Why Social Networks Are Not an MLS

Oct 28, 2007  |  Michael Wurzer

I was cruising through some posts over at REliberation, a blogging platform from Point2, and ran across a post that asked, “Why do you blog on REliberation?” Looking through the many comments, the one that stood out for me was this one:

I enjoy the social interaction with like-minded professionals with whom I do not compete.

The emphasis added is mine, because I think it goes to the heart of the matter. Blogging networks like ActiveRain, etc., most often seem to involve non-competitors, whereas the MLS is a platform for allowing competitors to cooperate.

For certain, the MLS is a social network, but it is one with a limited purpose (exchanging listing information) and what should be a narrow set of rules to enable that on a broad scale to capture all the information in the relevant market. Do you think the MLS is the place for social networking beyond this limited purpose? Or, like the commenter above, would you prefer to network with non-competitors outside the MLS?

6 Responses to “Why Social Networks Are Not an MLS”

  1. Candy Lynn says:

    Michael:
    I think social networking within the MLS platform could actually be a good thing. Yes, MLS provides a place for competitors to offer compensation on Listed properties & to provide information about those listed properties BUT it could also provide a place for expanded communication between those competitors.

    Our MLS is operated as a committee of our Association not as an independent organization. One of the downfalls of many Associations is lack of communication.The MLS is one place that all of our members go to on a daily basis. It is therefore the logical place for expanded communication between members.

    The quote you cited: “I enjoy the social interaction with like-minded professionals with whom I do not compete” is to me an example of why Blogging & social media would actually be of benefit within the MLS Platform. Social Media offers a platform for free exchange of information & discussion – on a global basis. It helps us expand our thoughts & horizons. Why only exchange thoughts with folks outside your area? What better way to improve communication with the peer group whom you do business with on a daily basis?

  2. You make some good points, Candy. I definitely agree that communication among members in an MLS is important. There really are two questions posed in this post and I didn’t do a great job of separating them. The first question is whether a social network like Point2 or ActiveRain can become or supplant the MLS, or whether the nature of those platforms prevents competitors from seeking the same social network.

    The other question is the extent to which MLSs should pursue social networking. As I mentioned, the MLS already is a social network with a very limited purpose. Should MLSs go beyond that purpose? If so, in what specific ways? What do those new purposes look like in practice?

  3. Candy Lynn says:

    •”first question is whether a social network like Point2 or ActiveRain can become or supplant the MLS”

    I don’t think it should supplant the MLS (see below – it could). Supplement yes, but the basic premise of the MLS as an offer of compensation is missing the Point2 & ActiveRain. I am a Point2 member and use it to distribute information.

    •other question is the extent to which MLSs should pursue social networking. & Should MLSs go beyond that very limited purpose purpose?

    I can only speak to our Association’s experience. The need for easy to access communication is there. Our members view the MLS as the place for all Association communication to take place, they do NOT want go to another site for that communication. They all use the MLS on a daily basis – its one stop shopping. Why force them to another site to meet their communication requirements. IMHO, not meeting their needs for Social Media type communication is giving more power to other outlets. Once another site is found to work better for their needs – then MLS Platforms do risk being supplanted.

    •What do those new purposes look like in practice?

    Ahhhh the big question! Not sure but a few needs our Association has discussed.
    On the dashboard: (Agents need it in their face ;~)) A calendar interface for open houses/broker tours, education classes, Association events that agents, brokers & admin can ad to; Blog, discussion forums, etc (?)for exchange of information with both agent & admin permissions.

    These are a few that come to mind, I know there are more uses. This is a competitive business but I find the better communication & personal experience with other agents the better it is for everyone involved. I believe providing a neutral ground for communications – Social Media – is part of role the MLS of the future will need provide. In the old days we had shoeboxes of listings, faxed fact sheets, snail mailed Newsletters – those days are gone! The future is here – technology has provided the tools; we just need to use them.

  4. We’re in agreement that MLS systems should provide tools to enable communication among members. Better event calendars, messaging among agents, etc., are all great — though non-controversial — ideas. I was trying to take it a step further, though, to discuss the idea of social networking among competitors where the social networking is public, i.e., involves Google juice and consumer contact. That was really my point with this post and with MLS Is More Than Technology and why I don’t see sites like ActiveRain or Point2 or any of the rest developing critical mass in any particular market.

  5. Michael,

    I think you may have hit it on the head there re; the comment on ‘..with whom thay do not compete’.

    As a coach for real estate bloggers, I regualrly find that real estate professionals love being social, but not if they beleive they will compete with their peer. They will work with me often, because I am not a real estate sales guy – I cannot / will not take their prospects or clients if I happen across them.

    The only chance ActiveRain / RElieration or any of the real estate Social Networks (SocNets) have of surpassing the MLS is 1) the MLS is / stays asleep at the switch or 2) some legal wrangling changes the playing field.

    That being said, you can bet the SocNets will continue to enhance their offerings to mimic the MLS capability, if it would draw in new users.

    The disparate function of the two (MLS and SocNets) may be too much for the leadership of an MLS to handle though.

    Fun time to be in real estate eh?

  6. Candy Lynn says:

    I guess I like wearing “rose colored glasses”! Hoping if we were to provide a method of social media for our members to participate in, it would enhance their professionalism & cooperation.

    Our MLS committee is meeting on Wednesday – Social Media is on the topic.
    Also VAR has made a commitment to Social Media by hiring Ben Martin.

    Oh yeah – very fun! It seems like a race to keep up with our clients technology skills. YouTube here we come!