spirit of the holidays–I will take a step back and relax. I know I’m annoying and obnoxious—but that’s me ….
    But, I have fundamental issues with how intense the support is for agents to jump into social media because it works.

    How much? How much can they expect, and when? Not giving lame sorta responses back like “um I really don’t wanna say!!” <This was said by SM panelists!

    When I got into blogging the buzz was "transparency to the consumer."

    What about "transparency to the real estate agent!"

  66. Jay Thompson

    November 26, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Kev –

    You really won’t get much argument from me. The vast, and I mean vast majority of my business comes from my blog. The amount of effort and time I’ve spent on that is WAY more than the amount of time I spend on Twitter, and I spend practically zero time on FB.

    I’ve said, publicly, that if someone wants to run a real estate business with nothing but leads from social media then someone is going to be eating a lot of ramen. It is not an effective tool for generating enough business to make a living.

    You CAN however, close deals from social media — if you use it to *compliment* your other marketing / prospecting methods. SM *supplements* my marketing and prospecting, it doesn’t, and won’t ever, *replace* my blog. If someone came up to me and said, “You’ve got to give up every tool and method you use but one”, it wouldn’t require more than a split second to say “buh bye twitter, FB, linkedin, yelp. Hello blog”.

    I guess I just am not seeing all this intense support and screaming at agents that social media is the only way to real estate success that you and others are hearing. I hear a lot of people saying “it’s one of the tools you can use. It can work, and like anything else it takes effort”. I don’t hear everything though, and I’m sure it’s out there and it would be annoying. And wrong.

    Equally annoying and wrong is people saying it won’t work, it’s a complete waste of time and it’s a fad.

  67. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 26, 2009 at 2:38 am


    There’s not many people saying it won’t work….I don’t know if you noticed that.

  68. Jay Thompson

    November 26, 2009 at 3:12 am

    “There’s not many people saying it won’t work…I don’t know if you noticed that.”

    I hear people say it all the time Kevin. I teach a CE course for the AZ Dept of Real Estate on social media. I see the eyes rolling and the head shaking and have people tell me straight to my face it’s “stupid”, it “takes too much time”, and I just “get lucky” with my efforts. I sat in a keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk at Inman and heard two people sitting right next to me say “none of this remotely applies to real estate”. I hear people mumbling as they walk out of panels and classes — free classes, not some snake-oil smarmy sales guy selling crap classes.

    On the other hand, I also know people that are successful with it. I’ve got agents having success with it.

    Again, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s not some magic pill. But it CAN be an effective weapon in the daily battle…. it’s just one of many. Some methods work for some, some work for others and sadly, none seem to work for another segment (though I’d argue that’s because those people don’t put in the effort required).

  69. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 26, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    ok…I’ve been considering ur POV. I think it’s an adjunct method—at best.

    If open houses only yield @3%–and knowing that SM would be lower than that, why is this delivered to agents like it’s the end all, be all?

    (Lani’s gonna come in here right after I post this comment–she automagically appears when the term “end all, be all” comes up…..)

  70. Jay Thompson

    November 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Where is the data that supports open houses only yield at 3% and social media is lower than that?

    I don’t know what the numbers are, I’ve never seen them reported. Assuming your data is for a national scope, then it’s worthless as we all know real estate is local. If your data is for the Miami area, then it’s worthless to me.

    MY data is zero percent for opens and about 75% for social media (counting blogs, which IMO clearly fall into the SM category).

    But that’s just me. I’m sure there are people out there that could flip those numbers around completely.

    If you want to talk Twitter only, I can attribute eight closed transactions this year to Twitter (loosely. as I pointed out before, it’s almost impossible to say if it was Twitter alone that resulted in someone becoming a client. The eight I’m referencing are where I know and can confirm that Twitter was the “first contact” from a prospect that became a client).

    No, eight transactions a year isn’t going to make a career. It’s not a bad supplement though (it’s right at a million in sales volume, and sadly, only 21% of the members in my MLS made that level in 2008). The problem is, as I’ve been attempting to communicate and failing miserably apparently, is it’s extremely difficult to separate these different social media tools and say which specific ones resulted in a closed transaction. They are simply too mushed together and integrated to separate.

    I don’t know what the average close rate on open house is in my market. I hate them, I suck at them, so I don’t do them. Hence I could care less what the closure rate is. Even if someone could prove to my I could triple my business by holding opens, I wouldn’t do them. So I don’t really care what the ROI or closure rate of opens is.

    The same pretty much holds true for SM. I like it, I enjoy it, and I’m satisfied with my personal business and the business and growth of my brokerage. So I don’t really care if the number is 2%, 28% or 114%. Common sense tells me that of all the SM tools, blogs by far and away are the primary driver. But integrating some of the other SM tools into the model seems to help. I don’t care to get into analysis paralysis and try to figure out if I should spend X amount of time on one or another for Y% increase in business. That reminds me far too much of the corporate life I left behind and have zero desire to return to. I do what I enjoy, and what works for me. What that is is going to be different for everyone.

  71. Andrea Geller

    November 26, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    In addition to many other things I do to generate sales both social networking and open houses have resulted in commission checks for me. In the last few weeks I have closed 2 sales as a result of social media. One was a consumer who found me online as a result of my social networking efforts. The other was an agent from out of the area who found me via social media and sent me a referral. I am currently working with other clients that are referrals from other agents as a result of my social media presence. The more active the easier you are to find.

    I received a contract yesterday on one of my listings from someone who came through one of my open houses this past Sunday. Their agent had never shown them the property.

    I define effective by closed sales.

  72. Ken Brand

    November 26, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    JT – This may be the true DNA to success: ” I do what I enjoy, and what works for me.”

    Well said.

  73. Janie Coffey

    November 27, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Just a few additional comments here, esp regarding the time element of SM…

    In my first GRI course one of the oldest instructors said “You’ve gotta have time or money to devote to building your real estate business, if you don’t have either your $hit out of luck, but you must have at least one”. SM is one avenue those agents (new or old) can venture down when they might have more time than money. Yes, our time is money, but if you don’t have a large $ marketing budget for things which cost real greenbacks, you can put that time to work building and strengthening connections in your local market. It doesn’t have to be the only thing you do, but it can add to your other efforts with 0 dollar outflow.

    The best 2nd quote I’ve heard lately regarding time was when someone answered the “how do you have time for SM” question by saying “you don’t do it in blocks, you grout your day with it”. As mentioned above, you do not have take 1 minute away from your normal activities and still have time to pop in a Foursquare entry, a FB update, a Twitter response, etc. at down moments here or there. If you have a smart phone, even easier, in line at the bank, waiting for a client, etc. When you have a free second here or there, no big deal.

    Final thought, I am not sure where the idea that anyone positive about SM is a self-proclaimed guru or trying to sell something (other than RE). Sure, there are SM gurus out there trying to sell their services (to the RE community and every other industry out there) but by and large, the ones I see who have spoken positively about it for THEIR businesses are actual agents, out there selling RE now Guru Services R US…

    I know we’ve beaten this to death, but just thought I’d beat it a bit more and make it a whipped souffle just in time for the Holidays 😉

  74. Houstonblogger

    November 28, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I think it is irresponsible not to question whether SM is relevant to your business. I don’t want to spend a ton of money on useless advertising, so I make sure to get hard data that will give me specifics on what my ROI will be. Sure, all SM doesn’t have an actual out of pocket $ amt assigned to it. But, my time is my biggest investment. And, if I didn’t question whether or not the time I spent utilizing SM was wise or not, that would be pretty silly. Just my opinion.

  75. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 28, 2009 at 4:23 pm


    Ur on the money.

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