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NAR is Looking for a Social Media Manager

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Seeking a Social Media Manager

On or about October 8, the NAR posted a position on Monster.com. It appears they are looking for a Social Media Manager. Here’s part of the job description:

MAJOR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES (NOT ALL-INCLUSIVE):

The Manager of Social Media will ensure that NAR has the knowledge and skills to guide NAR staff and members in creating, facilitating, and participating effectively in key conversations about our organization, our issues, and our members that are conducted on blogs and other online social media channels.?

This position requires a high-energy, self-directed, deadline-oriented individual who has exceptional communication skills and is able to:
* Monitor real estate industry and related social media
* Facilitate NAR’s participation in external blogs and social media
* Maintain, evolve, and enforce NAR’s social media policies and guidelines
* Train NAR staff and elected leaders about how to write for blogs and other forms of social media
* Monitor existing NAR blogs and create new ones as needed to foster conversations about relevant topics or issues.
* Measure the effectiveness of NAR’s social media efforts.

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Hire the right person

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more “buzz” across the real estate social mediaverse about this. Perhaps people don’t believe it matters, perhaps they don’t care, perhaps they aren’t aware. I say kudos to the leadership team at NAR for at least recognizing the importance of establishing a social media position.

Now they need to go out and execute.

Does the person that takes this position need to be a practicing real estate professional? I don’t think it’s a requirement, but it would certainly help establish credibility in the minds of a lot of the NAR membership. When it comes to understanding the impact of social media in real estate, if you are reading Agent Genius you are miles ahead of the bulk of the NAR membership. We all like to think blogging, forums, wikis and whatnot are the cat’s meow, but let’s be realistic. Despite “blogging” being the buzzword of the new millennium, the simple fact is the bulk of the real estate profession is generally clueless about social media. Placing a person with some actual real estate experience into this position will provide (right or wrong) instant credibility in the eyes of many. Curiously, there is no mention of real estate experience in the job posting qualifications.

Does this person need to be known within the current real estate social media space? I believe the answer to that is yes. Granted, the actual “membership” levels in this space are small when compared to the NAR membership at large, but those engaged in social media are a plugged-in and vocal minority. Their support of this new Social Media Manager from Day 1 is important. Selecting a candidate that already has a presence and who is known and respected will allow them to gain an immediate foothold and hit the ground running. Yes, a complete unknown could certainly do the job, but they would be starting out three years behind the curve. Being able to leverage the knowledge and skills of practicing agents and opinionated real estate bloggers from the onset will allow whoever takes this position to begin the journey down this long and winding road on the right foot.

Reconsider the location

I’ve already had conversations with a few people who could do very well in this position. Without fail, one of the first things that comes up in these conversations is the fact the position appears to be based in Chicago.

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I’ve got nothing against Chicago. It’s a lovely town despite the presence of the Cubs. However, to ask someone to pick up and relocate their family and their life, particularly in today’s economic environment, for a brand-new and as yet not well defined job is asking a great deal.

A position like Social Media Manager lends itself very well to being virtually based. There are two arguments that can be made against a virtually based assignment: 1) the job requires training of NAR staff; and 2) the candidate needs to understand “NAR Culture” hence they need a physical presence in the hallowed halls.

Training can be easily accomplished via telephone and the Internet. It’s done every day in organizations large and small across the planet. So what about “cultural assimilation”? Well, first, I would argue that one of the things a person in this position needs to do is buck the trend. I’m not saying the NAR needs a maverick that’s going to flit across the Internet marching to their own beat. But having someone in that position that isn’t completely indoctrinated into the bureaucracy isn’t such a bad idea. Through the judicious use of travel, meeting attendance via teleconference, and an “open line” to the right people, a person sitting in say Phoenix (for example only) can certainly interact, get to know, and understand operations in NAR’s Chicago and Washington D.C. offices. After all, look how well some of us know each other and we’ve never met face-to-face.

Send the guy or gal to Chicago and DC for a week or three at a time. That’s much easier for many to deal with than packing up the spouse, kids and memories and moving to Chicago. Expensive? Not really when you consider (I assume) that this person would be traveling periodically between NAR offices in Chicago and DC anyway (and one would also assume to NAR events across the country). Relocating a professional is very expensive — I know, I used to do it for a living. Rerouting those dollars to periodic travel — even short term temporary living for a few weeks — in order to be able to hire the right person would be a good trade-off in my opinion.

Force this person to be based in Chicago and you are going to severely restrict who you can hire. And who you hire may be the single most critical factor in the success of this project.

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What say you?

The NAR seems to be trying to “get it”. That alone is a significant step forward. I suspect many at NAR read this blog (and if they don’t, they really need someone in this position) so give them your thoughts. I’ve had several off-line conversations about this position, let’s bring the conversation on-line. What do you think of this development? What would you like to see included in the job description? Is this a good or bad move? Do the folks at NAR get it, or is this simply playing lip service? What kind of person should they consider? Here’s your chance, lets talk it up!

Written By

Jay is the Broker / Owner of Thompson's Realty in Phoenix, Arizona. A self-professed "Man with a blogging problem" he can be found across the Interweb, including at the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog where he opines on all things real estate and tosses out random musings.

69 Comments

69 Comments

  1. Bob

    October 13, 2008 at 10:01 am

    What say me?

    The question is “What say NAR” with respect to this line:

    * Maintain, evolve, and enforce NAR’s social media policies and guidelines

  2. Matt Stigliano

    October 13, 2008 at 10:23 am

    NAR’s choice is easy. Come in here for five seconds, compile a list of the many great writers/commenters, and get on the phone and start interviewing. Hiring anyone not directly involved with social media in real estate terms would be foolish I think. I also agree with Jay’s thoughts on location of the job. I think not only would it make more sense for NAR to let the new position be flexible in their location, but would also show NAR’s willingness to adapt to the new school of thinking with all things technology. I love the idea…can’t wait to see where they go with it.

