After a packed-to-capacity session in Sydney on 19 August, it was another crowded house in Brisbane on 26 August, with agents tapping into the expertise of some of the brightest minds in the digital industry.
Created by REA Director of Industry Relations Steve Carroll, the program sees agents scored on their digital presence, then given the tools and mentoring to improve their ranking.
Here’s an insight into what they learned…
1. The time is now
As the market slows and competition within the real estate industry increases, there is no better time to be a real estate agent, mindset expert Chris Helder told agents.
“As human beings, we’re hardwired for struggle. Embrace it. We are moving into an era of celebrity agents. We are at a place where brand loyalty has changed. It’s about you. You are the brand! We are here to understand how you can be known.”
2. The interview is digital
At AREC in 2015, the REA asked 5,000 people how they made decisions, with 47 per cent noting it came down to what they found online. Three years later, that figure increased to 70 per cent. The upshot, according to Mr Carroll, is that the interview is now digital.
Nailing that interview comes down to creating a uniform presence that consistently reflects an agent’s image across social media and the online realm.
Marketing expert Valentina Borbone explained that involved eight key elements.
- Consistency of photos
- Creating an interesting ‘about you’
- Focusing on a specialty area
- Harnessing video, character, communication skills and testimonials
- Connections to the community
- Ensuring listings are up to date
- Linking to social media profiles
- Completing all information available in profiles
3. Video is king
Video is the hot-ticket trend, all presenters reflected. While YouTube sees a billion hours of video added a day, the Facebook algorithm ranks it as their number one preferred content type, with Facebook Live in poll position.
Mr Helder, along with influence expert Julie Masters, explained that agents using video should incorporate a range of content; some of it professional, some of it live and some of it showcasing listings.
For those looking to harness the power of Facebook Live, they noted the message should be clear, the content structured, a call to action should be included and, above all, the presentation must be personable and energetic.
Meanwhile, Ms Borbone said, when posting video agents should:
- Use a thumbnail that’s appealing
- Embed video within the platform
- Offer different lengths for different platforms
- Add subtitles
- Ensure sound is good quality
- Use readily available video editing tools to create emotion
As human beings, we’re hardwired for struggle. Embrace it.
4. It’s not about the brand
Where once real estate was all about the big-name brand, now it’s about the individual – and that trend is unlikely to change.
Around 65 per cent of people trust human beings, and only 35 per cent have faith in brands, Ms Masters explained.
“Ninety-six per cent of everything that we look at on the internet is unbranded. It comes from a human being, not a brand. Yet $50 billion a year is spent on marketing, branding and advertising. It’s like building the world’s most beautiful billboard and putting it under the ocean.”
5. Anyone can be an influencer
“In this new age of influence you can go from a nobody to a somebody overnight and mobilise millions of people in 128 characters or less,” Ms Masters continued.
And if you want to be an influencer, you need:
- Clarity – To own a space you need to be crystal clear. Ms Masters urged agents to look for their influence intersection, the place where their unique expertise meets the greater realm of real estate, and master that hyper-specialised niche.
- Contribute – The future belongs to those who out-contribute, and not those who outspend, their competitors.
- Be the translator – Go out to the fringes and bring useful information back to people in their language in easy-to-digest bites.
- Captivate – Learn the art of epic storytelling. When you tell a story, people get a feel for you.
6. Don’t forget your product
“What kind of listing presentation do you offer to showcase their property? It doesn’t matter if it’s a $2m property or a $200k property – it’s about your brand.
“If you don’t have a consistent look and feel to your listings, your vendor does not know what to expect when they call you in. Consistency builds trust, which builds brand loyalty.”
He noted that creating that consistency was about getting the basics right:
- Every photo should have the quality to be represented in Vogue
- Images and video should tell a story of the property
- Include floorplans in every listing
- Build in the interactives that people want to share on social media
- Be consistent across all listings
And the truth is, we don’t sell real estate, we are lifestyle storytellers.
7. The art of engaging content
Ms Borbone explained that social media relied on great content, and inspiration could be found in:
- Being topical and looking at trends
- Being local and featuring community events
- Answering problems
- Posing questions
- Providing useful and reliable information
- Offering videos, pictures and links
- Adding humour
- Providing lists like ‘top 10 things’, ‘5 things that’, ‘six steps to’, and checklists
- Practical advice: How to…, step-by-step, guide to…
- Compiling reviews and upcoming trends
- Using infographics
“Know your audience, know what part of the journey they’re in. Ask for and use reviews, recommendations and testimonials, and keep them current,” she advised.
8. Harness LinkedIn
In a compelling presentation on the power of LinkedIn, Raging Digital CEO Colin Anstie shared his tips on leveraging its use.
“LinkedIn is the Google of finding humans,” he noted.
His LinkedIn checklist featured 10 key tips:
- Have a perfect profile image
- Include contact details
- Create an engaging summary
- Have a great headline
- Add recommendations
- Add experience
- Increase connections
- Download connections
- Post regular content
- Message prospects
When seeking connections, he urged agents to attach a personal note and be “Disney-like” when using social media.
“At best it might leave a smile on people’s faces, but at the least it won’t offend people.”
Ninety-six per cent of everything that we look at on the internet is unbranded. It comes from a human being, not a brand. Yet $50 billion a year is spent on marketing, branding and advertising.
9. Do not overlook dark social
Social media is where it’s at, but don’t forget the power of the personal. Ms Masters explained how sharing information on private or ‘dark social’ platforms like email and text was eight times more powerful and engaging than just posting to social media.
The key, she said, was in finding something personally relevant to the recipient and then sharing it with them.
10. Perfect is scary
Finally, agents were given one resounding takeaway; building a digital presence is not about perfection.
“People don’t want perfect, they want you. They want authenticity and they want knowledge,” Mr Helder said.
Julie Masters echoed the sentiment, noting: “We don’t buy into perfect. It’s scary. We want your journey and your process.
“And the truth is we don’t sell real estate; we are lifestyle storytellers.”