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Social Objects – Who Cares?

Not another article about Social Objects!!  Who cares if you’re into music, golf or heaven forbid….MOJITOS!!

The fact is that social objects are “the fuel of the social web” as Social Media Today puts it.

They are the things that people like to share, like and comment on within their networks. A social object can be an announcement, a piece of music, a picture, a compelling video, an idea, a question, a quote… Literally everything can be a social object. As long as it’s in any way relevant for the audience. And as long as it triggers interaction.

We heard about this back in 2007 by Hugh McLeod – his artwork was a clear example of social objects – too bad his blog only returns 404 errors ….maybe he should think of creating redirects into his gallery ….but I digress. **Hugh’s blog was fixed today and has no more 404’s.**  I’m glad Drew gave us his take and some examples here in Geek Estate of how some in our industry are using these.

So how can Social Objects help your business and brand in any way?

If you’re smart, you can bank on the impact of the connection these social objects generate, but you can only achieve this with strategy.  Please don’t misconstrue this to mean that you should create and develop an artificial connection with your audience. Achieving a real connection via a social object is not easy and if overdone, can be interpreted as superficial and fake.

I realized Mojitos were my social object when I was speaking at an Inman conference a few years ago about my lucky mistake (some call it intuitive intelligence, but the truth is that I paid attention to the reaction).  The presentation was about taking on-line efforts off-line and how as REALTORS we need to get off the computer and complement our online marketing efforts with face-to-face interaction.  I announced at that time that my goal was to create some sort of “top of mind awareness” where anytime you would see a mojito, you would think of me.

Hello!!! Knock knock – beginning of conversation, ice-breaker, inadvertent promotion of my business, my brand and my city << BAM!


The first step is to identify that common element you have with your audience and elevate that to the next level.  It does not have to be a tangible object either, it can be a concept or an activity.  Interestingly enough, it may already be working for you and you haven’t even identified it yet.  Think of your daily interactions – flickr, blip, shopping, foursquare, food ….  Example:  If it’s a photo, don’t just think photographs are your social object, go deeper and analyze which type of photos generate more conversation and entice your audience to talk to you.


The next step is not as obvious and will take some  introspection – how can you exploit the connections made to achieve a purpose?

I’ll give you one brilliant example in Miami by Craig Agranoff.  Craig, aka @lapp, has monthly pizza tweet-ups where he gets restaurants to provide free pizza and refreshments to a group of “social media aware individuals”, who will Tweet, Facebook, Instagram and spread the word about the establishment.  Craig is not a foodie, he is not a pizza expert (although one of his websites is, he is really a tech correspondent and a social engagement consultant.  After going to a few of his tweet-ups I regard him as a powerful connector and would consider him first when it comes to consulting about social media strategies, and doesn’t hurt that I think about him when I eat pizza.


And lastly – think about the message you communicate, the opportunity these bring and how your execution of that message will evolve over time.  I can honestly say that my mojitos have taken a turn through the years, but the process is never-ending and it’s why I love this medium so much.  You need to constantly analyze, tweak and adapt to your evolving market.

About Ines Hegedus-Garcia

An agent with RelatedISG International Realty and specializes in all things related to real estate in Miami Beach and Mojitos!

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  • amazingly even a bowl of oatmeal can become a social object. 

    • exactly T – the question is where do you take that engagement or do you just let it ferment?

  • Sharing my first Mojito with Ines… it was glorious.  🙂

    • haha Jeff….even if it sucked – I was glad to be a part of it!

  • Can’t thank you enough for your kind words! What really makes our events so successful are people like you @ines who come and make it fun!

  • Can’t thank you enough for your kind words! What really makes our events so successful are people like you @ines who come and make it fun!

    • Craig, as much as I agree with you, it’s your OUT-OF-THE-BOX thinking that makes these successful – Brilliant!!  (you know I’m a fan)

  • Franwhite

    Fabulous post Ines.  Even though I’m not in real estate any longer, this can be applied to almost any social interaction.  Good read, enjoyed it.