  3. Derec Shuler

    October 13, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Does NAR already have policies to maintain, evolve, and enforce? I can’t even get them to respond to Spam with people using Realtor in their URL (ie, RealtorSuccess.com *not real URL*).

    Anyway, we just had a great RE Blog World last month and there was a notable absence of anyone from NAR, Move.com, and major franchise companies. NAR is on the right track to see this as a need and they should give this person a lot of leeway and support. On that note, this position must be filled by someone with current industry exposure to give them credibility, both in the community and with NAR staff.

    The way this requirement is written, it seems this person would be best suited to be located in Chicago (good luck with that!) so they can coach staff on social media and interact with them. It would be great for NAR to set this up to allow a remote base with trips to Chicago since that will expand the pool of people that will be interested in this.

  4. Toby & Sadie

    October 13, 2008 at 10:31 am

    What do I have to say? Well I’m a REALTOR, so I guess that would be nothing :p

    What do we need is …
    1. an outsider.
    2. virtual love
    3. less NAR reaction and more proactive

    What we don’t need …
    1. Another “Talking Head” with NAR agenda
    2. Another 60 year old white man telling agents what they should be doing.

  5. Jeff Turner

    October 13, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Jay… also, I don’t see a salary listed on that page. My opinion… anyone who is truly qualified to do this is already making a great living, because they understand how to use Social Media to drive their business.

  6. Zak Nicola

    October 13, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I think NAR would do best to look for a young, active Social Median that has there roots in Real Estate. I happen to think I fit that bill quite well.

    Thanks for the Twit about the post btw Lani 😉

  7. Thomas Johnson

    October 13, 2008 at 10:46 am

    My first thought upon reading the job description was that it was written for the Phoenix Real Estate Guy, Jay Thompson.

  8. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I wonder if the line should have read, “Create, maintain, evolve, and enforce NAR’s social media policies and guidelines” as I’ve searched high and low, with no luck, to find an existing social media policy. If someone has a link to said policy, I’d love to read it.

    Derec wrote, “it seems this person would be best suited to be located in Chicago (good luck with that!) so they can coach staff on social media and interact with them.”

    I’d argue that coaching and interaction could be done (and done well and efficiently) “remotely” with periodic trips to the offices in Chicago, DC and even state associations. The internet has no boundaries or limits. Utilizing tools such as teleconferencing, video conferencing, desktop sharing and even old school things like email and [gasp!] the telephone, one could provide plenty of coaching and interaction.

    Matt makes a great point — show flexibility in the location, “go virtual” and it would be a significant step toward displaying NARs willingness to think outside the box and embrace technology.

  9. Mark A.

    October 13, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I’ve got nothing against Chicago. It’s a lovely town despite the presence of the Cubs.

    Ouch Jay, that hurt. No need to pour salt into wounds that we’re still busy licking. Besides, it’s all gonna be better, next year…

  10. Todd

    October 13, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Conflict of interests? NAR wants a “Social Media Manager” who’s job will be to suppress Transparency, Openness and Participation ( pillars of all Social Media ) in real estate and ensure NAR’s closed, proprietary walled garden that requires paid membership?

  11. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 10:59 am

    This position won’t be taken by someone with purely financial motives (to deal with what will have to be dealt with), it will be someone who truly cares about the health of the industry and agents, and cares to get involved in the biggest machine in the industry (NAR). It will be a challenging position that will need to be taken by someone with corporate experience (so they will understand the corporate culture of NAR) that is currently highly involved in social media (so they understand the balance of modern new media culture).

    In my opinion, NAR should look not just to the biggest names, but to the most innovative and they most certainly should ASK the social media space their thoughts of their candidates because after all, reputation is EVERYTHING in social media- it is the currency used to promote and absorb ideas. If this is done all behind closed doors without any input (even if it’s privately from people like Benn Rosales or Ben Martin), we will know that it is a PR move, not a sincere move on NAR’s part.

  12. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 11:02 am

    @Toby & Sadie – define “outsider”. Outside of real estate, or outside of the NAR? If outside the NAR, would that exclude any current NAR member, or just those already employed by the NAR?

    @Jeff – great point. I used to work in corporate staffing and recruitment. Asking for a candidate to send a cover letter stating salary requirements can be very self-limiting. NAR of course has a budget and budget considerations, but are they going to nix (or consider) resume submissions based on a salary requirement? They need to be talking to the right people first, and negotiate salary second.

    @Zak – I know a few “old” people that are very engaged in the social media space… You need a Twit to know about a post here? What, AG isn’t at the top of your feed reader? 😉

    @Thomas – thanks. I can’t lie, I’ve thought about it a lot. But there are many very well qualified folks out there. Salary and location are key factors.

  13. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 11:12 am

    SM FAIL (and why I chose not to cover this)

    I know for a fact that nothing can be said publically by a rep from the nar without first bouncing it off the PR folks, so what they’re actually hiring (probably not even realizing it) is a new spokesperson, not a social media pro.

    I’m not going to opine and learn the NAR what SM is as we talk about and demonstrate this on a daily basis, but I will say it’s a nice headline, and applause for recoginizing the need for sm, but unless you’re going to allow this person to do what they do, you’re already blowing it- sorry.

    SM FAIL

  14. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 11:14 am

    @Lani – very well said. Very. I agree completely that salary isn’t (or can’t/won’t be) the primary motivating factor. If it is, they will have hired the wrong person. But, if the person selected must pick up and relocate to Chicago, salary will have to be a consideration. Let’s say the ideal candidate is an existing real estate agent outside the Chicago area. To give up an existing real estate business and relocate is asking a lot of someone. I don’t care how wrapped up an agent/broker is in the Internet and social media, real estate is still local, and starting up a real estate business in a new location is going to be brutal. There needs to be compensation for that. Most people have mortgages to pay, children to feed and other expenses. This is (and should be) a full time job. The NAR can’t expect anyone (whether they are currently in real estate or not) to give up a lifestyle and certain creature comforts, no matter how dedicated and caring they are to the industry.

