New Technology and the Social Forest

Posted by: Thomas Townsend on April 4th, 2008

As an engineer, avid technology junkie and as my wife likes to say “all around geek”, it is just plain amazing even to me, at how fast our lives are transformed with the ever increasing technology changes that now invoke a major impact on the way we work, and interact with each other on a daily basis.

By now we all know some of the key buzz words like Social Networks, Web 2.0, Blogs, Virtual Tours, Syndication and the impact that video can have to help convey a story to prospective home buyers.

But how do these terms fit into the broader context of a Real Estate agents job function, and how do we see the broader forest for the trees?

The reason I ask the question, is because of the amount of information I consistently observe in Real Estate print media. This information often does not convey the entire message or the message is so confusing that it leads to the very thing that Real Estate agents have been accusing the media of for months now.

Scaring people!

In the case of the latter, it was clients who were not buying, in the case of the former it’s agents that are not fully engaged and embracing the technology changes because of the confusion.

So what do I mean? Well lets’ take this one step at a time.

Blogging for example is only being done by about 3% of active Real Estate agents in the U.S.

Yet almost every real estate publication writes about the values of blogging and each has their own pundits extolling the virtues of Blogging, Web 2.0 and Social Media.

Take for example the month of March:

• Realtor Magazine did a piece called Welcome to Real Estate 2.0 they cover a lot of the key words, give some examples of successful real estate agents and then list a few resources at the bottom of the article.

• Agent Direct News posted a reprint of an article created by Barry Hurd called Social Media Profile Marketing – 5 Steps to Being Found Online : Barry is pretty well known in the Marketing circles and gives out some good advice on Social Networking and includes a list of suggested sites for Agents to visit, to help them get socializing.

• Florida Realtor did a piece in their Technology and you section called Run your won web site

What do all of these have in common?

They all take the do it yourself approach, with very little suggestion to call in the Professionals to help get you going.

Oh there are subtle hints and a few links sprinkled about here and there but the information is downright over whelming to all but a few of the techno savvy agents out there, and I can see why many more agents don’t dive right in.

Let’s face it, a vast majority of Real Estate agents should really take a refresher course on standard Microsoft Office usage and learn how to better manage their email before they go jumping right into the Social Media forest.

There are a lot of really technologically gifted Realtors and for them; I say my hat is off to you. But don’t think that because it was as easy for you, that everyone’s going to get it.

Now, let me take a step back here.

My comments are not to offend anyone. Having worked for a national real estate firm on the Information Technology side or IT (yeah I know another acronym) and having taken many calls from Brokers and Agents along with confirming discussions from colleagues, it is my personal observations that this is pretty much the way the industry is right now.

So, I think it is very good that the publications are printing this material and getting industry professionals to talk about the changes. I just think they should be realistic and make sure that they also inform their readers that they should consult with an expert to ensure that they get it right.

Almost every article I read leaves some very important fact out. As I was writing this article, my wife just brought in the mail and I had to stop and read this month’s article in the Agent Direct News discussing Blogs again. The article was pretty good, and talks about the entry into blogging.

Another key point was missed or all together left out though.

Yes, blogging can drive your traffic and viewers and if your goal is to go that road…then some dialog needs to take place regarding the difference between a shared hosting platform and one that is dedicated.

Yeah there I go with the technical mumble jumble again.

However, these are extremely important facts to consider, and leaving them out … makes one think that they will get terrific results with very little expenditure.

You might save a few dollars in capital expenditures up front, following the advice.

However, what is your time worth, do you have the time to devote to trial and error and loose some money along the way to figure it out?

The same applies to buying a home. I know a lot about the Real Estate industry, my father was a Broker, my wife is an active agent and many family members are involved in real estate. And as I mentioned, I have worked on the technology side of a major national player in the arena.

However, when I am ready to purchase … I go and talk to the professionals that are licensed and do this for a living.

Now I know that making a living at this is pretty difficult right now however, in the wired social world that we now find ourselves in, doing it wrong carries some negative side effects that can drain your time and carry the very real potential to ruin your reputation and to your business.

As I hear the broader voice of Realtors say many times … hire a professional.

My goal in writing articles here will be to provide you with news and information that others invariably leave out. The gotchas and nuances included. Not to scare you away from technology, but to help keep you informed of the areas were you should ask questions.

Then when you make the decision to move forward you have all the information, not just snippets in this sound bite world that we find ourselves in these days.



6 Comments on “New Technology and the Social Forest”

Louis Cammarosano


Thanks for this.

“I just think they should be realistic and make sure that they also inform their readers that they should consult with an expert to ensure that they get it right.”

By publishing this you are helping raise awareness
that its not just what you do but how you do it- an and expert can help guide you in the right direction.


“The players who can put together a total starter-kit package might onto something big.”

Which company do you think might come out with something like that soon? :-)

Mike Farmer

You make a good point. All those who aren’t technologically savvy need help. It seems to me this ought to be growing field of endeavor in the coming years. The players who can put together a total starter-kit package might onto something big.

Mike Farmer

I’ll take a wild guess and say — Homegain?


There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all entry point to social media marketing. There are many entry points and if one does not work for a Realtor, they should just try another until one works in their market.

Those who choose not to participate in social media do so at their own risk.

Eight out of ten housing consumers are on line – are you visible to them as a Realtor? When they contact you by phone or email, are you available?
Is your brokerage set up to work in web time?
Good basic questions to start with – and review as you go along.

And,yes – seek out the best advice you can get for free and pay for if you need it.

Start as soon as you can your market is waiting.




“There are many entry points and if one does not work for a Realtor, they should just try another until one works in their market.”

I think that is over simplifying the issue. This is a much larger issue than those that are writing all the articles about will admit to.

I am going to continue this dialog over on the Greater Tampa bay Real Estate -BLOG-
with reference back this article. See you there.

Gabriel Macias

The trick in all of this is helping realtors who are not web savvy in determining what role all of this new technology plays in their core businesses. It’s easy to get caught up in blogs, ultra high UI featuring website, nifty widgets, and slick CRMs.

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