By LINSEY STONCHUS
Millennials and younger generations have grown up inundated by a barrage of ads at every turn in the past decade as smartphones have furthered the messaging overexposure with numerous push notifications and sponsored content in social feeds.
As a result, younger generations, and even their older counterparts, have grown increasingly discerning and skeptical towards traditional advertising. They do not want to be spoken to, they want to be spoken with.
“We’re learning that you really have to build your base around your authentic self,” said Nina Dosanjh, director of strategic alliances and technology at Vanguard Properties in San Francisco, California, during Luxury Portfolio International’s 2021 Affluence Forum.
As real estate agents and brokerages convey their personalities, they are better able to connect with potential clients on a more human level. It becomes a discussion, open to collaboration and greater thoughtfulness of consumer wants and needs, rather than a sales pitch.
From 2020 on, savvy agents have prioritized Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn as they had never before. Live videos can act as open houses and TikToks showcase humor or home tours.
“Authenticity and a ring light go a long way,” said Liz Nunes, director of luxury sales at Illustrated Properties in Palm Beach, Florida.
Each social platform is distinct and brings something different to the table. To be authentic, agents and marketing managers should gravitate to those platforms that they have the most natural interest in and that best convey the brand’s overall messaging.
The real estate industry, as a whole, is also incredibly busy these days. There, frankly, is not time to invest in too many social projects. Real estate professionals should consider quality over quantity.
“Pick a platform,” Ms. Dosanjh said. “Pick something you want to learn. You don’t have to do it all.”
Find a brand’s social niche by doing an audit of its current presence.
“Ask, ‘How do you want to show up in the digital world? What does your footprint look like right now?’” Ms. Dosanjh said.
“Google yourself,” she said. “See what you look like right now and then figure out you want to change that structure.”
The best real estate content typically falls into one of three categories – educational, aspirational or comedic.
How-tos and Q&As enlighten the buyer, while well-produced tours showcase a home’s flashiest features.
TikTok is leading the way in Internet humor in the form of trending sounds, songs and audio that can be searched in much the same way as a hashtag.
Experiment with the various categories to determine which one resonates best with respective audiences.
Testifying to social media’s casual nature and opportunity to try new things out, Michael Saunders witnessed one of its agents grow a significant following because he was fearless in showcasing his authenticity.
“I have a great story with an agent who’s in his mid-50s and he just started playing on Instagram,” said Randall Graham, chief marketing officer of Michael Saunders & Company. “He was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t how to do it.’”
Despite this, he kept pushing to improve.
“He’s now doing Instagram Reels, he’s getting all sorts of business from it.,” Mr. Graham said. “He’s reaching out to other people across the network when he sees things going on in other markets and he’s really embraced Instagram.
“I would have never picked this guy as somebody who got so deep into Instagram, but having those successes build on themselves,” he said.
Plus, social media’s fast-paced nature requires agents to stop overthinking and quickly film themselves and upload.
“Just do it,” Illustrated Properties’ Ms. Nunes said. “Don’t record the video and watch it 10 times and critique yourself. Just put it out there, it’s going to be fine.”
In real life (IRL)
Authenticity on social media should exist as an amplification of the in-person experience.
For example, take a relationship cultivated online and bring it offline.
“I always tell people, rather than writing ‘happy birthday’ or ‘congrats on your engagement’ or whatever the celebratory event might be, write a handwritten note,” Ms. Nunes said.
“Send it off to them,” she said. “Go drop something off at their business or their home.
“Make it personal and special. People aren’t doing that anymore. I know it seems so simple, writing a note, but it’s so meaningful. I can’t tell you the impact it makes with the consumer.”
In-person experiences, too, go beyond the ordinary open house or meet-and-greet. For that dose of authenticity, host events that relate to the interests of the seller or the real estate agent themselves.
“If you’re really into wine, maybe you find a sommelier that you can partner with and do private wine tastings,” Ms. Nunes said.
That wine tasting may be a good way to show off a home’s wine cellar.
Other ideas include a cooking class with a chef from a popular local restaurant in the kitchen, a pop-up shop in a dream closet or a luxury vehicle showcase within an exceptional garage.
“Go back to what you really are passionate about outside of real estate,” Ms. Nunes said.
“That’s what makes this business so great,” she said. “You can connect with people on different levels about different passions and different interests and always bring it back to real estate.”
REAL ESTATE, first and foremost, is a people business. Authenticity, both in-person and online, builds a better foundation within client-agent relationships and opens the door for more honest conversations.
Plus, it strengthens the confidence of agents and their overall ability as salespeople.
“The more we’re pushing agents to do that, the more they’re finding their own unique value proposition about what they have to offer,” Ms. Dosanjh said.