Hopefully you can stop worrying about enough stuff from last year that you’ll have room to try on some new skills in the year ahead. Here is a list of skills you might want to consider adding to make 2012 a better year.
These are all areas that you can explore in the coming months. It’s not like you need to master any of them right away.
But beginning to work on them, and understanding the key issues, will help make 2012 go a little smoother, make your conversations with vendors and partners a little smarter, and will help you improve your business.
I had to start with this, of course. If you haven’t yet started to understand how people find you online — and what they do online after they find you — then now is a good time to start.
If you are already good with that level of analytics, then it’s time to start discovering what is useful and what is not useful about social analytics tools, location-specific analytics, and text analytics.
The reason you’re going to want to get better with analytics is because the constant bombardment of data, charts, infographics, and so on, is going to continue.
If you don’t understand how the numbers relate to your business, then you’ll miss opportunities and may take wrong turns.
2. Content-making skills
It doesn’t matter if it’s taking photographs, writing, making and editing video, assembling slide shows, curating local news feeds, or getting good at hiring this sort of thing out — you’re going to want to continue a steady flow of content to your sites, profiles and feeds.
Social media drives almost exclusively based on constant real-time updates. Search is moving in the same direction. Your ability to make content and get it distributed will be a factor in your business sanity next year.
3. Transitioning to offline
All the online activity you’ve been generating this past year is great. Next year, learning how to transition that online community into the real world is a new skill to advance.
There are, of course, apps and services that are ideal first steps in this area (Foursquare, Meetup, Eventbrite, etc.). But you’re going to want to go a little deeper. Learn what it takes to get people from being your friend on Facebook to being someone you actually know in the real world.
4. New content distribution skills
You’ve already got a solid grasp of how blog articles get syndicated around the Web. Same thing for Twitter updates and Facebook updates. It’s time to investigate other ways of getting your content in front of others. I’m not going to say exactly what other new content distribution methods (iPad magazines) you should investigate, I’ll just (iPad magazines) leave that up to you to explore.
5. Data rights
Key in on data rights — not just within the real estate and multiple listing service sphere, but with data in general. What data are you making and what rights do you have over the propagation of that data?
What data from outside sources are you able to use free and clear? Which sources of data are absolutely critical to operating your business and how exposed are you should the policies regarding that data change? What if the technology that gives you that data changes?
Again, this has to do with every bit of data that you use in your marketing and operations — not just MLS data. Without having a solid grip on this, seemingly small changes may have a large impact on your business and put you in "driving a fire truck" mode when you don’t have the time or resources to do so.
Overall, the past few years have been full of new things to learn: social media, locative media, making short-format content, and so on. Next year you’ll want to start getting focused on chaining these new technologies to things that make your business better.
There will be new stuff, and you’ll have to learn about that new stuff, as well. So remember to save some time to play with the new things. Don’t get overwhelmed and overrun by the technology.
Remember that your business happens in the real world. Learn a few skills to keep the digital world firmly rooted in the physical world where business happens.