    @Mark A. – sorry. I actually kinda like the Cubs. They’ve got great fans. Wait till next year…. 😉

  15. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 11:18 am

    @Benn – “but unless you’re going to allow this person to do what they do, you’re already blowing it- sorry.”

    Agreed. But how do we know aren’t? To say it’s a failure before the person is even hired seems a bit harsh. Granted, history and past action tells us what you are saying is spot on. But maybe, just maybe change is in the air? Can’t we at least hope, and give them a chance, until proven otherwise?

  16. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 11:20 am

    (sidenote on the job ad)

    This just pisses me off:

    “Many of our benefits kick in Day 2 of employment such as medical/dental/vision, vacation/sick/personal/holidays, transportation benefit (voucher and parking program), and tuition reimbursement. Employees who are eligible can enroll in the 401(k) without the match thirty days after employment.”

    after having said this:

    “The National Association of REALTORS® is the most influential real estate organization in the world. We offer a rewarding and challenging work environment along with a competitive salary and excellent benefits package.”

    I want some benes on day two- thanks.

    Healthcare FAIL

  17. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Nothing is said as a representative of the National Association of Realtors that is not a controlled message, period- if it is, it’s said off the record.

    Jay, it didn’t ask for a self-thinker.

  18. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 11:28 am

    RE: Comment #17:
    Benn, I think you said outright what I was saying between the lines.

  19. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 11:29 am

    hrm harsh – no, this is so crucial to get right, Jay, I am being absolutely clear in what I am saying because the first job the new sm person will have is becoming credible, this will absolutely be their first hurdle, they should absolutely know the perceptions that will come with this position and NARs need to position– this is in direct conflict with what social media is from the top to the bottom and it will need to be delt with.

  20. Bob

    October 13, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I know for a fact that nothing can be said publically by a rep from the nar without first bouncing it off the PR folks, so what they’re actually hiring (probably not even realizing it) is a new spokesperson, not a social media pro.

    DEAD ON!

    Just exactly what ways does anyone expect NAR will use SM? For Yun to twitter that thinks the financial crisis is overblown and that NAR is doing their part by raising our dues so the increased bank deposits will add to liquidity?

    This is part PR position where the medium is SM and part powerplay to dictate it’s use among the membership, as they have attempted to do with the term “MLS”.

  21. Bob

    October 13, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Jay, what do you mean with this question:

    “Do the folks at NAR get it, or is this simply playing lip service?”

  22. Vicki Moore

    October 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Seems to me they’re going to need more than one person for this position – unless, of course, they hire Lani. How in the world is one person going to be responsible for all of those duties and the travel that’s going to go with it? Maybe if they broke the duties into smaller pieces they could hire more people with diversified knowledge and not have to relocate someone to Chicago. Part-time kind of thing – they could use Realtors who are highly involved in social networking.

    I agree that they’re severely limiting their options by requiring the person to be based in Chicago.

  23. Matthew Rathbun

    October 13, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Mixed feelings….

    The position should also be available in the DC office of NAR.

    The position should be someone with knowledge of how Social Media works in an Association, but not necessarily NAR’s version. Ben Martin at VAR is an excellent example that the person doesn’t have to have a RE background to make it work.

    I get Benn’s point about being a spokesperson, but this role maybe to facilitate and be an outreach, not necessarily have a voice. I am on staff locally, and I have to be VERY careful on what I say. Twice people on twitter have called my boss about comments I made, regarding needing a higher bar for REALTORS. I say it anyway, but no one will be able to have the position and be able to call out stupidity in the industry. By virtue of the fact that they are “staff” they will have to be muzzled. The Association serves too wide a variety of membership.

    This person hasn’t even been hired yet, and the position and potential person to fill it is already under attacked. No, I think an outsider who can groom their reputation is more essential than an insider who has already made enemies.

    Look, this needs to be a person who can bring awareness to the tools and trends out there. Ideally an instructor (Amy Chorew) or someone who can be balanced if they are “in the system” (Jay Thomspon) or maybe someone who is already proven themselves (Ben Martin).

    It doesn’t matter who NAR hires, someone will be ticked off at it. Looking at the numbers, they are hiring someone to communicate with less than 10% of the membership. It’s already a rocky start, just by virtue of politics.

  24. Matthew Rathbun

    October 13, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Vicki,

    To be done correctly, it’s going to have to be full-time, plus more. Social Media, doesn’t work from 9 to 5, it works 9pm till 8 am and weekends. This person will most likely be traveling almost all the time.

  25. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 11:56 am

    So here’s the thing … as I mentioned to Jay the other day, I’ve always dreamed of being money whipped. Beyond that, I believe this position could work if … and only if … NAR is able to do what it has shown consistently that it cannot do: state something other than the company line.

    If the point of this is to jump into the Social Media space and regurgitate what’s on NAR’s home buying facts website, this will be a waste of time. And the person in this position likely will quit in short order when they realize the futility of it all.

    But, if NAR is willing to give their SM manager the freedom to respond relatively freely to the various conversations going on, then there’s a chance it could work. Even if the answers are couched in NAR doctrine, the person in this position needs the flexibility to guide a conversation a certain direction rather than trying to lay down the law. Does NAR understand the concept of nuance?

    Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the requirement of moving to Chicago indicates the needed flexibility will be absent – it’s a clear sign that they don’t get it. You can say it’s so this person can coach NAR staff, but it strikes me more as keeping the person close to keep them under control. (Take this from someone who worked for an editor who viewed journalism as a 9-to-5 punch-a-timecard kinda job, despite the 24-hour reality of the job.)

    If you need coaching, bring your SM manager to Chicago for a couple of days. Southwest Airlines flies there several times a day. But don’t limit your pool of candidates to those who have nothing to lose and can afford to uproot everything to move there. Some of the best candidates for this job are entrenched in their communities and should remain so.

    I’ll also be very interested to see how you “measure the effectiveness” of NAR’s social media efforts. Do I get a bigger bonus the more I tweet? I’m not sure what the metric could be here.

