I read book series like I do blogs – in reverse chronological order. If I like the best seller, I tend to work my way backwards through the author’s previous works until I am “caught up.” So it was that I was finally finishing Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point last night, one decade behind. For a girl who is fascinated by new and emerging trends, and in this girl’s case, how those trends may affect our work, our role and our relationship with the customer, I was particularly digging this excerpt from the author’s Afterword.
I remember when I first got e-mail, back in the mid-1990s. I would rush home with great anticipation and dial in on my 4800-baud modem and I would have… four messages from four very good friends. And what would I do? I would immediately compose long, elegant responses. Now, of course, I get up in the morning and go to my computer and I have sixty-four messages, and the anticipation I once felt has been replaced with dread… I suspect that the same thing is happening with other e-mail users around the world: the more e-mail we get, the shorter and more selective and more delayed our responses become. These are the symptoms of immunity.
Immunity? Yes, indeedy. Mr. Gladwell spoke of our numbness to first voicemail and now email, and I am standing on my chair offering my thunderous applause. Steve gets this, which inspired this recent post on his distaste for the drip email campaign. And I find myself wondering what is next. The blog? Blasphemy!
Face it. It’s already happening. We are approaching our fourth anniversary of writing here at the San Diego Home Blog. When we began our little venture, the whole concept was relatively new. It was so new, in fact, that our broker at the time didn’t quite know what to do with us, and I became a regularly fixture in his office as a result.
Steve: “He wants to meet with you again.”
Me (scampering off to the computer): “Crap. What did I write yesterday?”
To my broker’s credit, I was never asked to pull a post, but I was asked to quickly bury a few.
Today, I doubt my broker would even notice. Every agent has a blog or is thinking about getting one. The brokerages have come full circle, often offering up the company blog on a silver platter and throwing in their own editing (and writing) services in a late-to-the-game attempt to stay hip. The result is immunity.
The problem is two-fold. Gone is the value in the scarcity; there is no scarcity in this medium any longer. The other is a problem we all have when faced with a prescriptive task. Once we do something because we have to, not because it is something we enjoy doing, it becomes a chore, and the product suffers.
My feed reader used to be an unwieldy long archive of hundreds of insightful and entertaining must-reads, each a gold mine of inspiration and ideas. Today, I have whittled it down to a short list of maybe a dozen sites, half of which aren’t even remotely related to real estate. I’ve become immune. And it’s not that it has all been said before (although it has). Rather, the “must blog” camp tends to churn out reads only slightly more interesting that the nutritional facts on the back of a ketchup bottle. Wearing my consumer hat and faced with too many choices, I want to either be educated or entertained. Absent that, my time is better spent watching the Weather Channel.
Our own three readers still intact (well, I’m pretty sure two of them are — we haven’t heard much from the other guy in awhile), we will keep doing what we do because we generally get a kick out of the activity. I will continue to write about local statistics, daily goings-on in my real estate life, or simply my dog, if I feel like it. I will write several times a week or once a lunar cycle, depending on my schedule or my interest level at the time. It is public service announcement, personal diary and group therapy all rolled into one big mess of a blog. What it will never be is an overtly promotional ad for our awesomeness or a ticker tape of our listing accomplishments. I wouldn’t even want to read that stuff.
Our approach is wrong, of course. This entire post is wrong. It doesn’t have a thing to do with real estate on this, what has been rumored to be, a real estate blog. And I could be wrong – very wrong – but while keyword-packed prescriptive writing and blandness may be manna to the Google God, a blog that is a little too purposeful won’t win any immunity idols.
Mr. Gladwell wrote, “When people are overwhelmed with information and develop immunity to traditional forms of communication, they turn instead for advice and information to the people in their lives whom they respect, admire and trust.”
In other words, they go “social.” And I think the issue here is that when blogs stop being social and start being something else – say, impersonal and spammy – our readers become numb and hit the “mute.”
For the record, I am not entirely immune to email quite yet, not as long as I can find nuggets like this one from this morning to help me take my business to the next level.
2 days before (your open house): Be sure you’ve memorized the house and its details, and know its floor plan well enough to give effective tours that showcase the property.
Good advice! How embarrassing to have not memorized the floor plan and find myself in a coat closet when a live one shows up!
I suppose three days prior, I should run that puppy through MapQuest to avoid any wrong turns on D-day.
So, I am heading off now to find my listing. I want to make sure my open house this weekend is a huge success. I have listings, and it’s a great time to buy!