How to build an online brand: Drew Davies

When Drew Davies stands in the living rooms of would-be vendors, they often feel as though they already know him.

That’s the power of social media and Drew’s commitment to building a strong online brand.

Prospective clients have seen him showing his son how to shave while explaining the benefits of a men’s skincare regime, and they’ve seen him working out, cleaning the pool and, of course, selling real estate.

Over the past six years, the Place Estate Agents Ascot Director has built a solid online presence as Australia’s most-followed agent on Instagram. 

On that platform, Drew has more than 32,000 fans, while on Facebook 1500 people have liked his professional page.

For Drew, a former architect who also had a year-long stint on Jordan Belfort Global’s sales team, social media was the only marketing he could afford when he started his real estate career.

“When I first got into the industry just over five years ago, I really had no money and no car,” he explains.

“My budget for marketing was zero, so I saw Instagram, especially, but all social media, as a way to market myself very economically.”

Back then, great photos and good content attracted exceptional organic growth, and Drew’s profile took off quickly.

“I managed to build a large portion of my following when no one else was really even playing in that space,” he says.

It wasn’t long before big brands started approaching him and sending him products to promote.

Many paid decent money and, while it wasn’t enough to keep Drew afloat financially, it did help him generate further reach.

Getting put up in a posh hotel once in a while didn’t hurt either.

These days, Drew is very discerning about which brands and products he aligns himself with as his priority has always been, and will always be, his real estate clients and their properties.

“I find myself saying ‘no’ to things a lot because … if I’m getting paid $1,000 for a post, there’s a lot of time and effort that has to go into that post creating content, making sure the client is happy with it and, more often than not, getting a professional photographer in,” he says.

“What that’s essentially doing is taking time away from what I’m best spent doing, which is selling real estate.

“So I have to be really discerning with the brands that I work with. It’s not about the money I’m getting paid to post these things, it’s more about who I’m aligning myself with and building the correct audience.”

If you take a peek at Drew’s Instagram page you’ll notice his username is “definitelydrewdavies”. 

That’s by design, not by chance.

Every paid partnership featured on Drew’s page holds synergy with his real life. 

Being authentic is Drew’s number one tip to agents looking to build their brand online.

“What I try and give with my social media is an authentic understanding of what I do, day-to-day,” he explains.

“I’m not trying to cater to my audience; I’m just being my authentic self and hoping that the right audience will find me.

“A lot of my day-to-day is all about either my office and my staff or my family and my wife.

“People who follow my stories get a very clear understanding of that because I’m posting 10 stories a day and I’ve been doing that for years.”

Most recently, Drew has collaborated with Rebel Sport, which ties in with the health kick he’s been on since July.

He says every partnership is about creating the right brand and creating a long-lasting legacy that fosters, not just instant sales, but long-term business growth.

“Where it pays dividends is when you’re in a living room, and you may be 20 minutes into a presentation, and the wife may say, ‘Oh, by the way, your children are adorable. They go to the same kindy as my children’,” Drew says.

“That’s when you understand, ‘Wow, this person has been watching me for the past couple of years’.

“That’s a good feeling because then I know I don’t have to position myself as a hard worker or a family man. They already know it.

“They see it every day. They know that I’m not out at the pub or having long lunches. 

“They already know a lot about what my life is about, which is hard work and my family.”

Drew says it’s vital that agents marketing themselves on social media allow their “authentic self” to shine and that they don’t create an online persona that doesn’t match with who they truly are.

If they do, they’ll be found out quickly once they hit the living rooms of would-be vendors.

“Be authentic to yourself and your market,” Drew advises.

“Don’t stand in million-dollar homes having photos taken if your market is $350,000 apartments.

“Also, your page doesn’t have to have anything to do with real estate. If you’re well known enough, your audience should gravitate towards you based on what you like.”

Drew says being on social media, unfortunately, means you’ll most likely have to deal with trolls and keyboard warriors.

His advice is to let the negative comments roll off you like water off a duck’s back.

Drew says he doesn’t censor or take down negative comments and he often shares it on his Instagram stories instead, with the view that “everyone’s allowed their opinion”.

“I’m not one of those people that will go through and delete negative comments unless they’re completely inflammatory towards someone else,” he says.

Personal branding aside, Drew does use social media to promote sales campaigns, but it’s far from a one-size-fits-all approach.

He says every campaign is specifically designed for each property and often involves him gathering information from various portals on where buyers are most likely to come from based on search histories in a particular price bracket and suburb.

“Quite often I might be selling properties in Ascot, Hamilton or Clayfield, which local buyers may not see for part of the campaign because they’re purely being pushed to the eastern suburbs of Sydney or various parts of Melbourne or Perth.”

Drew says LinkedIn gets great organic reach and, while Facebook and Instagram are intertwined, the targeting power of Facebook is “second to none”.

“It’s especially good if you’re targeting overseas as well,” he says.

“There was a period of time where a lot of inquiries were coming from Hong Kong, so it was really good to target over there as well and we got really good results from that.”

A standout property campaign Drew has run was for 32 Joynt St, Hamilton, which sold for $2.33 million in August, after attracting worldwide attention.

A stunningly renovated Queenslander, the home featured a full-size indoor, inground concrete skate bowl.

“A large part of my life was spent skateboarding, so I was obsessed with the home,” Drew says.

“I knew a property like this needed as much coverage as possible.

“I needed every single person in Australia to see this … so we had live interviews on Sunrise and we got a lot of inquiry from a one-minute Instagram video I made, which involved me on a skateboard in the bowl.

“We sent that worldwide and I was absolutely shocked at the amount of inquiry that came from avid skateboarders who had done extremely well in their life.”

Drew says another trend he’s noticed is that buyers are more prepared than ever to buy a property based on what they’ve seen online, and without viewing it in person.

He says the impact of COVID-19 will only see the trend strengthen.

“People have spent so much time in front of their screens, not being able to move around as they usually do, that they are just a lot more comfortable making big purchases online with video,” Drew says.

And his advice for agents thinking about forging an online brand through social media?

“Just start. Be authentic and be consistent,” Drew says.

Listen to our podcast with Drew Davies for more great tips on the Science of Social Selling here

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.