You know social media is working when realtors look to geeks. BarCamp has become a meet-up model for the sales set. The first one took place four years ago in Palo Alto, California. It was named for the computer programming term foobar (not to be confused with FUBAR).
These geeks gathered for a day to talk shop and network in a casual way, without having to pay conference fees or deal with tech world A-listers. It was decidedly an unconference, with no set agenda. Today there are hundreds of BarCamps around the world, and Miami is no exception.
Numerous BarCamp-style events have sprung up in Miami since the first major one in 2007.
Realtors who understand social media are following in geeks' footsteps, hosting similar camps around the country. Miami's first REBarCamp will take place Monday, September 14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at South Beach's largest single-family home, the Temple House, located at 1415 Euclid Ave., Miami Beach. This crib is no average hotel conference room -- it's a whopping 16,350 square feet of opulence!
In true Miami style, there won't just be realtors gabbing about improving their business through social media, but also the clink of people toasting Bacardi mojitos at 4 p.m. So yeah, you could say there's something special about mixing rum with social media talk in South Beach's most bad-ass house.
Earlier this week, Riptide spoke with the main organizer, Ines Hegedus-Garcia (@ines), founder of Miamism.com and Twitter enthusiast. This beautiful brunette and savvy businesswoman has harnessed social media in exemplary ways. She is also well known as the mojito 411 lady. Through witty video reviews, she bravely saves her fans from bad cocktails, one sip at a time.
New Times: BarCamp started out as an ultra-geeky event. Why are realtors adopting this model?
Ines Hegedus-Garcia: There's an informal and loosely organized group of real estate professionals who've had great success in social media marketing. They call themselves RE.net. We adopted this model for out-of-the-box thinkers to share ideas about social media. The first REBarCamp last year was small, but Seattle recently had one, with over 600 people signing up.
NT: How many real estate pros are you expecting to attend Miami's event?
Ines: We already have 170 under the 200 sign-up limit, and many of them are from out of town: California, Chicago, New York, and Houston, to name a few.
NT: Are these people active on Twitter?
Ines: More than 90 percent of those attending are active on Twitter, but the rest are not.
NT: At typical BarCamps, presenters show up early and sign up for speaker slots on a first-come, first-served basis. Is this the plan for REBarCamp?
Ines: Absolutely. There's no agenda. We're keeping to the original spirit of BarCamp. My realtor colleagues are coming in not only to share what they know, but to help those real estate professionals who are just starting out. Many will probably discuss how to work social media into the every day challenges of the industry. We'll most likely discuss strategies on marketing properties and being more efficient.
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NT: Any particular real estate pros we might want to hear?
Ines: Jeff Turner (@respres), from Los Angeles, owns real estate shows, but he's considered very helpful in the industry. He's going to do an impromptu introduction. David Gibbons (@davidgibbons) hails from Seattle and is the director of community relations at Zillow, a major real estate information site. He'll probably discuss what not to do in social media if you're a realtor.
NT: Why Temple House?
Ines: I had the idea to do it at a luxury listing. The reason I chose it was to set a precedent for other REBarCamps around the world. It'll be an open house of sorts, so there'll be people twittering and live streaming about it.