Message Control and Social Media

What do you mean these Fireside Chats arent enough? Fireside Tweets is undignified man!

What do you mean these Fireside Chats aren't enough? Fireside Tweets is undignified man!

Back when Todd Carpenter was applying for the position of Social Media Manager at the National Association of REALTORS, I endorsed him with reservations. Those reservations had nothing to do with Todd, as he was (and is) perhaps the most qualified person to head up social media strategy for NAR.  When he got the position, I was extremely happy for him personally, but concerned about a few implications of what “going corporate” would mean for Todd and for NAR.  I wrote about those here, and made a couple of recommendations.

Fast forward to last week, when an absolute blogstorm erupted over the issue of NAR endorsement of a local MLS rule forcing members to block Google from indexing IDX listings on their websites.  Some of the responses of people on that thread were extraordinarily interesting from a social media strategy standpoint.  The substance of the issue in that post is addressed there and elsewhere.  The focus of this post is on the process of deploying social media strategies for large organizations, particularly when the organization brings in a well-known figure in the wider community.

Message Control vs. Openness

L’affaire de MLS instantly revealed a real tension between message control that is typical and traditional in public relations doctrine and openness that is inherent in social media.  For example, as the storm of outrage threatened to get out of hand, Hilary Marsh, the Managing Director of Realtor.org (the actual website of NAR, since Realtor.com is a consumer-facing website operated by Move, Inc.), posted a response from Cliff Niersbach, NAR’s Vice President of Board Policy & Programs.

The immediate question that arises is, “Does Cliff not know how to use a website comment form?  Why is Hilary posting for Cliff?”

Get me PR NOW!

Get me PR NOW!

The overwhelming temptation for any company or organization that suddenly finds itself in the middle of a brewing (or full-blown) controversy is to lockdown message control.  One person, typically the person in charge of Corporate Communication, speaks for the organization, and all inquiries are referred to that person.  Behind the scenes, PR consultants, staff, lawyers, and other executives get into meeting after meeting to work out what will be said, how it will be said, and by whom.  Once the message has been polished to a high gloss, it is put out to the world with extreme care.

The downside to such a strategy, of course, is that most people who view such a highly polished message are used to such “PR spin”.  After all, we live in a world where every other word coming out of our elected officials’ mouths can be assumed to be a lie of some sort.

The upside is… the organization speaks with a single voice, through a single channel, and can disavow anything else said by anyone else.  Not that this stops, halts, prevents, or reverses any sort of shitstorm being stirred up ‘out there’, but the people within the PR Fortress have a sorta warm feeling.  Queasy, but warm.

Proximity to Power and Alienation

Furthermore, within a social media context, ‘proximity to power’ counts for a good deal.  It’s amazing that the CEO of Zappos will interact with people over Twitter.  Blogposts by senior executives (e.g., GM’s Fastlane blog) makes consumers and interested parties feel as if they are more directly connected to the organization.

In contrast, some spokesperson relaying the official word from some official hidden inside the PR Fortress immediately puts distance between the community and the ‘right people’ inside the organization.  It widens the gulf, which is not a good thing unless you really mean to make your customers/members/whatever feel even more alienated from you than normal.

In the NAR MLS case above, that Hilary provided an email from Cliff Niersbach proved not to be good enough.  Commentators emailed Cliff, then reposted his responses in some cases, but that in turn fed the feeling of alienation for those who did not do so.  The ultimate result is that a clear feeling of “Us vs. Them” was created, with Jay Thompson and Paula Henry (the original author of the AgentGenius post) becoming the spokespersons for the Community, to present the grievances of the Commuity to NAR.

Now, nothing against Jay or Paula, but look at this from NAR’s perspective.  Is it really a good thing that large numbers of your own members think of themselves as a “community” distinct from you, an organization which ostensibly represents them and is the “official community” of REALTORS? That they feel alienated enough to want to designate “spokespeople” to bring the case to you?

Would it not have been better to have Cliff engage directly with the community on AgentGenius (or better yet, on Realtor.org itself), debate, hear issues, post responses, and just communicate openly so that the members of NAR feel as if they are part of the whole process, and not a part of an insurgent “Us” vs. the power-structure of “Them”?

This blogstorm presented the perfect opportunity for NAR to use social media techniques to prevent comments like this one:

However; it seems you “have your ear to the ground” more than your average NAR aristocrat and can actually relate to and understand the conversation we are having here in addition to having an audience at the NAR. (Emphasis mine)

It’s too bad that NAR missed the opportunity, because the folks I know at NAR are far from “aristocrats” and take their mission to provide value to the members very seriously.  It’s further too bad because all evidence suggests that Cliff Niersbach spent quite a bit of time answering emails sent to him by outraged members.  If he were going to spend the time doing that anyhow, why not simply engage in the social media channel?

Perils of Visibility

Todd Carpenter, Ninja

Todd Carpenter, Ninja

One of the most interesting issues, I thought, was the strain put on Todd Carpenter (@tcar), a prominent member of the RE.net community who became the Social Media Manager for NAR.  Because Todd has always been engaged in industry issues, he did what he always did: engaged.  At the same time, he made it clear that all of the opinions were his personal opinions:

I’m the social media manager here at NAR. I do not work for REALTOR.com. Again, ALL of my comments here are my personal opinion despite what Jay says. I’ve been expressing my personal opinion on Agent Genius LONG before I ever worked for NAR.

I don’t make policy at NAR. To be frank, I won’t be doing anything to get this policy changed. That’s on you guys. The members. An official statement for NAR was published in the comment stream.

Unfortunately, when a member of the community “goes in-house”, the tension between his former openness and new status as an “insider” has to be resolved.  Comments like this one by Jay Thompson is representative of one feeling that was running through the community:

You are well aware that before you were even named to this position, there were questions out there that asked regarding how long it would be before the SMM was “assimilated” by the NAR. Well, some of your personal opinions in this thread — to me — have answered that question. It didn’t take very long.

I hope I’m wrong about that. And maybe that’s just my interpretation and my feelings/emotions getting the best of me, but that’s how I felt when I read many of your responses.

Let us leave aside Todd’s personal predilection for the moment, and focus more on what NAR as the organization should think about this issue.

As I see it, Todd’s connection to the community, his stature within the community, and his credibility with the community are all assets to be used by the organization.  In fact, those reasons contributed to why Todd was hired in the first place to be the Social Media Manager.

Putting Todd’s standing at risk in the community, therefore, is counterproductive for NAR.  It decreases the value of Todd Carpenter to NAR, and prevents him from being able to fulfill his core mission of bringing the organization closer to its stakeholders.

In the instant case, I think NAR made two mistakes.

The first one was funnelling all responses through Hilary Marsh and Todd Carpenter.  If, instead, Cliff Niersbach (or other executives, for example the folks from CRT) got involved with the community directly, that would have provided the space for Todd to speak his personal opinion, since someone else is representing the official NAR position.  Even if there are disagreements between NAR staff on various issues, that would have really eroded the feeling of separation and alienation between the “Them” of NAR and “US” of the RE.net community.

The second mistake was then using Todd as the official channel for NAR:

After a considerable amount of behind the scenes discussions here at NAR, we decided that the most effective way to assure the MLS Committee sees how this verbiage is effecting agents would be to have them engage two members who really understand it’s consequences.

I have invited both Paula Henry and Jay Thompson to speak before the committee. NAR will be covering their travel expenses as well. Lots of items are on the agenda, this will not be the dominant topic discussed, but Jay and Paula will be able to bring this issue to the committee’s attention.

This is not Todd’s personal opinion.  This is not Todd Carpenter speaking as @tcar, but Todd Carpenter speaking as the Social Media Manager of NAR, empowered to make this announcement, empowered to invite people to speak before an official NAR Committee, and put items on the committee’s agenda.  That pronoun “we” is a critical one.

