I’m totally missing the buzz… I’ve b…

I’m totally missing the buzz…

I’ve been playing with Google Buzz for a few days now and I know I must be missing something *big* because the ONLY thing I’ve found interesting about it so far is that by connecting with a bunch more people on the google platform, I now get more articles showing up in my Google Reader.

Others talk about how it is vindication that email is the social network, but I’m finding my experience much closer to Fred’s that we can’t assume implicit and explicit social networks are one-and-the-same.

The whole service feels really kludgy and doesn’t pass the would-my-family-use-this-tool test… and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t use it to share personal stories, organize events, upload photos, etc, like they do now. My gut tells me it has potential to be a popular tool among the tech-crowd along the lines of twitter thanks to slick mobile integration, geolocation features, etc., but it’s missing way too many of Facebook’s “connecting” features like photos sharing/tagging, video sharing/tagging, groups, etc., for it to really be a mass-appeal social network.

However, with that said, David Gibbons obviously has a different take. He tweets:

@tyr a) not a walled garden b) nothing cutsie about it c) smart conversation notification d) local integration is AWESOME #whyBUZZisbetter”

and

@tyr it’s far from perfect but they’re iterating at light speed & what really matters is the (sociological) foundation which kicks fb’s butt”

so I’m worried I must be missing something big. Help me out.

How is Google Buzz going to challenge Facebook in any meaningful way?

UPDATE 1

Appropriate to the topic, there has been a decent conversation about this topic on a google buzz thread.

UPDATE 2

Robert Scoble sums up my thoughts well: Why did Google copy FriendFeed’s worst features?

Two of the slickest aspects of using the…

Two of the slickest aspects of using the P2 theme are 1) it gives me the option to write simple posts directly from the homepage (twitter-style) and 2) it updates comments and posts without any need to “reload” the page. To give you an idea of how cool this is, while I was writing my last post, two new comments were being left on the previous post and I got to see the comments in real time as they were being made… It’s pretty slick technology for a wordpress blog… and I’m totally lov’n it!

I spent the evening playing with this si…

I spent the evening playing with this site… and I’m finally at a spot where I feel like I can take a break. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for the night. 🙂

The inspiration for changing things up was pretty simple. I really wanted to play with the power of the P2 theme in terms of real-time updates. In order to really take advantage of the way this theme treats comments, I’m positive I’ll also need to start blogging a bit more, which is a darn good incentive…

I also had some specific functionality I wanted with my P2 install… I wanted a WP plugin that 1) authenticates using either Twitter or FB & 2) allows sending of comments to either Twitter or FB.

My main problem is that the few plugins that could do such a thing (like IntenseDebate) came with their own set of baggage or simply didn’t work within the P2 theme (which I’m extremely fond of playing with!)

The end result was that I installed two plugins that appear to play “well enough” together. The first was Twit Connect and the second was Sociable’s Facebook Connect Plugin.

This way, users *can* use either service to “login” before leaving a comment (as well as no service at all!). And while I never could get the “send to twitter” option from Twit Connect working, you’all will be able to send your comments to Facebook should you choose to.

Anyway, there’s lots more I could talk about… including why I’m so fond of the P2 theme… but I’m going to leave this post somewhat simple… and leave my P2 thoughts until I’ve played around a bit more. If you have any thoughts on the changes (or just want to see how the comments update on-screen in real-time), feel free to leave a comment!

50 Most Influential Real Estate People on Twitter

Yesterday, Stefan Swanepoel published a list of 100 influential and interesting people within real estate. It’s an interesting list and got a few of us (myself included) a bunch more followers.

twitter-logo_000However, set aside for a minute that he missed a whole bunch of influential people (which he is already revising) the reality is that a lot of people on his list just aren’t that interesting (and many border on being twitter spammers).   If you’re a real estate professional new to twitter and you started following some of those people, I can only imagine twitter would start looking like a big wasteland of crappy tweets.

However, I think a list of influential people could be a really good thing, especially for people new to twitter…  I’ve had this idea for measuring “twitter influence” within a community, and Stefan’s project finally pushed me to build a prototype.   The idea is to measure, as objectively as possible, the influential people within a twitter community.

