Longtime readers of Phoenix Real Estate Guy will know there are some things that annoy me about the real estate industry. No, seriously!
Bad listing photos, (most) Realtor designations, the bureaucracy of Realtor Associations, the requirement to write REALTOR® in ALL CAPS, single-agent dual agency, and the “I’M A MILLION DOLLAR PRODUCER!” proclamation are just a few annoyances on my list.
Here’s another thing that bugs the hell out of me.
Claims of “We are #1!” for anything ranging from production, to agent count, to service, to web sites, to social media presence. And more.
A couple of years ago, some agent regularly slapped fliers on my door with “THE NUMBER ONE REAL ESTATE WEB SITE IN ARIZONA!!” in big giant red letters across the top. Interestingly, that #1 real estate website in Arizona is now returning “page not found” errors”¦
I regularly see agents advertising, “I’m a top producer!”
And a few days ago, @KWCareers on Twitter posted this:
For the record, I’ve got nothing against Keller Williams. I have good friends that are KW agents, I know many stellar KW agents, and we’ve got some amazing former KW agents working at Thompson’s Realty.
What bugs me are these claims ”“ by anyone ”“ of being #1, or “the best” or “top” whatever.
When I see claims like the one Keller Williams made, four thoughts typically pop immediately into my head:
- You are #1 based on what metrics?
- Show me the data!
- Who cares?
- So what?
So in an effort to get the answer to Thought 1, I asked @KWCareers this on Twitter:
“Curious, #1 based on what metric?”
“Congrats! By what metric(s) are U #1 on Twitter?”
The next day, here’s how the Twitter conversation progressed:
Well, given that on Twitter @KWCareers has 4,398 followers, and @KWRI (the KW “home” account) has 6,374 followers, yeah it is that hard to believe. Total number of followers? The aforementioned ProfessionalOne has 34,239 followers. Adding these two KW accounts together they don’t have one-third the followers that Professional One has”¦
So I replied:
Which garnered this response:
Ah! Now we are finally getting to the root of the question, “You are #1 based on what metric?”
Let’s set aside the ridiculous (and worthless) measure of “followers” on Twitter ”“ it means absolutely nothing as Jeff Turner pointed out quite eloquently in his article, YEO – Why Twitter Follower Counts Mean Nothing. If you think follower counts mean anything, read Jeff’s article where he outlines how he set up two Twitter accounts for fictional people, automated their Twitter messages and replies, and collected almost 6,000 followers in one week.
But if Keller Williams wants to use that particular metric to claim they are, “The #1 real estate company on Twitter and Facebook”, who am I to stop them?
However, if you’re going to claim it, you darn well ought to be able to prove it.
My Thought 2 asks, “Show me the data!”
This should be quite interesting. In order to prove this claim, what KW is going to have to do is:
Show that they’ve found every Keller Williams agent with a Twitter and Facebook account, and every agent with a Twitter and Facebook account that works for RE/MAX, Century 21, Coldwell-Banker, and Prudential. Since those are the largest five brokerages by agent count, that should be a sufficient sample set to prove they have the most agents with Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles. (Though to truly prove their claim, they really need the numbers for every agent in every company.)
Good luck getting that data. I can’t wait to see it. I wonder who #2 is? Keller Williams must already know as they have determined they are #1. You can’t claim you are #1 without knowing who is in position #2”¦
I don’t think they can prove this. Oh, they can assume they are #1 because they are the largest brokerage by agent count. They do tend to have more “tech savvy” agents than the other large brokerage houses, so maybe this assumption of the “#1 spot” is safe.
But they aren’t saying, “We think we are #1” or “We assume we are #1” or “We’re probably #1”. They said, “KW is the #1 real estate company on Twitter and Facebook”. Is, not might, should or could be. Is.
So prove it.
Here’s where things like this bug me beyond belief
No one ever bothers to prove these wild (and usually meaningless) claims. They just shout them out and expect people to believe it.
Here’s a claim for you:
Thompson’s Realty is the number one real estate brokerage in the world!
We have never had a single agent leave our brokerage to go work for another real estate brokerage. Ever. That is a documentable fact. Since no one has ever left to work somewhere else, we are by definition #1 with regard to agent retention (Yes, there could be other brokerages with the same claim ”“ but no one can do better than zero agents leaving for other brokerages).
Maybe I should blaze Thompson’s Realty is the number one real estate brokerage in the world! across my websites. Or send out a Tweet or Facebook status update. It is a true statement after all.
