Some very well meaning, very smart people are being distracted by the lure of shiny objects. And they are distracting others in the process.
The sexiness of the social media space and the desire to see an immediate return on the time investment required to access it, has created an atmosphere ripe for solutions to problems that don’t really exist. Example: Tweetlister.
Tweetlister launched in May of 2009. It allows the “tweeting” of real estate listings into a user’s Twitter stream. It gives real estate agents the ability to “post and re-use as many listings as you want.”
Funny, I thought Twitter already gave them that ability.
My first response, six months ago, came in the form of a tweet. I said, “Here’s an example of a solution in search of a problem if I’ve ever seen one.” And this was all I intended to write about it. Besides, Nicole Nicolay had already done a good job of exposing the shiny object.
But it didn’t go away. This private twitter conversation, a few weeks later, should have given me a clue that this would be a very distracting shiny object. It was sent to me by an extremely bright executive from one of the largest real estate companies in America.
Them: “Good concept – I definitely see this tool being abused.”
Me: Why is it a good concept? Why would you want to push people to yet another 3rd party listing site? Why not your own?”
Them: “That was a duh moment when I read your response. I’m a twitter newbie. Still learning & having fun. Thanks for the schooling.”
That wasn’t schooling. I didn’t teach them anything they didn’t know already. I just wasn’t distracted by the shiny object and simply asked a few questions to make sure there was something worth biting on the hook. But several very smart people, people I resprect and also call friends, did bite. And then they told their friends to bite. They’re still biting.
I posed the following question on the post linked above; “Your listings are probably already on your site or your blog. If you really want to automate, you could use Tweetlater (or Hootsuite or Objective Marketer or CoTweet) and set up a similar kind of schedule. Then the links would come straight to you. This just gets in the way, IMHO.” Agents could be leading buyers to their site and to their IDX search, but instead they are tweeting away and leading them to a search site they have no control over, one that is not a destination search site and one that could easily lead the buyer to another agent. And they are paying $9.95 a month for that right. I still don’t get it.
I’ve been thinking about this for six months. Why do smart people spend so much time leading people away from the sites they own? Why aren’t people employing a more focused hub and spoke approach to how they use social media? Why aren’t brokers providing more intelligent tools to help their agents?
That thinking has lead me in several directions, one of them being how the real estate virtual tour business works and how we do things at Real Estate Shows. The result of my thinking? Real Estate Shows needs to get out of the middle of the real estate transaction to the greatest extent possible. When consumers search on sites like Trulia and Zillow and Realtor.com, if they click on a link to a virtual tour, it should lead to a site owned by the real estate agent, not to yet another third party site.
How do we do that? I have a few ideas, but this post is already too long. The answer lies in being more intelligent with how our links work and becoming invisible to the consumer. More to come.