How agents can become influencers

Five tried-and-true tips for taking your social media habits from promotional to personal

In luxury real estate, agents often refer to their “sphere of influence”, their professional colleagues and contacts, past and present clients, and future prospects. It sounds like a social network, and it is.

That’s why social media can be an asset to any real estate agent looking to extend their reach and build their personal and professional brand. Here are tips for becoming more than a participant on your social channel of choice.

1. If you want to sell luxury, your clients have to see luxury

Photo courtesy of Roh Habibi

Social media thrives on visuals — excellent news for luxury real estate. Your clients want to view stunning, high-end homes, and now you can share content that showcases each property in an intimate, immediate way with video and live streaming.

“I focus on Instagram, and especially Instagram Stories,” says Seth O’Byrne, real estate professional with Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in San Diego. “Each Instagram Story encourages messages, which in turn starts a conversation. These conversations turn into referrals and clients.”

Roh Habibi, Licensed Real Estate Broker with Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, agrees that visual storytelling is the way to go. “I’m moving towards more 60-second video clips,” he explains. “People want to see authenticity and not edited content.”

For Habibi, it’s this purposeful curation that helps his efforts stand out. “There are thousands of other agents in our local REALTOR® associations. Some have been in the business and building relationships for over twenty years. The only way to compete is by gaining attention to what you do, how you add value, and why people should work with you.”

2. Photos and video aside, your human touch is your most valuable asset

Alone, curating engaging content won’t be enough. To achieve influencer status, you have to personally engage with your channel. Social media provides a unique opportunity to build your client base by following up with your audience. “My focus is 100 percent on the conversion,” says Habibi of his social media strategy. “I want calls, texts, and emails from potential clients.”

Those conversions come from real conversations. “Most social media producers think that influence means posting a lot, but that’s dead and dying,” says O’Byrne. “The new way to influence is to interact, thereby building relationships and trust. We sell multimillion-dollar homes, which involves a lot of trust.”

3. Post more personal than promotional — without going off brand

Photo courtesy of Seth O’Byrne

It may seem counterintuitive, but as a real estate agent, your social media presence should market you more than the properties you’re currently selling. “It defines the legitimacy of a REALTOR®, establishes their marketing reach, and allows an agent to put out a message that is multidimensional,” explains O’Byrne. “I can show that I am a family man, a dominant broker in my city, and a fun guy to have a beer with all in an afternoon. No other platform allows that. You get to show your entire self and you control the messaging. It’s incredible.”

According to O’Byrne, the magic ratio is 7 to 10 personal posts for every business post. “A funny, humanizing photo with your family or a heartwarming post with your clients can do wonders for your business in the long term,” he says.

“Be real,” adds Habibi. “I don’t ascribe to the ‘fake it ՚til you make it’ philosophy.” Instead, he aims at consistency across his channels. “Everyone can post a couple photos and captions — that’s what’s so great about this medium. But I’ve kept my social consistent over the past six years, telling the same story better and better, and I’m proud of that. It also becomes a sort of long-term yearbook, which I love.”

4. Your global network is your ticket to growth

To truly maximize your influence, you’ll want to be active on the social media accounts of other brokerages in your brand network. “Our Instagram page receives between 150,000 to 200,000 views in a single week,” says O’Byrne. “This means thousands of organic views of our listings, primarily from the real estate industry, and over 20 percent of those are REALTOR® outside of America. This isn’t accidental. We purposefully interact with Sotheby’s International Realty offices, agents, and affiliates outside the U.S., and it has driven our brand power up dramatically.”

Indeed, as a luxury real estate agent, the brand you’re affiliated with can carry incredible weight in terms of name recognition. “I work for the leading luxury brand in the world,” says Habibi. “I don’t want anyone to mention me without saying, ‘Oh, you know Roh from Sotheby’s International Realty?’”

5. Focus on the pull, not the push

Today’s influencers are taking a different approach to achieve a sale. Where traditional real estate agents promote, influencers elevate interest, raise awareness, and define the terms of conversation. “Influencers are the modern embodiment of ‘pull’ marketing,” says O’Byrne. “Our company produces content, we don’t prospect for business. It’s a vastly different strategy and it centers around a philosophy that our job is to provide information as a free value to the marketplace through social media.”

The effective agent on social media isn’t just for promoting homes, but welcoming in conversation. This paradigm shift invites a wider audience into your sphere of influence.


About Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit www.sothebysrealty.com.

The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.