    I know I’ve hijacked but I actually had this post half-written before I saw Jay already wrote it. At the end of the day, I applaud NAR for having the peaches to create the position. But I’m more than a bit skeptical about the execution. Unless of course they want to money-whip me and give me free rein.

  26. Vicki Moore

    October 13, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Matthew – I get your point. I still don’t see how one person can handle all of the duties. Besides, we don’t work 9 to 5 either.

  27. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    @Benn (re #19): I agree. Maybe my choice of the word “harsh” was a poor one. It just seems that some are saying this can’t work and killing the idea before is even starts. Believe me, I have my doubts. Few have been as vocal as I have on the shortcomings of the NAR. Call me Pollyanna, but I hope this is a sign of positive change. Maybe it is, maybe not. Time will tell.

    No, the job description doesn’t ask for a “self-thinker” but few job descriptions are all encompassing. If I were sitting in an interview for this position, I’d be asking some very pointed questions along the lines of exactly what you’re saying — and asking for their commitment as well as my own. If the chosen candidate does not ask such questions, well, then they are as much to blame as those doing the hiring.

    Will the NAR simply hire a parrot who will be nothing more than a spokesperson under the guise of a social media manager? I don’t know. A lot of it depends on who that person is and more importantly, the commitment of the NAR leadership team to properly implement a “social media policy”.

    @Bob – you wrote, “This is part PR position where the medium is SM and part powerplay to dictate it’s use among the membership, as they have attempted to do with the term “MLS”.

    You obviously know much more about the position than I do. I only know what I’ve read in the job posting and what I’ve heard in very limited exchanges with people at NAR. I have no idea whether or not a powerplay to dictate SM use is involved.

    What do I mean with this question: “Do the folks at NAR get it, or is this simply playing lip service?” What I mean is do they “get” what is involved with social media, and/or are they willing to learn it — and implement it — or are they just hiring a social media director because that’s what all the other cool kids are doing.

  28. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    What I forgot – there are plentiful examples of how to do this job right, if only NAR is willing to allow someone to follow the blueprints.

  29. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I’m not going to be ticked off at anyone they hire, nor at the NAR for giving it a go- I’m simply making a point that if this person is to have merit and begin teaching the values of SM to other agents, this person had better throw out the so-called standards NAR has placed on SM and actually teach what SM is from a position of absolute knowledge of the space, can demonstrate a positive history within the space. No one, even the folks suggested would be allowed a free pass from me personally because I absolutely detest so called self-proclaimed “gurus” on this subject- especially paid ones. The fact that someone blogs anywhere and everywhere does not a social guru make, or because they’ve worked for a tech company in the real estate space give them a direct insight into the playing field.

    I want more from this position, I want it to be the best scenario, and I want it to be the best person for the job, not the one who spoke the best about them in a blog post. I want someone to actually consult the folks that have been in the space for long periods of time for recommendations that shape this position.

    I’m going on faith from my conversations with nar officials that they understand exactly where I am coming from- this isn’t/shouldn’t be a just a business as usual position.

  30. Chad Huck

    October 13, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Let me hijack this thread. Would you or would you not want this position? Why or why not?

    For me, the person that steps into this position will be headed up a very steep hill. My guess is that if it is someone that reads AG and is widely known in this community, they will be very frustrated with their hands tied behind their back.

  31. Jeremy Hart

    October 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I’ve seen this bouncing around the web over the last few days. Can’t say that it’s made much of a ripple with me, honestly, or that it would unless I knew that a person in this position would be able to freely and openly interact with membership.

    Matthew, you mentioned “It’s a rocky start, just by virtue of politics.” That alone speaks volumes about what this position will be up against.

    While I’d agree that VAR has certainly taken steps to show how this can be done effectively and with much respect among the SM sphere, I’m not sure I like the idea of NAR following the lead and expanding into the space. “…enforce NAR guidelines …”? To me, that says that suddenly NAR is going to throw themselves into the pool and start dictating how social media should be presented. I don’t want that, and I’m sure no one else does either. An Association works for it’s members, not the other way around, and I’m having a hard time believing that (1) NAR will be able to relax itself enough to allow this position to freely interact with membership via social media channels, and (2) that NAR won’t suddenly start dictating the “new rules of social media.”

  32. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    It can’t be a business as usual position, and no one should get a free pass. If it is going to be business as usual, then NAR needs to just pull the posting from Monster and move along. Otherwise it’s a waste of their time, and the time of anyone who is remotely interested in the position — be that to be hired or to help s/he who is hired.

    Trying to change the course of an entrenched bureaucracy is akin to trying to steer a battleship with an oar. One person, I don’t care who it is, can’t do it. Believe me, I spent 20+ years entangled in corporate bureaucracy, paddling like a mad man. But one person can help affect tremendous change if they are given the latitude to do so. To me, that is the $100K question here — what latitude will this person have, and how willing is the bureaucracy to listen, work and change?

    I don’t know the answer to that question.

  33. Tony Arko

    October 13, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I am of the belief that someone at NAR got word of the outstanding job that Ben Martin is doing at VAR and said to the powers that be that NAR needs someone like that. So they came up with a job description after reading a couple stories about social media online and they posted the job. They have no idea what the job really is or the person they need to hire. But their CEO can’t have a state association CEO showing up the national association on an issue as prevalent as social media.

    To think that NAR has finally realized that Social Media is an important tool for the organization as well as its members and that they will embrace everthing that Social Media stands for would be naive. Real change will not occur until there is a material change in leadership.

  34. Matthew Rathbun

    October 13, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Chad:

    No, I wouldn’t want this position. 1.) Don’t want to relocate to Chicago (which I love) but think that forced relocation is already missing the premise of the position.

    2.) This person will be a target – period. Everything that is “wrong with NAR” will be put on their shoulders, just like Yun.

    3.) There is no boss in the world that will hire a position and allow them to openly say things that are contrary to the employer’s best interest, those of the membership at large or that may alienate other employees (members) to the media or on a “blog space.” Therefore, it will be a political position (a “face” if you will) for NAR.