How can Todd then credibly claim that he’s only voicing his personal opinions?

Message Control, Social Media Style

The purpose of this post is not to bash on NAR for its mistakes.  They just happened to be the example at hand.  I have a feeling they will improve their social media practice continually going forward.

The point is to think about what message control means in a social media context for any organization, of any size.  Applying traditional PR concepts to social media can backfire in dramatic fashion, because social media at its heart is about Openness and Authenticity, while traditional PR at its heart is about Controlling the Message.

And few things test corporate communications like a crisis, a blogstorm of controversy and criticism.

My current off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts and recommendations are that a company that finds itself in the midst of a PR crisis should make some immediate decisions at the outset.

1.  Which mode will we take?  Traditional PR, or Social Media?

If the former, then follow the disciplined approach of traditional PR rigorously.  Instruct the social media channels to refer all inquiries, discussions, and whatever to the traditional PR channel where the message will be tightly controlled.  Blogs should refrain from commenting, Twitterers should not respond except to say “Contact @So-And-So for more information”, and every other non-sanctioned channel must be silenced.

In part, this is to protect the social media channel as well.  Since social media is about openness and authenticity, the last thing you want to do is the ruin that channel with tightly controlled messaging that reeks of spin.

If, instead, you decide to go the Social Media route, then…

2.  Figure out who the Decisionmakers are, and get them into the social media channel.

Message Control, Social Media Style

Message Control, Social Media Style

Avoid the temptation to conduct message control, to funnel any info through a “spokesperson” channel, etc.  In other words, reject rigorously any traditional PR strategies for controlling a crisis.  You’re no longer trying to control the message; you are now trying to share the message and open up the whole affair to the relevant community at large.  Get the PR consultants out, the Corporate Comm people out, and go straight to the policymakers at the highest level possible, and have them speak openly and honestly, like human beings.

The only role your social media people should be playing here is an administrative one — introducing the relevant decisionmakers to the community.  For example, Todd Carpenter getting on Twitter and saying, “Hey everybody, on this whole MLS issue, please follow @NARExecutive and @NARBigWig — they are the ones in charge of the issue.”  Or posting on various blogs, “We’re going to address this at our corporate blog, at blog.XYZ.com — please consolidate all the discussions there, and our CEO will be posting and interacting with all of you there.”

At no time should the social media people speak on behalf of the company, unless they themselves are the relevant decisionmakers.

And… 3.  Unless there’s some good reason not to do so, open up the whole process to the stakeholder community.

Unless the issue at hand involves trade secrets, proprietary technology, or personal information that you just can’t share, consider opening up the whole process from soup to nuts on social media.  Conduct the business in plain sight, in front of your community, and get them involved in the whole process from very early on.

Imagine if Cliff Niersbach had simply gotten on that AgentGenius thread, posted a greeting, acknowledged the controversy, and said, “Okay, I’m all ears, people.  What do you want to do?”  There would have been no “Us” vs. “Them” created; instead, all of the commenters would have made suggestions, protested the policy, etc.  Cliff could then have responded with his concerns, brought other staffers in, brought in people from the CRT to raise questions, ask questions, and turned the thread into a wonderful discussion/debate.

Some individuals would have remained very fired up about it, but the vast majority of stakeholders would see that things have settled down to a boring, dry, technical discussion of how to word the policy, how to define “indexing” vs. “scraping”, and so on, and would have gone back to their daily lives, feeling reassured that “people” (not “We” or “They” but “people who know what they’re talking about”) are looking at it.

If you can’t open up the process to that level of transparency, then say so, and say why not:  “Hey gang, as much as we want to get you all involved, I’m afraid this involves some pending patents, and possible litigation, so we’re gonna have to go behind closed doors.  But we’ll let you know as soon as we decide something, and get your thoughts.”

In that latter case, rather than conducting message control, just make sure that everyone relevant to the discussion is substantively on the same page.  You don’t want to censor anyone, or take someone to task because he went “off-message”, but you do want to make sure that everyone inside your firewalls more or less agrees on the important points, before you decide to go face the public via social media.

Social Media PR?

I don’t know what social media public relations ultimately boils down to.  I think I have some ideas, but I want to hear from experts (like Allie Herzog, of Quinn & Co., who is presenting at the June Lucky Strikes Social Media Club meeting).  [Slick plug, Rob, real slick. – Ed.]  But here’s a thought, and this will end our program for the evening:

Social Media PR is about the WHO and the HOW

rather than the WHAT and the WHERE.

Let’s think on that.

-rsh

  • http://www.realcentralva.com/ Jim Duncan

    The only role your social media people should be playing here is an administrative one — introducing the relevant decisionmakers to the community. For example, Todd Carpenter getting on Twitter and saying, “Hey everybody, on this whole MLS issue, please follow @NARExecutive and @NARBigWig — they are the ones in charge of the issue.” Or posting on various blogs, “We’re going to address this at our corporate blog, at blog.XYZ.com — please consolidate all the discussions there, and our CEO will be posting and interacting with all of you there.”

    At no time should the social media people speak on behalf of the company, unless they themselves are the relevant decision makers.

    You’ve hit it on its head. A social media person should be a facilitator; his or her personal opinions, while they shape one’s credibility, are not relevant to the subject, nor is this the area of expertise.

    Look at @Comcastcares (and the entire team) – Frank may be able to fix some situations, but his best skills (that I have seen) are these –

    1) He listens – he *really* listens
    2) He puts the techs in touch with the consumers, and *they* solve the problems.
    3) He doesn’t try to troubleshoot or fix policy.
    4) He follows up.

    There is a remarkable us-v-them framework in play within the NAR –

    Big Brokers -v- Agents
    New -v- Old
    Productive -v- Not
    Techie -v- Not
    Evolutionary -v- Old Guard
    Open/desirous of change -v- hearkening to the past
    Members -v- Members

    No one social media manager can breach these gaps with his personality. The existing members must be open, too.

  • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

    The only role your social media people should be playing here is an administrative one — introducing the relevant decisionmakers to the community. For example, Todd Carpenter getting on Twitter and saying, “Hey everybody, on this whole MLS issue, please follow @NARExecutive and @NARBigWig — they are the ones in charge of the issue.” Or posting on various blogs, “We’re going to address this at our corporate blog, at blog.XYZ.com — please consolidate all the discussions there, and our CEO will be posting and interacting with all of you there.”

    At no time should the social media people speak on behalf of the company, unless they themselves are the relevant decision makers.

    You’ve hit it on its head. A social media person should be a facilitator; his or her personal opinions, while they shape one’s credibility, are not relevant to the subject, nor is this the area of expertise.

    Look at @Comcastcares (and the entire team) – Frank may be able to fix some situations, but his best skills (that I have seen) are these –

    1) He listens – he *really* listens
    2) He puts the techs in touch with the consumers, and *they* solve the problems.
    3) He doesn’t try to troubleshoot or fix policy.
    4) He follows up.

    There is a remarkable us-v-them framework in play within the NAR –

    Big Brokers -v- Agents
    New -v- Old
    Productive -v- Not
    Techie -v- Not
    Evolutionary -v- Old Guard
    Open/desirous of change -v- hearkening to the past
    Members -v- Members

    No one social media manager can breach these gaps with his personality. The existing members must be open, too.

  • http://www.gulfshoreslife.com/ Cal Carter

    A very good thought provoking post. Rest assured the agent community is not enraged with Todd, but with the interpretation of “scraper”. We all can see the awkward position he finds himself in and no one wants to “shoot the messenger”. You are correct in stating how this whole interchange could have been better handled and that is Cliff stating “Okay, I am all ears”!