My theory and calculations are described below, but first, here’s the list:

Name

Twitter

Peer Rating

Andy Kaufman AndyKaufman 100%
Dustin Luther tyr 100%
Rudy Bachraty trulia 100%
Jeff Turner respres 100%
Teresa Boardman TBoard 100%
Kelley Koehler housechick 100%
Jay Thompson PhxREguy 100%
Daniel Rothamel RealEstateZebra 100%
Ginger Wilcox gingerw 100%
Robert Hahn robhahn 100%
Brad Nix bnix 98%
Jeff Corbett JeffX 98%
Heather Elias hthrflynn 98%
Nicole Nicolay nik_nik 98%
Mike Simonsen mikesimonsen 98%
Jeff Bernheisel JBern 98%
Joseph Ferrara jfsellsius 95%
Jonathan Washburn JonWashburn 95%
Pat Kitano pkitano 95%
Drew Meyers drewmeyers 95%
Marc Davison 1000wattmarc 95%
Jim Cronin RETomato 95%
Matt Fagioli MattFagioli 95%
Brad Coy BradCoy 95%
Mike Price mlbroadcast 95%
Nick Bostic nbostic 95%
Dan Green mortgagereports 95%
Kim Wood KimWood 95%
Todd Carpenter tcar 95%
Mike Mueller MikeMueller 95%
Sherry Chris BHGRE_Sherry 95%
Derek Overbey doverbey 95%
Ricardo Bueno Ribeezie 95%
Loren Nason lorennason 93%
Ines Hegedus-Garcia Ines 93%
Jim Duncan JimDuncan 93%
Jason Sandquist JasonSandquist 93%
Dale Chumbley DaleChumbley 93%
Missy Caulk missycaulk 93%
Kris Berg KrisBerg 93%
Brad Andersohn BradAndersohn 93%
Maureen Francis MaureenFrancis 93%
Lani Rosales LaniAR 93%
Stacey Harmon staceyharmon 93%
Bill Lublin billlublin 93%
Eric Stegemann EricStegemann 93%
Judy M realestatechick 93%
Joel McDonald joelrunner 93%
Reggie Nicolay Cyberhomes 93%
Morgan Brown morganb 91%
Mariana Wagner mizzle 91%
Paul Chaney pchaney 91%
Jim Marks jimmarks 91%
FrancesFlynn Thorsen FrancesFlynnTho 91%
Benn Rosales BennRosales 91%
Nick Bastian RailLife 91%

For those interested, here’s how I calculated the influential people within the real estate community.

Step 1: Starting with Stefan’s list, I took 10 people in real estate who were following between 100 and 1000 people AND had more than 1000 people following them.  My logic here is that I was looking for active twitter users (i.e. it’s hard to get over 1000 followers without being active) who pay attention to who they follow (i.e. they don’t “autofollow” or “mass” follow people).  I was explicitly *not* looking to start with a list of the most influential people, but rather use some thoughtful people within the community to jump start the process.   As you’ll hopefully see, the people don’t really matter much in terms of the final results, but here they are anyway: jburslem, RETomato, 1000wattmarc, robhahn, spencerrascoff, hthrflynn, JeffX, nbostic, PoppyD, ardelld. (note: Stefan’s list didn’t include enough people that matched my criteria, so I ended up grabbing a few people out of my twitter stream who did).

Step 2: Using the Twitter API, I created a list of ALL the people these 10 people are following.  At this point, everyone is just a number and I won’t see anyone’s twitter name until the very last step.

twitter #s

Step 3: I put all of these twitter IDs in a big list and used a pivot table to give me a count by ID #.

followeeAt this point, I have a pretty good list of people within the real estate space.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that if someone was “influential” (on Twitter) in real estate, then they’d be on the list of 4000+ people this process created… and most likely near the top since they’re likely being followed by this group if they’re influential.    However, it’s time to expand the scope way beyond these 10 people.

Step 4: Now I took EVERYONE who was being followed by at least 8 of those 10 people (45 total) and looked at ALL the people they followed.  Because some of these people were following thousands (sometimes tens of thousands!), this turned out to be a huge amount of data… although it all fit nicely in an excel spreadsheet, so I kept going.

