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Sane People Don’t Comment on Real Estate Blogs, You Don’t Need 1,000 Facebook Friends & Other Valuable Lessons Learned From 3 Years Slinging Stuff Online

The real thing that pissed me off about the well intentioned jackals at Agent ReBoot was not what was explicitly taught: it was what was implied.  Somehow you need oodles of traffic to be successful.  Somehow, you need oodles of Facebook Likes.  That somehow all being able to be at the center a tepid and tense noisy murmur was what it takes to be Real Successful in Real Estate.

And I’ve made the mistake too.  For a long time, I thought it was simple math: converting a tiny percentage of mostly indifferent people would scale.  You would LinkIn a bunch of people on MyTwitFace and voila! Winning!

So you take every friend request you can, and you add the pople you connect with, as force of habit.  If someone has 6-7 friends in common, you add them too.  Winning.

You fire up a blogpost or two,pass it along and your new friends and strangers dutifly comment something often indistinguishable from the stuff that winds up on the wrong side of your akismet filter.

“Nice post, you laid it on me.”  they dutifly say. And you in turn go through the WP dashboard to their sites.  ”You make nice post to, I love to hear you on this topic! ” It’s all about the dofollow, baby.  Getcher linkbacks here, and on to the next one.

Winning.  You have a metric to measure: friends, contacts, twitbacks, clicks and raw traffic.  Woot.  Winning. You’re winning that game, the war for comments.  You’re marching your army of 12,000 Twitter Bots, 2100 indifferent Facebookers, and another few hundered people that are still shuffling around the empty halls on LinkedSpace.  Duh, winning!

Bad contacts- just  like bad money -drive out good contacts.  You had a Facebook full of300 friends, coworkers and neighbors.  You were connected to these people.  You were warmed when you saw the pictures they posted.  Now?   You have 300 of your friends.  But now your Facebook had been “improved” by the 700 Realtors from across the country, the 200 vendors that follow them, and just recently a herd of zebra showed up.  Now, instead of the people you love and know, you also get to follow the exploits of a bunch of middle aged philandering conference goers, their pains and passions.

This churns up activity for you.  Fills your status with activity, likes, and loves.   You must seem really popular and successful!   So the people that liked you before, that were receptive are now desensitized to your messages.  Your signal to noise ratio went to hell, and there’s no need to tune into anything that you say.  After all, it’s readily apparent that you’re very popular.

But hey, you’ve got the hordes now.  And you can’t bear to unfriend them, can you?  That would not be nice. And remember, we have to be nice.   The hordes may turn on you!

Here’s a hint: without looking, go here: http://www.facebook.com/friends/edit/ click “All Friends”.    Go through that page.  IF you don’t know who they are or where they are from?  Buh-bye.  Be ruthless.   Do it 3-4 times.  Tedious work.

Then call the people that are left.  Apologize to them for being a sales-douche on Facebook, and get on with looking at kid pictures and playing the “thank God” game with all your ex girlfriends.  When you do, you’ll have better relationships, more friends, and

Indifference doesn’t scale, it spreads.  To you.  You become indifferent about your community, you muss stuff, they become indifferent to you.  When you allow a FB page to have the folks you’re utterly indifferent to on it, then the next thing that happens is that you miss buying signs, status updates of people that are interested in getting help.  You become innured to your real connections.

Being connected with everyone is like being connected with nobody.    Winning!

From the hip: Six ways to change Facebook for the better..

  • If the other person is a Realtor, and you are at less than $25,000 in GCI from referred/referring business in the last 12 months?  Ditch ‘em.  If you have more, it’s a judgement call.
  • If the other person is a Realtor’s-hanger-on.  Ditch ‘em.  Even if you’re a Realtor.  (Ahem.  I haven’t solicited any new F.I.R.E. business this year to my knowledge)  I’m all about video these days.
  • If the other person is a drag, in any way, ditch ‘em.  Life’s too short.
  • If the other person is a stranger, either meet ‘em or ditch ‘em.
  • If the other person has more than 3500 friends, ditch ‘em unless you know you’re special.
  • If you haven’t talked in a year, talk or ditch ‘em.

Less is more.  Win!

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  • 20 comments

    Attention Brad Inman: I don’t want your dipshit “most influential” citation again this year, either, but it is beyond obvious that I am by far the most influential voice in the on-line world of real estate.

    Let’s start with some music, just to set the mood:

    So: If you run in the wrong circles, these are the kind of “arguments” you can expect to hear about me:

    • Greg Swann is mean.
    • Greg Swann is rude.
    • Greg Swann is vulgar.
    • Greg Swann is angry.
    • Greg Swann is cynical.

    Here is an argument you won’t hear anywhere, except possibly at BloodhoundBlog:

    • Greg Swann is wrong, and here’s why…

    You won’t hear the latter argument for two reasons: I don’t take positions I can’t defend with an impervious impenetrable invulnerability. And: If I should happen to discover that I have been wrong, generally I will be the first person to figure that out and I will announce my error to the world immediately.