    Too bad the Sarasota Association of Realtors didn’t do the same last year when they were taking Marc Rasmussen’s domain away. Marc simply followed the advice of REALTOR Magazine’s Mr. Internet Columnist Michael Russer and ended up losing thousands of dollars of investment and thousands of hours of effort. Not once did the REALTOR organization (NAR) step up to bat in regard to the advice Marc followed from the official publication of NAR.

    Here is a refresher summary – http://gulfshoreslife.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/sarasota-association-of-realtors-takes-down-its-own-member/

    The majority of the commenters in the Agent Genius post you reference came to Marc’s defense as well and NAR’s silence was deafening. They could have said “Okay, I am all ears”!

  • http://www.gulfshoreslife.com Cal Carter

    A very good thought provoking post. Rest assured the agent community is not enraged with Todd, but with the interpretation of “scraper”. We all can see the awkward position he finds himself in and no one wants to “shoot the messenger”. You are correct in stating how this whole interchange could have been better handled and that is Cliff stating “Okay, I am all ears”!

    Too bad the Sarasota Association of Realtors didn’t do the same last year when they were taking Marc Rasmussen’s domain away. Marc simply followed the advice of REALTOR Magazine’s Mr. Internet Columnist Michael Russer and ended up losing thousands of dollars of investment and thousands of hours of effort. Not once did the REALTOR organization (NAR) step up to bat in regard to the advice Marc followed from the official publication of NAR.

    Here is a refresher summary – http://gulfshoreslife.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/sarasota-association-of-realtors-takes-down-its-own-member/

    The majority of the commenters in the Agent Genius post you reference came to Marc’s defense as well and NAR’s silence was deafening. They could have said “Okay, I am all ears”!

  • http://www.bestbuffalohomes.com/ Colleen Kulikowski

    Well said! Too often the ranks of Realtors feel that they have no representation. Perhaps if NAR got their Leadership into Social Media and taught the local associations there would be a great change in the organization. They would no longer be only hearing small groups of people, but the masses that they serve.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      I should let Todd and others at NAR speak for themselves, but I really truly believe that is why NAR hired Todd Carpenter in the first place. :)

      -rsh

  • http://www.bestbuffalohomes.com Colleen Kulikowski

    Well said! Too often the ranks of Realtors feel that they have no representation. Perhaps if NAR got their Leadership into Social Media and taught the local associations there would be a great change in the organization. They would no longer be only hearing small groups of people, but the masses that they serve.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      I should let Todd and others at NAR speak for themselves, but I really truly believe that is why NAR hired Todd Carpenter in the first place. :)

      -rsh

  • http://www.realestateclientreferralsblog.com/ Clint Miller

    Bravo!

    The role of @Comcastcares is much the role I try to take on with my company with regard to may twitter usage. I can answer questions, make sales, even recommend people from one location to another…but I dont adjust policy and have little control over how the company as a whole functions. But, my primary function is to report activity back to the management in a way that provides them with clean, useful information with regards to trends, news, etc. This way, our reactions are based off market information from a broad base rather than snap decisions based on one entity’s experience or opinion.

    Regardless of my role here…this post is dead on. Awesome job, Rob!

  • http://www.realestateclientreferralsblog.com Clint Miller

    Bravo!

    The role of @Comcastcares is much the role I try to take on with my company with regard to may twitter usage. I can answer questions, make sales, even recommend people from one location to another…but I dont adjust policy and have little control over how the company as a whole functions. But, my primary function is to report activity back to the management in a way that provides them with clean, useful information with regards to trends, news, etc. This way, our reactions are based off market information from a broad base rather than snap decisions based on one entity’s experience or opinion.

    Regardless of my role here…this post is dead on. Awesome job, Rob!

  • http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com/ Jay Thompson

    Brilliant analysis Rob!

    I will admit that I am confused about the NARs handling of this situation. The interspersing of personal thoughts and official responses, at least for me, make things very difficult to follow.

    While I applaud the NAR for taking a step like sending Paula and me to DC to address the Committee, I think you make a very valid point in that it helps to perpetuate the “us vs. them” mentality. I will (and have) freely admit that in some ways I’m being set up to fail. I’ve never attended a NAR committee meeting, much less addressed one. The vast majority of Realtors haven’t. The simple fact is, we don’t understand how the process works. I suppose I’ll know a lot more about how the process works after this week, but if those reading and commenting on that Agent Genius thread are expecting Paula and I to go to DC and change the policy, then I’m afraid they will be disappointed, I just don’t see that happening.

    Could the NAR have handled this shitstorm differently? Of course. Will they in the future? I think so. I’ve met several NAR staffers and I think they are committed to utilizing Social Media in the best way possible. Whether they do or not, only time will truly tell…

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      Thanks Jay –

      FWIW, I don’t think you and Paula will “fail” or are being “set up to fail” in any sense of the term. Because I think NAR is also figuring things out as they go. I mean, @tcar’s been there… how long now? I give them tons of credit for trying and reaching out. As I think I said in the post, the point isn’t to bash on NAR; the point is to use NAR’s handling as a case study for ANY organization that is interested in deploying social media.

      I’m sure NAR will learn from this episode, make modifications to how they handle corporate communications, and be much smarter about it in the future. I have faith in Todd, Hilary, and others within NAR. They really are the furthest thing possible from “NAR aristocrats”, y’know?

      What I think will happen at the Mid-Year is that you and Paula (and a couple hundred angry REALTORS) will let the Committee know in no uncertain terms that the “no-indexing” rule is folly. I think the Committee will be exhorted to start making their work far more public — at least to other REALTORS, perhaps through the password-protected part of Realtor.org. And then leverage Social Media channels to really engage the wider REALTOR audience.

      Todd & Hilary et. al. will be busy as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest training all of those Committe members on how to properly leverage social media. :)

      That’s what I think, and hope anyhow.

      -rsh

      • http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com/ Jay Thompson

        “Set up to fail” was a poor choice of words on my part (and that’s what I get for typing a comment while I’m on the phone — shhhh, don’t tell anyone I do that sometimes)

        To be clear, I don’t think, *at all*, that the NAR is setting us up. Not in the least.

        I *do* think the expectations of “the collective” — those actively commenting on the AG posts (and elsewhere) — may be too high. But that’s OK. I’m a big boy and can take it, and I’m more than happy to continue to try to address this, and other, problems.

        We have the same thoughts and hopes. I have never been what one would call a “NAR poster boy”, but having met many of the NAR staff and execs, I’m pretty dang positive. Or certainly more positive than I used to be!

      • http://agentgenius.com/ Benn w/AG

        Actually, if I’m not mistaken, Todd has already telegraphed CRTs feeling on the subject as they have yet to be persuaded on their interpretation of the rule to paraphrase, so the expectation is essentially set to ‘we’ll at least hear what you’ve got to say, and thanks.’

        The result will be disillusionment.

        A secondary result may be that they’re demonstrating how painless it really is to step up and be heard where they want to listen.

        A third result may be that the committee will realize that oh, these folks aren’t so bad, maybe we could reach out for consensus where they’re speaking.

        At the end of the day, Jay and Paula went to Washington will make a mighty fine movie indeed.

  • http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Jay Thompson

    Brilliant analysis Rob!

    I will admit that I am confused about the NARs handling of this situation. The interspersing of personal thoughts and official responses, at least for me, make things very difficult to follow.

    While I applaud the NAR for taking a step like sending Paula and me to DC to address the Committee, I think you make a very valid point in that it helps to perpetuate the “us vs. them” mentality. I will (and have) freely admit that in some ways I’m being set up to fail. I’ve never attended a NAR committee meeting, much less addressed one. The vast majority of Realtors haven’t. The simple fact is, we don’t understand how the process works. I suppose I’ll know a lot more about how the process works after this week, but if those reading and commenting on that Agent Genius thread are expecting Paula and I to go to DC and change the policy, then I’m afraid they will be disappointed, I just don’t see that happening.