    4.) There is no such thing as a social-media “guru.” The best that the position could do, would be to host a good collaborative effort of the service. This would mean being equally nice to AgentGenius, as it would BloodHoundBlog, as many of the writers are members of NAR. (I only use those two as an example)

    5.) So, the first time that this employee shows favoritism to one “blogger” or “blog system” (for example saying something negative or positive about ActiveRain) they will forever be branded and loose respect from passionate people on both sides.

    I am usually eager to take on most any challenge – but this one will need someone who can ignore “public opinion” and not really say what they think – it’s simply the nature of working for a trade association. The stakes are too high for anyone to say something contrary to the PR line that NAR pays so much money for.

  35. Matthew Rathbun

    October 13, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Tony – BINGO! There is only one Ben Martin. But even he has to be careful what he says and he works for one of the more progressive CEOs. Can’t imagine working for ever-so-careful folks at NAR.

  36. Bob

    October 13, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    @Jay – I have no idea what the position entails other than what they said it entails:

    The Manager of Social Media will ensure that NAR has the knowledge and skills to guide NAR staff and members in creating, facilitating, and participating effectively in key conversations about our organization, our issues, and our members that are conducted on blogs and other online social media channels.

    I think the perception is what Benn said here:

    “if this person is to have merit and begin teaching the values of SM to other agents,”

    IMO, the assumption that this is a position that has anything to do about educating agents about SM is just that – an assumption. It is wishful thinking. There is nothing in that job description that is agent centric. I’m betting this is a “Rudy from Trulia” position – a NAR evangelist using SM to spread the good news about NAR.

  37. Matthew Rathbun

    October 13, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    The best thing this position can do is educate on the topic and not be a spokesperson. They will most likely spend a great deal of time working with NAR staff to help them better reach out to members using the SM tools…

    However, these tools will evolve into something else one day. Therefore, this positions will need to be a marketer / trend setter at heart.

    I think everyone here is expecting too much. You’re thinking that this SM Director will be to NAR, what @LaniAR is to AgentGenius. As great as she is, ask her to pimp AG without being able to voice her own opinion…. I couldn’t do it.

  38. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Bob, it’s a little more than an educated guess:

    The Manager of Social Media will ensure that NAR has the knowledge and skills to guide NAR staff and members in creating, facilitating, and participating effectively in key conversations about our organization, our issues, and our members that are conducted on blogs and other online social media channels.

    Train NAR staff and elected leaders about how to write for blogs and other forms of social media

    I have a feeling NAR wants to create it’s very own “guru” on the subject that it’s members look to for development and example.

  39. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    #37- Matt, you’re right, if someone can’t be themselves, they’re violating the premise of SOCIAL media before they even start.

  40. Zak Nicola

    October 13, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    @Lani comment #11
    You couldn’t be more right about what type of character they need on their side.

    @Jay #2
    I think you are on to something there Jay. The younger crowd of social medialites, and even the not so young first time home buyers, have a muted opinion at best of NAR. Its that indifference to NAR that I think they need the most help fix.

    I fall right into that group that shouldn’t be looked at by NAR. I would want a lot of money to go work for them, but it would be their own poor reputation that would warrant such a high salary.

    I am truly curious to see what direction they choose to take the association in. Perhaps the next radio ad that NAR puts out wont sound like it was pressed in the 70’s, and targeted at my grandparents.

  41. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Lani has an opinion on something?

  42. Bob

    October 13, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    @Benn

    Then they are attempting to re-invent the wheel. However, there is no precedent for that type educational directive. NAR doesn’t teach agents how to market, how to sell or close, how to use any technology. That isn’t their role and never has been.

    I’ll give you that they want to create a position that NAR’s employees look to for development and example, but i don’t believe it is for the educational benefit of the agent.

    I believe they want this to be a way to communicate with the modern agent. The problem will still be that while the medium is updated, the message will likely still be just a sales pitch.

  43. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Bob, good point, that’s Realtor.com…

  44. Jeremy Hart

    October 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Just following this through the comments, it’s interesting how much of a nerve this has hit. On one side of the coin, NAR should be commended for what they’re attempting to do. On the other side of the coin, it’s a sad reflection of how membership feels about NAR.

    This post was put up earlier today, and already well over 40 comments. NAR’s on the right track with attempting this kind of an endeavor as evidenced by the comments here. It’s disappointing that so many of us are cynical as to what a position like this can actually accomplish. I truly wish that I wasn’t, and I’m sure there are others here that feel the same. I WANT NAR to be as progressive as Ben Martin and Scott Brunner in VA have been. I WANT to be able to look to NAR as a standard bearer for my industry, an industry that’s in desperate need of a not just a makeover but a fundamental shift in what’s proven to be an archaic ideology. I just can’t get excited that this is an example of that taking place.

  45. Jim Duncan

    October 13, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    There is very little that I can add to this excellent discussion, but I’ll try –

    Does NAR get “it”?

    1) Why does the job have to be in Chicago?
    2) What is the pay? (a call for transparency)
    3) I don’t recall seeing Monster ads for any of the recent hires in the real estate blogging world – (see Pat’s and Drew’s respective posts).
    4) The person should absolutely come from within the RE.net (or whatever we’re calling it today) – that person would have the immediate credibility necessary to communicate
    5) This person will absolutely have to have full access to the Leadership of the NAR – without this access and ability to respond, the position will be just another staff position spouting the “party line.”
    6) To Jay’s point – this position absolutely can work – but the person accepting the position will have to negotiate with the NAR so that NAR understands what is needed – right now they clearly do not.
    7) Maybe they need to hire two people immediately to work in tandem

  46. Jeremy Hart

    October 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Jim, I like the idea of a dual hire. It could provide differing viewpoints that could be good for discussion and engagement.

