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Commercial Real Estate Social Graph: 6 Ways We Kill Facebook

1. The Social Graph Will Become Portable

Right now our social graph (whom we are connected to and their key information like email addresses) is mostly held captive by Facebook.  There is growing pressure on Facebook to make this portable and they have made some progress on this front.  Ultimately I don’t believe users or society as a whole will accept a single company “locking in” our vital information.

Facebook will succumb to pressure and over time make this available to us to allow us more choice in being part of several social networks without having to spam all of our friends again.  I know in 2011 this doesn’t seem obvious to everybody but it’s my judgment.  Either they make our social graph portable or we’ll find other networks to join. Commercial real estate has already picked LinkedIn as the social network of choice along with many others. The IPO for LinkedIN looks promising. Do you want to bet against them?

2. We Will Form Around “True” Social Networks: Quora, Namesake, StockTwits,Bigger Pockets, CreoPoint,CREPIG

The problem with Facebook is that they are trying to lump me and my life into one big social network.  Nobody exists in one social network. No one can truly be lumped into one big pile. Do your golfing friends hang out with your church friends. Certainly NOT in my case. God forbid!

I don’t want either of these mixed with the business social network in which I want to maintain the appearance that I’m “all business” and certainly I don’t want to mix my “public network” with my “private networks.”  Facebook has jumbled these all together and then tried to bandage it by making groups available.

Look at how the kids use Facebook. Hey, the young people aren’t stupid and they certainly aren’t as digitally naïve as their elders like to think.  To get around all of this jumbling of social graphs they simply create multiple Facebook accounts under pseudonyms for their real discussions and more pristine Facebook accounts for their real names. I wonder how many of Facebook’s 500 million users are created for this purpose? I have two teenage daughters..nuf said.

I believe that people in commercial real estate have already formed topical social networks as evidenced in places like Bigger Pockets, CreoPoint and CREPIG. We are also seeing the growth of social networks around topics of interest like StockTwits for people interested in investing in the stock market. A different industry I know but so so many similarities. There are new networks forming to try and address the needs of specific social networks such as Namesake that is in its experimental stage but sees a world in which people want to network outside of Facebook . If you haven’t been on Quora.com jump on and take a look…it is exploding. Commercial real estate is experimenting, watching and learning and maybe leading? Yes, I said leading. I’m getting tired of all the commercial real estate industry bashing. Said it a thousand times, “Tons of incredibly smart and savvy people in commercial real estate.”  We can sure as hell lead!

3. Privacy Issues Will Continue to Cause Problems: Diaspora

Facebook made a deal with us that our social network was private. When they jealously watched the rise of Twitter they decided that it should be made more public, but that wasn’t the bargain we made when we signed up in the first place.  If I were Facebook I would have simply created two places where you could network, Facebook “private” and Facebook “open.”  The latter product could have competed directly with Twitter.

I believe that privacy leaks will cause a longer-term backlash against misusing our information but in the short-term not enough people understand the consequences to be alarmed. Diaspora was created in direct response to the growing concerns about Facebook privacy and lock-in.  Whether or not Diaspora will take off is anybody’s guess.  But a lot of people would love to see them or similar players emerge.

4. Social Networking (like the web) Will Split Into Layers: SimpleGeo, PlaceIQ

SimpleGeo is designed with the idea that startups can create new mobile products without having to each build their own mapping functionality.  This is an awesome trend and will further lower the cost of startup development.  I predict that SimpleGeo will do well in the mapping layer but I see more innovative companies emerging at the data layer. There are other companies racing to create horizontal platforms.  One I saw recently was PlaceIQ.  Their goal is to create a horizontal platform that allows marketers or developers to know a lot more about the geo-locations and not just the specific businesses / points-of-interest.  They’re capturing information about the demographics of map tiles, levels of LBS activity, what certain zones are known for (i.e. romantic spot, financial district) and want to make this available to others. So, how is the Facebook Places thing working out? I know it has been said more than once by me and maybe many others but, Location+ Data= Commercial Real Estate. Build your own data layers and tie it to your commercial real estate.

5. Social Chaos Will Create New Business Opportunities: Klout, Sprout Social,C0-Tweet

The explosion of data is creating opportunities just in the management of the data in and of itself.  Once we’re uber-connected and getting information online from people we’ve only met online we need to know more about the “authority” of the people we’re following.  Enter Klout, a service that tracks the influence of individuals in social networks.  It can be imported into other products (e.g. StockTwits) where you really want to know more about the person giving you advice. The obvious next step is to integrate this into the commercial real estate social networks. We know that Twitter is leading to customer service opportunities for businesses but the opposite is also true.  If you don’t manage what is said about you in social networks it could be detrimental.  Products such as Sprout Social and CoTweet are emerging to help businesses better track and communicate with their customers and leads. Social Chaos equals opportunity for commercial real estate. Data and reputation management from the chaos…..creates> leads>communication>clients> real commercial real estate deals.

6. Facebook Will Not be the Only Dominant Player

I know that in 2011 it seems ridiculous to say anything other than “Facebook has won—the war is over” and I know that it feels that way right now.  Facebook is so dominant it is astounding.  In a complete return to where we all began with AOL—the world is “closed” again as Facebook has become this generation’s walled garden.  When you’re on Facebook you’re not on the Internet—you’re on the InterNOT. But it makes me laugh to now see so many brands advertising their “fan pages” as they did their AOL Keywords back in the day. I think that commercial real estate social networks will get even more defined. Think of the 7 types of property. What stops a Multi-family type social network? Nothing. If multi-family is your niche you are all over it and then some. Medical commercial real estate social network….sound far fetched? Not in the very least. ( Gee, I hope my new cardiologist friend/buddy/ investor is on there!) ( His name is Igor<< really!) Tell me I’m not forwarding this post on to him. Hey Igor, hows the kids? 🙂 Not that I should talk for Igor but my guess is that he cares NOT about Facebook!

Disruption,chaos,social graphs,Quora,Sprout Social,CoTweet,Klout,PlaceIQ,IPO’s, and the Commercial Real Estate Industry as a possible leader in some,parts or all of this? Facebook does not have a chance. “There are some smart and savvy people in commercial real estate”.  I do think we have and will start to lead!  Thoughts?

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  • Hey Duke. Thanks for the BiggerPockets mention . . . I believe that niche networks like ours will certainly always have a role for all the reasons you described. Great post!

  • Excellent post! But I see users “owning” their information. And these companies you mentioned…if they’re still around, they’ll need permission to access your data. You’ll get the benefit of whatever they’re offering and in return you give up some privacy for letting them do some data mining.

  • JW Najarian

    Duke, love the article as usual you pull no punches and though, I believe no one knows where we will all land with this Social Media thing, I know you are out there in the trenches working to figure it all out.

    I would add to your Social Chaos and new opportunities paragraph… http://empireavenue.com/?t=f7t3zqvb EAv is a game and though I do not like to play Farm Animal or Mafia games, I do believe this one is helpful, like Klout for checking your social relevancy and reach. If you do not let the Tail Wag the Dog at EAv, I believe it deserves mention. Look for me there at (e)JWN

    Thank you for mentioning Commercial Real Estate Professionals and Investors Group CREPIG. We are working hard to help support the CRE Community and to help our members play larger using Social Media, Marketing, Networking, Information and Education to enable them to connect, promote, find current news, views, funding, deals and resources.

    JW Najarian
    CREPIG Founder
    http://www.CREPIG.com