    Could the NAR have handled this shitstorm differently? Of course. Will they in the future? I think so. I’ve met several NAR staffers and I think they are committed to utilizing Social Media in the best way possible. Whether they do or not, only time will truly tell…

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      Thanks Jay –

      FWIW, I don’t think you and Paula will “fail” or are being “set up to fail” in any sense of the term. Because I think NAR is also figuring things out as they go. I mean, @tcar’s been there… how long now? I give them tons of credit for trying and reaching out. As I think I said in the post, the point isn’t to bash on NAR; the point is to use NAR’s handling as a case study for ANY organization that is interested in deploying social media.

      I’m sure NAR will learn from this episode, make modifications to how they handle corporate communications, and be much smarter about it in the future. I have faith in Todd, Hilary, and others within NAR. They really are the furthest thing possible from “NAR aristocrats”, y’know?

      What I think will happen at the Mid-Year is that you and Paula (and a couple hundred angry REALTORS) will let the Committee know in no uncertain terms that the “no-indexing” rule is folly. I think the Committee will be exhorted to start making their work far more public — at least to other REALTORS, perhaps through the password-protected part of Realtor.org. And then leverage Social Media channels to really engage the wider REALTOR audience.

      Todd & Hilary et. al. will be busy as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest training all of those Committe members on how to properly leverage social media. :)

      That’s what I think, and hope anyhow.

      -rsh

      • http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Jay Thompson

        “Set up to fail” was a poor choice of words on my part (and that’s what I get for typing a comment while I’m on the phone — shhhh, don’t tell anyone I do that sometimes)

        To be clear, I don’t think, *at all*, that the NAR is setting us up. Not in the least.

        I *do* think the expectations of “the collective” — those actively commenting on the AG posts (and elsewhere) — may be too high. But that’s OK. I’m a big boy and can take it, and I’m more than happy to continue to try to address this, and other, problems.

        We have the same thoughts and hopes. I have never been what one would call a “NAR poster boy”, but having met many of the NAR staff and execs, I’m pretty dang positive. Or certainly more positive than I used to be!

      • http://agentgenius.com Benn w/AG

        Actually, if I’m not mistaken, Todd has already telegraphed CRTs feeling on the subject as they have yet to be persuaded on their interpretation of the rule to paraphrase, so the expectation is essentially set to ‘we’ll at least hear what you’ve got to say, and thanks.’

        The result will be disillusionment.

        A secondary result may be that they’re demonstrating how painless it really is to step up and be heard where they want to listen.

        A third result may be that the committee will realize that oh, these folks aren’t so bad, maybe we could reach out for consensus where they’re speaking.

        At the end of the day, Jay and Paula went to Washington will make a mighty fine movie indeed.

  • http://www.HarperMees.com/ john harper

    Great post. Haven’t read this many words since War & Peace. This seems to be another classic case of killing ourselves through protectionism rather than evolving to be in sync with the times.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      Hmm… thought War & Peace was shorter by a couple hundred words… :D

      -rsh

  • http://www.HarperMees.com john harper

    Great post. Haven’t read this many words since War & Peace. This seems to be another classic case of killing ourselves through protectionism rather than evolving to be in sync with the times.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      Hmm… thought War & Peace was shorter by a couple hundred words… :D

      -rsh

  • http://www.lisasellsstroudsburg.com/ Lisa Sanderson

    You are so right, Rob, and you have clearly laid out the dilemma faced by all kinds of companies/organizations right now. Many are trying to fit social media in to their current model when real adoption requires a new look at how you communicate. I think many, like NAR, are getting there and want to do it right but there is an obvious learning curve for all of us.

  • http://www.lisasellsstroudsburg.com Lisa Sanderson

    You are so right, Rob, and you have clearly laid out the dilemma faced by all kinds of companies/organizations right now. Many are trying to fit social media in to their current model when real adoption requires a new look at how you communicate. I think many, like NAR, are getting there and want to do it right but there is an obvious learning curve for all of us.

  • Pingback: RT @PhxREguy: Reading: The genius of @robhahn - Message Control and Social Media www.notorious-rob.com - Twitoaster()

  • http://blog.altosresearch.com Michael Simonsen

    The shorter Rob Hahn: “Proximity to power matters”.

  • http://www.AltosResearch.com Mike Simonsen

    The shorter Rob Hahn: “Proximity to power matters”.

  • http://www.augustalistingexpert.com/ Joe Loomer

    Not being a big player in this league – and just now feeling my oats in the social media scene – I do appreciate the intelligence and time commitment you bigger fish have to speak directly to issues like these. I now await the results of Paula and Jay’s trip – I’m sure we’ll find out sooner from here or agent genius than we ever will from NAR’s own site.

  • http://www.augustalistingexpert.com Joe Loomer

    Not being a big player in this league – and just now feeling my oats in the social media scene – I do appreciate the intelligence and time commitment you bigger fish have to speak directly to issues like these. I now await the results of Paula and Jay’s trip – I’m sure we’ll find out sooner from here or agent genius than we ever will from NAR’s own site.

  • http://www.realtor.org/ Hilary Marsh

    Hi Rob,

    Thank you for this post — very thoughtful and insightful.

    NAR staff members don’t set policies, we enforce those that are set by the member committees. This committee structure is how the organization is run, as you and others who’ve weighed in at Agent Genius are aware.

    Members who express their thoughts via social media are an important new addition to the committees, and Cliff offered to collect the e-mails from members in order to share these thoughts and ideas with the committee. Our invitation to Jay and Paula is an indication that we welcome input from members.

    While I did post Cliff’s note on his behalf, he had already spent a great deal of time discussing this topic with the MIBOR staff. I posted it because he is not yet that comfortable interacting with members through blogs (which will be one of Todd’s roles in the long run) and because he was in the process of preparing materials for the Midyear meeting.

    This particular topic is really complex.
    1) Is it possible to keep listing data away from scrapers and still allow it to be indexed? Not with today’s technology, as our IT folks have told me –- robots.txt files exclude all access, regardless of whether the access would be used for smart or nefarious purposes.
    2) Is it a good thing for a REALTOR® if their listing is indexed by Google and leads to another REALTOR®’s site? I think the opinion on this one is mixed –- and if so, which members’ points of view should NAR adopt?

    I am not a REALTOR® and not an NAR member, so the answers to these questions or others are not in my hands –- nor Todd’s, for that matter. It is Todd’s job (and mine, as his manager) to make sure that the subject matter experts on NAR’s staff know what members are talking about, which absolutely did happen in this issue. And it’s our job to ensure that staff members communicate relevant member concerns to their committees.

    As staff members, we research best practices from REALTORS®, state and local REALTOR® associations, and other industry associations. We share this research with the committees that we staff, we listen to their discussions and weigh in when asked, and we carry out their decisions.

    I know that you understand the nuances here, and hope that those who read the blogs about this topic do as well.

  • http://www.realtor.org Hilary Marsh

    Hi Rob,

    Thank you for this post — very thoughtful and insightful.

    NAR staff members don’t set policies, we enforce those that are set by the member committees. This committee structure is how the organization is run, as you and others who’ve weighed in at Agent Genius are aware.

    Members who express their thoughts via social media are an important new addition to the committees, and Cliff offered to collect the e-mails from members in order to share these thoughts and ideas with the committee. Our invitation to Jay and Paula is an indication that we welcome input from members.

