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A letter from the CEO of NAR to AG- prepare to laugh

When the world’s largest trade group is led by someone who can make references to Betty White and Star Trek in one email, you’ve got a winner.

When the world's largest trade group is led by someone who can make references to Betty White and Star Trek in one email, you've got a winner.

As the NAR Annual Convention came to a close and everyone returned to the comfort of their laptops and office computers to recap, one particular article here on AG got quite a bit of attention. Herman Chan opined, “If I hear the term ‘social media’ one more time, I am gonna hurl. It’s overkill, over the hill and overdid.”

In the many comments on AG and elsewhere on the bastardization of the term “social media,” one stood out in particular to us and that was a comment by our friend Nobu Hata who is highly involved in the National Association of Realtors Young Professionals Network (YPN). Hata like many before him asked, “So instead of opining about your discontent on a forum where you’re preaching to the choir, how about joining the Convention Committee and becoming part of the selection process?”

Because YPN is a NAR organization, we dropped Dale Stinton, the CEO of NAR an email asking if he supported Hata’s indication that being on a committee is the way to change things (as opposed to editorialize on a national stage).

Rather than summarize or tell you what to think, we would like to share the entire email with you because we read it out loud in the office repeatedly and cracked up… also, despite our differences with NAR (past and present), we totally love Dale. His direct response below highlights the Dale that we know:

Dale Stinton’s personal response to us: “I usually stay out of these conversations as they seem to pop up more than my capacity to engage. However, you were kind enough to contact me, and with all of the convention activities still fairly fresh in my mind, I am happy to offer a few observations.

I don’t think Nobu’s intent was to stifle anyone’s thoughts. He was expressing a personal opinion just like the 50 others (yes, I did read them) that have commented on the “social media” spin that frequented the exhibit hall floor. I wouldn’t read anymore into it than that – he had a point of view and he expressed it.

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Since I’m in the flow though, I might as well jump in with my view of the overuse or misuse of the social media jargon. My experience, particularly in the tech or quasi-tech arena has been, that whenever someone wants to sound like they know what they’re talking about they grab the phrase of the day. Twenty plus years ago it was “mainframe” (and if you really wanted to impress ‘em you said “concatination”). Then it was “system software solutions” and “distributed processing”. Moving on, we stored up for the right occasion “PC”, “desktop”, and my personal favorites “internet and intranet”. Recently it’s been “how about that 2.0 – wait til it gets here” and now the ever popular “cloud”. Mark Lesswing tells me if I really want to be hip and get extra credit for really being “on the edge” (hey, I just tripped over another one there) that I should start using the terms “air play technology” and “geolocation”. You may all use them, but I get credit (very important to my age group credibility) for using them first. You see, more often than not, this penchant for appearing “in the know” is a function of my generations (let’s just say 50+) need to find some place of comfort in a rapidly changing world that seems to have gone absolutely crazy. The exhibit show floor was littered with my generational brethren all clinging to the social media term as the latest expression of their own relevance and competency. We’ll move on to the next catchy phrase with a half life soon enough – in the meantime be kind to us, we gave you Star Trek and Betty White…and with that – “Beam me up Betty?’”

While Dale and his generation were worried about “concatination” (which we totally had to look up), I was worried about getting permanent marker off of my Cabbage Patch doll’s face.

What we get from the hilarious response above is kind of a “c’est la vie” mentality that we agree you will see become more and more commonplace. In the world of sales, the phrase of the day will always become so prominent that it sickens everyone, it’s part of the cycle. The phrases of today surround social media and while we’re sick of hearing them too, even we have to continue talking about it because our inbox is full of questions about it from agents struggling to keep up in a down economy and is grasping at straws.

Thank you, Dale, for taking the time out to opine, we know that we appreciate it and we have reached out to Betty White for a comment on your shout out.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Matt Kelly

    November 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I can completely related to Dales term “de jour” comments. One of the many questions I’ve pondered over the years as it relates to his thoughts is “I wonder what happened to all of those Y2K Consultants?”

    • Jay Thompson

      November 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm

      “I wonder what happened to all of those Y2K Consultants?”

      They are all “social media guru’s” now….

  2. hermanchan.com

    November 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    OMfG, it’s NAR’s very own Oscar Wilde. any one who can coherently string together concatination, star trek & betty white has got my vote!

  3. Ken Brand

    November 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I’m impressed.

  4. Loren Nason

    November 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I just tell people they should use aggressive processor scaling to achieve unprecedented power consumption reduction in low-use scenarios.

  5. Nadina Cole-Potter

    November 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I can see why you love Dale! And, BTW, everyone, Betty White’s generation is between mine and my parents’ generation — and I am approaching … Let’s just say I remember my uniformed father and uncles during WWII.

    I am still smiling!

  6. Josh Nekrep

    November 11, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    You know, he really has a point… and my hat’s off to him for saying it.

    There’s really two sides to this issue:
    1) Social Media and internet tech in general is absolutely changing the way we do things on a day-to-day basis. There’s absolutely no doubting that.
    2) Many, many things have “changed the way we do things” before… so many that I’m not sure we need another “revolution”. It simply is what it is. The reason so many of us get so wrapped up in it is because we’re trying so hard to stay ahead of the curve.

    On this Remembrance/Veterans Day… maybe it’s time to just take a breath. I’m going to spend my evening being social in a decidedly analog way. 🙂

  7. Jonathan Benya

    November 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    That’s a very well put response. Kudos to Dale for taking the time to write it, although I’m not sure that I agree with his view point.