    What explains all the ad hominem arguments cited among the first set? You figure it out.

    These are the kinds of games that some folks are running while making these persuasively useless claims about my character:

    • They piss and moan to each other about me behind my back.
    • They campaign with each other to try to damage my interests.
    • They pester contributors here to try get them to abandon BloodhoundBlog.

    In each of these cases, I think they’re doing me favors — which assertion will probably just piss them off more. People who run in mobs don’t like me, and I don’t like them. Anything dominating personalities can do to recruit those folks to their own side of the table can only save me time in the long run.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but this song summarizes my position on this kind of behavior — along with every other kind of behavior:

    Recent events have made it more than obvious that I am by far the most influential person in the wired world of real estate. People are wasting irreplaceable hours and days of their lives obsessing over me, topping each other with tales of how ardently they don’t pay any attention to me.

    Why would this be so? Again, you have to figure this out on your own, but my take is that they know I’m right and yet they don’t want to be right.

    Witness:

    What does hating Greg Swann pay? It pays just as much as every other form of TwitBook time-wasting, as it happens, but it may turn out to be even less beneficial in the long run. There’s no destruction like self-destruction.

    Just so you know: All of this means this much to me: It is instructive and eye-opening to me to watch these displays of mass cowardice, and commenting in this way affords me an opportunity to help other people learn how to resist what they might think would be an intolerable social pressure but which is, in fact, about as interesting and threatening as a cloud of gnats. To that extent, at least someone is getting something out of this mishegoss.

    Meanwhile, the bald-headed big baby of real estate, Brad Inman, is putting together another list of “real estate’s most influential people,” a list I have been cited on before — which citation I always renounce.

    How much more rust can collect on the irony? This year’s “most influential” will consist mainly of TwitBook time-wasters — self-anointed, self-promoting “leaders” of the TwitBook time-wasting fad. In consequence, Brad Inman will be just that much closer to destroying real estate representation. This may not be his goal — what conscious goals do big babies have? — but this is the end of his road, even so.

    Which is just that much more reason to denounce the list now, and to renounce any mention of me made on it later.

    What does it actually mean to be “influential” in an endeavor run by a criminal cartel? Ask Frank Serpico. Ask Galileo. Ask Socrates.

    Am I claiming a false grandeur for myself by comparison? Perhaps so. But it sure looks to me like I’m earning it.

    But don’t ever forget the Unchained Manifesto: You never have to take shit from morons.

    And just so there’s no doubt, let’s get Tom Petty to remind us, once again, what it means to be Unchained:

    Related posts:
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  • Who is the most influential real estate weblogger in the RE.net? Beyond all contest or doubt, it’s Dustin Luther
  • Unchained melodies: Real Estate’s 50 Most Inconsequential Online

  • 53 comments

    Facebook Works If You Work It. If You Won’t Work It, Just Play Farmville

    Let me restate my case about Facebook; if you’re not using Facebook as a prospecting tool, you are most likely wasting your time and engaging in the ultimate procrastination scheme.  I don’t begrudge folks fun and Facebook can provide much joy.  You can reconnect with old friends and make interesting new friends there but if you plan to use it for business, you’ll most likely end up wasting hours that could have been better spent standing in front of a supermarket, handing out your business card.

    Like this, from Agent Genius:

    You don’t need a business page.  In fact, a business page is just one more time suck.  People rarely go to a business page to learn about real estate on Facebook; look at the metrics offered to prove that.   The author’s offered advice is just plain wrong:

    You shouldn’t be using your personal profile page to promote business. It is against the guidelines on Facebook and just rude, regardless. I will share with you how you CAN use your profile effectively, but blasting out your market reports and new listings is a big NO-NO on your personal profile.

    Huh?  I have no idea where the author found the “rule” about doing business on personal pages but can tell you, from a few years experience on Facebook, that telling your audience about your business is not only desirable but effective.   Posting listings isn’t rude, it’s your stock-in-trade.  If you’re only posting listings on your Facebook page, you’re likely to be branded as boring but listings are real estate porn, designed to slow down the gawkers and encourage a reaction from them.  Your “friends” will most likely be gawking at your listings if you’re interesting enough to be in their Facebook stream.

    I have what I think is a low key way of occasionally including real estate into my status without it being obvious. I share parts of my day that include real estate in a personal light. For example: last winter I was showing REO property and put as my status update: “Showing bank owned properties and it is colder INSIDE than OUT, my feet are totally numb!” A status like this reminds my friends and family on my personal page that I am a REALTOR without the typical “sales pitch”.

    Status updates are an excellent way to mix in your business life with your personal.  The advice offered, while seemingly paradoxical to the author’s etiquette course offered earlier, is a good way to remind people that you sell homes.