    While I did post Cliff’s note on his behalf, he had already spent a great deal of time discussing this topic with the MIBOR staff. I posted it because he is not yet that comfortable interacting with members through blogs (which will be one of Todd’s roles in the long run) and because he was in the process of preparing materials for the Midyear meeting.

    This particular topic is really complex.
    1) Is it possible to keep listing data away from scrapers and still allow it to be indexed? Not with today’s technology, as our IT folks have told me –- robots.txt files exclude all access, regardless of whether the access would be used for smart or nefarious purposes.
    2) Is it a good thing for a REALTOR® if their listing is indexed by Google and leads to another REALTOR®’s site? I think the opinion on this one is mixed –- and if so, which members’ points of view should NAR adopt?

    I am not a REALTOR® and not an NAR member, so the answers to these questions or others are not in my hands –- nor Todd’s, for that matter. It is Todd’s job (and mine, as his manager) to make sure that the subject matter experts on NAR’s staff know what members are talking about, which absolutely did happen in this issue. And it’s our job to ensure that staff members communicate relevant member concerns to their committees.

    As staff members, we research best practices from REALTORS®, state and local REALTOR® associations, and other industry associations. We share this research with the committees that we staff, we listen to their discussions and weigh in when asked, and we carry out their decisions.

    I know that you understand the nuances here, and hope that those who read the blogs about this topic do as well.

  • http://www.nohasslelisting.com/ Russell Shaw

    This is just a Brilliant post Rob. Also, they are wrong: War & Peace was *much* longer. Jim Duncan’s comments, along with your post, should be required reading for everyone elected or on staff at NAR.

    If NAR doesn’t *truly* include the membership in any and all of the issues that matter to working Realtors this little dust up is merely a harbinger of what’s to come.

  • http://www.nohasslelisting.com Russell Shaw

    This is just a Brilliant post Rob. Also, they are wrong: War & Peace was *much* longer. Jim Duncan’s comments, along with your post, should be required reading for everyone elected or on staff at NAR.

    If NAR doesn’t *truly* include the membership in any and all of the issues that matter to working Realtors this little dust up is merely a harbinger of what’s to come.

  • http://www.gulfshoreslife.com/ Cal Carter

    Hillary,
    Just for the record, the robots.txt file only keeps out well behaved spiders such as google’s. Google reads the robots.txt and will not crawl the site if asked not to. However, the spiders of true “scrapers’ simply ignore the robots.txt and crawl the site at will. The only way to keep spiders from crawling the sites is to put it behind a password protected gateway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_scraping

    The wikipedia defination also states that “Web scraping is closely related to Web indexing”, but does stating “closely related” equal “scraping”?

    If one were to find the wikipedia definition of “Index (search engine)” one would not find the word “scraping” mentioned at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_(search_engine)

  • http://www.gulfshoreslife.com Cal Carter

    Hillary,
    Just for the record, the robots.txt file only keeps out well behaved spiders such as google’s. Google reads the robots.txt and will not crawl the site if asked not to. However, the spiders of true “scrapers’ simply ignore the robots.txt and crawl the site at will. The only way to keep spiders from crawling the sites is to put it behind a password protected gateway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_scraping

    The wikipedia defination also states that “Web scraping is closely related to Web indexing”, but does stating “closely related” equal “scraping”?

    If one were to find the wikipedia definition of “Index (search engine)” one would not find the word “scraping” mentioned at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_(search_engine)

  • http://TopangaHomeInfo.com/ Elaine Hanson

    Really well analyzed, Rob. Your suggestions are ones that can be very effectively implemented.
    I did feel that there was some success in the exchange. I felt that the sentiments of the members were felt immediately by NAR . Social media made it possible to instantly state dissatisfaction and have that concern at least responded to with an acknowledgment of the situation and a broadcast of the address of a person to whom we could send our opinions. That is a new development. It would have been nice to bring those conversations into the forum, but as a first step, it wasn’t bad.

  • http://TopangaHomeInfo.com Elaine Hanson

    Really well analyzed, Rob. Your suggestions are ones that can be very effectively implemented.
    I did feel that there was some success in the exchange. I felt that the sentiments of the members were felt immediately by NAR . Social media made it possible to instantly state dissatisfaction and have that concern at least responded to with an acknowledgment of the situation and a broadcast of the address of a person to whom we could send our opinions. That is a new development. It would have been nice to bring those conversations into the forum, but as a first step, it wasn’t bad.

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/ jfsellsius

    Notoriously good.

    Ahh… why don’t we just ask Todd to give an opinion as NAR’s SMM?

    And if Todd said, “Sorry, folks, it’s not my job to give an opinion on this subject in my capacity as the NAR SMM” What then?

    Hmm… place your bets.

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com jfsellsius

    Notoriously good.

    Ahh… why don’t we just ask Todd to give an opinion as NAR’s SMM?

    And if Todd said, “Sorry, folks, it’s not my job to give an opinion on this subject in my capacity as the NAR SMM” What then?

    Hmm… place your bets.

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/ jfsellsius

    In the end, we may all be surprised to learn that it is the homeowner, or their designated agent, who has the right to decide these matters, and not the MLS as a group. We must always be conscious of the fact that we must serve the HOMEOWNER. If indexing the listing helps, or can help, the home to sell, we must allow it in our service to the homeowner. If we don’t because WE decide “no one types the address in the Google box” (they do), we risk losing the homeowners to the TruZillas of the net.

    RE: the answers to these questions or others are not in my hands –- nor Todd’s,

    @Hilary: Although NAR staffers dont set policy, once they decide to engage in social media they will be asked (and expected to answer) their opinions. Those that respond “It isn’t my job” or simply pitch the company line (we can tell), will lose credibility in the community. It’s this silly thing they call transparency. Not saying I agree or disagree, but the SM rules were set in place when I came to the party.

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com jfsellsius

    In the end, we may all be surprised to learn that it is the homeowner, or their designated agent, who has the right to decide these matters, and not the MLS as a group. We must always be conscious of the fact that we must serve the HOMEOWNER. If indexing the listing helps, or can help, the home to sell, we must allow it in our service to the homeowner. If we don’t because WE decide “no one types the address in the Google box” (they do), we risk losing the homeowners to the TruZillas of the net.

    RE: the answers to these questions or others are not in my hands –- nor Todd’s,

    @Hilary: Although NAR staffers dont set policy, once they decide to engage in social media they will be asked (and expected to answer) their opinions. Those that respond “It isn’t my job” or simply pitch the company line (we can tell), will lose credibility in the community. It’s this silly thing they call transparency. Not saying I agree or disagree, but the SM rules were set in place when I came to the party.

  • http://www.BrandCandid.com/ Ken Brand

    Yeah Brilliant reads right.

    It’s all fascinating and it’s all uncharted. Everyone is learning on the fly.

    Social Media for some like a Zappos is a bit different than an ginormous trade association. If you don’t like Zappos products, service or conversation, you can vent and vote by buying from someone else. If you don’t like your trade association, you can’t just join another, you have to fight, persuade, rally, protest, influence, lobby, etc. With NAR most issues, because they involve money and livelihood, are emotionally charged and there isn’t the same pressure release of competition and voting with your wallet.

    I would say, that at least NAR hired an SM person. I’ve never spoken to Todd, but I’ve read him and I believe he’s smart, he knew it would be a challenging and he accepted. I believe he and NAR hope to influence positive things for NAR and the membership. In my opinion, we’re (membership) better off now and in the future with Todd in his role. But it’s a rocky road for everyone, cool heads, candid conversation and open minds will mold the future…which nobody’s crystal ball can predict around the corner pitfalls, waterfalls and landfalls.

    Now my comment reads like War and Peace too. Bottom line, it’s all new, keep cool, be firm, learn and push forward.

  • http://www.BrandCandid.com Ken Brand

    Yeah Brilliant reads right.

