Last year 100 agents embraced a six-month challenge that would see their online footprint assessed, improved and put to the test. It was a program devised to teach all the essential digital media skills and offer the mentoring of the finest coaches. Known as Digital Live, it’s now back, bigger and better, for a second year. Here’s an insight into Digital Live 2018 and the story behind its success.
In a brave new digital world where an estimated 3.8 million Google searches will be conducted in the next 60 seconds and an astounding 3.3 million Facebook posts will be uploaded, imagine having access to the brightest social media minds and marketing mavericks to help you stand out from the crowd.
The brightest digital minds
That’s exactly the offering that REA Director of Industry Relations Steve Carroll created when he embraced a pet project and conceived the concept of Digital Live. His aim was to help real estate agents navigate the ever-changing and sometimes overwhelming digital realm by establishing a better digital footprint, knowing that it would build their profile and ultimately improve their listing success.
Steve assembled a crack team of Australia’s top speakers and digital practitioners, and set about devising a program that would ensure agents not only took notice of emerging technology, but also took action to improve their results.
The program included a workshop, but also featured the unique approach of scoring participants and monitoring their progress.
Steve explains that as they entered the challenge each participant was scored across the four fields of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and their general online presence, resulting in a scorecard out of 100. Each was also given expert recommendations of exactly how they could improve. Along the journey they had access to webinars, coaches and guidance.
Then six months later every agent was scored again.
Initial scores ranged from 10 to 60 out of 100, and by the end of the program 92 of 100 agents improved. Some trebled their score, others improved slightly but, as Steve states, “It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s always room for improvement when you’re building your online brand.”
He adds that in the digital era it’s critical agents rise to the challenge of social media and commit to creating a compelling online presence.
“There’s a statistic from Harvard Business Review that notes 67 per cent of human beings form an opinion about somebody or something from what they find on the internet,” Steve says.
“If you have a good digital presence, you’re already on their shortlist.”
This trend is only likely to increase in coming years as the digitally savvy millennial generation enters the prime spending years of their lives, becoming the major demographic for agents to accommodate.
“The number one challenge real estate agents have is millennials. When they buy and sell property they will demand to speak to a real estate agent who understands how technology works.”
Seizing the digital opportunity
Agent Jane Doogan of LJ Hooker in Nerang was among last year’s cohort of Digital Live participants, and notes the experience was invaluable.
Despite over 30 years in real estate, an established reputation and significant success, Jane says she was drawn to the program because she believed it would take her performance to the next level.
“I just knew after listening to everyone talking about the power of digital that I would be left behind. I knew that, but I didn’t know how to go about it. Digital Live showed you clearly what you could do and the results you could get.”
At 72 years old, Jane became one of the program’s top five achievers, lifting her scorecard from around 30 to 70 out of 100.
And since the program concluded Jane has been further fine-tuning her online profile. She has enlisted the assistance of a co-worker studying video at university and has now permanently employed her to handle video and further social media tasks. She reflects that even clients comment on her social media use.
“What it allows the client base to do is get to know an agent as an all-round person.”
And it’s a far cry from when she started out in the industry 30 years ago. “When you think about it, there was nothing at that stage – no training, no certification. Personally, I’ve come a long way and it’s a great ride. My advice is you cannot get to the next level unless you embrace every change, every aspect of technology and every piece of wisdom from those with knowledge around you.
“Digital Live showed me this is what you’re aiming for, this is how you do it. And I basically did whatever they said.”
Bigger and better in 2018
This year Digital Live will feature two programs, each open to 100 agents and running for six months. The first will kick off in Sydney with a live event on 19 August, while the second live event will take place in Brisbane on 26 August.
Steve has brought back the same team of experts to handle scoring, and has also introduced some new talent to the lineup of speakers and coaches. The focus will again be social media profiles, overall digital presence, and tips and tools for creating audience-driven content.
A greater cause
Digital Live may ultimately empower agents to improve their digital skills, but for Steve Carroll the reason behind it is far more personal. This is a project he created aside from his role at the REA in a bid to give something back.
“Over two years ago I lost my teenage nephew to cancer,” Steve explains. “During that time I got to meet a lot of his friends and mates, and it brought me closer to the challenges that teenagers have. I quickly realised what teens go through is tough.”
While investigating ways to support them, Steve was put in contact with the Smith Family and their family tech program. The initiative focuses on offering disadvantaged children access to critical technology in order to complete their schooling.
“The Smith Family told me of hundreds, if not thousands, of teens who fall behind at school because they have no internet or access to technology. There are children who go back to school after hours just to sit outside and access free Wi-Fi to complete their homework,” Steve explains.
“So I thought, ‘If I want to do my bit to remember my nephew, maybe I can share my interest in digital and social media to raise money for disadvantaged teens’.”
Last year Digital Live 2017 donated over $11,000 to the Smith Family. This year they have partnered with Hands Across the Water and have a bigger target in mind. Initiated after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Hands Across the Water provides a home and valuable education to over 350 abandoned and at-risk children in Thailand.
Money raised by Digital Live 2018 will go towards purchasing iPads for the orphanages that Hands Across the Water has built.
“We are looking to make sure they have the necessary technology to give kids a chance,” Steve says.
Registrations for Digital Live 2018 are now open, with agents from across Australia and New Zealand invited to take part.
A stellar lineup
Steve Carroll – Director of Industry Relations, realestate.com.au
Colin Anstie – Founder and CEO of Raging Digital
Peter Baines – Founder of ‘Hands Across the Water
Valentina Borbone – CEO of Banter Group
Joe Carter – Lecturer in Film and Television at QUT, Director of 2XS Films
Chris Helder – Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, specialising in advanced communication and behavioural modelling
Dick Karlsson – Co-founder of DIAKRIT
Julie Masters – Founder and CEO of Influence Nation