    Want to really make Facebook effective for business?

    Prospect your friends’ list.  That’s right, actually call people up and say hello to them.  Reach out and discover what they do offline and remind them you sell real estate.  Go one step further and get permission to do the MREA thing and every twelve of these conversations will turn into an annual transaction. That may seem “rude” but your number one job as a real estate agent is to find prospects.

    Keller and Jenks (authors of the Millionaire Real Estate Agent) claim that with shifted markets, must come shifted focus, in their follow up book Shift:

    When leads become fewer, prospecting increases.  The research from Millionaire Real Estate Agent shows that top agents use “marketing-based and prospecting-enhanced” approaches, but experience teaches us that a shifted market requires that you move more towards prospecting.  You could still be marketing based, but you’re probably doing more prospecting than you were.  It’s all about meeting your lead generation goals.  Prospecting tends to uncover more motivated leads faster and keeps you more in control.  Because prospecting puts you in immediate contact with people you get immediate feedback- and that is what you want in a shifted market.

    The advice offered by the author about Facebook then, is so 2005.  You would be much better served to call every single person on your Facebook connection list, ask them if they have any questions about real estate. and secure permission to enter their name in your MREA database. Most of you won’t do that because, well…it’s “rude” (and requires courage and work).  Just play Farmville then, keep a low profile,  and forget about using Facebook for business.  You’ll probably do more harm than good if you try to mix business with game playing.

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  • 10 comments

    My take on real estate bar camps: If you want to learn how to sell, you’ll learn nothing by “studying” with enthusiastic amateurs.

    Jeff Brown wants to know if real estate bar camps are a waste of his time. My view is that they probably are, at least in terms of making maximum productive use of time taken away from money-making work. Jeff is a chatty guy, so I expect he can have a good time with any random group of real estate practitioners, but in terms of epiphanies major and minor — or even just an a-ha! or two to cover the cost of the gasoline — there’s just not that much there there.

    First a caveat — thus to give you a chance to dismiss me if your mind runs easily to thoughts of thoughtlessness: I’ve only been to one real estate bar camp. Brian Brady and I did a half-day BloodhoundBlog Unchained event at Zillow.com’s headquarters in Seattle, and the first (I think) Seattle REBC was held the next day. Brian and I did a session that day with Ardell Dellaloggia, then I used Al Lorenz’ Windows laptop to do a session on Scenius — with the latter being of benefit to no one, I think. I spent much of the day in a conference room, conferring with anyone who would dare to talk to me, and that was reasonably productive. I taught much more than I learned, but I got to spend quite a bit of time with Al, and that man knows a lot of interesting stuff.

    But: The event was opened by a vendor, and the vendorslut influence was an oozing slime everywhere. It was obvious to me that the ordinary punters were completely lost, and it was equally obvious that the vendors were “befriending” folks who had learned nothing — except that they were scared and clueless — picking them off like drunken sorority pledges at a fraternity mixer.

    I’ve not done anything with the bar camps that have been held in Phoenix, second because the wired Realtors in town seem to want to have nothing to do with me, but first because the wired Realtors in town don’t seem to know very much that I’m interested in learning. If I want to hear from Seth Godin and Brian Clark, I know where to find them — and they’re better in the original in any case.

    I’m very tight with my time — my job is selling real estate, not schmoozing — and I don’t think it’s any accident that the first real estate bar camp was held in a bar. I almost never drink alcohol — ceremony, solemnization, and, sometimes, sex — and I never, ever spend time drinking in bars. There’s a hard limit to how much shit I’m willing to shoot, and there is no topic of small talk large enough to excite my interest. I just want to work, and my steady conviction is that Realtors only talk to each other to give themselves the camouflage of pretending to work, thus to rationalize goofing off. In this regard, Twitter, Facebook and real estate bar camps all become the same one thing: A huge waste of time.

    There’s more, though: As I’ve said, I think the whole TwitBook real estate culture is closing on the wrong objectives. You don’t need a phalanx of fair-weather friends and you don’t need filled-out contact forms in toilet-paper quantities. What you need are closed transactions — paychecks. If you’re not closing on paychecks, you are not only wasting your efforts, you are busily working your way toward bankruptcy and starvation.

    Now isn’t it a happy coincidence that so much of that TwitBook culture is driven by vendors? How could it be that the people who are telling you to develop your imaginary sphere of tenuous influence are precisely the same people who want to sell you the alleged solution to the problem they helped you create: No paychecks.

    That TwitBook culture is what drives the REBC movement, ultimately. Not everyone is a vendor — far from it. Most of the REBC folks are nice people who have gotten fairly good at closing on the wrong objectives and are now ready to help you achieve astounding results at making pretend-friends and collecting pretend-leads. And, as with my experience at Seattle, the vendorsluts slither through the throngs looking for signs of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, the mask of confusion that marks you as their mark, their natural prey.

