If you’ve been reading VARbuzz but aren’t quite sure this social media stuff is for you, read this post. I have three simple steps that will connect you with quite possibly the easiest and coolest social media thing going on at NAR this week and next. I suggest printing this post and bringing it with you to Orlando, or at least saving it to your cell phone so that you can reference it at the NAR conference.

By following these three steps, you’ll have nearly real-time access on your cell phone to what others (who have also opted into this) are thinking and doing at the NAR conference. Think of it as the next best thing to ESP — you can know what others are up to and what they think about their sessions. I call it a backchannel and it’s really an amazing way to be tuned into the event on a whole new level. You can even share your thoughts with the other users. I’ll show you how once you get set up.

Here are the three steps:

  • Grab your SMS/text messaging capable cell phone and compose a new text message to 40404.
  • In the body of the text message enter this text: Follow NAR2008
  • Within a few moments, you should receive a text message asking you to reply with a username. Choose a unique username and send it back.

That’s it! You’re now connected to about 150 others who are part of the backchannel. Now, here’s how you interact with the backchannel. I see basically two ways to participate:

  • LISTEN ONLY: Basically you just read the messages that arrive on your phone and decide what to do with them. You might hear that the FHA lending speaker is great and decide to go to it since you’re in a less exciting session on home inspections. You might hear that the exhibitor in booth 1803 has some cool schwag they’re giving away and decide to head over there. Or you might hear that a whole bunch of the backchannel users are meeting up for drinks and decide to find out if these people actually talk to each other or just trade text messages all day.
  • TALK BACK: So you’ve decided you can add to the conversation. All you have to do is compose a new text message to 40404. In the body of the text message, enter the following text: D NAR2008 [my awesome message] (Where [my awesome message] is what you want to say to the group. Keep in mind the maximum length of text messages that can be handled by this service is 140 characters). You could even just use it to ask a question, such as “I’m not sure what to go to next. Can anyone recommend a session?”

And let’s be prepared for the possiblilty that you’ll find the number of text messages overwhelming. Here’s your exit strategy (this is the reason you’re printing or saving this post):

  • Compose a new text message to 40404.
  • In the body of the text message, enter the word OFF
  • Send your message.

That’s all you have to do to make it stop.

So, that’s it! Hope to see you illuminated by the dim glow of your cell phone in Orlando!