May 31, 2019
Agents As Influencers: How Instagram Has Changed Real Estate Marketing
Social media platforms, especially Instagram, are changing the way people buy everything from fashion to furniture, and now the same can be said for real estate. While buyers used to visit the MLS or sites like Trulia, use apps such as Redfin, or simply search an individual brokerage’s website to view listings—this information is now being delivered directly via social media feeds. The stakes have been raised and real estate marketers are taking content creation to the next level. As a result, they are able to capture the attention of entirely new demographics of clients, including buyers who weren't even looking in the first place.
The Rise Of The Real Estate Influencer
Douglas Elliman agent Melissa Vale doesn’t simply sell real estate, she’s also a blogger and lifestyle influencer, with over 145,000 followers on Instagram. While her feed mostly features beautifully shot and edited lifestyle images, as opposed to specific listings, she says the platform has helped her grow her real estate business. “I initially started growing my social media channel out of a desire to promote my listings and my real estate business in general. All the real estate firms encourage it. My fashion and beauty brand work happened as an extension of this.”There's no denying that social media marketing has a much larger impact than traditional marketing does. Furthermore, it provides data and statistics that print media cannot. “50k unique accounts often see a post of mine, so if I post an apartment or interior, I have the advantage of providing mass exposure (the equivalent of mass magazine circulation),” explains Vale.“And since we know someone has to be exposed to something several times before conversion will happen, you want as many eyeballs on something as possible at any given time.”
Like many influencers, Vale has discovered that connecting with followers and creating a community has positively impacted her business. Her approach is selling a lifestyle which real estate just happens to be a part of. “[People often ask me] anything from my favorite areas in New York, to where I think are the best areas now to invest, how the market is, etc. And those are usually really fun to answer and connect in that way with people all around the world! That’s the best part of social media in my opinion.”
Creating Video Content
Another major trend in real estate marketing on social media is video. Vale likes to share property tours to her stories. But she isn’t the only one. In fact, Allison Chiaramonte of Warburg Realty in New York, nearly sold an apartment through Instagram video. “I took a video tour on Instagram of a Tribeca listing that had a unique interior, arches, and original factory details. A friend of a friend reached out to see the apartment via an Instagram direct message. She didn’t end up buying the apartment, but she did make a real offer,” explains Chiaramonte. “Despite all the true real estate marketing we did on this listing, I would have never reached her without my Instagram video since she was not technically in the market for an apartment.”
Agent Tania Isacoff Friedland of Warburg Realty also thinks that video is a better way to engage than using standard imagery. “As Instagram has become more popular, bloggers, brokers, and interior designers are all primarily posting professionally shot images. While beautiful, the photos are somewhat akin to flipping through a magazine and often do not convey a sense of space or flow.”
Because photography dominates social media, Friedland places a higher value on video to stand out amongst the content available on a seemingly endless scroll. “There is an abundance of these pretty images on Instagram. So viewers can be somewhat numb to them. Whereas videos, whether they be professionally shot or an impromptu home tour, captures people’s attention in a different way. First off, there is a real-time element to it, which is appealing because people always want to. In addition, it gives us, as agents, an opportunity to act tastemakers and educate our followers on what we value and notice in a property.”
Boosting On Social Media To Boost Sales
But the work isn't only left to the agents themselves. Brokerages are paying for tools such as Adfenix to boost their Instagram posts. Adfenix is interesting in the way that it doesn’t target based on demographics, but rather using behavioral and website visitor data. Warburg Realty's Lisa Larson has seen real results.
“In the case of 5 Riverside Drive, 10% of my showings were to buyers who saw the listing on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, the data I received from Adfenix on would-be purchasers who viewed and engaged with my listings proved invaluable insight into how to further market those properties for a successful sale,” she says.
A Photographer’s Point Of View
Sera Alper is a Los Angeles photographer as well as the founder & CEO of Localite Productions. She works with real estate agents to create content for their websites and social media. “Real Estate agencies who have their marketing game down are many levels up in closing deals compared to the ones who have no presence on social,” Alper explains. “Having your listing active on real estate websites is not enough. If you are not on Instagram, you basically do not exist. You are missing out on opportunities and losing business to your competition.”
Instagram has also changed expectations for buyers and sellers alike. A standard photoshoot with a few minor edits doesn't cut it anymore. “Instagram has so many filters and may make one’s photos even better. People are so used to higher quality photos via social media that they expect that with listing photos also often,” says Hope Khouri, who is an agent with Halstead in New York. However, she notes that while social media is helpful, traditional word of mouth referral is still the source for the majority of her business.
And while quality images help, Alper says that’s just one layer of the marketing. “How you distribute these images to attract your potential clientele is as important as capturing the images.”
She recommends her clients use ad agencies who specialize in real estate marketing so they can create content to help tell the story of the property. “Whether that's in video format, or hosting live sessions of open-house on Instagram, bringing influencers in or seeding property images on other massive accounts, the goal is to be top-of-mind when it comes to attracting your clientele.”
Article from Forbes