A true statement as long as I leave out how we are measuring this. Of course there is more that should go into claiming you are the #1 brokerage in the world than just agent retention. But hey, everyone else makes #1 claims without bothering to mention what metric that claim is based on. Why shouldn’t I?
Why. Shouldn’t. I.
Because it is wrong to make claims of position or grandeur without the data to back it up. Because It’s wrong to puff out your chest with pride and say things like you have “the best website in Arizona”, or you run “the #1 brokerage in the world” or “the #1 real estate company on Twitter and Facebook” without clearly indentifying what you are basing that claim on ”“ and having the data to back it up.
Not only is it wrong, but honestly, who cares and so what? Does being the #1 real estate company on Twitter mean a damn thing to the most important people for your brokerage — your clients? Last I checked, our sellers have one fundamental goal ”“ to sell their home. Our buyers have one fundamental goal ”“ to purchase a home that meets their needs. I don’t think they give a hoot how many Twitter followers our agents have, how many have a Facebook page, how many RSS subscribers or how many visitors their sites get. Yes, maybe those things contribute to the success of an agent, and ultimately to the clients need. Maybe. But prancing around making basically unprovable claims is a pointless exercise.
So please, make it stop.
Seems prudent to document the conversation that occurred on Twitter after this post was published:
@KWCareers: Just got a message from KWRI that they did their own survey of other RE Co’s on Twitter/Facebk & compared follower/fan #’s to KW’s
@KWCareers: @ProfessionalOne @phxreguy Wish I had an independent source to refer to….but had to take our research dept’s findings as fact
@PhxREGuy: @KWCareers Soooo… you can’t share the research dept’s findings? They must have had SOMETHING to base this claim on?
@KWCareers: @phxreguy Working on getting the specific data…stay tuned. Believe me….want to win this debate! Thanks for participating!
@PhxREGuy: @KWCareers Would be interesting to see. Assuming a sample, so things like sample size, statistical validity, margin of error are important
@PhxREGuy: @KWCareers WIthout at least that, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on… especially w/o independent verification
@KWCareers: @phxreguy Understand…will work to get u info. In the meantime, maybe u should take a closer look at the KW model: http://bit.ly/cjJcOk [Editor’s Note: thanks for the link, but I’m well aware of the KW model]
Approximately two hours later…
@KWCareers: @phxreguy The stat that KW is # 1 on facebook/twitter is based off the followers/fans of each company’s corporate identities on each site.
And no response yet from my last question to @KWCareers, though they’ve sent out nine unrelated Tweets since telling us they are “#1 on Twitter” based off followers of “each companies corporate identities”.
MY interpretation of that means that the “Keller Williams Research Department” looked up Twitter profiles for the main “corporate identity” account for… every real estate company?
Hmmm. Apparently not. Here’s what the Thompson’s Realty Research Department has found regarding Twitter follower count for various real estate companies:
Kelsey Cottrell Realty (Independent real estate brokerage): 99,569 followers
Professional One (Real Estate Brokerage Franchisor): 34,261 followers
Austin Texas Homes (Independent real estate brokerage): 11,286 followers
Susie Blackmon LLC (Independent real estate brokerage): 10,337 followers
Buyers Choice Realty (Independent real estate brokerage): 7,267 followers
Keller Williams Realty: 6,470 followers
Thompson’s Realty (Independent real estate brokerage): 6,242 followers (dammit, I need another 228 followers to surpass KW as NUMBER ONE! Oh, wait…)
RE/MAX International: 6,077 followers
Century 21: 5,875 followers
Coldwell Banker: 4,261 followers
Please note this list is by no means comprehensive. The five real estate companies that, ahem, place higher than Keller Williams in follower count were found in, oh… call it 30 seconds, by the crack research department here at Thompson’s Realty.
I did have one local Phoenix area KW agent ask me on Twitter, “Aren’t there bigger causes/more productive things you could question or try to solve?”
My response was, “Personally, I think a major RE brand making an apparently baseless claim IS a big deal. Your mileage may vary.”
This post didn’t start out as a rant against Keller Williams. Sorry if I ruffled some KW agents feathers, that wasn’t the intent. The intent was to point out the lunacy of proclaiming yourself “#1” when you’ve got nothing, or faulty “research”, to back up that claim.
UPDATE March 17, 2010: Keller Williams just issued a clarification on their “We are the #1 real estate company on Twitter and Facebook” statement. It’s posted on their Facebook fan page. In short, they are now saying they are #1 of the four major real estate franchise brokerages (which I assume are KW, RE/MAX, Century 21 and… Coldwell Banker? Prudential?).