    I’m told that the Twitbook nonsense has metastasized, in Brad Inman’s Agent REBoot events, into an outright anti-sales message. Everything that matters consists of fake bonhomie among fake friends, and even thinking about making money at work is evil. If we all just make enough “friends” on-line, we’ll all be fine. Meanwhile, buy, buy, buy from the vendorsluts who are the entire roster of speakers at all Inman events. Don’t be a dirty salesperson — heaven forfend! No, let us bring the leads to you, all for only a huge chunk of your gross commission income — if you have any.

    This is not good. I’m a geek, big time. By now, I’m doing things I can’t even teach, things I can barely describe intelligibly. I’m a do-it-myself geek, too, which Jeff hates, but this is why I can do things I can’t describe to other people, because I invent every wheel I roll on. But: I am much better at marketing than I am at selling, and this is why I devote so much of my time and thought and effort to getting better at selling. Marketing will bring the buyers and sellers to me, but it’s selling that will get us all to the closing table — which is where the paychecks are distributed.

    The unconferencing idea is not a bad one, but it wants real experts — people who know something that should be learned and are capable of teaching it. A convocation of enthusiastic amateurs can be fun, but no one is going to learn anything useful. Worse, many people are going to learn, in detail, how to close on all the wrong objectives. And still worse, the vendorsluts are going to have themselves a jovial, jocular field day feasting on the fearfully befuddled.

    I’m not selling anything to you — and I don’t love it that I have to defend myself, so often, from people who cannot see anything larger their their own stunted souls — and I’m pretty sure I’m wasting my time even raising these points. The bar camps will continue, not alone because they’re easy and cheap to set up — and fun to attend, in a time-wasting kind of way.

    But: If you really want to learn something practical, spend your time and money studying with real experts — and then go home and actually apply what you’ve learned. By listening to Jeff Brown — and then doing what he said to do — Scott Cowan is going to make a lot more money than you will ever make by forging another couple hundred dozen cotton-candy “friendships.”

    And if you or anyone wants to tell me that selling is unseemly, you might as well introduce me to your clients right now. They’re going to be my clients, eventually, anyway. I work for my living, and you’re just wasting time until you get a day job.

    But: In the end: If your objective is to waste your time while pretending to work, a real estate bar camp will offer you a much better illusion of productivity than merely dicking around on-line. So go on and have yourself some fun. If you don’t want to learn how to become a great salesperson, I’m pretty sure someone will teach you how to become a great fry cook or cashier or barrista. I won’t see you at the bar camp, but it could be I’ll be seeing you at Starbucks someday soon — and that green apron looks good on almost everyone.

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  • 5 comments

    Unchained melodies: Real Estate’s 50 Most Inconsequential Online

    Apparently I have been voted onto the Inman “News” list of Real Estate’s 50 Most Inconsequential Online. I have no direct evidence of this, just a bunch of tweeted twaddle that Tom Johnson turned me onto last night. Needless to say, I don’t plan to spend $80 to feed my already quite corpulent vanity.

    This is my third or fourth year on the receiving end of this evolving “honor,” and, with some exceptions, Inman’s list is comprised of a company I am less and less comfortable keeping. BloodhoundBlog has always been about the consumer for me, and about practitioners who know how to put the consumer first. Alas, the RE.net by now just looks like more of the same — more sleazoids looking for ways to sucker broke-ass agents into paying three bucks a pop for rotten eggs. Deadwood was a fun TV show, but I don’t want my name soiled by the real estate equivalents of Al Swearengen.

    I do want to take a moment to apologize to Brad Inman, though. I have offered up what I thought was sound business advice to the man — coated, to be sure, in what might seem to be a bitter pill. But I had assumed that Inman was a grown-up, and, as a demi-billionaire, presumably capable of dealing with a certain amount of acerbic wit. It turns out though — as certain lyrical twitterbirds have pointed out to me — that Brad Inman is in fact an infantile encephalic retarded paraplegic with a harelip — and thus my jibes aimed at him were not sporting. This, at least, is the only conclusion one can draw from the plaintive tweeted bleatings about my criticisms of Big Bad Brad that have emerged from other names on Inman’s list of Real Estate’s 50 Most Inconsequential Online.

    Which is, just by itself, a good reason to say to hell with the whole magilla.

    Meanwhile I can think of only one tune so perfectly suited to the occasion, Big in Japan by Tom Waits:

    If you want to do right by your clients, you have no need to lean on me as an “influence.” If you want to screw consumers or other real estate professionals by hustling them with useless crap, I’ll thank you to leave my name out of it.

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  • 13 comments

    Is it time for a second Vook at Brad Inman’s latest brain fart?

