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Start Spreading The News Noise.

Flickr - Too Much Noise - Libertinus

The day the earth didn’t stand still.

There was an earthquake near Washington, D.C. this morning – nothing earth shattering, but a bit of surprise for those in the area I would guess. I woke up and saw the news on Twitter, which is where I get a lot of my news in the early part of the day. Twitter has become quite the news source, from breaking news to the latest celebrity gossip to tech talk; if it’s newsworthy in one way or the other, you can probably find it on Twitter.

Of course, I have friends and family in the D.C. area, so I immediately found a tweet that had a link to a news article and checked up on the quake. Once I knew it was a relatively small earthquake (I lived in L.A.) and knew the people I cared for were safe and sound, I went about my daily business. Most mornings, as I shake the sleep from my skull, I sit on my balcony in the cool-ish morning air, have a few cups of coffee, and check through Twitter, Facebook, and read up on any news or blogs that catch my eye. While going through Twitter, the world was abuzz about the earthquake. It seemed everyone wanted to make sure I (and the rest of the world) knew it had happened. With any social network and the connections between Person A and Person B, there will always be some overlap of who knows who, but I got to thinking – is all this news really just noise?

Twitter and the Venn Diagram.

We all know how social networks work…you’re my friend and I am friends with people who are not your friends. Our social networks overlap with me as the common factor. Person A and Person B know each other, but they have non-mutual friends. The Venn diagram is a great way to illustrate these connections. Let’s look at one in its simplest form. Person A is on the left, Person B is on the right – where the two circles intersect is their common bond (A+B). Think of it as their social networks – Person A and Person B both know some mutual friends (where the circles intersect), and the outer reaches of either circle represent those that only one of them knows.

Venn Diagram - A and B

Real life, however, is a little more complex than this. As Realtors®, we surround ourselves with a variety of people in our social media networks; locals, other agents, lenders, title companies, businesses, thought leaders in our industry, tech people, friends, family, online friends, in real life (IRL) friends, etc. Our social networks as a Venn diagram probably looks something more like this:

Real Estate Agent Social Network - Venn Diagram

With all those different intersections of who we know, we are bound to hear some bit of news twice. Well maybe twice isn’t quite true – how about hundreds or thousands of times.

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Earthquakes and iPhones.

The earthquake this morning may have prompted me to write this post, but I’ve been thinking about this since the iPhone prototype was discovered in a bar. Days after the news spread, I was still seeing blog posts, tweets, and Facebook wall posts about the new iPhone. The first time I saw a mention of it, being an Apple fan, I read the article. I must have seen thousands of mentions of it in the following days. Too many mentions of it. People who could care less about iPhones were blogging about it, Windows-loyalists were chatting about it, and every Realtor® seemed to want to dissect it. It got to the point where if I saw the word “iPhone” i immediately skipped past the information and moved onto the next piece. Unfortunately, that next piece of information usually had something to do with the iPhone, so as you can imagine, I did a lot of scrolling and skipping for a few days. (Interesting side note: Right now, everyone is talking about the Apple press conference about the iPhone 4’s antenna issue.)

As more and more people join the networks that we’ve created, the frequency of this happening will increase. Will there be a critical mass tipping point at which social media is so full of news noise, that you can’t hear anything else? Will social media just become a endless echo of parroted bits and pieces?

Know your network and quell the cacophony.

Knowing your social networks beyond just a follower status can help save social media’s deafness (do they make hearing aids for that?). Knowing who likes what and who talks about this or that, can help you make decisions on what to pass on to your network and what to keep to yourself. We all like to pass on information – it’s part of our nature (why do you think gossip exists?) – and with social media, it’s the same exact experience, just connected to an amplifier turned to eleven. If the cacophony of noise gets too much, we will just shut it out. In order to protect yourself from being considered part of the news noise, you need to listen.

Look at your social networks, do you know a few tech-geeks? Do you think they would probably report on the iPhone? Do they share breaking iPhone news all the time? Does your grandmother in Pasadena love to read about iPhones, because she just bought one? Instead of just parroting the information from your tech-geek friends so that grandma can keep up with the latest and greatest, why not introduce your über-hip grandma to the nerds? Give her a new fountain source to drink from – everything does not have to come from your mouth. Now grandma’s friends might overhear something she said to your buddy Lewis Skolnick and perhaps they will begin expanding their network outside of the knitting circle. The opportunity for being the connector is built-in to social media.

This is not to say that there is never a time to share the latest news, just because someone else already sent it out. Instead, it is a way to look at what you’re sharing and with who. Knowing those circles and what and who they consist of can change what you say to them – we don’t want to exclude them from the other circles and our conversations, but they have specific interests that we can and should focus on. We should know who the (to borrow a phrase from real estate) local experts are. In real estate we refer to geography, but local in this case is more about interests and experience than physical locality.

Spread the news, but don’t spread yesterday’s news – it only makes you slightly more irrelevant to your followers each time you do it.

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PS No mention of Venn diagrams can go without also mentioning Eddie Izzard’s segment about Venn as a child from his Circles Tour (be warned, there is some strong language in this clip).

photo courtesy of Libertinus

Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."



  1. Matthew Hardy

    July 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    The internet has already become an “endless echo of parroted bits and pieces” and is getting boring and predictable. I’ve always loved to sit for hours in the library (now Barnes & Noble), but am not there for social reasons. The internet is one hellava research tool but gets tiresome for it’s ‘conversation’ (an odd word when no one is actually speaking). I have never before in my life quoted the Artist Formally or Currently or May In The Future be Known as ‘Prince’, but his comment “the internet is over” might be insightful and prescient.

    A line from a South Park song may be apt here: “You’ve got to do what you want to do, as long as what you want to do, is what everybody wants you to.”

    That Venn. He was a funny guy.

  2. Liz Benitez

    July 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    “I have never before in my life quoted the Artist Formally or Currently or May In The Future be Known as ‘Prince’, but his comment “the internet is over” might be insightful and prescient.”

    I’m not sure the internet will ever be over. It is becoming more and more to “go to” for practically anything, but maybe we can say the social life online might become over rated and eventually null and void. You make great points Matt about knowing your network but unless my friend does the same and there friends do the same things wont change.

    Maybe it is just a new learning curve. We had to learn how to IM then how to FB now its tweeting. I am currently and learning how to blog. How am I doin 😉 Eventually people will learn how to be specific with there info. In the mean time we need virtual ear plugs.

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