I’ve been watching responses to The Lones Group v. Rothamel: A case study in destroying your on-line reputation with great interest. Jay Thompson hit it on the nose when he called it a “case study”.
For those of us who have followed Daniel Rothamel on twitter and facebook, there is a personal, protective response. Feelings aside, EVERY business should learn from the community backlash seen the past 48 hours.
A synopsis for those of you not in the real estate industry:
Daniel Rothamel is a well known real estate agent from Charlottesville, Virginia. He has been one of the most innovative agents online with many successful firsts. He was using video on his site before many of us owned video cameras. It was through his sharing that the number of agents using social media successfully grew. For as long as I’ve known of him (nearly 3 years), he has ALWAYS been The Real Estate Zebra.
A company called The Lones Group sells marketing programs to real estate agents. Their newsletter is called The Zebra Report.
The Lones Group has decided to sue Daniel Rothamel for copyright infringement. The community backlash has been harsh and swift. This is the perfect case study for us to examine the effects of social media on market perception.
It will not matter whether the Lones Group wins or loses, whether they are right or wrong, because perceptually they have attacked the very market they sell to.
Look for the hashtag #savethezebra on twitter to understand the online support Daniel has.
The Lones Group, a relatively unknown company in the world of real estate prior to this event, neglected to evaluate the impact of Daniel’s sphere. Daniel’s name is synonymous with the word “zebra”.
If CyberCletch had the opportunity to consult with The Lones Group, this is what we’d tell them:
- Stop the lawsuit and begin damage control.
- Contact Daniel and make amends.
- Ask him to be a featured Zebra Report contributor. Pay him well – it would surely be less than you’re paying your lawyers.
- You have the ability to build on all this negative online press and create something positive from it.
This situation has HUGE potential to be a marketing gold mine for you. We’ll be watching to see whether you’re smart enough to grab the opportunity before someone else does.