    Believe it or don’t, just yesterday I was telling Cathleen that I felt remiss in not having made fun of the Vook lately. The Vook, as you will recall, is Brad Inman’s latest attempt to prove that he stumbled onto half a billion bucks by accident. The trouble is, as he is discovering, pissing away that kind of dough isn’t easy, no matter how clueless you are — and Inman takes a back-seat to no one at cluelessness.

    Even so, I need to issue a mea culpa of my own: The Vook has actually made it to the marketplace, a feat I would have bet against. Simon and Schuster — which has always made all of its profits from crossword puzzle books — turns out to be possessed of its own Inmaniacal cluelessness: The New York publisher is issuing Vook content, apparently because its printed books are not already selling badly enough.

    But: Don’t despair. Even though there are very few people who are stupid enough to buy this stupid gadget, the Vook will still serve a purpose in the history of marketing: It will make the Zune look popular by contrast.

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  • 2 comments

    Brad Inman: “Would someone be kind enough to sell me some fur? I know mammals are warm-blooded, but perception is reality, right? Oh, what the hell! The way things are going, I’d settle for some feathers!”

    Hungry dinosaur. Will Vook for food:

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  • Comments are off for this post

    Bar At The Raddison Phoenix?


    The Raddison In Phoenix is great so far. Everyone’s friendly. Coffee
    was tasty tasty.

    But hey, we’ve got like 5 hours to kill before the fun starts at
    Unchained. So where’s the Bartender?

    It’s noon in Phoenix, but it’s about time for happy hour for those of
    us still on the (ET)!

    -Ryan Hartman
    (Sent From My Fancy Phone…)

    Latest Videos From Youtube.Com/BloodhoundUnchained!

    [tubepress]

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  • Comments are off for this post

    Should Blogs Enjoy the Same First Amendment Rights as Traditional Press?

    Aaron Krowne, Founder of the Mortgage Lender Implode-o-Meter, posted the following article yesterday.

    New Hampshire Judge Orders ML-Implode To Divulge Identities of Anonymous Posters

    Questions:

    1)  Should blogs/consumer advocacy websites enjoy the same First Amendment protections as traditional press?

    2)  Does Justice McHugh’s decision disturb you as much as it disturbs me?

    3)  On the other hand, how is a company like The Mortgage Specialists  (innocent until proven otherwise) protected against an insider leaking confidential documents, the validity of which is yet to be substantiated?

    I am a proponent of the ML-Implode-O-Meter and a believer in Aaron Krowne.  So I’m afraid I could be biased here.  However, if you share my opinion regarding the sanctity of the First Amendment:

    a)  Aaron has created a few advocacy groups on Facebook so please look him up if interested.

    b)  Here’s a list of volunteers helping Aaron.

    Perhaps Aaron himself puts it best:

    “If the order stands, a flood of similar lawsuits filed by corporations against ‘whistleblower’ and consumer advocacy web sites could appear across the country”

    More negative coverage of “The Mortgage Specialists” can be found here.  I actually called them prior to publishing this article – fully expecting for the phones to be disconnected.  Instead, my call was taken on the first ring.  During our 2-minute conversation, the TMS employee told me that “all that had been taken care of”, it was a “compliance issue, not fraud”, and that the guilty parties were no longer with the company.

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  • 12 comments

    The Case Against Paid Reviews: Why Agents & Vendors Should Never Use Them.

    First a disclaimer:  I’ve done fine on the web.  Made great money connecting with clients that don’t know, used to know, and kinda know me.  A lot on LiveJournal till I left, and even more on Facebook.  I’ll make more money in 2009.   A second disclaimer:  I hope that this post makes me tens of thousands of dollars by attracting to me the type of person I wanna do business with.  So this post is written for perfectly selfish reasons, but we all have that on the table now…and can move forward.   I guess with that said, every single post I write here or elsewhere…I write with the intent of connecting with someone cool.

    When I first joined BHB, no less than 3  ‘vendors’ that currently advertise elsewhere on the RE.NET looked at me and assumed that I’d be the type to shill their products.  I wasn’t ever offered cash, but I was offered to use the product and see if I like it.   I was too busy at the time, and didn’t give a shit about those particular products. I don’t know if I would have taken cash, I wasn’t asked, so I can’t answer that question.   What I do know is that I blew it off because the products didn’t seem interesting.  Who cares about some new CRM that manages your showings or whatever…

    Vendors invariably harm themselves with paid reviews.   When you coopt a voice like Agent Genuis with ad money and reviews, you short circuit your ability go gain feedback.    If you’re trying to make anything better and different, you must be able to rely on places like AG to give you honest feeback on your product.  You either want to advertise it–which is what Todd at Lenderama does transparently and honestly…or you want to improve it.   Co-opting the people that have influence is not the way to get actionable feedback. It’s also an insult to them: it basically says hey, we like your readers, but we will give you money instead of listening to your ideas.

