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Using social media in the right way can help a real estate agent market property and attract new potential clients. But something not all agents are aware of is that it can also be a great way to get a promotion.
That’s what happened when Alexander Zakharin, an agent previously with Avenues Real Estate, started to add a new type of video to his TikTok content lineup.
“I was filming street interviews in New York and, basically, I did some interviews that went viral because people loved them,” Zakharin told Inman.
“So I was interviewing everyone that I would meet outside, like on Billionaires Row, Park Avenue, and I would ask people, ‘What do you do for a living?'” he continued. “And then once I got to know them a bit, I would ask if they were looking for an apartment to buy or rent. And that’s how I bumped into Shawn Elliott [of Nest Seekers International] and he basically offered me a job on that very video. And then it became viral.”
“To my shame, I didn’t know him in person,” Zakharin admitted. “I didn’t recognize him.”
@alexander_zakhari Ran into the man, the myth, the legend 😄🔥 @Shawn Elliott #realestate #agent #broker #newyork #manhattan #lifestyle ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz
But Zakharin’s ignorance wasn’t a problem. The president of Nest Seekers International’s Ultra Luxury division saw Zakharin’s gumption and liked it enough to ask him to join his real estate team. (Hearing about his 600,000-plus TikTok followers also didn’t hurt.) As a result, Zakharin found a place in one of the country’s preeminent luxury real estate firms, garnered millions of views of the interview on TikTok and Instagram, and gained about 100,000 new followers on Instagram, based on that one video alone.
Zakharin and two other agents who know a thing or two about elevating their position through social media — Madison Sutton of SERHANT. and Glennda Baker of Glennda Baker and Associations — recently shared their tips with Inman for how other agents can impress their next potential boss by leveraging their social media platforms. Here’s what they suggested.
Have fun and make fun content
Zakharin’s first piece of advice was simple. But when executed correctly, it’s extremely effective.
“Just try to have fun and try to make something that will be fun to watch,” he told Inman.
Scrolling through Zakharin’s recently posted TikToks, it’s apparent he puts the advice into practice. His feed includes TikToks with a “30-second trailer” into his life, babies who are the “real decision-makers” when buying a property, “haunted” apartments, dog spas, Pedro Pascal memes and more, all fun and entertaining, but also clearly well-thought-out.
Make “behind the scenes” videos about your workday
What better way to strut your stuff to a potential employer than by letting them in to parts of your workday? Not only does this give an agent the opportunity to show they’re an expert on what they do, but it can also be interesting to people — and potential clients — outside of the real estate industry.
“You’ll know it better than 99.9 percent of the population because you’re in it daily, and there will be someone [out there] who will love your content,” Zakharin said.
“If you can post a little bit, some nuggets maybe from what you do, your work, even your daily life … I think there’s a lot of people who will appreciate this. It’s super valuable.”
Always be aware of the platform
The social media-savvy agent should always be keeping what platform their using in mind and developing content that will work best for that platform. But, this is extra important when keeping a potential employer in mind.
Some employers may be especially keen to know that an agent knows how to use a platform appropriately in order to optimize their views. Knowing that TikTok is best for 15 to 30-second videos, Instagram for about 1 to 2-minute videos and YouTube for longer content is key.
“If someone does YouTube, it actually makes sense to do something super educational,” Zakharin explained. “So you can channel your TikTok followers into your Instagram or add your Instagram followers into YouTube. So for instance, you could give a glimpse of what you do on TikTok — maybe some fun video from your office — and then people will follow your Instagram, where they might see more of your personality, more photos. [On YouTube], you could really do the nitty-gritty, like proper, long videos going into education.”
Find a storytelling format to make your own
Street interviews are nothing new, but Zakharin found a way to put his own spin on them.
In his TikTok street interviews, he asks his subjects about themselves and then transitions to asking them if they’re looking for a place to buy or rent in the city. First he makes that personal connection, and then dives in to what he does for a living and how he can potentially help his new acquaintance.
“It’s been some of the most viral content because it’s fun, it’s unscripted and it gets interesting how you can bump into anyone in New York,” he said.
Sutton has similarly nailed the documentary-style, first-person tutorials with tips and tricks of living in New York City. Whether it’s dating tips, real estate advice or finding an attractive but work-appropriate outfit as a working woman, she’s got the format down. She credits her finesse on TikTok as a primary reason why SERHANT. recently recruited her away from Brown Harris Stevens.
Genuinely engage with your followers
Just as an agent never knows what may come out of a random phone call (a buyer looking for a $30 million mansion?), it’s also impossible to know what fortuitous outcome may result from engaging with one’s followers on social media.
