Social network sites are a little like real estate’ve long had an urge to watch the movie version of  Glenngarry Glen Ross again, and it’s an urge I finally satisfied last night. It put me in the mind of a blog post. No, this post isn’t going to be about how important profanity is to voice (but you could learn worse things from Mamet). Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot about real estate and how, for an author, joining social networking sites is a lot like real estate speculation.

In Glenngarry Glen Ross, Pacino, Baldwin, and company are selling real estate of very dubious value for very inflated prices. Fortunately, this is only half true for the social networks analogy.  The value of any social networking “property” (a Facebook profile, a MySpace page, a Twitter ID, etc.) is indeed dubious–and variable–but fortunately you don’t have to pay an inflated price (nor will Jake Lemmon come to your house to try to sell you). The cost of “investing” in “premium” social networking land is basically the time it takes to sign up, so this is what I tell authors to do: Even if you don’t plan on using a social networking technology, think like a speculator and claim your little piece of it, just in case you change your mind or in case the value of that site changes. By “your little piece” I mean the piece that best fits your name. Get the Twitter address that most closely matches your name. Get you personalized Facebook and MySpace URLs. (because you already bought your real URL, right?). When the next big “investment opportunity” arises, just snag it and file away the login info. It’ll be there when you need it. Hate to miss an opportunity, as Shelley “The Machine” Levine says.

(Another place where it’s useful, and a little troubling, to think about social networks as real estate is in how they tend to segregate along racial and socioeconomic lines. Don’t miss this excellent NPR piece on that subject.)

-Andrew Karre

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