The National Association of REALTORS® announced the hiring of Todd Carpenter as it’s new Social Media Manager today. Todd is very dear friend mine, and effective today, a former business partner. It is bittersweet as Todd departs our company, Social Media Training Camp, but Mariana, Kelley and I are all tremendously proud as he takes on this substantial task. I had the privilege of being the first to interview Todd and his new boss, Hilary Marsh, about the new role. Here it is:
Interview with Todd Carpenter, NAR Social Media Manager
Todd, you are the new Social Media Manager for NAR. How do you define the job you are tasked with?
The coolest part of this position, is that this job is not yet defined. NAR wants to use social media as a platform to communicate with it’s members and the public at large. I have lots of ideas on the best way to do that. Initially, I’ll spend more time learning about NAR than NAR will learn about social media. The best course of action has not yet been determined.
NAR is often accused of not being forthcoming or providing full disclosure to both its members and to the press. How do you avoid becoming another talking head for NAR?
I know that people will judge the independence of what I say differently today then they did yesterday. I’m okay with that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a talking head. It means you have an agenda, or goal, or need worth working for. Ginger, you are a talking head for Ginger Wilcox, for Alain Panel, for Social Media Training Camp, and for all of the charities you support. Every real estate agent who blogs is a talking head in some form or another. My goal will be to show people in this industry how to be their own talking head, in an honest and transparent way.
The NAR has historically been beaten up pretty badly by bloggers. How do you anticipate dealing with this situation? Do you think you can develop the trust and respect of the re.net blogosphere?
It depends on the blogger. Some want to burn the house to the ground.
It might be possible to win those people over, but it’s going to be a lot of work. However, I think the low hanging fruit comes from those real estate bloggers who criticize NAR because they are frustrated and want NAR to be better. I’ll be working to open channels between these bloggers and the people at NAR that can help them best.
I think one of the biggest advantages I had over the other applicants for this job was the four years of networking with influential real estate bloggers I’ve already put in. I make it a point to meet people online, and in real life. Most of the re.net blogosphere already knows who I am. I hope they already respect me. But even if they are just familiar with me, at the least I have that familiarity to build upon..
Is your position primarily focused on educating REALTORS® or consumers?
I want the NAR staff to be able to use social media to communicate with their membership. But at the same time, I want empower the membership with the same skill set so that they can speak to consumers. My focus is on building out a network that empowers staff, leadership, local associations, and the agents themselves to use these tool to communicate.
Will you have a blog? Will it be focused on REALTORS® or consumers?
I don’t know if I’ll have a blog. If I do, it might be be for REALTORS®. There’s also a chance that some of the blogs I create first will not be for public viewing. Teaching the staff to use blogs might involve a project management blog, or a blog that helps NAR’s leadership better understand what’s happening on RE.net. Those are just ideas for now.
What is your plan for the next 90 days as you get started?
How do you feel about relocating to Chicago?
My first reaction to the premise that this job HAD to be located in Chicago was, "why?" But the more I learned about what I would be doing, and who I would be interacting with, the more I understood that this is not a work from home job. IRL (In Real Life) is still my favorite social network. I am most effective in making connections with others when standing face to face with them. If the NAR Social Media Manager was a "Go comment on Agent Genius every time someone says something bad about NAR" job, then they wouldn’t need me, and I wouldn’t have moved here. I’m tasked with showing people how to use social media. That’s best done in person, and Chicago is the best place to reach the most people.
Do you have a list of events you will be attending in 2009?
I’ll be at RE BarCamp in Virginia on March 3rd. Come say hi to me. I’ll be at RE Tech South, the Colorado REALTOR Ralley, RE BarCamp Denver, Inman Connect and RE BarCamp SF. I’ll be at the NAR convention in San Diego and plan to be heavily involved in the RE BarCamp event that we are hosting on site. There will be other events, we just need to work out an appropriate budget. I do think RE BarCamps are an ideal place to connect with early adopters of social media in real estate and would attend every one of them if I could.
Why did you want to be the Social Media Manager for NAR?
NAR is a century old institution and the largest trade group in North America. What are the chances that an organization this established would want to step out front and shift the way they communicate? Think about that for a minute… Now tell me of a bigger opportunity in social media. This is a huge challenge. But it’s an even bigger opportunity to make a mark. My favorite quote in the world comes from Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done before. To create my own job. To help shift the way an entire industry communicates. This sort of a challenge does not come around very often. Failing at it wouldn’t bother me half as much as wondering if I could have succeeding. I’m going for it.
Why did NAR hire you?
Cuz I’m kind of a big deal.
Interview with Hilary Marsh, Managing Director, REALTOR.org
Why did NAR hire a social media manager?
Over the past couple of years, more and more REALTORS have started using social media channels to share information and form communities with one another and with current and prospective clients and customers. We found that members were using these channels to discuss issues that NAR has information or resources about or that we work on on members’ behalf, and also discussing NAR itself. We realized that this presented a wonderful opportunity for NAR to give members an avenue to engage with us and to learn about us and share their ideas.
Listening, engaging, and sharing will require a major commitment from many people on the association’s staff, as well as our member leaders, and we needed to have one person orchestrating that effort.
Why is Todd Carpenter a good fit?
Todd’s experience and personality make him a wonderful fit for the position.
Todd was one of the first people to apply for the position, both through the traditional channels and using social media. Todd’s experience in social media is clear. We liked that he’s been teaching and coaching people in the real estate business about using social media channels effectively, that he is comfortable working with a wide variety of people, and that he’s so well connected to the core group of real estate bloggers and social media folks known as the RE.net.
There you have it, big news for the National Association of REALTORS® and for Todd Carpenter. NAR made an excellent choice, both in creating this position and in hiring Todd Carpenter. My hope is that they truly give him the opportunity and the space to do what he is tasked with. If they give him the tools and the freedom, I know he will be a huge success. All my best Todd!