Step 5: Starting with a base of people who were being followed in step 3 (4000+), I did a count to see how many times those people were being followed in the HUGE lists that were created in Step 4.  (The idea here is that if someone was “influential” they would have at least shown up in the 4000+ IDs that were generated in Step 3 and now I was just counting how many times they showed up within this list of 45 people)

Step 6: I then sorted this list and based on the number of followers that any given ID had, I gave it a “peer” ranking that is simply the total number of followers divided by 44.  A peer ranking of 100% means that out of the people created in Step 4, 44 were following that person. A ranking of 91% meant that 40 were following that person.

Step 7:  I sorted the list, used Twitter’s API to reverse lookup people’s usernames (and real names), and copy-and-pasted the results above.

It’s also worth noting that I *could* take this list further and displayed the “top 100” or “top 200”, in which case we would have caught some great names that just didn’t make the cut (David Gibbons, Joel Burslem, Hilary March, Ben Martin, Susie Blackmon, Kevin Tomlinson, and Stefen Swanepoel come to mind), but I had to stop somewhere, so I decided to stop at 50 (although since 7 people tied for 50th, there’s actually 56 people on the list!).  Nonetheless, if there’s interest, it’d be pretty easy to expand the list…

Final thoughts

What I really like about this approach is that it’s completely determined by our real estate peers.  Like it or not, there’s no better indication of your twitter influence than the “vote” your peers give you when they follow you… and while a “total” follower count is meaningless in terms of influence within a group, if you look at the “influentials” in a relatively objective way (as I’ve done here) and track who they are following, the result is a very non-spammy, highly influential group of people within the real estate twitter community.

Lov’n Real Estate Speaking Opportunities

If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations, you probably know that one of my passions is educating audiences. I simply love everything about a presentation…  and the bigger the audience, the more fun I have!   I’ve been pretty fortunate to land some amazing opportunities including speaking at all recent Annual NAR events, all recent Real Estate Connect events and more than a few regional and brokerage events.

speakers-pageProbably the only thing I haven’t done well with my speaking is spend time reaching out to regional and state REALTOR organizations to let them know about my experience speaking about social media and blogging activities that generates business. That’s where you come help!

If you know someone looking for an experienced speaker to engage an audience around social media and/or blogging topics, please don’t hesitate to send them my way.   If they want more information, you can send them directly to my speaker’s page or my speaker’s bio that summarizes my experience in a more print-friendly form.

No surprise that my presentations have evolved over the years (anyone else remember the bloginars I used to give with Russ Cofano in the summer of ’06???).   My current favorite to give is a three-part presentation that discusses how agents can  (part 1) engage on social networks, (part 2) create a local website or “hub”, and (part 3) use their social networking activity to drive traffic to conversion points within their hub…

By the way, just a few of the speaking gigs lined up in my near future include:

If you’re going to be at any of these, I’d love to connect!

Did Facebook just usurp Twitter in providing a micro-blogging platform for the masses?

I’ve been using Pages on Facebook for quite a while (the NY Times even featured me in an article around a biz page I created on FB almost a year ago), but it’s only with the most recent update by Facebook that I think everything clicked…

With the new design of their homepage, just about all the technical functionality of Twitter is built into Facebook, except FB has made it even more useful from a marketing perspective.     I’m of the opinion that Facebook has hit the sweet spot in terms of micro-blogging for the masses. Here’s why:

  • While Twitter’s command-line style communication (i.e. commands like “@” and “d” make sense only after you’ve been initiated), Facebook offers a cleaner interface that allows for better photo, video, and link integration
  • While Twitter rocks because it feels like all the “cool” kids are on the service, Facebook hit the masses a long time ago and has more active folks that twitter ever will.
  • While Facebook *should* have been all over integration with live events on other websites, it was FB who first nailed this when they linked your status updates with the live video feed of the inauguration (the traffic results were mindblowing)
  • While people have tried their darnedest to improve twitter by adding groups and highlighting “best of” content, it’s really Facebook who has nailed this with their latest updates.  If you run a page (i.e. you have “fans” instead of “friends”) your updates end up in your friend’s newsfeeds. If you’re interesting, then your stuff will be featured in the “highlight” section of your fans (and potentially their friends!). Obviously, going viral requires you to be interesting to your audience, but that’s as it should be!

fan-me-on-facebookI’m obviously smitten with Facebook’s latest updates… Not so much because I like the idea of giving so much marketing power over to the Facebook gods (I don’t), but because they’ve made it way too tempting and some early movers will most definitely do well in this space.

