I was reading this morning about a new obesity drug that has Wall Street analysts gravely disappointed. It seems that after years of clinical trials, the drug passed two of three important tests with flying colors. It helped lower cholesterol and, if that wasn’t enough, it didn’t appear to cause heart-valve failure. It sounds like a winner so far.
The one test it failed, however, was a doozy. The weight-loss drug did not result in people actually losing weight.
This, of course, got me thinking about social networking.
I keep hearing that there is gold in "them hills," and that I should be fiercely embracing social media as a way of making friends for fun and profit. I can see where Facebook and all of the other social sites pass the fun test. It’s the profit part that has me shaking my head like Wall Street, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s probably my fault. I have no clearly defined control group.
It’s a familiar mantra — my whole struggle with putting the social media thing to constructive use. I am now willing to admit, and at great risk to the "cool" image I have worked so hard to establish with my offspring, that I really don’t get Facebook. Oh, I get the point about connecting with friends and colleagues in a viral kind of way, but at some point during my clinical trials, I allowed the lab to become contaminated so that I can’t tell the difference anymore. And I find the whole functionality, for lack of a better word, just baffling.
When I am feeling particularly adventurous and visit my Facebook page (the one that has displayed the same profile picture for the better part of a year and a status update that says something about getting out the vote for Ike), there is just too much going on there. There are groups and pokes, invitations to join causes, and offers to achieve top girlfriend status or accept a knighthood. I’m confused. I’m still trying to find my "wall."
I have all these friends I don’t know, so a logical corollary would be that they don’t know me. I suspect I could update my status with something like, "The quadruple bypass I performed today went well. Patient is resting comfortably," and three "friends" would congratulate me on my surgical skills just before throwing a sheep at me. (How do they do that, anyway?)
Maybe my problem is that social networking, either online or off, takes time, and I am a little short on that these days. With a little stick-to-itiveness I could probably unlock the mysteries of Facebook and reap the vast personal and business rewards I’ve been promised, but I suspect that to do it right something else would have to give — like bathing. I am pretty darn close to throwing in the towel.
Now, Twitter is a different story. It doesn’t try to be too much. Type something in 140 characters or fewer and read others’ poignant 140-character utterances. That’s a simple-enough concept, unless you consider the burdensome drain of mustering a sound-bite of mass-appeal that doesn’t make one sound like the village idiot.
"I am engaging the ‘caps lock’ key now" just sounds trivial, while "I am reading a great article on how to make an origami photo frame" smacks of insincerity, since I am clearly doing no such thing. I finished that article moments ago. What I am really doing now is watching Twitter.
That’s what I do: I watch Twitter. I know that Twitter was not originally conceived as a spectator sport. Sure, the point of social networking is to participate, and I really do enjoy staying in touch with all of the industry professionals I have met and become friends with over the years (not to mention my daughters), most of whom can be found there.
But paralyzed by an intense fear of the "What are you doing?" box I now find myself viewing Twitter like a reality TV show. And each login brings a fresh, new episode. Absent anything constructive to contribute, I have assumed a mostly passive role. I find myself more often simply gazing through the keyhole in search of that one daily dose of business betterment, that nugget that will inspire, instruct or inform. My heart valve is just fine, thank you. I am there to lose weight. …CONTINUED
And, believe me, there are nuggets aplenty. This morning while I was watching Twitter, someone was selling a puppy (I like puppies), another was announcing he was off to the dentist (oral hygiene rocks), and yet another was quoting Tennyson (I think).
This is all good stuff, but I tend to live an all-real-estate, all-day kind of existence. When I am not doing it, I am talking about it, writing about it or dreaming about it. Call it unhealthy or call it driven, but it just is. Years ago, I picked up this affection for paying the bills, so everything tends to have a real estate connotation for me. I want my weight-loss pill to actually result in losing weight.
So this morning, like a trooper, I stayed glued to the set in full-readiness for some news I could use. There was the person questioning the wisdom of paying for leads from an aggregator whose Google ranking is below your own, but I found this bit of advice useless given that, relative to my own little Web site, no aggregator is that lame. Somebody called CobrokeNation was continuing their full-out Twitter blitz, Burma Shave-style, presumably to create a huge viral buzz for a new third-party offering that will be debuting soon and will probably cost me money.
Then it happened.
It turns out that a real estate agent stumbled on the blog of an unlicensed civilian dubbed 52 New Things. The blog chronicles the writer’s progress as she tries one new thing each week for (52 divided by 52, carry the zero) one year.
My mind was immediately racing, grasping for a business application for this delightful approach to life. Now, this writer has been seeing a lot of art exhibits and dining out pretty regularly, so I am laying odds that she may have a little more free time on her hands than me. Minutia aside, I find this whole branching-out idea an attractive one. I’m a gamer.
The possibilities are exciting. Week one I could order 300 brochures for a new listing instead of the 200 I typically do. The following week I might try substituting the words "really nice" for "upgraded" in all of my multiple listing service property descriptions.
And if I really decide to embrace this whole "danger girl" concept, I could schedule my client’s next home tour based on longest distance or leave my plumber’s business card at each of the homes instead of my own, just to mix things up.
I could even post about it on Twitter: "Replacing garbage disposal today at spacious 4BR craftsman on cul-de-sac for man I met while previewing properties," I could write, with two dozen characters to spare.
Or I could just throw some sheep. I suppose there is nothing wrong with lowering my cholesterol even if that wasn’t really the point. Maybe that’s what I’m missing.
Kris Berg is broker-owner of San Diego Castles Realty. She also writes a consumer-focused real estate blog, The San Diego Home Blog.
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