    It’s all fascinating and it’s all uncharted. Everyone is learning on the fly.

    Social Media for some like a Zappos is a bit different than an ginormous trade association. If you don’t like Zappos products, service or conversation, you can vent and vote by buying from someone else. If you don’t like your trade association, you can’t just join another, you have to fight, persuade, rally, protest, influence, lobby, etc. With NAR most issues, because they involve money and livelihood, are emotionally charged and there isn’t the same pressure release of competition and voting with your wallet.

    I would say, that at least NAR hired an SM person. I’ve never spoken to Todd, but I’ve read him and I believe he’s smart, he knew it would be a challenging and he accepted. I believe he and NAR hope to influence positive things for NAR and the membership. In my opinion, we’re (membership) better off now and in the future with Todd in his role. But it’s a rocky road for everyone, cool heads, candid conversation and open minds will mold the future…which nobody’s crystal ball can predict around the corner pitfalls, waterfalls and landfalls.

    Now my comment reads like War and Peace too. Bottom line, it’s all new, keep cool, be firm, learn and push forward.

  • http://www.realestatesuccesstools.com/ Matthew Hardy

    A fascinating and thought-provoking post.

    To spin off Russell’s comment, “what’s to come” is not just about the NAR and its members, but a whole range of issues relating to the value of digital assets. The push to have things open must ultimately be met by the push back from people who own the asset. In other words, can any entity make something “open” when doing so is at odds with its owner’s intent? (Do you think current trends indicate that the idea of “ownership” is becoming passé?)

    When I posted this comment, there were 18 matches for the term “feel” or “feeling”. It seems common for many to think that because they feel a certain way regarding something, someone else must change. Apparently “feelings” and “policy” are not necessarily synonymous.

    I think Seth Godin said something like, “it’s become so fashionable to be skeptical that no one believes anyone any more”.

    Social media offers a grand promise significantly delivered upon but still working its way through some inherent conundrums. The desire to be really human is coupled with concepts like “personal branding”; to me a particularly funny example.

  • http://www.realestatesuccesstools.com/ Matthew Hardy

    A fascinating and thought-provoking post.

    To spin off Russell’s comment, “what’s to come” is not just about the NAR and its members, but a whole range of issues relating to the value of digital assets. The push to have things open must ultimately be met by the push back from people who own the asset. In other words, can any entity make something “open” when doing so is at odds with its owner’s intent? (Do you think current trends indicate that the idea of “ownership” is becoming passé?)

    When I posted this comment, there were 18 matches for the term “feel” or “feeling”. It seems common for many to think that because they feel a certain way regarding something, someone else must change. Apparently “feelings” and “policy” are not necessarily synonymous.

    I think Seth Godin said something like, “it’s become so fashionable to be skeptical that no one believes anyone any more”.

    Social media offers a grand promise significantly delivered upon but still working its way through some inherent conundrums. The desire to be really human is coupled with concepts like “personal branding”; to me a particularly funny example.

  • http://IndyRealEstateTalk.com/ Paula Henry

    Rob – Pure Brilliance! I think Todd started out fulfilling his SSM position and did a fine job trying to engaging the converstaion until he was apparently halted from the top. Unfortunately, the result became an us vs. them, which is the same experience in the field. Collectively, we can make a difference when the lines of communication are open. When the lines were cut, everyone felt an immediate disconnect.

    Jay and I go to Washington with many people backing us, yet we will walk into a room of people who have disconnected from us. It may or may not make a good movie. :) The next time an issue like this is opened up in the social media arena,hopefully NAR will be better prepared to support Todd and we will feel more connected.

    • http://realtor.org/ Todd Carpenter

      Paula,

      I’m not sure what you mean by “halted from the top”. I did not ask permission to engage in that AG thread. I wasn’t told to stop.

  • http://IndyRealEstateTalk.com Paula Henry

    Rob – Pure Brilliance! I think Todd started out fulfilling his SSM position and did a fine job trying to engaging the converstaion until he was apparently halted from the top. Unfortunately, the result became an us vs. them, which is the same experience in the field. Collectively, we can make a difference when the lines of communication are open. When the lines were cut, everyone felt an immediate disconnect.

    Jay and I go to Washington with many people backing us, yet we will walk into a room of people who have disconnected from us. It may or may not make a good movie. :) The next time an issue like this is opened up in the social media arena,hopefully NAR will be better prepared to support Todd and we will feel more connected.

    • http://realtor.org Todd Carpenter

      Paula,

      I’m not sure what you mean by “halted from the top”. I did not ask permission to engage in that AG thread. I wasn’t told to stop.

  • http://realtor.org/ Todd Carpenter

    Rob, in a couple hours, I will be speaking at a board meeting for the Communication Directors Committee. It was in preparing for this presentation last week that I decided to react on AG in person. Why? Because I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to show NAR’s staff and leadership how to:

    Express their personal opinion.
    Create calls to action.
    Move the conversation away from the peanut gallery and toward the topic.
    Present remedies, even when they aren’t popular.
    Co-opt other members of your staff.
    Look for opportunities to promote the association’s internal hurdels.
    Move members from critics to change agents.

    In the future, I will not be commenting on a thread like this one. People like Clint will be. Luckily, it was a topic I understood well enough to jump in.

    Today, I have dozens of great screen shots showing these directors what web2.0 really means to their association. I knew the NAR’s leadership would be watching that post very closely. My opportunity to teach by example was too great for me to pass up.

    If you look at my early posts, you will see that I was also inviting/encouraging/antagonizing people into sending an email. An organization this big can only respond quickly if they know the issue is resonating with the membership. They are used to judging the volume of that squeaky wheel by email. My hope is that, given the opportunity to do this again, NAR’s staff will see the advantage of engaging right on a blog instead of responding to the dozens emails the conversation generated.

    All of this is going to take some time.

    I disagree with you about mixing personal and official messages. In fact, that seems entirely wrong to me. I want NAR’s staff to be seen as the humans that they are. I want members to click with these staff members individually. That happens best when we are out their expressing our views and the official line in the same place at the same time.

  • http://realtor.org Todd Carpenter

    Rob, in a couple hours, I will be speaking at a board meeting for the Communication Directors Committee. It was in preparing for this presentation last week that I decided to react on AG in person. Why? Because I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to show NAR’s staff and leadership how to:

    Express their personal opinion.
    Create calls to action.
    Move the conversation away from the peanut gallery and toward the topic.
    Present remedies, even when they aren’t popular.
    Co-opt other members of your staff.
    Look for opportunities to promote the association’s internal hurdels.
    Move members from critics to change agents.

    In the future, I will not be commenting on a thread like this one. People like Clint will be. Luckily, it was a topic I understood well enough to jump in.

    Today, I have dozens of great screen shots showing these directors what web2.0 really means to their association. I knew the NAR’s leadership would be watching that post very closely. My opportunity to teach by example was too great for me to pass up.

    If you look at my early posts, you will see that I was also inviting/encouraging/antagonizing people into sending an email. An organization this big can only respond quickly if they know the issue is resonating with the membership. They are used to judging the volume of that squeaky wheel by email. My hope is that, given the opportunity to do this again, NAR’s staff will see the advantage of engaging right on a blog instead of responding to the dozens emails the conversation generated.

    All of this is going to take some time.

    I disagree with you about mixing personal and official messages. In fact, that seems entirely wrong to me. I want NAR’s staff to be seen as the humans that they are. I want members to click with these staff members individually. That happens best when we are out their expressing our views and the official line in the same place at the same time.

  • http://mortgageloan.com/ Bill Rice

    Rob,

    Thanks for a great post and covering a lot of ground in a smart way.

    Here are my two cents. This really is the beauty of social media. Everyone is different and we do things differently. There is no one “correct” definition of social implementation–that is simply a contradiction to “social.”

