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NAR’s New Social Pros Aim to Work with AEs, Too

October 31, 2012

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® recently expanded its communication team by hiring two new social media experts: Heather Elias as director of social business practice and Nobu Hata as director of digital engagement.

These two former practitioners represent the latest step NAR is taking to expand its use of social media from a focus on communication between the organization and its members to a focus on helping members communicate with consumers. Although the bulk of their work will be member-focused, they are committed to helping state and local associations advance their use of effective social media tools.

RAE asked Elias and Hata just what type of advice and support AEs can expect from them.

Q. How will you be helping state and local associations grow their knowledge and expertise in social media and member engagement?

Nobu: As an agent, speaker, educator, and volunteer leader at the local and national levels preceding my NAR hire, I’m in a pretty unique position to have the insight needed to help connect the online world to associations’ real-world initiatives; and it’s in the real world where I’ll have to start. Whether at local or state association events, or AEI, I imagine I’ll be doing a lot of real-life, offline interaction about these subjects and I’m excited about that! Making things “real” and humanizing online presence was a key to my success in all facets of the industry beforehand, and it’s those stories and insights I want to share. I suspect I’ll be on the road a lot, but it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to. E-mail would be the best place to get a hold of me—nhata@realtors.org. Feel free to brain-dump on me there, everyone!

Heather: Although my role at NAR will be more internal—helping coordinate social media efforts across the organization—I will work in conjunction with Nobu to bring information on our best practices, policies, and training efforts to the state and local level. We hope associations can learn from our research and successes (and misfires) to find ideas that will work for them.

Q. Some REALTOR® associations are striving for increased digital engagement with members, while others don’t see it as a priority. What do you say to associations that haven’t moved beyond a monthly e-newsletter?

Nobu: Almost any form of digital engagement is a must-have in an association’s outreach plan. At the core of NAR’s new “social business” plan is the move from engagement to real-world action. It’s all about helping associations get to know their people first, then figuring out what makes them tick, then finding the content or calls-to-action to get them to act—passive e-newsletters don’t do that. Although associations might not use all the tools available to them in the social media realm, or use them all successfully, helping them figure out which ones to focus on will be one of my primary goals. That’s the beauty of new media: It’s so customizable, depending on the user and the audience its use is aimed at. It’s unique and local—just like real estate, right?

Q. For local and state REALTOR® associations keen on expanding their social engagement efforts, but that have little staff, time, or money to devote to it, what key area do you feel is most important?

Heather: The first step any association can take toward social engagement is to listen to its members: find out where members are and set up a system to monitor, ask questions, and listen. Then move in the direction your members are leading you. For some associations, that may be training members in social media practices; for other associations, it may be something else entirely. One of social media’s greatest benefits is the ability to listen in on what your audience is passionate about, struggling with, or just talking about on a day-to-day basis.