    The RE.NET is packed with bright people.   More valuable than the 3-4 subscribers that you might get from a campaign…is a test of the viability of your product.  Stuff like RateSpeed could have been improved to the point of usability rather than being the soup du jour of the echo chamber…had  there been an earnest effort to get real feedback in lieu of promoting the product.  But you rarely get good feedback from people when you’re writing them checks.  They are happy enough with the checks.  A prostitute will make you believe that you’re a world class lover.  There are people in every blog that freely give up ideas, and to short circuit the feedback loop to merely promote your product is low minded thinking.

    What’s more valuable: a plug from a guy that built a great blog?  Or some honest feedback to hone your offering?

    Think bigger.

    On your own blog, accepting ads changes you, like it or not.  Anything but MAYBE anonymous google ad words, and putting an ad up changes the way you think of your blog.  A display ad is pressured to perform, and instead of exploring and writing and processing thought, you think of making someone else’s idea make money.   And your blog loses its originality and creativity.  Best example of this is LifeHacker. When they really monetized themselves they became borderline unusable, probably about 18 months ago.  (Thanks to my  friend Keith Baker for pointing this out to me some time ago on one of his many blogs).

    Your blog is a chance to get lending, listing & selling clients, it’s a chance to demonstrate the level of service your customers will expect to get, and the most valuable is the chance for you to clarify and hone your thoughts.  Corrupting that process with a few hundred or even a few thousand bucks a month can’t possibly be worth it, unless you vew your ideas as only worth that much.   Why limit yourself?  I’ve gotten & will continue to get gigs, I’ve gotten &  made referrals, and it’s because my blog is ‘really me.’  If I sell that process, or lend whatever credibility my blog has,   I wouldn’t at this point–be likely to do anything with display ads, my own thoughts are too valuable to lease out to anyone who has cobbled together some LAMP widget for Realtors.

    Paid reviews are a stamp of a moron.  And, they make you unbelievable.  If you promote Heap, then you promote ZohoCRM and then you promote Highrise…all with affiliate links, what value can you be giving to them?  You’re just demonstrating to all that you’re for sale, have no integrity or standards, and every word you write was influenced both consciously and un…by other folks.   Let’s leave paid reviews back with 1.0 and retain our integrity.  When you gather an audience, be careful not to sell them because you become a drooling and pandering fool.

    Oh..by the way, Heap is genius, but needs work, Highrise is Excellent but underpowered, and Zoho CRM put me back on paxil.

    Finally, something truly positive that is more or less a test to see if Greg really did fix his video posting problems…Bruce in his Prime. Nothing finer:

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  • 4 comments

    Inman “news” has always been a FUD-driven vendorslut cesspool — that’s not new — but what is it doing to the Web 2.0 ideal?

    Can you read this?

    It came this morning in a piece of spam from Inman “news.”

    Spam — unsolicited commercial email from vendorslut central.

    And: Spam with FUD, InmanStyle: “If you can afford to ignore breaking real estate news and emerging technology trends, then Unsubscribe.”

    That’s creepy, sleazy, slimy and repugnant — which is to say it’s marketing as someone from Brad Inman’s epoch understands it. Like all the relics Inman “news” tries to shove down our throats, Bran Inman is a dinosaur — a giant, thrashing reptile incapable of discovering his own irrelevance. Holding someone like him to Web 2.0 standards of behavior is like expecting an actual dinosaur to regulate its own body temperature — it’s more than he can ever do.

    But remember that Inman “news” is now allegedly run by people from “our” world.

    Do you wish to claim that they don’t know what spam is?

    Is it your contention that they don’t know what FUD is?

    Evil is doing something you know in advance is wrong. Is there anyone who believes they didn’t know that issuing this treacly piece of spam was morally wrong by standards they understood perfectly well, in advance of their acting?

    I’ve been telling you this for a long time, but, sadly, we could not have asked for a more telling example:

    When exponents of the vendorslut cesspool — Inman, vendors, the NAR — tell us they want to be a part of our world — what they always mean is that they want to suck us into their sewer of lies.

    The things we call surprises almost always result from our failure to pay attention to stone obvious manifestations of reality occurring right before our eyes.

    My advice, always: Mind what goes into your mind…

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  • 11 comments

    Twenty-five most influential bloggers? Influence upon whom? Toward what objectives? Or: Why collectivism makes my skin crawl

    Brad Coy sends news that I have been named as one of the Inman News “25 Most Influential Bloggers” for 2008. I don’t know this first-hand, since you have to be a member of the Inman Secret Handshake Club to gain access to the “Special Report.” Not quite true: You can also buy the thrilling “Special Report” for only $79.00. That’s only $3.16 an influencer.

    But wait: The price just went up to $3.29 an influencer, since, as with last year, I am renouncing this denomination.