    If you go to a cocktail party you will like some people and avoid others. Why? Their behavior–how they act socially.

    You get the same thing with social media. Todd, was Todd. Sure he may act a little different (just like you do) as you make new friend and your sphere shifts. Do you act the same way as you did in high school?

    Point is: there is no way to make everyone in the community happy with your social media implementation. Don’t try to be Zappos when you are NAR. Be NAR.

    I think the bottom line is your social media implementation should focus on helping the community and using people that have a passion for that, and are comfortable at cocktail parties. In all cases that may not be the CEO or others in the executive suite.

    Good job Todd and Hilary! I kinda like them, but I am not a Realtor with an IDX feed either :)

    • http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com/ Jay Thompson

      “Good job Todd and Hilary! I kinda like them, but I am not a Realtor with an IDX feed either”

      Well I am a Realtor with an IDX feed and I don’t just kinda like Hilary and Todd. I *really* like them. I’ve met then both, we’ve had dinner together, and they are both wicked smart, and very cool individuals. No question in my mind that they want nothing but the best for NAR members.

      The issue as I see it is the NAR is a big, bloated, lumbering bureaucracy. Reminds me *exactly* of my 20+ years in Fortune 100 Corporate America.

      And that’s why it’s frustrating.

      But it’s certainly not Todd or Hilary’s fault. Nor any other individual at the NAR (or state/local association).

  • http://mortgageloan.com Bill Rice

    Rob,

    Thanks for a great post and covering a lot of ground in a smart way.

    Here are my two cents. This really is the beauty of social media. Everyone is different and we do things differently. There is no one “correct” definition of social implementation–that is simply a contradiction to “social.”

    If you go to a cocktail party you will like some people and avoid others. Why? Their behavior–how they act socially.

    You get the same thing with social media. Todd, was Todd. Sure he may act a little different (just like you do) as you make new friend and your sphere shifts. Do you act the same way as you did in high school?

    Point is: there is no way to make everyone in the community happy with your social media implementation. Don’t try to be Zappos when you are NAR. Be NAR.

    I think the bottom line is your social media implementation should focus on helping the community and using people that have a passion for that, and are comfortable at cocktail parties. In all cases that may not be the CEO or others in the executive suite.

    Good job Todd and Hilary! I kinda like them, but I am not a Realtor with an IDX feed either :)

    • http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Jay Thompson

      “Good job Todd and Hilary! I kinda like them, but I am not a Realtor with an IDX feed either”

      Well I am a Realtor with an IDX feed and I don’t just kinda like Hilary and Todd. I *really* like them. I’ve met then both, we’ve had dinner together, and they are both wicked smart, and very cool individuals. No question in my mind that they want nothing but the best for NAR members.

      The issue as I see it is the NAR is a big, bloated, lumbering bureaucracy. Reminds me *exactly* of my 20+ years in Fortune 100 Corporate America.

      And that’s why it’s frustrating.

      But it’s certainly not Todd or Hilary’s fault. Nor any other individual at the NAR (or state/local association).

  • http://www.augustalistingexpert.com/ Joe Loomer

    Todd, I think the personalization of NAR’s leadership is a great thing. In my Navy days, it was often stunning to me to find out what the deckplate Sailors believed the leadership’s motivations to be. It taught me quite clearly that your message must be in concert with your organizations goals and missions or you risk alienating the masses.

    You have this pegged. You understand that the era of asking individuals to email their NAR leadership personally is a request that is fast becoming archaic in the web2.0 age – and that the sounding board for your organization’s message is moving in to the blogosphere and away from what is now considered simply mail without a stamp that has to work it’s way up the “unread messages” ladder to have any import.

    Your presence at NAR will ensure the social media message is passed on just as clearly and loudly as individual emails. Many folks still believe when you email a individual who is in a very prestigious leadership role at a large organization, you’re getting their flunky to respond instead of them – weeding through the chaff to the important stuff.

    Carry on smartly, shipmate, this Chief has your back.

  • http://www.augustalistingexpert.com Joe Loomer

    Todd, I think the personalization of NAR’s leadership is a great thing. In my Navy days, it was often stunning to me to find out what the deckplate Sailors believed the leadership’s motivations to be. It taught me quite clearly that your message must be in concert with your organizations goals and missions or you risk alienating the masses.

    You have this pegged. You understand that the era of asking individuals to email their NAR leadership personally is a request that is fast becoming archaic in the web2.0 age – and that the sounding board for your organization’s message is moving in to the blogosphere and away from what is now considered simply mail without a stamp that has to work it’s way up the “unread messages” ladder to have any import.

    Your presence at NAR will ensure the social media message is passed on just as clearly and loudly as individual emails. Many folks still believe when you email a individual who is in a very prestigious leadership role at a large organization, you’re getting their flunky to respond instead of them – weeding through the chaff to the important stuff.

    Carry on smartly, shipmate, this Chief has your back.

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

    What Joe said ^ :)

    You’ve handled this exactly right, I think, Todd. Of course it was going to take time, and an issue like this blowing up for others at NAR to see just how powerful social media can be, and how they need to listen to you, the expert they brought in for the purpose of listening to you, about dropping the barrier between inside and outside.

    But my point re: not having you do the announcement stands, and I can defend it (I think). :)

    I disagree with you about mixing personal and official messages. In fact, that seems entirely wrong to me. I want NAR’s staff to be seen as the humans that they are. I want members to click with these staff members individually. That happens best when we are out their expressing our views and the official line in the same place at the same time.

    My point was not that NAR staff (or any corporate insider) refrain from being human, mixing the personal and the official. My point was that in a PR crisis type of situation, the organization should not use its social media channel people to make official statements on behalf of the organization.

    In other words, it wasn’t that a NAR staffperson mixed the personal and the official, it’s that YOU delivered the official statement that I think was the mistake. And it was particularly acute because you had up until that point been saying that “XYZ is my personal opinion”. Then to be consistent, you needed to have said, “ABC is NOT my personal opinion; this is the official word from NAR”.

    One other small thing, I hope threads like this one are precisely the ones where YOU would comment, because this deals with the process, the administration of social media, rather than the subject matter being debated. You should be commenting on this thread, and let people like Cliff comment on the AgentGenius thread. :)

    As Joe said, this Chief has your back. We all do, I think. Be the virus, Todd! Heh.

    -rsh

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

    What Joe said ^ :)

    You’ve handled this exactly right, I think, Todd. Of course it was going to take time, and an issue like this blowing up for others at NAR to see just how powerful social media can be, and how they need to listen to you, the expert they brought in for the purpose of listening to you, about dropping the barrier between inside and outside.

    But my point re: not having you do the announcement stands, and I can defend it (I think). :)

    I disagree with you about mixing personal and official messages. In fact, that seems entirely wrong to me. I want NAR’s staff to be seen as the humans that they are. I want members to click with these staff members individually. That happens best when we are out their expressing our views and the official line in the same place at the same time.

    My point was not that NAR staff (or any corporate insider) refrain from being human, mixing the personal and the official. My point was that in a PR crisis type of situation, the organization should not use its social media channel people to make official statements on behalf of the organization.

    In other words, it wasn’t that a NAR staffperson mixed the personal and the official, it’s that YOU delivered the official statement that I think was the mistake. And it was particularly acute because you had up until that point been saying that “XYZ is my personal opinion”. Then to be consistent, you needed to have said, “ABC is NOT my personal opinion; this is the official word from NAR”.

    One other small thing, I hope threads like this one are precisely the ones where YOU would comment, because this deals with the process, the administration of social media, rather than the subject matter being debated. You should be commenting on this thread, and let people like Cliff comment on the AgentGenius thread. :)

    As Joe said, this Chief has your back. We all do, I think. Be the virus, Todd! Heh.

