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Interview with NAR Social Media Manager-Todd Carpenter

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?

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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 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 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..

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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 Those are just ideas for now.

What is your plan for the next 90 days as you get started?

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To listen.

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.

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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?

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Cuz I’m kind of a big deal.

Interview with Hilary Marsh, Managing Director,

Why did NAR hire a social media manager?

hilary marsh 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.

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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


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!

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Written By

Ginger Wilcox is a Broker Associate at Alain Pinel in Marin County, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an accomplished speaker, writer and trainer on the real estate industry, online marketing and social media strategy. Ginger is the publisher of the Marin Real Estate Guide -"Blog by the Bay," a highly regarded Bay Area real estate web site. For more information about Ginger, visit



  1. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    February 25, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Great interview! We just posted an audio interview with Todd and Hilary over on VARbuzz, by the way.

    I’m hard pressed to think of anyone better for this job than tcar. NAR made the best decision of their second century, let’s just skip to the third century, okay?

  2. Mariana

    February 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Why did NAR hire you? … Cuz I’m kind of a big deal.

    HA HA HA HA!

    … but true.

  3. Kristal Kraft

    February 25, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I am excited about NAR hiring a social media director. It is the first step in the right direction to hire a person who many in the industry respect and connect. Todd said it himself, he plans to LISTEN.

    NAR is not a very approachable organization, it took a decade to recognize the existence of the internet and finally incorporate rules into the COE.

    Now perhaps Todd and other social media people can join our ranks and translate the needs of the membership to the organization so it can actually become a vital part of our business rather than just another membership check we have to write each year.

    Congratulations are in order all around!

  4. Sarah Cooper

    February 25, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    “Failing at it wouldn’t bother me half as much as wondering if I could have succeeded. I’m going for it.” I’m smiling hugely and completely believing in Todd. 🙂

  5. Bob Carney

    February 25, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Man, I can’t wait for NARBarCamp! Wait, can I use NAR in conjunction with another word… Just kidding. I think that was one of the biggest fears from the that this would be a policing job done by someone totally disconnect to the 4% of the REALTORS that get this.

    Congrats Todd…do us proud. You are the right man for the job.

  6. Brad Nix

    February 25, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    “Right man, wrong job.” -> We’re going to here this quote played out in many shapes, sizes and fashions tomorrow on blogs all across the country. My response: ‘bullshit’

    NAR does many things wrong.

    Creating a Social Media position and hiring Todd Carpenter for was not one of them.

  7. Debra Wruble

    February 25, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I have one thing to say, Woo Hoo!

  8. Natalie Langford

    February 25, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Ginger – Fabulously written post and I’m so looking forward to meeting Todd in person next week at ReBar Camp Virginia. However, you didn’t answer the one question that surely deserves an answer – Does he get to keep his sexy ninja mask?!

  9. Ken Brand

    February 25, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Let it rip Todd. Feel the force, listen like an elephant and do what you do. It’ll be an adventure…the only certain thing is change my friend. Rock ON.

  10. Tony Sena

    February 25, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    I think Todd was a great choice and his reach in the real estate blogging sphere will definitely help him. But not sure his addition is going to stop the “beating that NAR takes from bloggers”.

  11. Linsey Planeta

    February 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    To Todd Congrats!

    My opinion of NAR just moved up a notch.

  12. Mana Tulberg

    February 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Congratulations Todd. I wish you the best.

  13. Mark Eibner

    February 25, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Congrats Todd. You’re the man. Glad to see NAR do something right!

  14. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    February 25, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    We’re all on pins and needles so I can imagine how Todd feels about this unbelievable opportunity (both exciting and scary at the same time). I for one am extremely happy that it is Todd and look forward to great things.

    It all starts with communication – CONGRATS AGAIN @tcar and NAR.

  15. Jeff Bernheisel - Inman News

    February 25, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Awesome interview Ginger, and a big congrats to Todd…

    I look forward to seeing all the great things that are sure to come out of this.


  16. Waverly Thornton

    February 25, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    NAR is finally taking a position by filling a postion that can actually create dialog with their members. Let’s see how they respond to the blogging membership.

    Good luck, Todd.

  17. tony lazzari

    February 25, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Having only know Todd for 3 months or so, I have been amazed by his reach and the respect for him throughout the blog/social media world. Spend 10 minutes talking to him and you will learn more than you ever imagined. A great move for both Todd & NAR.

  18. Bill Lublin

    February 25, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    I already sucked up at the other announcement post written by Hilary so I really didn’t want to do that here.

    I am also really bummed that I didn’t think of interviewing Todd and getting a really cool post out of it – Then I realized I messed up by not interviewing Hilary as well
    – Then to top it off, I’m not as good looking as you are Ginger, so I feel like I hit three strikes –

    Having sturck out like that I am left with stating How really tickled I am about Todd’s appointment and Hilary’s choice – like Todd himself – they’re a really big deal 😉

  19. Rich Jacobson

    February 26, 2009 at 2:23 am

    So does this mean that NAR will soon be a sponsor for all the REBarCamp events?

  20. Anthony Longo

    February 26, 2009 at 7:18 am


  21. Derec Shuler

    February 26, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Yeah Todd, what a great move! We’ll miss you here in Denver. I can’t wait to see how things go with the new position. Best, Derec

  22. Nick Bastian

    February 26, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Congrats Todd! I am really happy for you.
    You obviously have the respect of a core group of the and most of them are excited for you to be in this position. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the other 90 some % of the industry to notice, react or even care about social media.
    Yeah, this is gonna be fun to watch. 🙂
    A full update is expected at REBarCampPHX April 23rd!

  23. Jeff Turner

    February 26, 2009 at 8:39 am

    23 comments and nobody bashing yet? What is wrong with this world today?

  24. Missy Caulk

    February 26, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Ginger, great interview with Todd. What a coo for NAR.

    Todd, you are the best and I feel great about your decision. So moving to Chicago.

    Do you need boots and a down coat?

  25. Matt Case

    February 26, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Great interview, GREAT choice by NAR.
    My favorite quote is “IRL (In Real Life) is still my favorite social network.” I think that’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of Social Networking. Those that don’t engage assume that we who do look online for all our interactions.

    SM is not an instead. It’s an AND. Another way to reach out, make valuable connections outside of your normal sphere.

    So, what are we in the going to do when Todd teaches the other 96% our secrets?

  26. Linda Simons

    February 26, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I don’t know Todd and I don’t know Ginger, but I think you should fire the photographer! I hope the picture of a guy standing with his hands in his pockets is not representative of his professional future as a social media manager!

  27. Brad Nix

    February 26, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    LOL this is my favorite comment yet. I am of the opinion that in order to be real, transparent and authentic (all qualities I am certain NAR wants in a SMM) – you shouldn’t worry about having a glamour shot photo.

  28. Bob Stewart

    February 26, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Congratulations again Todd!

    I’ve already left my congrats in a few places, but I had to comment if only to crack up at Linda’s comment, hahahaha!!

    Note to self: do not put your hands in your pocket, it makes you look unprofessional.

    Makes me wonder why suit pants come with pockets, hmmmm

  29. Ginger Wilcox

    February 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Since when do a group of bloggers not have something bad to say about NAR? If the only negative comment of 29 comments is regarding Todd’s photo, I think NAR did a incredible job with the hiring.
    I for one am thankful that Todd doesn’t have a glamour shot. If he was that type of guy, he wouldn’t be the right person for the job.

  30. Brad Nix

    February 26, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Very True Ginger – although Todd wearing a boa would be worthy of a blog post by itself.

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