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Why real estate pros shouldn’t be intimidated by the crowded internet

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The internet is definitely intimidating

Over lunch recently, I asked my Realtor friend why she still hadn’t pulled the trigger on starting her real estate blog. Over clanking plates and rushing servers, she listed excuses about how busy she is, something about her slow web developer, and about how she doesn’t know how to write. I jokingly told her that she knows those aren’t legitimate excuses not to market herself and while she fidgeted with her napkin above the table, she said “everyone’s already blogging, it’s too late for me. It’s too crowded.”

It can seem that way. If you haven’t been online since 1997 (or hell, 1980 for some of the super geeks), it can seem overwhelming, intimidating and really loud. Some people have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, others write on their blog every day to thousands of readers, and many are even so accomplished that they’ve written books on web topics or they’re speaking at conferences. Yikes, I bet opening your laptop to get started and wondering where you fit in is exhausting and intimidating these days.

I reassured her that the web wasn’t “full” so to speak and we talked about how she could make it happen while we excitedly shoveled ten dollar grilled cheese sandwiches in our mouths (hey, they had five cheeses including Brie and came with a fancy salad, relax). I promised her I would give her empirical data as to why my claim is true and promised it would motivate her and not intimidate her, so here we go:

Millions of tweets, millions of blogs

I bet you’ve been to a conference where someone in a t-shirt and jeans told you that there are over a billion individual tweets per week and over 15 million blog posts written every week.

Your first thought is oh wow, the potential to interact with a potential client is pretty high if there is that much activity online and the next feeling most go through is oh wow, there is no way I can compete, everyone’s already beat me there and it’s too loud. That feeling is natural. Just hear me out…

Why you’re wrong- the internet is NOT full

Forget what that jumpy presenter told you about how big everything is because your space is actually quite small.

Did you know that of those billion tweets, half are from half of a percent of users? Yep, only 20,000 power users do most of the talking, so it’s actually not that loud. Some people tweet once a day, I tweet up to a few hundred times on some days (I’m likely in the heavy user group). The other half is likely accounted for by bots that scrape RSS feeds and automate content, it’s not even anything manually typed out in many cases… there is a lot of spam. They all appear to have a lot of followers because they do this “follower ring” where they automatically follow anyone back and there are LISTS of these “follow all” people, creating a ring, thus a false follower base. Nothing to be impressed by.

As a Realtor, if you simply log in, consort with locals, share pertinent information about you and your market (not tweeting “how to get more Twitter followers” but legitimately interacting with people), you will already be strides ahead of even your competition already on Twitter. Remember- your competition on Twitter is not every Twitter user or even the thousands of agents online, they’re the agents online in your own market. That’s it. Your competition doesn’t tweet a billion tweets each week, we promise. Maybe a few thousand max. Divide that over the seven days and it’s even less intimidating.

What about blogs? There are a reported 15 million posts per week or as the saying goes “a new blog (site) is born every second.” How will you ever be heard? The secret is this:

Only 21% of all blogs in the world are by self employed people. Like you. You’re only theoretically competing with 21% of the world’s blogs, you’re at an advantage already. Narrow that down to Realtors you’re competing with and I’m betting that’s less than 1% and narrow it down to Realtors in your city that are blogging and it can’t even measure up to a slice of the pie.

Why you shouldn’t be intimidated

Who cares how many global blogs or tweets there are, you’re only worried about your own back yard, so narrow it down in your mind that way and realize how little competition you actually have! Consumers are searching for “[insert city] real estate” not “real estate” and not “blog.”

What year were you licensed? I bet there were over a million members of NAR back then. Were you scared of that number? No. There were probably at least a few thousand agents in your local market, right? Were you scared of that number? No. You got your license and you focused on your area of expertise and you dominated- don’t you let the internet be ANY different.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Kevin "Troll" Tomlinson

    March 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    you had time for lunch?

  2. Joe Manausa

    March 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    That’s exactly what I preach to my agents when were together Lani. The consumer is on the internet, and they will find an agent there …

  3. Andrew McKay

    March 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I use the Real Estate Tomato and it works:) My area is know as cottage country. Google “Cottages For Sale In Wasaga Beach” and my blog is number 1 page 1. A variation of
    ‘Consumers are searching for “[insert city] real estate” ‘
    https://wasagabeachtalking.com/files/2011/03/Screen-shot-2011-03-23-at-7.29.42-PM.png

  4. Michael Rice

    March 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I’ve only been blogging since November and it didn’t take me long to learn that the only thing worth blogging is local info about my community. Those are the only posts that get read and the only posts that generate leads. And like you said, that narrows your competition down substantially.

  5. Ken Brand

    March 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    That’s some classic Reduce To The Ridiculous persuasion Lani. I saw that Twitter piece but would have never imagined how to weave that into such a smart share. Thanks.

  6. Tiffany Powell

    March 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Very good points! I talk to agents everyday about the benefits of blogging and getting involved in social media, and it blows my mind that so many agents are against it. It’s simply marketing. NAR’s 2010 Tech Survey has some really insightful info too. Sadly, in a few years, many agents will be looking around wondering what happened to their business.