    I’m sure the people who named me to this list thought they were offering me some sort of distinction. To the contrary, I see it as a diminution of the work we are doing here. Among the influencers are people I see as being active exponents of knowing evil. The rest are decent-enough folks, but I don’t see them, for the most part, as being stout advocates for anything that I regard as being good or vital or important. Nice people, but they’re just people.

    Influence by itself is a meaningless standard of value: Fifty million Frenchmen can be as wrong as one. For the most part, the people in the RE.net whose opinions matter most to me already write here — and, of course, those great minds are all but entirely omitted from Inman’s list, even though their influence is more-positive and more-consequential than many of those included.

    But none of that matters. What matters is this: I am either right or I am wrong — as are you. Agreement means nothing, endorsement means nothing, beauty contests mean nothing, dipshit lists like this mean nothing. All that matters is the quality of your thinking and and quality of your writing. The world is made by minds, not mobs, and I don’t want my name to be used to contradict that proposition.

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  • 20 comments

    Fire Up the Echo Chamber, This Time It’s Hot.

    If you can’t yet make the grade as an Inmanically Annointed Blogger, there may be a place for you.   All you have to do is to Twit enough ass, and you too can be part of sepia tones and the best use of the Impact font on the RE.NET.   Come one and all, and sit at the cool table.  Daddy issues?  Who cares, we want you here, in the land-where-no-idea-is-too-stupid to be published, and no agent is too lazy to be anointed as the next superstar.

    Just join the land of no dissent!  Crazy micromanaging?  Check!  Comment quotas, Check.  Are you keeping up?  Make nice.  Oh yeah, a search function that gives you no useful data, but lots of images?  We have that too!   We’re way ahead of you.   Keep up, chop chop!  Geniuses skip your apostrophes, it’s time to boogie.

    OH, I’m talking about the newest and stupidest offer by a once great blog.     It wasn’t that long ago that the ‘nice’ folks at AG were an ideasphere, a  kickass content focused blog with good writing and great ideas. Is it still even navigable?  Hmm.  I guess I must not be keeping up.

    But now, no dissent is tolerated, and everyone is an echo…and the writing that makes up weblogs is no longer featured.  Nobody’s saying we should be at the bilous level of dementia that Barry Cunningham’s at, but let’s crack some skulls and reason together.  It wasn’t that long ago at all that the folks there were contributing to the body and pushing ideas–not people–into the forefront.

    But, when you feel like you’ve arrived, and insist that you’re cool (get out of your reader, we’re so cool here), nothing good happens.  Ego takes over, and we’re talking egotism, not egoism.

    Remember: when you don’t agree with us, you’re being disagreeable.  Our paper-thin-sense-of efficacy can’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny.    See, we have some really stupid time wasting ideas that aren’t well suited to an individual agent trying to sell 30 houses a year, or a loan officer who is surviving this business.  We’ll live twit it all though, and every conference-turned-hookupfest will be a chance to demonstrate our ‘leadership.’

    Keep up, kids, keep up.

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  • 14 comments

    Truth, Damn Truth, and Consumer Reports

    Consumer Reports has released a survey that shows that the national RE companies have successfully wrung every drop of meaning out of their so-called brands.

    I haven’t had a chance to read the report, but there is enough on Inman today to get the gist:

    • Even though Indie agents were said to offer fewer services, “…sellers who used them were just as satisfied” as the sellers who used name-brand agents.
    • Customer satisfaction scores for Real Estate companies ranged from 79 to 81. A 3 point spread. Homogenization complete.

    Translation: Sellers don’t mind when an indie agent fails to show up with a folder full of Home Warranties, and they don’t care which logo adorns the business cards of the brand-name agents who do.

    I am looking out my window at a Hostess delivery truck with a picture of a split-open chocolate cup cake next to the Hostess logo. I want one. I want to peel the frosting off, set it aside, eat the decapitated cupcake and chase it with the frosting just like I did when I was 10. I have an emotional attachment to Hostess Cupcakes that started the day my Mom brought home a box from the supermarket, and its been reinforced every time I have had two (you have to have two) ever since.

    Every time I open that cupcake wrapper, I know what I am going to get: The plastic peels off of the frosting even (usually) if the package is warm and they taste *exactly* the same every time, even if they have been sitting on a shelf for six years. Mom brought home cheap, store brand chocolate cupcakes once….Once.

    That’s how branding is supposed to work. The ad man Jerry Bulmore said that “Consumers build an image [of a brand] as birds build nests. From the scraps and straws they chance upon.” Bulmore’s sticks and straws are interactions, and what he left out is that the strongest nests are built when the building materials are consistent.

    Branding a service is inherently difficult. Unlike cupcakes, its a lot harder to control the quality of the end product, and something as fragile as the emotional connection a consumer feels towards a brand is no match for a bad personal interaction with a representative of said brand. Considering the current industry “standards” for agents, that fact alone makes Real Estate branding on a national level  all but futile. Maybe that’s why the Real Estate brands long ago decided that recognition=branding, because, really, what else can they do?