    -rsh

  • http://realtor.org/ Todd Carpenter

    “In other words, it wasn’t that a NAR staffperson mixed the personal and the official, it’s that YOU delivered the official statement that I think was the mistake.”

    I agree. But again, I was teaching. Leading by example. This is what you should do. I think we’ll be there eventually.

  • http://realtor.org Todd Carpenter

    “In other words, it wasn’t that a NAR staffperson mixed the personal and the official, it’s that YOU delivered the official statement that I think was the mistake.”

    I agree. But again, I was teaching. Leading by example. This is what you should do. I think we’ll be there eventually.

  • http://BeeRealty.com/ Lori Bee

    The only way the mindset is going to change is with leadership change.

    Instead of just barking up the tree, climb it.

    I see so many complaining about NAR this, NAR that… At least Todd grasped an opportunity to do something about it. Now we need others who are knowledgable and technologically efficient, to start climbing the actual REALTOR(R) ladder and entering into Leadership.

    I have issues myself with those in elected positions, who are supposed to be running the ship (not the staff!), who can’t even Tweet or have a Facebook page, and some have difficulties sending e-mails without assistance apparently too. This is isn’t JUST a NAR issue, but an industry issue on state & local levels too.

    We need to show the true power of social media, and make sure we campaign for the “new guard” who do possess these skills. That is the only way things are really gonna change. You can yell from the internet all you want, but until we decide to really get in the trenches, you might as well be yelling in an empty forest. Those that you are addressing can’t hear you! ;-)

  • http://BeeRealty.com Lori Bee

    The only way the mindset is going to change is with leadership change.

    Instead of just barking up the tree, climb it.

    I see so many complaining about NAR this, NAR that… At least Todd grasped an opportunity to do something about it. Now we need others who are knowledgable and technologically efficient, to start climbing the actual REALTOR(R) ladder and entering into Leadership.

    I have issues myself with those in elected positions, who are supposed to be running the ship (not the staff!), who can’t even Tweet or have a Facebook page, and some have difficulties sending e-mails without assistance apparently too. This is isn’t JUST a NAR issue, but an industry issue on state & local levels too.

    We need to show the true power of social media, and make sure we campaign for the “new guard” who do possess these skills. That is the only way things are really gonna change. You can yell from the internet all you want, but until we decide to really get in the trenches, you might as well be yelling in an empty forest. Those that you are addressing can’t hear you! ;-)

  • http://www.rerockstar.com/ Matt Stigliano

    Wow, there was a lot to digest (once again) in both the post and the comments. I love it. In my post on AgentGenius I focused on the fact that I think that this is a test of sorts. Does social media work? Todd’s quick reaction to the events and talking about it brought with it a lot of arguments one way or the other. I mentioned in my post that I felt Todd will always be a bit of the “whipping boy” for the real estate social media circles. I guess I could have chosen my words better, but my intent was to talk about the fact that Todd is both “us” and “them” and with that, he becomes both “friend” and “foe.” Now of course, I don’t think anyone considers him a foe, but much like Rob mentions, the us vs. them mentality exists.

    Todd talks about egging commentors on to do something about it and I have to say that in my case, it worked. I did something I hadn’t done before. I voiced my opinion direct to NAR and the committee members. So far Cliff’s the only one to respond, but hopefully my state’s committee members got the message too.

    I do wonder though (based on Todd’s comments at AG on this post), what you (Todd) see your role as? I’m sure they’ve given you some sort of job description, but I’m curious as to how NAR has laid it out and what you feel your personal obligations are in this new role. I applaud the effort of NAR to engage and I hope it continues, grows, and evolves over time. I’m not questioning you in order to argue, I’m simply questioning to better understand it all.

    • http://realtor.org/ Todd Carpenter

      Matt, my role as it applies to NAR’s policies is to train members of our staff, leadership, committees, and associations to communicate through social media. In the future, if the same sort of issue came up, and people at MIBOR or NAR (besides me) were the ones participating in the conversation, then I will have accomplished one of my goals here.

      • http://www.rerockstar.com/ Matt Stigliano

        Todd – Thanks for the explanation, I think we’d all do well to read that. I think that many of us saw you more as the link between “us” and “them” in your new role…a new communication conduit. Perhaps that’s why people felt so passionately when talking to you.

        I do think that your presence over at AG added a lot. Things did get edgy at times, but in the end you being there was one of the best things that could have happened as there was that sort of communication. You’re in a tough position (in my opinion) as I’ve stated before, but I do think overall things went well.

        Will the outcome be as many agents wished? Only time will tell that. I hope so, if only to encourage people to get involved and work to make the changes they want in our association. I for one have been encouraged by all of this.

  • http://www.rerockstar.com Matt Stigliano

    Wow, there was a lot to digest (once again) in both the post and the comments. I love it. In my post on AgentGenius I focused on the fact that I think that this is a test of sorts. Does social media work? Todd’s quick reaction to the events and talking about it brought with it a lot of arguments one way or the other. I mentioned in my post that I felt Todd will always be a bit of the “whipping boy” for the real estate social media circles. I guess I could have chosen my words better, but my intent was to talk about the fact that Todd is both “us” and “them” and with that, he becomes both “friend” and “foe.” Now of course, I don’t think anyone considers him a foe, but much like Rob mentions, the us vs. them mentality exists.

    Todd talks about egging commentors on to do something about it and I have to say that in my case, it worked. I did something I hadn’t done before. I voiced my opinion direct to NAR and the committee members. So far Cliff’s the only one to respond, but hopefully my state’s committee members got the message too.

    I do wonder though (based on Todd’s comments at AG on this post), what you (Todd) see your role as? I’m sure they’ve given you some sort of job description, but I’m curious as to how NAR has laid it out and what you feel your personal obligations are in this new role. I applaud the effort of NAR to engage and I hope it continues, grows, and evolves over time. I’m not questioning you in order to argue, I’m simply questioning to better understand it all.

    • http://realtor.org Todd Carpenter

      Matt, my role as it applies to NAR’s policies is to train members of our staff, leadership, committees, and associations to communicate through social media. In the future, if the same sort of issue came up, and people at MIBOR or NAR (besides me) were the ones participating in the conversation, then I will have accomplished one of my goals here.

      • http://www.rerockstar.com Matt Stigliano

        Todd – Thanks for the explanation, I think we’d all do well to read that. I think that many of us saw you more as the link between “us” and “them” in your new role…a new communication conduit. Perhaps that’s why people felt so passionately when talking to you.

        I do think that your presence over at AG added a lot. Things did get edgy at times, but in the end you being there was one of the best things that could have happened as there was that sort of communication. You’re in a tough position (in my opinion) as I’ve stated before, but I do think overall things went well.

        Will the outcome be as many agents wished? Only time will tell that. I hope so, if only to encourage people to get involved and work to make the changes they want in our association. I for one have been encouraged by all of this.

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  • http://www.gulfshoreslife.com/ Cal Carter

    I maintain that no one is really agitated with Todd, only with the policy that was being discussed.

    Thank goodness I don’t have a position like Todd’s, I am accustomed to participating in forums and offering “my” opinion and he has done the same over the years with his. It must be very difficult to not be “the committee” or the “association” and also not be able to be “yourself”. It has to be very frustrating.

  • http://www.gulfshoreslife.com Cal Carter

    I maintain that no one is really agitated with Todd, only with the policy that was being discussed.

    Thank goodness I don’t have a position like Todd’s, I am accustomed to participating in forums and offering “my” opinion and he has done the same over the years with his. It must be very difficult to not be “the committee” or the “association” and also not be able to be “yourself”. It has to be very frustrating.

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