By Katherine Tarbox, senior editor, REALTOR® Magazine
A total of 642,459 votes were cast in REALTOR® Magazine’s “30 Under 30″ Web Choice Award poll. Of those, a staggering 14.8 percent, or 95,358 votes, went to our Web Choice winner: broker Michael Jensen with RE/MAX Spirit Lake & The Okobojis in Spirit Lake, Iowa. In 2010, Jensen closed $13.5 million in sales with 58 sides selling vacation homes on Lake Okoboji, one of the three lakes in the world officially considered blue-water lakes, meaning they were formed from a melting glacier.
“I’m from [an area] of 15,000 in Iowa that thinks it’s as great as any large city,” explains Jensen, who said he was getting regular messages from his doctor, friends, and colleagues that they voted for him hundreds of times during the voting week, March 26 to April 3. Jensen believes it was residents of his small town who pushed him to the top of the voting, by voting as often as they could.
For the third year running, we asked readers to evaluate and vote on the 50 semi-finalists in our annual “30 Under 30″ program. Clearly, social networking is in full bloom: The number of votes we tallied this year was more than four times the number we received in 2010, with many of this year’s candidates receiving more than 20,000 votes.
“I don’t really ask for anything until I need it,” says Jensen, who contacted his 700 Facebook friends and e-mailed individuals in his database of just over 3,000 to vote for him for the Web Choice Awards. His local and state association also got the word out through social media channels.
Another semi-finalist, Becky Barrick, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Puyallup in Lake Tappas, Wash., used the Web Choice voting as an opportunity to support a good cause: She pledged to donate $1,000 to an organization that fights human trafficking if she received more than 10,000 votes. Although she didn’t make her goal, in honor of the 3,020 votes, she donated $302 to the charity.
Web Choice voting didn’t play a role in the selection of the final 30. Watch for the June issue of REALTOR® Magazine to see which of the finalists were named to the 2011 “30 Under 30″ class.