    • thanks Fran and you were one of the ones that sent me an actual mojito video!!  The reason I used Craig as an example is because this applies to every single industry out there.  I know people that use social objects daily and don’t even know it.  If you are smart about your marketing efforts, you will pick these out and take advantage…..or just have fun with them and let them be 😉

  • Juanra González

    ¡Es un gran honor estar en la foto central de tu montaje! Publicación interesantísima. Y ya sabes, si vienes por Valencia… ¡MOJITO!

    • Juanra!!! que nota tu visita! gracias por el comentario, Enrique y yo tendremos que visitar! #mojitos!!

      Everyone, Juanra is from Valencia, Spain and happens to be in the center photo of the collage.  Photo taken in Madrid in June when I was invited to speak there.  And another clear and strong indicator that social objects can be powerful!!

  • Ines, your case is one of a natural social object, one you already enjoyed, one we’ve chatted about for years. But the “social object” craze is often blown way out of proportion and totally unorganic (which I would argue makes it a failure). An executive board at a franchise shouldn’t have a brainstorming meeting about what arbitrary social object they will choose- “ooh tacos, people enjoy eating tacos, right?” “oh, what about plastic bracelets, people wear bracelets, right?” 

    What I would add is social objects won’t work if they’re not naturally objects associated with any single person. Ines = mojitos with or without real estate, Tacos /= real estate.

    • I agree — social objects need to be organic. But, that said, unless someone doesn’t care about a damned thing beyond real estate, they already have one or more social objects they can relate to people with — it’s just a matter of being more strategic about utilizing whatever those objects are. Figure out what you care about, and make that a social object..

      • keyword = care. exactly.

        • yup totally totally agree with you Lani

          If someone doesn’t care, isn’t passionate — they are going to fail at using social objects, and likely every other form of social media marketing (and likely any online marketing too). Heck, if they don’t care, then their entire business isn’t going to last long. You can’t fake caring for very long, and the people that care tend to beat those that don’t in life/business more times than not.

    • Lani, I agree, hence my point about not misconstruing my message and start creating artificial and superficial connections.  The organic point is a good one but we have to agree that any company with an established brand would analyze existing connections and could possibly come up with a S.O. based on that.  It would make for an interesting experiment. 

  • Ines – why aren’t I in your mojito photo collage? not cool, not cool 🙁

    • funny enough, I only had a couple of minutes to pull the image together and went in my mojito group in Flickr and also looked through my “mojito” tag and couldn’t find one single photo of you holding a mojito.  Maybe it’s time you send me one!!

      • I guess that also means I need to order a mojito sometime soon. I will get on that!!

  • This is an interesting post.  I have social objects that I start discussion with my clients.  I have a few of them as a matter of fact.
    1. homes
    2. homes for sale
    3. home values
    Most people really like to discuss #3 the most with me.  I spend a lot of time analyzing the market and I like to bring them good information on real estate.  I’m not “selling” more like conversing….and only if I’m asked.
    I think the issue with “social objects” if you ask me, they tend to shed a poor light on our profession.  Now I think this is a valid point.  Could you imagine David Boies or say Suze Orman or Donny Duetsh discussing haunted homes or mojitos or having a pic of their pet on their biz card?

    • Are you telling me you care about nothing in the world except 1 (homes), 2 (homes for sale), and 3 (home values)? Do you talk about NOTHING but those three things with clients? Honestly?

      “I think the issue with “social objects” if you ask me, they tend to shed a poor light on our profession.”

      Kevin-To be totally honest, this is beyond a stretch. You’re telling me that because an agent like Ines likes mojitos, a buyer/seller/owner will think less of her (and, as a result, of realtors as a whole)? Or the fact that an agent in Utah likes NASCAR, people think less of them? Is the fact that they are public about their interests outside of business an indicator that they aren’t serious about their business?

      Really? I don’t buy it. At all.

      “Could you imagine David Boies or say Suze Orman or Donny Duetsh discussing haunted homes or mojitos or having a pic of their pet on their biz card?”

