Positive Authority and Digital Reputation

As a real estate brand, wouldn’t you like your customers to be this excited about their experience with you?

Powder Mountain Utah Best Day of Skiing

Powder Mountain Utah Skiing Fabulous Day

I shot these videos after an absolutely transcendent day of skiing at Powder Mountain, Utah. Yes, conditions have lots to do with having a good versus great day of skiing. And yes skill level and equipment affects these considerations too. But a great day of skiing begins with the actual resort (or in the case of Power Mountain the “un-resort”).

Powder Mountain is the absolute antithesis of “big brand” in that it has a minimal choice of groomed trails with tons of choices for “off piste” skiing. There is no lodge per se, no massive repetitive brand messaging throughout its 7,000 acres. Rather, the Powder Mountain skiing experience IS the message.

It’s an authentic experience where skiers choose their routes and create their own affinities, relationships, and partnerships with the Powder Mountain brand. And it’s clear that Powder Mountain’s owners are passionate about skiing, which further elicits emotional bonds with their customers. I (we) created our own skiing experience and carry that experience and promote that experience. I (we) are brand ambassadors for Powder Mountain.

These same attributes and creeds apply to real estate professionals too. Here’s authenticity and an experience that delivers a powerful brand message. My take-aways from Jim’s video: he’s passionate about honestly representing clients, he’s passionate about his chosen profession, he’s a professional, and he’s not afraid of a fight (a good attitude to have at the negotiation table). Through this video I get a sense of who he is and what he’s willing to do for me as a client. His reputation is his personal brand and his personal brand is his reputation. And by honestly and transparently allowing clients and potential clients to viscerally “experience” his personal ethos, he’s implicitly hitting on issues discussed in this excellent post about managing your digital reputation, which I too have discussed but missed some insightful angles discussed by the FutureBuzz .

Twittering away your digital legacy?

Here’s a story from DavidHenderson.com about a “Twevent” that happened to a senior level public relations employee. The case involved FedEx (the client) and the following Tweet:

True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say “I would die if I had to live here! citation

DavidHenderson.com summarized the ensuing events:

Someone inside FedEx was following…and that person shared the post among the top executives at the FedEx front office, and the company’s corporate communications staff. At that point, a person in the FedEx corporate communications staff apparently took umbrage to the post…and responded [to him].

The public relations executive posted the following Tweet as events ensued over the next couple of days:

This is hard to fit in 140 characters or less so please read here. All about my recent Twitter post citation

DavidHenderson.com has a take-away; his global thoughts on the matter.

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

I found this FedEx story via this Sun Microsystems blog post which discusses issues surrounding one’s digital legacy. The key take-away, in my opinion, is to understand that crowdsourcing memes can possibly lead to unintended consequences and misinterpreted meanings.

Thus, when asked by real estate professionals about how they should approach social media generally, and Twitter specifically, I talk about defining digital personas and sticking to that persona in every post, Facebook or LinkedIn update, Tweet, etc.

Here are my thoughts regarding managing one’s digital legacy:

  1. Define the persona you want to convey to your known audience as well as your unknown audience; this will become your digital legacy over time
  2. Understand that Facebook differs from LinkedIn which differs from Twitter, etc, and that each social media space has a different environment–ecosystem or culture if you will–that you must first understand and then integrate with after you understand it (I say lurk heartedly to see how other people use a specific medium, read the FAQs and support sections, etc, then step into the playground when you have a general sense of the rules)
  3. You can have varied persona’s for each environment, but each such persona should roll-up to support the overall “personal brand” you’re trying to build (think of the different personalities you adopt during client presentations, while at the office, at cocktail parties, etc)
  4. Think 24 months out from now and ask yourself “What do I want people to see when they search me on Google”? Think about what “output” or “outcome” you want in this circumstance, and then work backwards at ensuring that your “inputs” (your blog posts, your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and the majority of your Tweets) meet your expected outcome

Perhaps I am over thinking this. However, when I read posts like the above, I cannot help but think that a managed approach like the simple process I’ve outlined is a viable approach for real estate professionals (especially agents new to the space) whose livelihood, value, reputation, and expertise will be run through a Google (or some new equivalent) sieve for the foreseeable future.

Managing online “spillover” reputational crises

This paper includes an interesting analysis of online reputation management. It discusses “reputation spillover”, which is defined as a “reputational crisis that impacts a focal organization [and] spread[s] to others.”

Reputation crises are triggered by financial crises or accidents and spread virally because consumer “link” like firms together, even if one of the “linked” firms has nothing to do with the crisis. The paper limits its analysis to “within-industry effects”. For example, a large player in an industry can casts a wide reputational reverb:

In the mid-1980s, the FDA released the results of a study that showed an unusually strong link between a tampon manufactured by Procter & Gamble and toxic shock syndrome (TSS) – a rare, life-threatening bacterial infection (Behr, 1980). The cause of TSS seemed to stem from a unique and innovative material used by Procter & Gamble (but by none of its rivals). In response, Procter & Gamble began a recall of their product from store shelves. Interestingly however, Tampax, the next largest rival in the product category, also began to experience declining market valuation, even while their product was recording record revenues (Metz, 1980). Arguably, had the crisis struck not Procter & Gamble but a much smaller organization, rivals would probably not have faced the same generalized and negative reactions.

Behr, P. (1980) ‘Toxic shocks, tampons under scrutiny’, The Washington Post, L1, Washington, DC.
Metz, R. (1980) ‘Toxic shock and Tampax’, The New York Times, 8, New York.

The paper points out that “any organization is at risk for a negative impact aimed at its reputation due to the actions of others in its competitive environment.” In response, the paper suggests that managers should have response plans in place along “marketing and public relations, legal and technical considerations.”

Expanding real estate sphere of influence online

This post on Transparent Real Estate offers a concise, easy-to-follow, tutorial on how to use Twitter and Friendfeed for real estate business development purposes. And this Owyang post further explores these concepts.

Taking Kitano’s and Owyang’s lead, your micro-memes would update your existing, new client, and prospective clients with your market knowledge, your insight, your new listings, etc. A network meme is useful because you can discern what’s important to your clients based on what they’re reading, posting, etc; it’s like taking a pulse, you may not know what makes a body tick or is ailing it, but the pulse helps you decide whether to further explore an issue. You can use macro memes to your advantage by looking at industry trends, topics, etc, and use such as fodder for your micro memes.

For example, let’s say you came across this article on FOX, you could write a micro meme to your network something like this

Just read FOXNews article http://tinyurl.com/5c5pe7 about home auctions & foreclosures & how they affect home prices. See analysis on [link to your blog]

What this does is reinforce to your network that you’re the expert. Second, it demonstrates leadership in that you are keeping them apprised of the market in terms of options. Third, you’re keeping yourself at the center of the equation showing no fear. Fourth, this reinforces that you’re a trusted advisor. Your blog is where you can demonstrate your market prowess.

Managing Online Reputation on Search Engines

This post on the SEOMOZ.org site, is an excellent resource on tactics and considerations as it relates to managing your online reputation.

This post on the SEOMOZ.org site, is an excellent resource on tactics and considerations as it relates to managing your online reputation. I suggest reading the the SEOMOZ post before clicking on the additional resources listed below.

Wiki article

Interview with a person who specializes in online reputation management issues.

Two big take-aways from this article are use basic SEO tactic to systematically push negative comments of the first page of Google and respond and get involved immediately.