Broker's Playbook - Good For Real Estate



Real estate influencers redefine marketing

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Social media influencers are having an outsized impact on the real estate industry, redefining how agents market themselves and how clients find them.

Martin Rouleau, a Montreal-based broker with Engel & Völkers, is one of the most recognizable real estate influencers in the city. While he uses Facebook Personal and Business Page, Twitter and LinkedIn, he uses Instagram to capture Montreal’s newfound prosperity.

“I always try to post pictures of our beautiful City of Montreal and its different neighbourhoods,” said Rouleau. “I live in Old Montreal and I’m spoiled for it. I like to take pictures at different hours of the day and during different seasons; I post architectural landmarks, like Westmount Square by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie.

“Social media is by far the most efficient and cost-effective way to market yourself. I’m happy that the days of the $20,000 full-page newspaper ad are over.”

A cursory glance at Rouleau’s Instagram page might create an impression of effortless insouciance, but nothing could be further from the truth. Like all influencers’ pages, Rouleau’s has been meticulously created.

“From day one, I’ve reserved time in my agenda to work on my social media on a daily basis, usually in the morning with my coffee,” he said. “My accounts were built brick by brick. I make sure to treat social media like a magazine: a combination of real estate and lifestyle. I don’t believe you keep can your followers’ interest by just publishing property; it has to be combination of real estate, travel, food, animals, and family, of course. Social media shouldn’t be copied; it should reflect one’s interests. For a short period, we used a system to generate some likes and followers, but we stopped shortly after as I was not convinced we were reaching the right followers.”

Influencers are also changing the complexion of Toronto real estate, and one in particularly similarly captures the city’s emergence as a global metropolis. Brett Starke, head of the Starke Realty Team, firmly believes Instagram is the single greatest marketing tool an agent can use in 2018.

“When we first got to Toronto we didn’t have many clients, so the best way to get ourselves known was to get on social media, and Instagram is our preferred medium,” said Starke. “We have 10,000 followers on Instagram and we also use YouTube. I don’t focus on Facebook because I don’t think millennials are looking at Facebook anymore.”

Last year, the Starke Realty Team earned $28,000 of revenue from Instagram, and this year it’s on pace for $40,000.

“My whole strategy is simple: Instead of focusing on the brick and mortar of real estate, we focus on the people,” continued Starke, whose team recently filmed a client appreciation video in which a helicopter tour of Toronto was given as a closing gift. “Most agents want to put up pictures of stats and listings but we try to stay away from that and go towards the people. If I want to put up stats, I’ll hide it behind a picture of a puppy when we do Puppy of the Month.”

Instagram has directly funneled clients to the Starke Realty Team, but it’s also a vehicle to drive referrals from agents in other cities.

“I think it’s an untapped market that other agents forget about,” said Starke. “They see we do it consistently and well, and when they send a client to Toronto, they send them to us first. Last year, our second-largest source of revenue was from agent referrals.”

Martin Rouleau

Brett Starke