      Yes, I can imagine that. Maybe if someone like Suze Orman talked about something other than finance I might give a sh*t, find some way to relate to her, and buy a book of hers. But I’ve never heard her talk about anything else. If she came to my town to speak and gave me a free ticket to listen? Even if she PAID ME…I still wouldn’t show up.

      But let’s be clear — no one is advocating putting a picture of their pet on a business card. We are advocating to not hide your passions/interests and instead use them to your advantage. Pretty simple. 

      Maybe it’s just me, but I want to do business with people who are similar to me. If I find out that someone is a huge travel addict or an advocate for microfinance as a way to alleviate poverty — I’m instantly drawn to them and more likely to work with them than some other person who just wants to talk about business and nothing else.My 2 cents

      • Interesting.  But I believe, how do I say this, politely,  I think you are
        off way off base.  What other profession tells their “members” to make a bowl of
        oatmeal a topic of discussion?


        We are a profession.  Supposedly of professionals.  I don’t buy it.  When I
        buy insurance (which I am in the midst of) from my insurance lady:

        1. I want to buy the insurance

        2. I want to know that she knows her business

        3. do the deal

        4. move on with my life.


        I don’t want to become friends with her.  Go out to dinner with her.  I need
        INSURANCE.  And frankly, don’t want to chat about much else than insurance. 
        She’s busy.  I’m busy.


        This all comes from the fact that somewhere along the line Realtors were told
        that ‘YOU have to be their realtor for life.”  With that came the thought that
        you had to weave yourself into their life AT ANY COST, or they could stray away
        from you.  This is where thoughts like “oatmeal” as a social object.  Use
        anything to connect w/a consumer.  ANYTHING.


        Quite frankly it degrades our profession.  I am not ragging on the author
        here, but this is why so many struggling agents are having a hard time with this
        “new media” thingy.


        One thing I can promise all agents:  Do your job great.  Do it efficiently. 
        Do it better than anyone else and you will have fulfilled the customers core
        requirements and you will have a repeat



        BTW, Susie Orman is at the top of her game:  Selling books, on TV, Selling
        her kits.  She, by all accounts is a huge success.  I can tell you—when she
        was starting out, she DID not chat her clients up about oatmeal.  I, by the way,
        am a fan.  I buy her stuff.  I DON’T need to “love” her OR know ANYTHING about
        her life.  I want her to serve the function that I come to her for—and she
        does it well.  And she probably never once would mention Oatmeal, ever.


        I believe it’s time to start giving agents REAL GOOD advice.  Send them down
        the correct path.  Maybe this blog isn’t the place for that.  I don’t want to
        hurt anyone’s feelings but this is BUSINESS and it should be treated as such. 
        My $.02

        • I’m not going to bother responding to this other than to say that there is more than one way to do business. If there are people out there who think there is only one way to attract business or only one type of client to satisfy, then they are sorely mistaken.

          • Somehow I knew that my rationale would warrant the exact response above.  I have been SELLING real estate for about 20 yrs.  So I know.  I have been involved in SM since the beginning. So I know.  

            I’m not saying that Ines’ mojito hook is a bad one.  And I know Ines to be a very sharp business person.  What I will say is that, I think, knowing that she is sharp that her TIME AND SKILL SET could be used MORE effectively as she works in a very high-end market.  My high end clients (and they are ALL the same) are busy, rushed and want the job done, pronto.  I don’t think even Ines would disagree with that.

            I hear it all the time when I take listings that other agents have had  “I just want to sell my house”.  They don’t need another friend.  THEY WANT TO SELL, or buy,  a home.

            Now Drew, if you were full of all the wisdom from your last comment about knowing that there is more than one way to attract business, why, then, would you dis Suze Orman’s?  Wink, wink.

            I’ll go on the record because I don’t want this to appear that I’m trying to dis the author—I don’t think that Ines’ mojito hook will get her any $5M listings.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think there is enough biz in Miami for everyone…and I want everyone to do well…but I wish there was a blog a teaching platform that taught agents everything.  Not just social media.  If there is a new agent reading this…don’t, for your sake, think that agents are making a living off of SM in real estate.

            I know Drew, of course with your oodles of years of successfully selling real estate, that you won’t have the time, nor desire to respond to such drivel.

