SAN FRANCISCO — The pace of adoption for new technologies has exponentially quickened in the Internet era, and managing the many channels of online conversations can be vital to promoting and protecting your professional brand and reputation, said tech execs for HootSuite and Honestly.com.
Ryan Holmes, CEO for HootSuite, a social media dashboard that aggregates content from several social and business networks, noted that Google’s new social play, Google+, gained 10 million users in about 15 days.
"Social is very fast-moving and very fast-growing," he said. "It is the most prolific communication medium in the history of mankind." Holmes was a keynote speaker at the Real Estate Connect conference Thursday.
And that makes monitoring — and participating in — online conversations even more vital, said Holmes, whose mother worked in real estate. "There’s a lot going on. People are mentioning your company, your business. You need a way to look at how you listen to this conversation. It can be overwhelming."
HootSuite’s Klout tool rates how influential the people are who are participating in conversations that you are following online, and it also offers ways to drill down to specific geographic areas where conversations are taking place, schedule communications that you are sending out to social networks, measure how well your various channels are working for you, and track who is clicking on links that you send out.
Different channels may have a better return on investment for users, Holmes noted. "(Find out) which channels are most effective, and then double down on those." It’s also a good idea to change the "conversation and messaging to see if that changes the response."
While more than 107 trillion emails were sent in 2010, a large share of emails are spam, and email — unlike social conversations — is often deleted and rarely forwarded. There are about 1.8 billion email accounts vs. 3 billion social accounts, he also noted.
Holmes said that HootSuite already integrates with social sites including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and MySpace, and has plans to incorporate tools for Google+ users once the API is released.
"As a product, I think (Google) did a fantastic job. I’m really optimistic on their success with it," he said.
Also, he said there are plans to improve integration with LinkedIn: "We’re meeting with some LinkedIn folks this week — we expect to see some big LinkedIn releases coming up shortly."
Pete Kazanjy, CEO and co-founder of Honestly.com, a site that seeks "candid community-created reviews of business professionals," said that actively engaging in online conversations is a proactive approach to managing your reputation.
Because real estate is hyperlocal and personal by nature, reputation management is especially important for professionals working in the industry, Kazanjy said.
"Reputation permeates for real estate agents. Because it’s a really personal business, you can’t necessarily shed your reputation," he said.
An agent’s brokerage affiliation can be important to their reputation, as it can assign a sort of status, Kazanjy noted.
"Brokerages … provide a lot of things: They provide leads, they provide shared infrastructure, and … they provide reputation credentialing as well."
Publishing "authentic and relevant information" online can build reputation, he noted, and he encouraged real estate professionals to be active on social sites and blogs and real estate Q-and-A sites.
"There is a great opportunity for professionals to demonstrate (their) expertise and burnish their reputation on topics that are very relevant to their business," he said.
And be mindful that others can and will share information about you online that can impact your reputation.
"The most important thing you can do is engage and not retreat," Kazanjy said.
"You want to join the conversation, be discoverable, be top of mind, pushing relevant content out into the world where Google and your network will pick it up and interact with it."
He added, "Get credit for the expertise that you already have. Document it. Make sure your voice is leading the conversation and become a thought leader."
He also said it’s important not to be perceived as being on the wrong end of online free speech. He referenced the so-called "Streisand Effect" — named for an instance in which Barbara Streisand sought to squelch photos of her private residence, which had the reverse effect of popularizing the photos.
"Transparency and truth will eventually win out. When it comes to how to establish reputation in the market, I think it’s really important to be present," he said. "It’s important to be helpful."
Growing your online reputation can be an increasingly powerful way to route consumers to you, he noted, "and there’s a lot of opportunity."