  47. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    October 13, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    1) Asking someone to relocate is likely a major FAIL. For all of the reasons mentioned above. Of course, this is ONLY true if they are seeking someone within the real estate industry. If they are looking for someone outside the industry, that person is probably more likely to be willing to relocate. REALTORS are very comfortable with their geographical area, its what we do. Social Media folk might be more willing to move, knowing that they can do their job from anywhere, so why not Chicago?

    2) Jeff Turner is on the money, anyone in real estate who has successfully been integrating social media into their business is likely making more money than the position offers.

    3) We don’t really know if 2 is totally true, since NAR failed to give any sort of salary guidelines. I’m going to GUESS that it is somewhere between $35K-$50K. I honestly have no idea, and that is a big range, but that is my hunch. Many REALTORS successfully doing what they do are making at least that much. Tough to ask them to leave. Altruism is great, but the electric company doesn’t accept it as payment.

    4) The job description is more explicit than I expected, but as vague as necessary. Given the nature of a SM manager, there is going to be vagueness. I know this first hand. My guess is that the description being publicized will likely change and evolve once someone is hired.

    —-

    I’m thinking that what we might want from a person in this position is not necessarily what NAR wants from the position, and that might not be a bad thing. I think that NAR doesn’t actually need another spokesperson, and probably doesn’t expect this person to fulfill that role. It seems to me that NAR wants this person to help their current, existing staff and membership improve their SM acumen.

    To me, that is where the rubber hits the road. NAR doesn’t need a guru, but it does need some direction, some coaching. If the person in this position is able to do that, then everyone should benefit.

    I think I’ll expand this into a blog post. . .

  48. The Harriman Team

    October 13, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Being the Manager of Social Media for the NAR would be like being the target for a blind, epileptic knife-thrower. Others have stated the case far better up above, but it sounds like the NAR just wants to jump on the SM bandwagon, giving the post the form and appearance of something that could be beneficial, without giving it any of the substance to make it work. Depending on the temperament of whomever fills the position, and how much carte blanche NAR is willing to let them have, I have a feeling the turnover rate might be very high, seriously curtailing any benefit the post would have for NAR members. I hope that’s not the case; best of luck to whoever lands the job, I think they’ll need it.

  49. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I’m going to delve into first person for the sake of argument … if I were to accept the position:

    1) Relocation would not happen. And the idea of “measuring the effectiveness of social media” would have to go out the window. Too much like the editor who didn’t think I spent “enough time” writing even though I was the most prolific writer on staff. I’m just that good that I can do it faster than most.

    2) My goal would not be to dictate but to guide. Spouting the company line only will antagonize, but there still are ways of guiding the conversation a certain direction with the well-placed, well-thought comment.

    3) The powers that be would have to understand I’m working more hours than they think, just not in the traditional 9-5 framework. David G, Rudy and others are everywhere all the time … or so it seems, thanks to the beauty of Google Alerts. Conversations can run out of control quickly, as we’re seeing.

    4) Training others would be a distant priority. After banging my head against the wall trying to teach folks how to blog, I’ve surrendered. Either you can figure it out or you can’t and not everyone can, will or should. Same goes for other social media.

    5) If I accepted the position, I would have a bullseye on my back. Anyone taking this position has to know this. You’re taking a position where the presumption from the inteligencia assumes you’re going to fail.

    Even turning around that general perception would be a victory beyond measure. And it can be done, if the right person is hired, if they’re prepared for the attacks coming their way, and if they’re given the free rein they need to promote NAR’s desired message in a very unique, very very different way.

    One side note, outside the first person – The money would need to be good, good enough to justify walking away from a successful real estate career to attempt. If the money isn’t there, you’re going to end up with someone who’s jumping for the paycheck and not out of a desire to make NAR better.

  50. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Daniel – if it’s $35K to $50K, I hope the job’s in Topeka and not Chicago. Hard to make the case for NAR when you’re personally priced out of a living space. 🙂

  51. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    #49 they’re in a tough position, because people have been screaming for NAR to get into the game and to use their dues to pay for a social media manager, so this could be a lose-lose for them, but if done properly it could be a major victory. I like the way Benn outlined what the job SHOULD be in his post (see comment #46).

    #51 Jonathan, that’s a good point and Daniel, that salary range is also what I was suspecting.

  52. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    #51 maybe that’s why they made such a big deal on health benes, maybe that’s the added value.

  53. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Health benefits are great, it’s a damn shame we don’t all have them, but health benefits aren’t going to pay the mortgage or shoe the children.

    I like Jim’s idea of hiring two people. Then there is the fact that it took this long just to get to this point in hiring one…

    Chuck asked, “Would you or would you not want this position? Why or why not?”

    I don’t know if I can answer that yet.. All we have is a job posting. As job postings go, it’s not bad. But there is much (MUCH) more to this position than meets the eye. *IF* the person had access to the entire leadership team and staff, and if the person had the authority to reach out and communicate without being shackled by bureaucracy and inordinate approvals, and if the position was not simply to be “spokesperson to the bloggers” and if NAR leadership was committed to working with this individual, then yes, I would be interested. Relocating to Chicago might be a show stopper. As Mike Price pointed out on Twitter, I probably wouldn’t survive the first Chicago winter. And, someone already has the ChicagoRealEstateGuy domain…

    That is a lot of ifs (and that’s not even close to all of them).

    Why would I do it? Some will find it insane, but I often miss the organizational dynamics of a large company/bureaucracy — heck, I did it for over half my life. There is much to be said for it (along with much reason to poke a stick in your eye). I’ve always been fascinated by politics and the political process (and if you don’t think NAR is deeply involved in politics, you are mistaken). I enjoy a challenge. And I think, done properly with the right leadership support, that this position could do very good things for the NAR and NAR membership.

    Then again, I’ve been called crazy before too.

  54. Michelle DeRepentigny

    October 13, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    What I find sad is that NAR is probably NOT reading this post and the excellent discussion that follows it, nor any of the other post regarding this topic. Short of a few self serving blogs that don’t go very far into actually communicating, they seem totally disconnected from “social media” and their membership

  55. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Michelle – I can assure you that many people at NAR have read the posts I made on this at NARWisdom. I can see it in the analytics. I don’t have visibility into AGs analytics, but I bet they ARE reading here. I know one NAR VP has read this particular post as they told me they did, and I have no reason to doubt them.

