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Shaping NAR’s Social Media Face

If I were to be asked, this would be the framework

Always using an informal voice allows for the following:

  • It is not imperative that NAR’s social media person go out and represent the organizational line. What is imperative, however, is that this person know and understand everything going on at the NAR.
  • From top to bottom this person must be privy to all events, know the end game of the events, and create target goals that help each activity become a success.
  • Alert membership to upcoming training, conferences, new policies, new committees, votes, campaigns, and cheerlead/rainmake for each.
  • Thus the job is to build buzz around the organization, talk about improvements, and make known the direction the organization is heading.
  • The SM person should also fundamentally avoid discussing the NAR’s position, however, should understand the nuances of misunderstanding in blogs and comment sections around the net. Their job should, in fact, be to simply correct the record as to allow for a debate based in fact, rather than a created reality of a member or non-member.
  • The SM person should never engage in outright argument, but invite the crowd to spots where they can become better educated on the truths within and outside of the organization. Inserting a permanent reality into a comment thread allows those that wish to rise above the fray to gain knowledge on the subject. It is never the social media managers job to save everyone, it is simply their job to insert simple wisdom.
  • The SM person should have access to every department official to ask direct questions when unsure, and be allowed to provide the information in real time.
  • NAR’s representative should always encourage and rally Realtors to get involved. If a blog post is written that complains about a certain outcome of a committee, then provide information that illustrates how to become involved in the process of changing that outcome.

These are just some fundamentals of how I would frame such a position of Social Media Manager for NAR, and I can certainly understand why some have turned down this position already- there’s no proper framework in the public eye for the position, and no one wants to be a scapegoat. I would suggest creating a small panel of those within the space, and allow them to come together on how a social media position should look based on reality, not someone’s best guess.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I think the framework outlined is solid, but may be irrelevant depending on what NAR’s purpose may be.

    We’re viewing the position as those who already engage in Social Media, those who for lack of a better term “get it.” The question remains not just of whether NAR does get it but if it wants to do so. Reading between the lines a little bit, it seems as though they want Social Media on their terms which is absolutely beside the point and ultimately counter-productive.

    Bold, decisive, spur of the momentaction is not an NAR hallmark but it’s a Social Media necessity.

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I suspect a little of both, and I also suspect they’ve spoken to a few self-proclaimed experts on the issue, but regardless of what framework they use it will surely define its value in the end.

    I really want this for NAR, I’ve been calling for it for months, but get this wrong, and I’m not sure when you’d get another chance at a do over.

  3. Pam Buda

    October 13, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Benn–very thoughtful post and a good delineation of the roles/responsibilities of the position and the fine line of any person(ality) taking on a role representing a corporate entity. Could be applied to the job description of social media manager across the board with any number of companies and in any number of markets.

    In each case the persona of the SMM (social media manager) would need to track with the culture and goals of the organization that they represent.

    I don’t think that means the SMM would need to be a corporate drone, or have a big target on their back if the job is handled skillfully. Seems to me the skills and the role you described are a pretty apt description of the role played by a strong marketing or public relations person. Many of the same skills apply.

    In this case the constituency of the social media manager would be the key influencers and authors across the right mix of media platforms of Web 2.0, rather than the print and electronic (as we used to think of electronic–how quaint!) media. Frankly in many businesses beyond real estate, this is already standard operating procedure. Classic technology evangelism strategy for instance absolutely requires the buy-in of early adopters/influencers (read the blogosphere/twittersphere) in conjunction with the media distribution channels (Twittersphere, etc.) in order to drive adoption to the broader market–the vast majority of Realtors in this case, who are slowly getting on board.

  4. Nick Bastian

    October 13, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    ” but get this wrong, and I’m not sure when you’d get another chance at a do over.”
    Have the bets begun yet? 🙂

  5. Pam Buda

    October 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Follow on–interesting post by Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni on the difference between a traditional “corporate” persona (is that an oxymoron or what?) and maintaining (or not) the image of perfection in the world of social media.

  6. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Benn, I do hope that the NAR reach out to the leaders in the real estate space and talk about what the role should be, especially given that the role will likely piggyback on the success of those of us who have actively created the real estate social mediaverse… that token would take them farther than any single SM superstar.

  7. Cyndee Haydon

    October 13, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Lani – I loved your framework – it’s a tall order for someone to fill – my biggest concern is that NAR understands you don’t “control” social media – I think corporations struggle with this concept – the reality that like it or not… the inmates do help run the asylum 🙂 – Can’t just lock’em up or silence them. You have to intelligently engage and effectively communicate – like you do so well!

    I agree that this is a double edged sword for NAR – done well it could have benefits to them from a PR standpoint – do it badly and the run the risk of becoming irrelevant IMHO.

  8. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Cyndee, I *wish* I came up with that framework, but the credit has to go to Benn.

    You’re so right about it being a double edged sword- they haven’t even hired yet and people are already screaming foul. Benn’s right- with the correct framework (as he provided here), it can be a great added service from the NAR… the problem is that social media is not just a marketing tool, it is a culture, and if the candidate sees it as a utility rather than a lifestyle (I can’t think of a better word here, sorry), it will backfire on NAR.

    Everyone needs to remember- due-paying members ARE the NAR. It’s not a machine on some far away hill. Get involved, don’t behave as if it’s an immaterial corporation- you pay, you have a say (see Benn’s last bullet point).

