This week I’ve had the pleasure of vacationing in my old hometown.
It’s rather nice browsing around downtown without thinking I might be missed at work, taking the family to the museum in the middle of "open house" hours, and running into old friends and colleagues.
The experience of seeing familiar faces brought on a fun social experiment — one I think any working Realtor can undertake — and a conclusion about Facebook.
My conclusion: If you use Facebook, it has changed the way you communicate, regardless of career. If you are a real estate broker and you use Facebook, the program has literally changed the way you TALK.
I know, I know — the last time I brought up Facebook, I was crucified for my archaic ideas about identity protection and social versus business usage. So here I go again.
As a Realtor, you might have been trained to wear your nametag everywhere you go in order to start conversations about real estate.
The basic idea being that if the checker in line at Albertsons saw your Coldwell Banker nametag they might say something like, "Oh, you’re a Realtor? How’s the market?" Or "That reminds me, I need to list my house for sale," giving you the perfect entry to launch your 30-second pitch and hand out a card.
But when Facebook came along, marketing became less "ask me" and more "let me tell you." And it’s not just Realtors that do the telling — it’s everybody.
I haven’t heard a genuine life update from my college roommate in two years. Rather, her posts read like this: "I just won another photography contest! #bestphotographerintheworld." It gets old, folks.
Realtors, however, are the WORST at telling. We don’t just stick to the bragging online, we’ve begun to use Facebook posts in our conversations.
This is how my social experiment went. When I ran into friends on the street in my old hometown, I would say the exact same thing to Realtors and non-Realtors alike: "Hey (so-and-so), good to see you! How are you?"
Pretty basic, right? I thought so. But I got two very different replies:
Basic (non-Realtor) friend response: "Hi Alisha! Back in town? Is this your daughter? She is so beautiful! She looks just like her daddy!"
Realtor friend response: "Business is so good! I have $3 million in escrow right now! Have you seen my new website? Did you ‘like’ me yet?"
I realize that humans communicate in commonalities. I do real estate, they do real estate, so we talk about real estate. But as a lead-in? And all the time? And god forbid I don’t yet follow them on Twitter. #ThisIsHowWeTalkNow!
Has life sped up so fast that we don’t have time to see people as people anymore? I guess I’m old fashioned and stuck in my own nontechnical world.
I have fond memories of meeting my Realtor friends at happy hour down by the river. We "updated" each other face to face, margaritas in hand, instead of through mini-paragraphs on Facebook. Appetizers? Yes, please! Kick off your shoes and dish the day! We still connected new clients with pocket listings, but we did it through actual human interaction.
I detest updating Facebook. I force myself to tweet. I agonize over what is worth posting in a blog (a glorified public diary — am I right?).
What happened to giving people personal, decision-worthy information? Isn’t KNOWING the market valuable anymore? Or is it really all about a website, a clean car, and a smartphone app? I am seriously wondering.
The truth is, I can’t shut out technology. I adapt or become irrelevant. BUT (and that’s a big BUT) I refuse to let the new jargon creep into my casual conversations.
I didn’t become a Realtor to memorize an elevator pitch. I’ve always believed our business was about connecting sellers and buyers in win-win scenarios and doing it with class. And OK, maybe a patio cocktail. Right? #IKnowI’mRight, #bestRealtorEver, LIKE ME!
Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore., and a real estate humorist.
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