    The Executive VP and CEO of the NAR not only read, but commented on a NARWisdom post I wrote back in February that called for a social media director.

    And the NAR’s VP of Publications and Web Publishing commented on Daniel Rothamel’s post on the SMM position.

    (I can’t put links in here or Lani will have to dig it out of moderation. Lord knows she’s busy enough. But you can go to NARWisdom.com and find all I’ve referred to here)

    I think the disconnection you’re seeing and feeling speaks volumes as to why this position is needed. There is a tremendous room for improvement, and opportunity, here.

  56. Matthew Rathbun

    October 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Michelle,

    I think that for the relatively small number of members who are using SM, NAR has done a fairly good job of trying. I have met MANY very cool NAR staff people through this venue, several of them on twitter and on their blogs.

    NAR has tried, but just not met the expectations of this minority group. SM has evolved so quickly, that I don’t think it’s practical to expect a machine the size of NAR to turn on a dime. They still have to serve the rest of the membership.

    All this is in it’s infancy, so I think getting a staffer at NAR this early on is a good start to better things.

    I really see NAR trying, but with over a million voice trying to be served “their way” it’s just hard.

    We could all do better at serving one another and blending into this ever evolving world.

  57. Todd Carpenter

    October 13, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I think the job looks like a fantastic challenge. I love challenges.

  58. Jonathan Benya

    October 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I’m relieved to see that this position is being created! All of us chatting here know how much work and time it takes to manage social media in our own local regions, and I find it a little discomforting that the NAR is looking to create a job, and not an entire department. In all reality, hasn’t the NAR managed to give it sell one hell of a black eye in the last few years? Does anybody take their sales projection reports seriously?

    The problem with the NAR’s image is NOT going to be solved by one person willing to take on a daunting, thankless position. It seems to be a company culture of promoting “buy baby buy” regardless of the housing market. It would make sense to me to bring the NAR focus to one of consumer protection as as well as real estate promotion. I don’t want to point fingers for the housing crisis, but jeez, where was the NAR standing as the mortgage market killed the golden goose??

    This needs to be a position of partnership, directly with the NAR executives that run the show. I worry that this is going to be more of a dog and pony show than a catalyst for real change. We NEED this to be a group of people out there teaching realtors how to manage social media and their own image as well as teaching the NAR how to do the same.

  59. Matthew Rathbun

    October 13, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this some more…. I’ve eluded to it all day, but you folks need to have a little patience with this position and sympathy for the person who gets it. It’s going to be a nightmare for awhile, and everyone needs to not think of this as NAR’s messiah…or social media for that matter.

    Let’s hope that someone gets hired who can make their own position from the job description and let’s not beat them up, till they’ve actually done something wrong. That’s all I’m trying to say…

    NAR maybe trying to go back to core-member services and this is the first step, let’s go take a look at Benn’s new post and see what insight we can give to HELP NAR.

  60. Kim Wood

    October 13, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Those of us active in Social Media are going to have such high standards and expectations I almost feel bad for the person(s) thinking of applying or that gets the position.

    I believe once again, that we will remain in a different category – that sounds so big-headed. I’m just not sure we should look at this new position and say, “What will they be able to do for me?” instead, “What benefit will they bring to the membership”

    For this person to reach the general membership of NAR, they will be walking in our footsteps. They will be listening to what Agent Genius, our blogs, our classes are saying….

    Queen Kim from upon her pedestal…stepping down….

  61. Maureen Francis

    October 13, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I hope they hire you, Jay.

  62. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Todd – you’ve captured the attitude they ought to be looking for in a candidate. There will be no instant results. In fact, I’m still trying to get my arms around any kind of metric. When the effort’s working, we’ll know. That’s about the best I can explain it.

    Matthew – once they make the hire, I agree that patience will be needed from the re.net. May not happen, but there ought to be a honeymoon period. It’s going to take time for the position to gain traction. What I fear is an overly heavy hand on the part of NAR management all but ripping the tread off the tire before it can bite into the long road ahead.

    Maureen – I agree, especially if it means Jay has to move to Chicago and will sell his domain to me. 🙂

  63. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Mo – thanks. Coming from someone like you, that means a lot. There are several that could do “the job” — depending of course on what that job truly entails.

    JD – I don’t have to move to Chicago to sell you my domain name. Everything has a price. You just can’t afford it. 😉

    It will be interesting to see how this thing pans out. As this thread demonstrates, there are a lot of expectations for a position like this, and a lot of baggage surrounding the job long before any of us really understand the purpose. Like any new position, I suspect it will morph and change over time. Hopefully the NAR looks at and listens to those agents out there who are willing to give time and/or opinion to help shape it.,

  64. Bill Lublin

    October 14, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Hey Guys – I take a couple of days to watch the Eagles and the Phillies and look what you all get started on – sorry to get here so late;

    Just a couple of thing you guys should know –
    1. NAR’s staff (who all live in Chicago – with the exception of the DC based staff) are incredible – Chicago (which is an awesome city with tremendous universities, cultural opportunities, etc) seems to have lots of bright well educated people to fill the opportunities that NAR generates – and there are lots of people who have no problem relocating for a job with a large national employer. If the SMM is at the level of competence of the current staff they will be hiring an outstanding individual.
    2. NAR’s staff and leadership are committed to communicating with their members and the public. Social Media is merely another conduit (as evangelistic as we might be) and is being investigated (as it should be) because they are aware of its emergence and wish to participate in the conversation to benefit their members (which s the job of the association)
    3. IMHO it doesn’t matter if the person is someone we already know or is in the industry – after all strangers are merely friends we haven’ t met yet. If the person is good at their job (see #1) they’ll be a part of our social landscape quickly enough.
    4. Please stop imputing negative motives to NAR because you don’t agree with a position or a mechanism that has been employed by the association to co0mmunicate or carry a message – or because you don;t agree with the message – If you haven;t participated in the conversations and thoughts that surrounded those messages, you probably misunderstand the motive and possibly the message itself – volunteer and help craft the message if you think you can do better (your help is desired) We all are the stars of our own movies, and we sometimes neglect to realize that there is a lot moe to what goes on than is evident on the surface.
    – I really have much more to say, but I’m on the west coast, traveling home tomorrow, and I have to get some sleep – I promise I’ll get back here tomorrow night or the next morning if not earlier to see who I annoyed 😉

  65. Rebecca Levinson

    October 14, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Jay,

    I am currently in a social media position within the real estate industry and have been for a little over a year. I am working virtually as I have done for 6 years. My struggle has been cutting down my worktime, not slacking on my performance:-)

    If more companies were open to virtual workers- the world would be a greener, more family oriented place to be.

