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Ellen Farley: Owning the digital space

As a senior digital strategist with LJ Hooker, Ellen Farley knows a thing or two about navigating the online landscape.

Ellen’s main role is to help the franchise’s offices and agents use digital marketing and social media channels to amplify their business in their local areas.

She tells Samantha that LJ Hooker (current Chairman L. Janusz Hooker) happened to be her first boss more than 20 years ago.

“So I went to work for him straight out of my career as a model and our paths crossed over quite a number of years after that,” she says.

In the intervening years, she managed actors, and that’s how her career in the digital space kicked off.

She began coaching actors on how to build their presence on social media, which became a specialty, and she now performs a similar role for agents.

She entered the real estate industry four years ago as a digital strategist for LJ Hooker.

Welcome to the Reel world

Last year, Ellen offered some great tips for agents looking to connect with people via video at a time when alternative types of connections were vitally important.

She notes that despite some normality returning to life, it remains just as essential in 2021.

Ellen says Instagram’s Reels and IGTV have become an increasingly popular way for agents to get their message across.

“Especially if you’re not on TikTok, you can now kind of do the same content in Reels,” she notes.

Ellen says video is a powerful communication tool because of its authenticity.

“I think that building that authenticity and that genuineness online can really only come out when you’re using video,” she says.

“I think it’s incredibly important, even if you’re going to your (Instagram) stories and just doing a little, ‘Hey, you know, this is me, I’m at an open house. It’s pouring down rain, not the best of circumstances,’ that sort of stuff, it really humanises you as a real estate agent.”

Pick a platform and use it well

Ellen explains Instagram Reels offers incredible potential for real estate agents, but she says there are currently few in the industry in Australia realising that potential.

“For agents to be able to get out there and edit their own content on a platform like Instagram Reels is incredibly powerful,” she says. 

But she also says agents that are not comfortable with Instagram’s video features – or Instagram itself – should choose a platform they are confident they can become adept at.  

“I would say, try and work on it if you can but also with that advice, if you’re not comfortable with Instagram, pick a platform, don’t try to do all of them,” she says. 

“Do one of them really well. That’s the best advice I can give in terms of time management.”

It’s doesn’t have to be perfect

Ellen stresses using video as a communication tool is not about perfection.

“You just have to put it out there and see what sticks,” she says.

She also adds that your content doesn’t always have to be about real estate, and offering an insight into the things that you like to do can help drive engagement.

“Because that’s what’s going to deliver that connection for you on your channels that you need,” she says.

For example, she says that during COVID, a realtor in the US started their own cooking channel online and has now received a deal.

“She just had more time and she was passionate about it, so she just started showing her recipes and it stuck,” Ellen says.

“And, you know, part of that was also tagging the products.”

Ellen says tagging the product or customer is vital, and is often something often agents overlook.

“One thing I will say is that even on all the customer photos that I see that agents put up, they don’t tag their customers in those posts,” she says. 

“So there’s no further reach you’re going to get out of that.

“I do want to tell all of the agents to tag as many people as you can in your posts, especially your customers. 

“They’re going to be the ones who are going to see that story on your account and share it to their account.”

She says extra shares from followers “is great for your algorithms as well”.

Does it pay to purchase promotion?

As much as Ellen hates to admit it, she says paid promotion on social media channels is important, although she stresses you also need to put time into your organic strategy.

She acknowledges there is a temptation to only use promoted content, that’s paid for as part of a sales campaign.

But she says that results in your social media feed being filled with “for sale and sold” posts.

“As a consumer, I would not follow you if that’s all I’m seeing on a sponsored post,” she says.

However, if you’re sponsoring posts that are brand awareness campaigns such as tips on readying a house for sale, then Ellen says she would be more likely to follow a brand and then look at its organic content as well.

“And you’ve got a customer all of a sudden or a potential customer, all of a sudden.”

To sum it up, Ellen says advertising is extremely important, because otherwise your message is only reaching less than 10 per cent on organic channels.

To hear to the full interview, listen to the Ellen Farley episode of the Elevate podcast on Saturday.

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