One of Zakharin’s followers reached out to him on TikTok in the spring of 2021 looking for advice on what to do with a late relative’s apartment in New York City. He didn’t live in New York himself and traveled frequently for work, but saw from TikTok that Zakharin was an expert who could give him some sound advice.
The apartment was in an old, funky building in Greenwich Village, Zakharin said, so he advised his follower to do a gut renovation and rent it out — and that TikTok follower decided to enlist Zakharin to help him out with the job.
“I think the crucial point is to engage with people and give them something useful,” Zakharin told Inman. “Then, maybe some of them will become your followers, maybe some of them will become your friends, maybe some of them will become your clients.”
Collaborate with others in your profession
The ability to work well with others can be a huge asset in the real estate industry when it comes to finding a buyer for a unique property or trying to close a deal with a seller who won’t budge.
That skill of working well with others is also a good indication of what type of colleague an agent will be like.
Doing collaboration posts with other real estate agents is one way of showing off soft skills and industry know-how to a potential employer. And it can also help both agents get more eyes on their work.
“You will grow faster,” Zakharin said. “First of all, you will leverage each other’s audiences, that’s for sure — but you will also get to know better what they do, and maybe you will meet their friends or colleagues.”
Social media can be a great tool for agents to shape their public persona while simultaneously working toward the career they one day hope to have. And sometimes that type of “fake it ’til you make it” attitude can actually help an agent realize their goals.
Baker relayed to Inman the story of a young agent in her market of Atlanta who started out by selling $300,000 homes. But he gradually started to incorporate multi-million dollar listings into his Instagram content, while crediting the listing agent. After a few years, his reputation transformed such that he was now getting those multi-million dollar listings himself.
“He just started posting everybody’s big listings on his Instagram,” Baker said. “They weren’t his listings. He would put 123 Banana Street, Atlanta, Georgia, and then all the information from the listing description, and all of the pictures from the MLS, and down at the bottom, he would put ‘Listed by ABC Realty.'”
“Within three years, he’s selling a lot of the [celebrity] rappers’ houses because he’s created this persona on Instagram that really elevated his clientele.”
Post the personal and authentic
It may be tempting for agents to try and curate their image a bit too much on social media, however, especially if they’re trying to impress a potential new boss. It’s important to stay true to one’s self in the process.
Zakharin agreed that agents should dress the part for the job they hope to one day gain, but to avoid extremes that don’t align with who they are.
“As long as you’re authentic and don’t have to fake it,” the goal should be to emulate the actions and image of the type of agent you want to be, he said.
Authenticity is also an asset when trying to attract and build relationships with clients, Sutton said. For that reason, maintaining an authentic persona will also be regarded highly by a potential boss.
“We’re in a relationship-driven business, so it’s very important that [clients] see who you are authentically,” Sutton said. “Because at the end of the day, that’s what keeps people with you — people aren’t just with you because you have a sales license. They’re with you because you’re you, and you’ve shown certain traits that maybe [they identify with].”
Sharing knowledge on social media both shows off an agent’s value to a potential employer and can help attract more followers.
“Anytime that you can create video that shows you as the information broker, the knowledge broker, the expert, I think you’re elevating your own social media presence,” Baker said. “I think that probably is the key to success.”
Show your market expertise, and people who live in your market, as well as those who hope to live in your market, will follow.
“If you can become become that ‘All about Atlanta,’ ‘All about your town, your area’ [Realtor], I think that it almost gives you the ability to create yourself as the may of the town where everybody is going to want to work with you.”
Offer to help a supervisor with their social accounts
Brokers, supervisors, managers, etc. are typically people who don’t have a lot of free time on their hands. That means they’re probably not updating their social media accounts regularly — if they even have such accounts at all.
That’s where a social media-savvy agent can step in and provide value. Offering to manage or simply help a supervisor boost their social media presence can build good will, but could also potentially help an agent get a raise or a new title.
“For various reasons, those people in charge of promoting other people, they might not really be on social media,” Zakharin noted. “If you can find a way to help them out, maybe even to create their own account … to move their product or do their job better, faster or easier [with social media], I think they will appreciate that.”
Try something new
Paying attention to social media trends “shows that you are making and taking the steps to not only do whatever you can for your clients, but also for potential employers,” Sutton said.
When she started putting real estate content on TikTok, it was not a popular platform for real estate agents, and was just starting to spread to the general public in the U.S. But she decided to give it a shot, because she saw it as an opportunity to share her brand in an as of yet untapped market.
“I was doing something newer, something a bit more innovative, that maybe a lot of agents, not only in New York, but nationwide, worldwide, had kind of discounted,” she said.
“When you have that ability to take something, especially a free app, or free social media platform, then generate income with it, generate leads, generate this compounding success, I think that’s really attractive to potential employers because it shows you’re willing to find new ways to do old things and you’re constantly adapting.”
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