VIPs and Social Networks

So I login to Facebook today just to check out what’s going on, while waiting for the various workers I’ve hired to dig my car (with attached U-Haul trailer) out from under 3′ of snow. And I see that Facebook is recommending a friend to me: Dottie Herman, the CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Which got me wondering… is there any point to networking with a VIP on Facebook or Twitter? Really? What is the likelihood that you’ll get real interaction, like from a real human being, from someone so visible? These are individuals who represent major companies or organizations. Are you really going to get to know them as a person in such a public forum?

I know exceptions exist, but for the most part, people who have such senior roles are not likely to be free, open, and human on public social networking sites. Because human beings are imperfect, and being imperfect, sometimes they mis-speak, or are inappropriate for polite company. Hang out with some of the VIP’s off-hours, behind-the-scenes, and you’ll see that those perfectly coiffed, perfectly spoken people are just men and women like any other. But the social media interactions of most VIP’s strike me as carefully crafted as any PR wire release. Everything is either trivial (“Happy Birthday, so-and-so” and “Loved the new movie XYZ”) or carefully neutral pastel-like shades of correct. What’s the point of following such people?

I just don’t think there’s any way you’ll get VIP’s behaving like regular human beings in public. Social media experts are telling young people to be careful what they upload into Facebook, since those pictures of keg stands in Daytona Beach will come back to bite them in the ass when they’re going for a job. What do you think they’re telling CEO’s of companies?

So, what do you think? Are you connected/friends with any VIP’s in or outside of real estate, who aren’t afraid to just let it all hang out? I can only think of a couple myself.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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14 thoughts on “VIPs and Social Networks”

  1. If it’s your goal to build a relationship with with someone, you’ll have to do a lot more than click the friend button, but it’s step into the front door of their sphere of consciousness. Just like introducing yourself to them at networking party.

    • Yep, you’ve got a point there. But then again, when you meet a VIP at a cocktail party, get to know them, you can eventually get the real person behind the public persona, provided that you are trustworthy and discreet. In social media, however, that guy or gal never ever drops the mask of perfection. And I don’t blame them. But it sure does make it hella uninteresting to be interacting with them on the public networks — especially when you know, as I do, how interesting they are in real life, y’know?

      • I call it selective transparency and I wrote a post about it this summer.

        And I agree that meeting that person in a less public setting is far more ideal. But, following a filtered VIP online will still give you great insight as to what to talk about when you meet that person in real life. They have given you a list of all the things they are comfortable talking to you about. Even filtered, you’re likely to find some non-work related topics that you have commonality with.

        When other people meet NAR President Ron Phipps at an industry event, they are probably talking about the MID, or GSE reform, or short sales. But because I follow him on Facebook, I know I can talk to him about sailing, exercise, being the son of a real estate agent, or gadgets. Four topics of conversation I have in common with him that are more likely to establish the kind of real life relationship you’re talking about.

  2. From a strictly pragmatic point of view (to which I do not subscribe for social media, I agree with your post) it shouldn’t matter whether this VIP has time to interact with you; however, look at the number of almost VIP’s who get to see your interaction with this “friend” who might strike up a longer term relationship with you or your message.

  3. Spencer Rascoff is fairly open and out there (on Twitter and blogging), but doesn’t really use Facebook much. But I agree — he’s not the norm in his openness and most VIPs have a very guarded social media presence.

  4. Wow. I’m surprised to see such a diverse reaction to this article. Rob, your response of being a bit “suspicious” is generally my reaction, too. There are times, though, that you get a really great surprise. I followed @Zappos (Tony Hsieh) thinking the very same thing. I was surprised that Tony put so much thought into his Tweets that were directed to his audience’s enjoyment. Of course, all this was before “Delivering Happiness” (@dhbook). Thanks for making us all think about this!

    • Y’know, I hadn’t even thought of an application that might be useful, but you did remind me of one. The issue here isn’t the “VIPness” but the infallible perfect public persona. Since real estate agents are moving en masse into social media… just wondering how many of you put on a mask on the public networks?

      Again, can’t say I blame ya, but… kinda makes you wonder, no?

      • I try to be very transparent. I talk about politics, weather, motorcycles, travel, family and sometimes, even real estate! I can’t say that all of those items carry a mask very well. I use social media because I am a very private person–not shy or withdrawn, just private. So, capturing me to present to others is something I have sometimes had to work hard for achievement. All of this is to say, that if you see a mask on me, it’s not intentional. Just ask–I’ll answer!

    • D’oh! This comment was meant for another post. But regarding this post, I connected with Curt Schilling on LinkedIn a few weeks back. Still haven’t gotten an InMail from him, though. 🙁

  5. My guess is many of these “VIP’s” don’t even “do”(for lack of a better word) their own Facebooking or Twitters. They have an assistant or someone that does it for them.

  6. Great question. I’d like to think that I am still human and do my very best to respond personally. OK, so I don’t count. For a second I thought I might 🙂 You’re right, most highly visible people don’t.

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