Realtor associations provide more for their members than the respective MLS’ – most importantly perhaps is the lobbying they do on behalf of their members, and often the general public – from issues such as recordation taxes, disclosure/disclaimer laws, zoning, preservation of property rights, transportation and more.
This is Part Two of a three-part interview with Ben Martin, the new Director of Communications & New Media at Virginia Association of Realtors.
What intimidates you?
There is so much to learn. About every three days I have a minor panic attack: So many acronyms, so little time! Also, because I’m a social web evangelist, I find myself working on social web stuff for VAR on my personal time when I could be doing other things. Like right now, it’s a beautiful 73 degrees outside Sunday morning and I’m typing this response. Too bad I’m on salary and don’t get paid by the hour! But I love my work, so it’s hard to complain about this. Still, I’m a bit conflicted about all of this on a personal level.
What do you think the reaction from members will be?
There will be some confusion or some excitement, depending on how much involvement the member had with the social web or new media. A lot of people will be surprised to learn that VAR is engaging in a dialog with members in places they thought were their kids’ virtual hangouts.
What do you hope the reaction will be?
Curiosity. Even if a member doesn’t understand why we’re doing it, I would like for them to get curious and get familiar with our work in this area.
How do you find out about Virginia real estate blogs?
Google led me to Jim Duncan. Jim Duncan led me to another five or six bloggers. Their blogrolls led me to another five or six. Phone calls with the above led me to another handful. It’s the network effect in action. I’m starting to believe that I need to subscribe to link alerts for your blogs and others that I know of to discover new entrants to the Virginia REALTOR blogosphere.
How can this outreach/position benefit members?
The Association becomes more valuable to members as they get more engaged. By extending the number of channels through which a member can engage with us, we are making it easier to get plugged in. VAR offers a very robust suite of services to members, but most of them only benefit members if they actually learn about them and get plugged in. In the association business and our modern, hyper-connected marketplace, moving the needle just a little bit can produce a major ripple effect. I’ll have to point to Danilo Bogdanovic and Tony Arko as an example: They have a subscriber base of nearly 800 people, and probably thousands more who visit their blog every month. VAR was not even on their radar until I reached out to them. Now suddenly we’ve engaged them. They blog about the contact I made and suddenly another +/- 1000 people are aware of what VAR is up to. Daniel Rothamel is another example. But I hate to call out just three people and to make this a numbers game. The crux of the matter is that every member is important, regardless of whether they write blogs, read blogs, read Commonwealth magazine, or ignore us entirely. Everyone engages differently, if they choose to engage at all. I’m going to try to reach everyone. I can convince anyone of the value of VAR membership if I only have an opportunity to talk with them. That’s just one side. I’m excited about the connections we can help members make with each other through facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites. New media and the social web can help members do stuff more efficiently and effectively. If we can educate members on how to do this, we can help them make more money with less effort.
Part three will be posted tomorrow morning at 0700.
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