Has the “Groundswell” Effect Finally Reached Real Estate Companies?

When the book Groundswell hit the bestseller list just over a year ago, there was a lot of talk. For many companies it became a bible for effectively using social technology, communicating with today’s consumer and strengthening their public image.  The two authors who worked for Forrester Research at the time (one has since left) really hit the nail on the head in my opinion, and many companies both large and small have baked social technology into their DNA. Advertising dollars began to shift, in fact a Q4 2008 online survey conducted by Forrester showed that marketers planned to increase their spend in areas such as social networking, blogging and user generated content, while decreasing spending on traditional media. After all, your brand is whatever your customer says it is. And there are now many ways for the customer to say it online.

So what has happened within the real estate industry?

Frankly, from a broker owner and brand perspective, not much. Agents jumped on the bandwagon early on creating Facebook and Twitter accounts, joining blogging platforms and organizing Barcamps to informally train each other and spread the word. I wrote about this in an earlier post  “Who Is Shaping  Our Future” – hats off to the group of agents, and a few broker owners who are spearheading this effort.

But what about the brokerage companies, the regional and national brands? Leadership is noticeably absent in this arena. I’m not talking about developing a Facebook  training program, or allowing a staff person to set up a company Twitter page. I’m talking about becoming visible, taking risks, engaging the public in an open and honest way, inviting commentary,listening to what your customers are saying and making decisions as a result.

Don’t think the agent population isn’t noticing this absence of leadership. Don’t think it isn’t being talked about online and offline. The way business is being conducted has changed right before our eyes, and while the real estate industry has always been a slow technology adopter, this is not the time to have your head in the sand. Here are some tips and how leaders in other industries are taking control:

These companies are all taking risks… as consumers are going back to drinking tap water, Evian stands out. In a space where the competition is fierce, and you are not perceived as the best, AT&T invites commentary to help them improve in a world where CEOs have spokespeople, a few such as Jonathan choose to face the world of blogging head on. And in an industry most deeply wounded by this recession, Mini Cooper takes a chance that an online community of hopefully satisfied customers  will help sell more cars. This type of stuff takes guts.

In our industry there is a lot of chatter about “The Brokerage of the Future”. What does this industry need to look like to capture the interest of  the customers of today and tomorrow?  We decided to be proactive and engage the “groundswell “to assist us in doing some modeling. Are you curious? Join us in the conversation as we unveil our work at  Real Estate Connect San Francisco and on this blog in the weeks that follow. Leadership in the real estate industry has never been more important than right now.

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