          • This is a good read –

      • … “Yes, I can imagine that. Maybe if someone like Suze Orman talked about something other than finance I might give a sh*t, find some way to relate to her, and buy a book of hers. But I’ve never heard her talk about anything else. If she came to my town to speak and gave me a free ticket to listen? Even if she PAID ME…I still wouldn’t show up.” …

        Too funny & so true.  Everything but the picture on business card, there is never, never, never, an acceptable reason to have a picture on your business card.  

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  •  Very interesting post and even better discussion via comments.

    I appreciate Ines’ post and see how agents could engage their audience/clients by having a ‘hook’, but unfortunately most agents will poorly execute this in such a way that they’ll come off as spammy/insincere – for the record, not Ines… I have been a big follower of her/her blog due the type of sincerity she brings. Nevertheless, I don’t want/need my accountant, attorney, etc. to become my buddy, I just need them to do their job well. Kevin has very valid points: as an industry, we are seen by consumers as glorified used-car salesmen whose motives are questionable (at best). And for those wanting to break in the luxury real estate market, understanding the needs of that target clientele becomes even more critical. ‘Leads’ (regardless of their price point) contact agents to obtain real estate information/advice, not B.S. about the Yankees. Although I don’t have Kevin’s 20 years of experience, my advice to newbies and veterans alike: provide efficient, professional service and the rest falls into place, no need to start sending out recipes every month.

    • Alex, we’re missing the point all together here.  Social Objects as conversation starters, nothing else.  We’re not asking clients to be our friends, to be our lovers or to hang out.  Is finding a common element to start conversation which may lead to a business relationship. 

      That’s why the strategy is so important – it’s not me asking a client to share a mojito with me….that would be preposterous.  It’s how we utilize that conversation starter to embellish our marketing.. in a smart and productive way.

      • Aloha Ines, perhaps my interpretation of your post is far removed from your intent, but I stand by my point: agents should generate their business based on a high-level of expertise/knowledge, not what they have in common with their ‘target audience’. I wouldn’t choose my attorney because he volunteers at the same SPCA that I do, I would choose him because of his education and expertise.  Too many agents already try to incorporate all parts of their personal lives into their marketing/lead generation. For example, I belong to a local canoe club where a few other members are also real estate agents. A few of these individuals are very vocal about their profession and seem to be actively prospecting other members – which is clearly very off-putting. I go out there because I want to enjoy some time on the water and enjoy the comradery, not because it can generate business (fact is, I don’t think I’ve told anyone there what I do for a living). I get the whole point about using social topics to makes us more relatable to our clients/consumers, but most agents will do this in such an insincere way that it will detract from all of us, as an industry, by making us seem as pitchy salesman. So although you have VERY successfully implemented a social object as part of your marketing (I know I think of your/your blog when I hear the word ‘mojito’), I think most agents will fail in executing this. Just my 2 cents.

        • Alex,




          I agree.  Most
          other agents feel more the need to “connect” than be a uber-qualified
          professional.  I’m not saying this is the
          case here, of course.  I’m a big believer
          is education, not just SM, but contracts, short sales, purchase process,
          neighborhood/inventory knowledge and nothing, nothing can and should come
          before that.  In my opinion, only.

        • It’s a conversation starter; a start to a relationship. No more, no less. 

          I know my social objects have worked when someone I speak speak with brings up travel or microfinance on their own — which is the case in about 85% of people who did SOME sort of research on me prior to a phone call or in person meeting. I would bet the % of people who bring up mojitos in their first conversation with Ines is equally as high. Instead of the weather, we start our conversation with microfinance or travel. You talk about the weather with everyone, but you don’t talk about microfinance or travel with everyone. That differentiates me and gives people something unique to remember about me. Anyone that knows me in person knows I’m as passionate as they get about both topics, so it’s not insincere in any way. I’d rather talk about travel adventures than the weather any day of the week..That said, I agree with you that most agents will fail to execute this correctly. But, that’s the case with just about anything. Most people will fail to execute. That’s not unique to this social object strategy.

  • aahhh….such nice couple…:)

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