I recently gave a talk on social media and property marketing on the Internet. The event I spoke at was through our local board of Realtors and they called it a technology fair.

Our president introduced me as some kind of a technology expert, and even though 3.75 continuing education credits were involved I didn’t want the group to start leaving the room so I quickly reintroduced myself as a Realtor who uses the Internet for social interaction and networking in my real estate business.

Often we confuse the Internet with technology. There is some technology involved, but it isn’t about technology. I drive a car every day, and it uses technology, but all I need to do to accomplish my goals is use the car. I don’t have to understand the technology behind it.

If I were introduced to a car for the first time and told that I was going to a technical class on the automobile, I would be intimidated and would question my ability to learn something so alien to me at my advanced age.

I know that my car has an engine and I think I know where it is and I kind of understand how it works, but my understanding is very rudimentary. I know it won’t keep going without fuel and for some reason it needs oil, too. I take that one on faith because I have no idea what the oil actually does.

I don’t let any of this stop me from using my car and I don’t have any problem calling an expert when it stops working. I don’t need to know how to build one myself, either, to use it for my business. I can find one already built by experts and buy it.

When it comes to using the Internet, social media and what we call Web 2.0, it isn’t about technology. I know folks who can build WordPress blogs in their sleep and understand every widget, hack and plug-in, yet they cannot seem to create a blog that gets traffic and that they can get business from.

Blogs are about content. They are about providing the information and ideas that people are looking for, or about entertaining them in some way or providing news.

Some bloggers get so hung up on technology and search-engine optimization that they don’t provide much content, and then they give up because no one visits their blog.

Social networking is not about technology. I have no idea how Twitter works and I don’t need to. It is how I use it that matters. I use the social part of Twitter, and being social online is pretty much the same as being social in person. …CONTINUED

We say, "Hi, how are you? Isn’t it a lovely day? How are the kids? Isn’t Johnny graduating this year? Will you have a party?"

What part of that last paragraph was about technology? Agents who do not have what we call "computer skills" are so intimidated by the idea of computers and technology that they become antisocial before they even try Facebook.

Brokers and managers who would like to see their agents using the Internet more should emphasize the social, the interactive and the marketing aspects and stop using the word "technology."

Encourage agents to set up a Facebook account or encourage them to observe others on Facebook. Encourage them to think in terms of community, meeting people and making friends. People often do business with friends and with people they know.

Blogs are not at all about technology. The folks at Google created a search engine to help people find what they are looking for. If a blogger doesn’t have any content worth finding or that anyone is searching for, search-engine optimization isn’t going to help. I have noticed that SEO experts market by phone — my theory is that they either don’t understand Internet marketing or no one is looking for them.

A good book on social etiquette and one on networking would probably serve agents better than a lecture or course on technology. It is easy to use Twitter, but not so easy to engage a total stranger in a conversation in 140-character installments over a period of days in an attempt to get to know them.

Forget about the technology, just use the tool.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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