However, to be fair, there are some issues with using Facebook in place of twitter. Here are some of the things I’ve run into:

  • The main issue I have is one of terminology.  If you want to follow my updates on FB, you’ve got to become a “fan”. On twitter, the barrier is lower in that you only need to “follow” me and not put such a positive judgement on our relationship.  The result is that getting people to follow your updates is a bit tougher on Facebook, but the quality of people following you should be much higher!
  • FB users can’t treat your Page like a profile in some key areas like photo tagging and putting you into lists
  • Managing a profile for a client can be awkward.  For example, I’m an “admin” on a page for a somewhat popular author.   As an “admin”, I’m only allowed to leave comments in his voice, although sometimes I’d really like to take part in the discussions under my own voice. Considering creating two profiles is against Facebook’s TOS, this is a bummer.   I need to be an admin for this profile in order to make sure things stay clean (i.e. delete spam, install apps, etc.), and would really love a way to toggle between my personal profile and the admin profile.

As you can see, my complaints are pretty darn minor, and definitely not going to stop me from playing more with Facebook.  If you want to follow along, become a fan!

Plus, I really want to say thanks to all the folks who have become fans so far! As an experiment, I’m going to use the 4realz blogroll to give a little something back to folks who become fans — a homepage link!   It may take me a few days to link out to all the folks who have become fans, but I’ll continue to work at hitting this moving target!

Why bother with Facebook Pages?

Call me crazy (you won’t be the first), but I think Facebook nailed it with their updated news feeds and new functionality of their Facebook Pages. But before I can explain why, I need to give some background on the difference between a Facebook Page (also called a Public Profile) and the standard Facebook Profile.

A Facebook Page is geared toward giving businesses, brands, public figures, etc. a way to engage an audience on Facebook. With a Standard Facebook Profile, you make “friends” and engage with people on a very one-to-one level. With a Facebook Page, people become “fans” of your page, which doesn’t require you to connect with them at all… In many ways, it becomes a “broadcast” tool similar to twitter, but like twitter, you’ll need to engage with others, be interesting, etc. in order to get any real value out of the tool…

And here’s where it gets interesting…

Like a Standard Profile, Facebook Pages allow you to give status updates, share links, create videos, host discussion boards, and generally interact with other people (your “fans” in this case) in much the same way you might interact with them if you were friends. To get an idea of how you might use features like this, check out my Facebook Page:

fb-pageIf you check out my “wall”, you should notice that since I created the page a few days ago, I’ve left status updates, recorded videos, shared links and generally interacted with people in much the same way I might interact with people using my “personal” profile… (note: you’ll need to be logged into Facebook to see all of the updates)

However, this begs an obvious question… if these Facebook Pages are just like your personal profiles, why bother?

I can think of three reasons:

  • Unlike a standard profile, Facebook Pages are public and get indexed by the search engines
  • With a Page, you *can* send updates to an unlimited number of fans, whereas (I’m pretty sure) Facebook limits you to sending messages to 20 friends at a time
  • Because people become “fans” of a page, you won’t need to follow them back in order to have them follow you

This last point is extremely important to me because as I hit up near 1000 friends, my news feed is getting pretty polluted with updates from people I have no connection to other than we both travel in online real estate circles.

Interestingly, I reached the point on Twitter where there was too much noise a few months ago when I was following around 1000 people. At that point, I would see so many automated tweets (i.e. “just posted on ActiveRain…”, “view my latest blog post at …” and “view my latest listing at…”) that reading my twitter feed felt like a chore.