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Social Media

Reels: Why Instagram can’t compete with TikTok… yet?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The future for Instagram Reels is uncertain, since even Instagram has acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead of them, but what does it mean for their future?

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Phone camera on stand in foreground with two women filming for TikTok or Instagram reels in the background

If you’re a TikTok user, chances are you’ve scoffed at Instagram’s attempt to compete with the hype. Yes, I’m referring to the Reels feature.

In an attempt to step in and absorb all the TikTok user run-off in August, when Trump announced the TikTok ban, Instagram launched Reels. Short, catchy and sharable clips, Reels are almost exactly like TikTok videos – but are they catching on?

In an interview with The Verge’s “Decoder” podcast, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that he isn’t yet happy with Reels, stating that TikTok is still “way ahead”. While Reels is growing in terms of shared content and consumed content, it’s not nearly where Instagram hoped it would be by this point. Perhaps this is because TikTok is still alive and well. Or perhaps there’s something else to it.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular Reels on Instagram are simply reposted TikToks. This poses the question: Is Instagram’s Reels simply a channel where the ‘cream of the crop’ TikTok videos can get posted in a second location and exposed to a new audience, or is it actually a platform for creators?

Mosseri also hints at some sort of consolidation across Instagram’s video features (i.e., IGTV, in-post videos, Reels). Without being entirely sure what that will look like, I’m already skeptical – is this all just another example of Facebook (via Instagram) trying to hold a monopoly on the social media sphere?

My opinion? As long as TikTok is still in operation, it will reign supreme. While the two apps have a ton of overlap, they are simply different cultural spaces. TikTok is a trend-heavy, meta-humor creative space that relies on engagement between users through effect, duets, and other TikTok-exclusive features.

Adversely, Reels is a space for Instagramming millennials and Gen Xers who might be choosing to opt out of TikTok (which has sort of become the cultural epicenter for the younger Gen Zers). The feature might also be used by Insta influencers and creators of all ages who toggle between the two apps (i.e., reposting your viral TikTok on Instagram to gain more traction).

Whatever the reason is for engaging in Reels, I’m fully certain the feature will never amount to the success of TikTok – but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Instagram has in store for us next.

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How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.

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Influencer planning her social media posts.

Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.

“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”

To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.

“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”

Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.

When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.

But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.

“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”

Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.

“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”

To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:

“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”

But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.

“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”

And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.

For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.

With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.

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TikTok: A hotbed of cultural appropriation, and why it matters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Gen Z’s favorite app TikTok is the modern epicenter for cultural appropriation – why you as a business owner should care.

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TikTok creator with a phone recording on a stand, but dances can be a sign of cultural appropriation.

Quarantine has been the catalyst for a sleuth of new cultural phenomena – Tiger King, Zoom, and baking addictions, to name a few. Perhaps most notably, TikTok has seen user numbers skyrocket since lockdown. And I don’t think those numbers are going down any time soon.

TikTok is a very special place. More so than any other social media apps I’ve engaged with, TikTok feels like a true community where total strangers can use the app’s duet or audio features to interact in creative, collaborative ways.

However, being able to use another user’s original audio or replicate their dance has highlighted the prevalence of cultural appropriation on TikTok: the app, as wholesome as it may be at times, has also become a hot bed for “virtual blackface”.

The most notable example of appropriation has to do with the Renegade dance and Charli D’Amelio – who is young, White, and arguably the most famous TikTok influencer (she is second only to Addison Rae, who is also White). The dance, originally created by 14-year-old Black user Jalaiah Harmon, essentially paved the way for D’Amelio’s fame and financial success (her net worth is estimated to be $8 million).

Only after Twitter backlash did D’Amelio credit Harmon as the original creator of the dance to which she owes her wealth – up until that point, the assumption was the dance was hers.

There is indeed a myriad of exploitative and appropriative examples of TikTok videos. Some of the most cringe-worthy include White users pantomiming black audio, in many cases affecting AAVE (African American Vernacular English). Styles of dance and music that were pioneered by Black artists have now been colonized by White users – and many TikTokers are not made aware of their cultural origins.

And what’s worse: TikTok’s algorithms favor White users, meaning White-washed iterations of videos tend to get more views, more engagement and, subsequently, more financial gains for the creator.

As you can imagine, TikTok’s Black community is up in arms. But don’t take it from me (a non-Black individual) – log onto the app and listen to what Black users have to say about cultural appropriation for yourself.

Still, the app is one of the fastest growing. Companies are finding creative ways to weave their paid ads and more subliminal marketing strategies into the fabric of the ‘For You’ page. In many ways, TikTok is the next frontier in social media marketing.

With a few relevant locational hashtags and some innovative approaches to advertising, your business could get some serious FREE attention on TikTok. In fact, it’s the future.

As aware and socially conscious small business owners, we need to make sure that while we are using the app to get ours, that the Black creators and artists who made the app what it is today are also getting theirs. Anything short of direct accountability for the platform and for caustic White users would be offensive.

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