    Yeah, SM is the “in” thing. Yes, it will cease being a buzz word eventually (not soon enough, IMHO). SM cannot be linked in the same “buzz word” category as “system software solutions” and “distributed processing”, however. I think that marketers are going to get a whole lot more mileage out of SM, largely due to the ambiguous nature of what social media really is. I think very few people, relative to the real estate community, fully understand the scope; hell I get it wrong sometimes myself!

    Things like the internet are simple. It’s there, you’re on it, or you’re not. SM has a very blurred line. Is reading blogs social media? commenting? writing? Is logging into facebook enough to count, or do I need to talk about real estate for it to qualify.

    All of this is made worse, as Herman pointed out, with folks selling “social media frames”, and other quasi-related stuffs that don’t really have a bearing on SM at all. Nobody knows where to get the right answer, yet. Much like the internet took time for real estate, so does social media. My thought is that we all need to be ready to adapt, change, and shift in order to grow and adopt the tools that our clients are already using. At the end of the day, it’s much like any other shift in technology. Throw out your cassettes, learn which end of the CD is up, and keep moving along.

  8. Ken Montville

    November 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Hey, let’s not forget Tony Bennett. He was the hot thing for the MTV generation just a few years back and now, he’s like, who? Tony was the Betty White of the early 2000s.

    But I digress.

    The original post talked about the over saturation or bastardizaion of “social media”. Nobu suggested working from the inside to change the convention vendor mix. It’s really two separate issues. Yes. Social media is over used as a term and poorly understood by the masses. Probably because there is no “standard” for social media (as I think Jonathan Benya was pointing to),

    The other part was about the mix of vendors on the expo floor. I wasn’t there but I can imagine if someone was selling digital frames as “social media” that it was a real circus. However, I’m not sure that volunteering for one of NAR’s ginormous committees to be the lone voice of reason is a workable solution. Perhaps blogging about it on AG, catching the attention of someone like Nobu and Dale (and others) will create a greater groundswell of, let’s say, intentionality, about who the vendors will be.

    Of course, the real deal with vendors is the money. One can’t really be too choosy. The reason snake oil sells is because there are buyers.

  9. Jay Thompson

    November 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Despite the abundance of “social media this and that” on the expo floor, you know what were consistently the most crowded booths that I walked by?

    Those selling purses, scarves and jewelry,

    Seriously.

    • hermanchan.com

      November 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      how can you beat $10 kashmere scarves ?! (yes, cashmere with a K) i bought 5!

    • Ann Cummings

      November 12, 2010 at 6:16 am

      Those are always the busiest booths at every convention I’ve ever gone to. I often wonder what happened to the booths that used to see supplies like letterhead, notecards, license plate holders and such – those used to be packed booths, too.

  10. Janie Coffey

    November 11, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I am sooooo over hearing people gripe about the words “social media”. People call it that for lack of a better word(s), but the truth is, it’s here to stay. Just like the internet way, email way, texting way. Socal media, networking, new media, whatever you want to call it is no longer the next shiny new object. I fully agree with Dale, the word is overused, but it does not minimize the powerful impact social “whatever you want to call it” is having on our lives. It’s a game changer and as sick as you might be of hearing it, it ain’t going anywhere and I am thankful for Dale’s pragmatic response. More than wanting to “hurl” when I hear social media, I want to “hurl” when I hear someone even bring it up as being tired of hearing it. It is what it is, what’s next? Let’s look for that!

  11. Missy Caulk

    November 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    To quote Jay, “Despite the abundance of “social media this and that” on the expo floor, you know what were consistently the most crowded booths that I walked by?

    Those selling purses, scarves and jewelry,”

    and to add my own…QR Codes, everywhere.

  12. Matthew Rathbun

    November 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Did we get upset at the phrase the “web”? I’m proud of Dale for engaging AG. I wish all the Association Exec’s would be so engaging.

    • Ann Cummings

      November 12, 2010 at 6:18 am

      Matt – I don’t think most know how.

  13. Teresa boardman

    November 12, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Is this a paradigm shift? Thought I would throw in one more “boomerism” so that we have a more complete list.

    • Lisa L

      November 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      And let’s not forget the social media “sensibility” that real estate bloggers represent…to quote Bridget Jones, “Gaaaahhhh!”

  14. Matthew Hardy

    November 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    People who sell use terms and phrases like: sell, sales, contact you and contract.

    People who sell and want to pretend they’re *not* selling use terms and phrases like: engage, friend you, reach out and understanding.

    I miss transparency.

  15. Michael Sosnowski

    November 13, 2010 at 8:09 am

    How about this…..the expo floor is all about selling Realtors “stuff”. That’s what vendors do. At a NAR convention that are thousands of potential clients looking for the next easy solution to “fix” their business or accomplish goals without really working. Has this ever changed? If you are a Realtor you are constantly bombarded by crummy products that are dumbed down for the masses. SM is the current “in” thing because there are many opportunities to sell agents stuff.

    If you are overlooking SM or the next “technology” you do so at your business peril, but like anything else it takes hard work and dedication and a good evaluation of where it fits in your overall business model.

  16. MarikaRealtor

    November 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

    The letter and all of the remarks that follojust are amazing! Jjust for having literary skills exposed, appreciated and shared on such scale – social media will be ever fascinating.

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