By Laura Melcher, Manager, Editorial Development, REALTOR.org
At today’s Communications Directors’ Networking Session, NAR Social Media Manager Todd Carpenter described a recent “blogostorm” in which he and other NAR staff entered an Agent Genius blog debate about rules prohibiiting “scraping” of MLS listings on the Web. The original blog posting, by Paula Henry (an Indianapolis REALTOR®), garnered hundreds of comments and generated rapid-fire debate about the distinction between search indexers, such as Google, and site “scrapers,” which steal data.
Todd presented the Agent Genius discussion thread as a great example of why being engaged in such a debate is vital to remaining relevant in the minds of the social-media savvy, an increasingly large group. In other words, participation in social media should not be seen as optional, either for associations, individual members, or their companies. As he said, a given debate is going to go on regardless of whether or not you are involved, so you might as well get involved and do so in a professional and productive way.
Todd offered the following tips for those looking to break into the blogosphere:
1.When writing a post, “show where you sit before you show where you stand” – meaning, be transparent about your perspective on an issue before providing your opinion.
2.You’ll be more effective if you’re not just blogging from 9-5 – REALTORS are always on the clock, so if you leave at 5 p.m. and aren’t back until the next morning, there’s going to be a lot you’ve missed.
3.“IMO” goes a long way – always explain what is your opinion versus the position of the company you represent.
4.Look for an opportunity to assert your position by responding to a question or comment rather than initiating such a post.
5.Engage bloggers and other social media “regulars” in efforts to improve that which they dismiss or complain about.
6.Whether you blog in a company- or association-sponsored blog, or a personal blog, talk to your employer about its policy for expression of your personal opinion. Some organizations are OK with employees expressing their personal beliefs, others are not. Sometimes, the answer is “it depends.”
7.If you’re just breaking into social media, start with a blog as opposed to a Facebook page or Twitter account, especially if you’re not sure what your audience uses most. The benefit to a blog is that there is no membership requirement.
The audience appreciated the information but expressed concern about a) having time to monitor and contribute to social media, and b) generating enough support for these activities among business leaders. Todd responded that one of his greatest assets in these efforts is his network – when someone in his circle alerts him to a particular discussion, he knows it’s worth checking out. Hilary Marsh of REALTOR.org also weighed in, saying that getting members information about the “hows and whys” of social media is at the top of NAR’s social media agenda.