We recently have seen Zillow through its hat in the ring of online real estate sales with its Instant Offer program. This has followed a flurry of others such as Open Door, Offer Pads and Redfin to name a few who also are pushing the envelope on virtual agents and home sales. So is this the end of the big local real estate giants? Or the birth of new tools to do it all yourself as a real estate agent or real estate professional?
What I really see is a correlation to the change that Napster was previewing for us in it’s first attack on the music industry. If your Tony Napster was a user friendly, free service launched in the early 2000’s that allows users to join and download, or what we know now as stream music, for free without having to buy it. At its height Napster had 80 million users.
For comparison purposes Apple Music has 56 million current subscribers according to the financial times as of April 2019. Instead of embracing the Napster model, Record Label giants sued them into oblivion forcing the company to file for bankruptcy and close in July of 2001.
What those record labels did not realize is that they didn’t stop the problem. What Napster had created was a new generation of music entrepreneurs who would effectively now find ways to release their music virtually and build their own personal brands to launch their careers. This brought to the forefront services such as my space, the first popular social networking site, and then eventually SoundCloud & YouTube where artists could promote and release music to a large audience for free.
Some of the larger real estate firms are taking the same approach as the record labels in the early 2000’s, instead of embracing the virtual change they are fighting it and trying to discredit these new platforms.
So how as a real estate agent can you capitalize on this new push to make real estate sales virtual? The answer seems clear to me, build your own virtual brand.
Social media has become one of the top ways to advertise yourself attract new customers engage business partners as well as expanding your network. It is also one of the most cost effective ways later companies are using to advertise.
According to forecasts by analytical company Emarketer, Digital advertising will surpass print and TV for the first time with about 87 billion spent on marketing for mobile devices .
Why this is good for your solo brand marketing is the cost can make you a brand building master pretty inexpensively.
A study done by ￼Dr. Augustine Fou – Independent Ad Fraud Researcher, showed that Social media is cheaper than any form of advertising available today. It is one of the only forms of media that can expose you to over 10,000 people for less than $10.
Most real estate agents are either 1099 employees or act as solo entrepreneurs even if they are working for the biggest real estate firms. In this case that’s exactly what you need. Why not as an entrepreneur build your brand on social so you are the first person your audience thinks of when they are thinking of buying or selling their home?
What social media has done for me and what I see as its greatest power in business is it makes your followers or connections comfortable with you as an expert voice in your field . So if your customer trusts your voice and the connect with you virtually there is a better chance they will come to you for their real estate needs over some of these virtual selling giants.
What all this cheap and mostly free advertising is creating for solo entrepreneurs is opportunity. The opportunity to become the master of your market without needing a big brand or advertising beast to back you.
Currently the biggest real estate buying group are millennials . In comparison 70% of Instagram users are under the age of 35 . Your buying audience is at the reach of your virtual fingertips through posting with knowledge in your field and your market .
You cannot be overrun by virtual real estate companies if you build a large virtual presence yourself. Of course you will never be as big as Zillow. But you don’t need to be. What most successful agents will tell you is their most important asset is their network. So why not put your money and time to build your social network so when the market becomes mostly virtual or digital you are secure because you have worked to build your own network.
Social media can be a complicated and confusing landscape to have your voice heard by an audience that will buy what you are selling. But the beauty of it is that failing at it will only really cost you time. You can test different strategies for free until you find the right one to put your money behind. You don’t need expert help to test the waters. What I do know from history is fighting the change won’t help your business in the long run so one way or the other you will eventually have to embrace it.