    So to whomever is looking to fill the position (perhaps a local from Phoenix) the benefits are vast, check out runzheimer.com- they know whassup and have for awhile and sell the sale. It’s a sale worth selling.

    P.S. Used to live N.W. suburb of Chicago but escaped big city for family oriented digs. Still visit and it is a great city.

  66. Dave Phillips

    October 15, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Great discussion. I think they will need multiple people to handle this job on a part-time basis. The Internet and NAR are too broad in scope to really connect all the dots with one person. Can one person really understand all the issues? Finance, legislative, regulatory, sales/marketing, etc. These folks could all answer to NAR/Chicago, but no need for them to move there. I do not really care if these folks are Realtors, but I do expect them to be knowledgeable on the areas they are responsible for.

  67. Daltonsbriefs

    October 20, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Ok, I guess I was late the conversation, only seeing the news today a week late. Virtual Social Media Manager makes tons of sense to me.

  68. Arlington real estate guy

    October 22, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Sorry I’m late to the conversation, but here’s how I put it at Inman’s news on this today.

    “maintain, evolve and enforce NAR’s social media policies and guidelines.” Notice the word “enforce”? Now read below.

    I think that says it all coupled with their silence on the SAR issue in which a forward thinking realtor built up a website w/ the term MLS in his domain only to have the Sarasota Association of Realtors come after him as members were jealous of all the business he was procuring. The SAR was able to do this because of NAR’s article 12 giving local association the right to forbid the use of reference to a regional mls in the domain names.

    the realtor with the blessings of NAR in their REALTOR magazine, etc. has now been pounded and stripped of a website that he has spent $10,000 and years establishing by the SAR and their formal complaint to ICANN. How can the NAR stand silently by and let this type of injustice go on???

    “maintain, evolve and enforce NAR’s social media policies and guidelines.”

    This statement of the NAR says it clear enough when coupled with their silence on the Article 12 issue and Marc Rasmussen’s website being stolen by his association who spent no money on it or hundreds of hours of time building it.

    The NAR wants a social media mngr to police the net and make sure its members fall into line with them, are not too divisive and controversial in their topics, etc.

    Until the NAR makes right their Article 12 mess and brings some justice to Marc Rasmussen in his struggle against close minded 20 century agents jealous of his being on the cutting edge of real estate 2.0 the NAR will not have much credibility….

    I’ve written VP REALTOR magazine and have not received a response. I am having a hard time finding the right people to write about this subject.

    Perhaps a sweeping withholding of NAR dues by its members would get their attention. IF their goal is to enforce what they think is appropriate in social media then one can only assume they are of nefarious intent with their silence in protecting Marc Rasmussen. Or they are cowards or they do not give a darn about right and wrong. How can you not speak out at the national level about one of your members being persecuted for pursuing excellence and providing the best tools to consumers? Isn’t that what realtors are supposed to do?

    If anybody cares about the truth here: https://www.realestatewebmasters.com/blogs/morgan-carey/6350/show/

  69. REALonomics

    October 22, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Jay is right, “NAR seems to be trying to “get it”. But according to NAR’s job posting, it is looking for someone who can “monitor” and “enforce” NAR’s social media policies and guidelines.”

    Jay, you also say, “I suspect many at NAR read this blog (and if they don’t, they really need someone in this position).” We at REALonomics know that they read, but they don’t speak or write, that’s the problem. We’re still waiting for the first comment from an NAR President and we stopped holding our breath long ago. They might read, but then they hide.

    What are the specific NAR policies and guidelines that need to be monitored and enforced? How does one, or an organization like NAR, monitor and enforce their positions within blogs? This sounds a lot like “blog-tapping” to those of us at REALonomics.

    NAR is having a difficult time grappling with the notion of an unleashed, dues paying Realtor® loose in cyberspace that it (NAR) cannot control, charge dues and create a designation for in order to further monetize and justify its (NAR’s) existence.

    NAR, rather than endorsing the $700 billion bailout and then trying to get all of us to climb on their socialization train, should have been and ought to be re-tooling our industry’s business model in the eyes of the consumer.

    Owners and agents are in big trouble in most of the country and we need NAR to help create new, vibrant, transparent consumer-centric models rather than being the Sherlock Holmes of social media. NAR could have been participating all along, rather than the exercise described by Hillary Marsh, Managing Director of Realtor.org as “We’ve put our toe in the water.” Jump in Hillary, the water is fine!

    It is innovation and transparency in local markets we need, not another layer of bureaucracy. NAR needs to climb off the high horse and join the rest of us in the gallant struggle to reinvent our industry so that consumers will actually trust us rather than tolerate us.

    How would you like to be NAR’s Social Media Manager, running around the country, policing blogs, holding workshops and telling people what they can and can’t say as Realtors®. How would you like to be writing tickets and threatening Realtor® with suspension or revocation of their membership if they post unacceptable content to their blogs?

    What we are actually witnessing via social media and other consumer-centric trends like Web 2.0 is the “Democratization of Real Estate”. With all social, economic and institutional transformations, there is usually an attempt to control the streets by those who hold institutional power and perceive change as a threat to their positions of authority and control.

    YIKES!

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