  9. Lisa Sanderson

    October 13, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Yes, that last bullet point is uber-awesome. How much talent & knowledge is there within our ranks that is not yet tapped? Talk about energizing & harnessing the power of One Million! (is it still one million?) The State & Local Associations need to do this too.

  10. Jay Thompson

    October 13, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    “and if the candidate sees it as a utility rather than a lifestyle (I can’t think of a better word here, sorry)”

    I think lifestyle is the right word Lani.

  11. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Lifestyle sums it up best – I agree as well, despite both of your UT leanings.

    > due-paying members ARE the NAR. It’s not a machine on some far away hill. Get involved, don’t behave as if it’s an immaterial corporation

    Yes and no. There’s a difference between what takes place on a committee level and what happens in a corporate reporting relationship between the SMM and whomever happens to be his/her boss. Does NAR want to know how those of us already utilizing social media (I’m admittedly hit-and-miss to be honest, bet still) believes the role could best be filled or is their goal to try and dictate down to the plebiscite from their platform.

    ARMLS here in Phoenix had what I thought was a solid idea in creating a blog discussing the transition from one MLS system to another. Unfortunately, the primary writer was the compliance guy. Rather than a conversation building, the blog was bogged down by a series of mandates. Focus was lost immediately, the intended audience followed and the plug has been pulled.

    Many of us are skeptical because posting on is a clumsy start … this is the kind of job that shouldn’t really be posted. Find your potential pool of candidates and make the offer.

  12. Bob

    October 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    While Benn penned the framework I would like to see, I think Jonathan has nailed it in both of his comments.

    The crux of the issue here revolves around what is NAR trying to accomplish with this position.

  13. Cyndee Haydon

    October 13, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Oops – Benn I am so sorry for my mistake 🙁 – Lani’s tweet and her consistent brilliant blogging had me thinking she wrote this article. My humble apologies – let me set the record straight – YOU hit it out of the park with this one – hope NAR has it’s google alerts going off so they see it!! 🙂

  14. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I understand what NAR wants to accomplish is important to the nar, however, it’s a dynamic thing this social media, and attempting to control it any further than it needs to be controlled would lead back to my initial comment of SM FAIL. Why? because as much as you want to control a lifestyle, you can’t, it’s a natural thing- it’s simply what you did that day, that minute, that hour, not what you want to accomplish tomorrow- it’s a right now thing, it’s a human thing.

    just sayin…

  15. Craig Barrett

    October 13, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    And give the membership a reason for them to follow the SM. Once discovered every member across the country will ask… “What’s in it for me? How does this affect my bottom line?” Give value, specific value to the membership and how a member can increase or improve their business. I think if specific, tangible value is not part of the frame work, the words of the SM are as good as SPAM.

  16. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Craig, that is a question we face every day, what is the tangible value of social media, the problem is, if you value a position within a conversation, then it’s actually up to you to place a value. If that value is zero, then its zero- for others it’s invaluable.

  17. Jonathan Dalton

    October 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    I disagree on just one thing, Benn, though it may be mere semantics. Trying to control the beast won’t work (I keep picturing DiNiro in Backdraft when he talked about fire). But guiding it can be accomplished, and guiding is a lesser form of controlling, at least to my mind.

  18. Kevin Sharkey - IBR Broker

    October 13, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I nominate Teresa. No one understands or uses SM better.

  19. Benn Rosales

    October 13, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Jonathan, you’re right, it’s semantics, but a good point you make none the less. Controlling the message without using a heavy hand is an art.

    I’m imagining the smm at one of the bubble blogs right now, whomever they chose should get a raise before they even begin…

  20. Bill Lublin

    October 14, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Jonathan; Part of the problem (from our perspective as social media participants) is that when we speak we speak as individuals with our own personalities, responsible to no one but ourselves –

    When anyone speaks on behalf of NAR they speak as the voice of all of its members. Becuase that voice is the voice of all of the members and not each of the members (many of whom do not agree on many issues) the voice is a synthesis. Therefore we need to listen to that voice differently, appreciating the need of the voice to articulate the viewpoint of the organization – That doesn’t mean that it won’t be genuine or effective, but it will take a very clever individual to project and maintain their personality while bringing the association viewpoints to the members.

    Benn- Great post on a solid topic – I especially like the statement “Controlling the message without using a heavy hand is an art. ” Though the Sm will need to provide the Association message, I believe the effort will be made to provide that message in an open and conversational manner, allowing for the two way flow that is essential to any good dialogue.

    Craig – You said “And give the membership a reason for them to follow the SM” I think that those of us in this arena will follow and engage the SM because they are here – which is , I believe, the point of the job. Though NAR gets bad rapped too often, the association is constantly looking for ways to better communicate with the membership – though you might mot like the vehicles it uses, there is no question that the association is proactive in creating a variety of electronic and print communication vehicles to reach the membership from newsletters, to email to listservs to magazines and direct mailings. As far as the value to the association and the member, I disagree with Benn a little here – the communication itself provides the value to the participants.

    Kevin – I know Teresa at least well enough to guess this is not a job she would want – mostly because she likes to speak for Teresa – not for anyone else – and that’s what makes her so great and her voice so real 😉

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