On Top of the Trends

Tricia Thomas on social media, RPR®, listing syndication, and Core Standards.

You’re more likely to find Tricia Thomas, CEO of the Bay East Association of REALTORS®, Calif., speaking to members in the field than in her office. A frequent presenter at gatherings around the San Francisco Bay Area, Thomas addresses industry hot topics such as social media and listing syndication. Bay East has a strong track record of constantly developing and promoting new programs and services that enhance the REALTOR® image and  members’ ability to successfully conduct their business.

Thomas, who recently celebrated her 26th anniversary with Bay East, shares her insights into four hot topics.

Q. Facebook is fading in popularity among small businesses. What do you think is the next platform to watch?

A. Social media is a critical component of our member and community communications, but we don’t rely solely on Facebook. We track our social media statistics to measure the level of engagement and connection on multiple channels including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and make adjustments to our social media strategy. What seems to work best is continuous incorporation of creative images, videos, and recaps for various association events. We use hashtags in tweets and Instagram posts and display signage for our various social media channels in all of our communications and on the website. Finally, we analyze optimal times for posts with Hootsuite, Facebook Insights, SocialBro and SumAll.com. Our Klout score (measuring our social media influence) of 61 remains relatively high for a local association.

Social media to watch is anything mobile and livestreamed. Apps such as Periscope and Meerkat allow livestreaming of events from an iPhone. Users can engage with us and ask questions during the stream. This could be used to livestream presentations from a meeting or stream a class and post it as a webinar to the website later.

Q. Your MLS partners with RPR. What benefit to members has this technology tool brought?

A. Most of the members who use RPR love it, especially the mobile version. The depth of information there is outstanding. But it’s not as widely used as we’d like, so we’ve launched a member benefit campaign to promote it through videos, webinars, live classes, presentations at office meetings and marketing meetings, and website features. 

Q. What percent of members are concerned with how their listings are displayed online?

A. Our members will pay more attention to this issue after the effects of ListHub no longer feeding MLS data to Trulia and Zillow really sinks in. In speaking with brokers and agents, I’ve found that the vast majority are not clear on the terms of the syndication agreements they signed with the major listing portals. When I explain that they’re allowing the portals to resyndicate listings, create derivative products, and sell leads, members are shocked. When brokers and agents go directly to the syndicator and accept unfavorable terms, it compromises our ability to protect members’ rights. When associations and MLSs engage in syndication negotiations with listing portals, they can take advantage of the collective bargaining power of multiple brokers representing thousands of listings.

Q. You served on the 2014 AEC work group tasked with developing resources to help associations meet the Core Standards. What’s your impression of the first cycle that’s almost complete?

A. My association is located in a large metropolitan area that has 14 local associations, and I frequently heard REALTORS® talk about how frustrating it is to move from one association to another and not know what level of service to expect. There weren’t consistent standards in the association environment. While I recognize that creating and implementing the Core Standards has brought considerable hardship for some associations, I’ve been really impressed with the commitment of associations to change. Finding the time to implement and track each of the standards added more to every AE’s long list of tasks. But I think this will become easier each year. I believe that the Core Standards will achieve their goal because they have forced all of us to have a laser focus on basic services. Complying with the standards will strengthen associations and our relationship with our members.

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