At one point, I unfollowed a ton of people (over 700), and now that I much more cautious about how I follow, my twitter experience has improved 10-fold as it’s now much easier for me to follow and engage in interesting and (sometimes) meaningful conversations…

Returning to Facebook

Going forward, I’m going to be using my Facebook Page to give online marketing and online real estate tips, links, videos, etc, and my Personal Facebook Profile to connect with family and close friends. While it might seem a bit mean, over the next few weeks, I’m going to “unfriend” a bunch of folks (probably hundreds) whom I simply do not have a personal connection to…

Obviously, I highly encourage anyone reading this post (that means YOU!) to become a fan of my page… and order to give you some encouragement, I can tell you that my plan is to keep the page interesting and worthy of your attention by posting a steady stream of social media links, commentary and videos in a similar (but cleaner!) way that that I was using the 4realz Hotlist.

In the big picture, I’m going to continue to reserve 4realz.net for my “big” ideas, and share my little insights over on my FB Page.

One more thing…

If you made it this far on this long post, I figure you must be a glutton for punishment, so I thought I’d indulge you with a video I posted yesterday on my Facebook page. This video highlights 6 ways Facebook Pages excite me in a similar way that business blogging did nearly 4 years ago when I started Rain City Guide:

n20186119572_5897jpgP.S. Did I mention that Scotty Brown and I both published our pages around the same time (over a cup of coffee the other day)? He thinks that just because he’s a Reality TV star he’s gonna end up with more fans than me. We can’t let that happen, can we? Go become a fan!

P.P.S. I also want to thank some of the folks who first signed up to be my “fans” like Alex Scoble, Scotty Brown, Cecilia Camps, Bob Maiocco, Susie Blackmon, Ines Hegedus-Garcia and Victor Lund. Each and every one of you rock! 😉

The trouble with Marc’s approach to Twitter

Like many real estate professionals who are using the internet to market themselves, Marc seems to be overlooking the fact that the best clients come from your friends… your real friends.

Most agents know this implicitly, but don’t necessarily make the connection to how they need to operate online.

For example…

A good friend of mine, who conveniently happens to be a real estate agent, hates internet leads. Doesn’t want to deal with them.   For years (he actually attended one of my bloginars in July ’06) , I’ve been telling him about the importance of SEO, “owning” his own domain, link structure, quality content, relevant traffic, etc, and while he humors me (he’s become a good friend after all), his heart has never been in it.  As he likes to remind me, internet leads are crap and he just passes them off to others when he gets them anyway.

However, on a recent conversation, we were talking about where he’s getting his business and he mentioned Facebook (he’s very active on Facebook and MySpace having uploaded thousands of photos and shared countless stories).  Says his friends on Facebook have been treating him well lately sending him great clients and he’d love to get more.  But he doesn’t consider those “internet” leads since the clients typically come to him on a recommendation from a friend.

I think it’s worth reiterating.  People who find him on the internet aren’t worth his time. People who get recommended to him from his Facebook friends help pay his bills.

So, now to bring this back to Marc’s post on twitter…  Marc says:

“You can either post gibberish or you can choose instead to post content about what’s happening in your marketplace right now that does or could have consequences for your reader.”

I can guarantee that if my friend had spent the past two years limiting his online participation to writing content that had consequences for his marketplace, he’d not only have a small fraction of friends on the site, but Facebook would not be providing him any meaningful business.  Worse, his most common “friend” would probably be other real estate professionals who accept this boring banter on social networks.

With that said, I’m a HUGE fan of agents creating a place where they can share their knowledge and expertise by creating content that has consequences for their marketplace… And my other website, Rain City Guide, does a great job generating business by creating this type of content (and I’d argue generates more business for our agents, mortgage brokers, title reps, lawyers, etc. than any other real estate blog).

But to compare the value of Twitter banter (or banter on Facebook or any other “social” network) to the content created on a site like Rain City Guide is to completely confuse the value of unknown internet clients with clients recommended to you by your friends.

If you don’t mind dealing with internet leads, then by all means focus on building out a website like Rain City Guide that will drive relevant traffic.

However, if you want your real friends to start sending you clients, then you better start interacting with them in a “real” way.  Maybe that means throwing ridiculously cool parties, joining the local PTA, coaching a little league team, or sharing inside jokes and other gibberish on Twitter.  Either way, your real friends expect you to be a real person.