    They certainly aren’t interested in creating any real differences between the services they offer consumers. Look at Realogy: What’s the difference between a 5% commission contract from ERA, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s or the new Better Homes and Gardens except for the logo in the corner? Even when they use the name of a brand that has a firmly established reputation for high-end quality, there is no logical attempt to capitalize on it. How often does a Sotheby’s sign go up in front of a shit box?

    And while I’m on Realogy, let’s look at the concept of a branded franchise. There is no difference between the brands as far as consumers are concerned, but consumers aren’t really the national brand’s customer. Brokers are the customer, so they must be the real target of the brand managers. Surely the national brands take care to preseve the value of brand recognition for their brokers, since that’s all they’ve got, right?

    As it turns out, not so much.

    I used to wash down my Hostess cupcakes with a glass of milk, but now that I am all grown up I prefer Dunkin Donuts ice coffee. D&D is omnipresent in my hometown as they are all over New England, and I frequent at least 5 of them, but not even D&D would allow me to purchase a franchise, open a store across the street from another franchisee, and then offer the same ice coffee and donuts for half price.

    Enter Century 21 Clickit, Inc, “Your Flat Fee MLS and Sale by Owner Partner”. They are based in Atlanta, but they are taking listings in four other states, including CT where I have a competing Century 21 franchise as a client. Friendly competition between Century 21 franchises is nothing new, but competing against an out-of-state broker who is plunking down signs with the C21 logo on them in my client’s backyard to advertise flat-fee and FSBO listings sure as hell is. So what did Realogy do about it?

    Reward them. Repeatedly. Along with Inman.

    Where’s the Tylenol?

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  • 13 comments

    What’s the difference between BloodhoundBlog Unchained and a trade show like Inman Connect? Nothing but the chains…

    In a comment to my Parliament of Whores post, Erion Shehaj asks:

    I’m having a hard time differentiating between an event such as Connect and BHB Unchained[....] Is there any real difference between them charging for a conference and you doing the same?

    Now that’s an excellent question.

    Have you been to events like Inman Connect, StarPower or the NAR Convention? Are they charging you for a conference? You bet.

    Is that their sole or even their primary objective? To the contrary.

    A trade show exists to deliver you to its sponsors. The conference curriculum will consist of sponsored presentations, with the sponsors attempting to sell you their products. Are these the best tools for your business? No. The sponsors you hear from will be the highest bidders, and the hosting organization — Inman or StarPower or the NAR — will actively prevent anyone from pointing out that the sponsor’s products are inferior to others available. In other words, a trade show like Inman Connect, StarPower or the NAR Convention is nothing but a shillfest, a carnival for bilking dupes, who come there to be bilked on their own nickel.

    I know you haven’t been to the one Unchained event we have had so far, but what we do is nothing like that. We had one sponsor, Zillow.com, which bought nothing but naming rights — practically speaking as a much-needed subsidy. No other sponsors, no sponsored presentations at all, no trade-show booths. The bulk of the program was Brian Brady and I teaching the theory and practice of Social Media Marketing. We interviewed a few vendors as a means of pinning them down and putting the screws to them. Everything about Unchained is contained in that one word: Achieving the greatest possible independence for the grunts on the ground.

    You highlighted this text:

    rather than strive to find new ways of milking Realtors and lenders of their income

    Everything that Brian and I do is aimed at helping working Realtors and lenders hang on to every cent they earn. If you come to see us live, you’re going to pay. Electrons are almost free but atoms cost money to move around. But everything we talk about is always available right here for free.

    Everything associated with the NAR and the Inmanosphere exists to enslave you in one way or another, to tie you up with one set of golden handcuffs after another, so that, in order to retain as much as half of your income, you have to piss the other half away on brokers, memberships, leads, hosted software solutions and other useless crap. Everything associated with BloodhoundBlog Unchained is aimed in exactly the opposite direction, cutting one bond after another, so that you control as much of your own destiny — and retain as much of your own income — as you possibly can.

    You can come see BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Orlando for $99 — at least for now; Brian still hasn’t bumped the price, and I like it where it is. But you can come and reap everything we have to teach right here for free. We want nothing to do with milking you of your income. We want you to make so much money that, if you should pay to come and see us, it’s because you want to make even more.

    You don’t have to take my word for it. There were almost a hundred people with us for our first time out. Ask them what’s the difference between BloodhoundBlog Unchained and a shillfest like Inman Connect or StarPower or the NAR Convention.

    In the mean time, please do not doubt my gratitude to you for having asked this question. It’s those lingering objections that don’t quite get addressed that cause problems in any persuasive endeavor.

    To close, and to summarize, here’s the one clip I made with BrokerIPTV.com at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in May:


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  • 11 comments

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