How Twitter Raises the Stakes

By Todd Carpenter, Social Media Manager, National Association of REALTORS®

I assume that everything I say on the Internet will be read by my supervisors here at NAR. While my personal Twitter page is exactly that, the blurred lines of social media, and my personal relationship with thousands of REALTORS across the country means that I know EVERYTHING I say there might be scrutinized.

There are times when the things I say lead to complaints addressed to me, or even a superior here at NAR. So, I don’t say anything on Twitter that I might have to apologize for later. That doesn’t mean I won’t offend anyone (I do). But it does mean I can back up my case when a complaint comes along.

Sound like a pressure cooker?

It’s not any worse for anyone else on Twitter. Take for instance the story of Amanda Bowen, a Chicago apartment dweller with a Twitter account that used to have a mere 22 followers. She made a comment on Twitter about here apartment’s property management company that landed her a $50,000 lawsuit. As Jeffrey Michael of Horizon Group Management LLC explained to the Chicago Sun Times:

We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.

I don’t know who’s right or wrong in this case. My guess though, is that both parties are learning a lot about the stakes involved in taking a disagreement online.

Have I scared you away from Twitter yet?

For all the negative things that can happen online, the positives are all there to balance it out. Think about the good will you can earn by saying good things about the people you want to build relationships with. Think about how you can use an online presence to turn negatives into a positive.

Twitter has real power. Leverage it. Use it for good, and good will come to you. If you feel the need, use it for addressing a wrong. Just be ready when the other side of a disagreement reacts to the power of Twitter as well. The rules of the game have not changed. Just the stakes.

More coverage at The Phoenix Real Estate Guy and Sellsius

Todd Carpenter

Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of the Data Analytics Group at NAR I'm a twenty year veteran of the real estate and mortgage industry, focusing on technology that fosters relationships between professionals and consumers. I am a subject matter expert in data analytics, online consumer trends, enterprise social media strategy, listing data, agent ratings, and public facing MLS portals.

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  1. Great post … I am getting prepared for the onslaught of questions that I am sure to get from our agents on this costly tweet. Thank you for the positive focus, Twitter does have power, but like anything else it can be used for good.

  2. Twitter (and other social media platforms) are indeed powerful. And with power comes danger. Common sense should prevail.

    Horizon Realty Group is about to build a case study on how not to react. The social media backlash they are about to experience is going to far outweigh the $50K they might collect.

    Great article Todd! (and thanks for the linkage)

  3. Interesting time folks – amazing how fast things can spread via this new platform(s).

  4. Wow, when I said, “both parties are learning a lot about the stakes involved in taking a disagreement online.” I didn’t envision this becoming a trending topic on Twitter

    Now, tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are familiar with the story.

  5. Well, if I were horizon, I would have contacted Bonnen and apologized if there was mold. And if horizon had in fact been defamed at all by the tweet, then they should have issued a statement through the press that was honest, saying that they will fix the problem.

    People have the right to express their opinions about companies, public or not. Especially if it was true, which I believe it was. Why else would Horizon get on the defensive so fast?

    Horizon looks even worse by the way they are handling all this.

  6. With the Internet comes responsibility – and we need to realize that there is “permanence” to what we say. I for one get taken out of context constantly (not very hard to do). There’s another problem on Twitter and other Social Media Platforms….bullies! I guess we can discuss that one at a later date

  7. says volumes more about Horizon Group Management (or their attorneys), that it does about their ability to successfully resolve conflict.

    Horizon missed a valuable opportunity to possibly resolve the issue (online or offline), create good will–and enhance their reputation. Twitter’s but one spotlight. There’s also Yelp, JudysBook and a slew of other review sites where disgruntled clients can go.

    And then you have all those pesky bloggers with a reputation of going after intimidators who try to muzzle their accusers with lawsuits….

    Horizon needs to rethink its approach and focus on reputation management via positive engagement versus legal confrontation.

  8. Good suggestion to focus on being positive instead of negative. However, sometimes calling someone out may be the only way to get an issue addressed. Like Todd suggests, you better have your ducks in a row to back you up.

    I also think how much better public reception of Horizon would have been to have spent that money on fixing the issues at hand instead of legal fees. I am with Jay about all the potential backlash. Bad choice.

  9. Outstanding post, Todd. When we work to understand the basic principles of web 2.0, we can use it for great good. The democratization of the internet draws tremendous transparency. Perhaps the property management’s antiquated and retaliatory actions will help them to acquire wisdom to our current business climate. There is freedom of speech in this country, and bullying no longer serves as an effective business model in today’s world.

  10. Great post Todd!

    While there is freedom of speech in America, we are also a litigious society. Thank you for creating an awareness on this volatile subject.

    What many companies fail to understand today is that the negative blogs/comments can actually be turned around into a positive. If your business does not have a good reputation, social media gives the opportunity to fix issues. In the past, word of mouth was between local friends and neighbors, and most companies just lost consumers as they might have been unaware of a problem. Now we have this wide open forum to hear about negative our customers/clients experiences, and we can fix them right here in the public forum.

    THAT is the power social influence can have when used the right way.

    When a company just files a lawsuit because they do not like what they hear, it simply creates more animosity toward them. Most consumers will band together against a corporation, and that is just a cold hard fact they need to wake up to.

    Now, all of that said, it does not give people the right to bash a company without just cause. However, even if that happens, a company can plead their case in the court of public opinion unlike anytime before and build upon a solid reputation.

    Again, thank you for creating this awareness, and keep up the great work!

    ~Harrison Painter

  11. What I’d like to know is how Horizon heard about Amanda’s tweet and the rather dull discussion about mold? I am, I hope right, in believing are not one of her 22 followers.

  12. I’m inclined to agree with Jay. Horizon execs would have been wiser to take a deep breath and focus on a level-headed response to Amanda’s discussion. Their knee-jerk, bully reaction sees them on national news networks and in the middle of a social media firestorm.

    Methinks Horizon will serve as an excellent how-not-to-manage-your-reputation-management online for years to come.