Brokerages need agents and their personal brands more than agents need the backing of brokerage brands, Baker argued at Inman Connect on Thursday. “My name is Glennda Baker, and I am a brand.”

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If there’s one thing in this crazy world that remains certain, it’s that you can always depend on Glennda Baker to bring the stars and stripes.

Glennda Baker | Glennda Baker & Associates

“Oh my stars and stripes,” the leader of Glennda Baker & Associates at Ansley Atlanta Real Estate and social media mega influencer said when she walked out onto the Inman Connect Las Vegas stage on Thursday, a bit overcome by the crowd.

Baker was shimmering in a gold sequin suit dotted with black stars, bringing her own personal glam to the Connect stage of which she’s become known. And she sure as hell wasn’t going to let all her glorious glitz be blocked by a podium.

“I paid a truckload of money for this outfit,” she told the audience. “I’m not standing behind that podium.”

Because Baker has built a reputation as the queen of real estate TikTok’ing, she surmised that many audience members might be surprised that video would not be one of her main topics of conversation.

“I want to talk to you about building your brand,” Baker said. “And I thought to myself, there might be a few people who don’t like this message …”

“I’m here to tell you this is 2023,” she continued. “This is not your grandma’s real estate. If you’re not working on your personal brand, I think you’re putting yourself behind the eight ball.”

Back in the ’90s when Baker launched her real estate career, she said every agent needed the backing of a major brokerage brand behind them in order to be successful in the industry. But today, the tables have turned she said. The reason is largely because social media has put power in the hands of individual agents to grow their personal brands.

“Today, the agent doesn’t need the brokerage anymore, the brokerage needs the agent [more] because there are so many different brokerages [and models],” Baker said.

Social media has made it easy for agents to build trust with their followers, show proof of their performance and display their knowledge, Baker said.

“Nothing accelerates credibility faster than proof and social media has made it possible for you all to be your own brand,” she said.

Baker displayed a slide that showed the faces of 10 real estate social media influencers without their names. Those influencers have a combined 8 million Instagram followers, she said. The top 10 brokerages have just shy of 633,000 Instagram followers.

“I don’t even need to put their name [on the slide], you know them by their face,” she pointed out. “Their face is their brand. Their social media is their brand.”

Baker called back to a session on agent-marketing freedom that had taken place the previous day, in which one brokerage chief marketing officer had told the audience his brokerage didn’t allow agents to create their own brands. They could only use the brokerage brand, calling it their biggest asset as a company.

But Baker fervently told Thursday’s audience that such a notion was wrong — the individual agent and their own brand has become the biggest asset to brokerages today.

“If you think [your biggest asset is] your brand, you’ve lost your damn mind — the agent is [a brokerage’s] biggest asset, not their brand,” she asserted.

“Think about Nike … Can you imagine a world where Michael Jordan wasn’t affiliated with Nike?” Baker said.

She argued that brokerages haven’t thought through just how far collaborating with their star agents on branding and promotions could take the brokerage as a whole. As a large company, the fact is that brokerages simply can’t create the same kind of connection with clients that agents can as members of their community who know the people they’re transacting with personally, she said.

“People do business with people, especially today,” Baker said. “It’s not just about a company brand.”

Agents can cultivate their own brand through social media in the following key ways, Baker said:

Differentiate yourself: Agents can set themselves apart from the rest on social by showing off their personalities and what makes them special. For instance, agents from all over the country now recognize Baker when they see her wearing her stars, she said.

Expand your reach: Posting on social media has allowed Baker to meet potential clients in her neighborhood and real estate agents across the country who now recognize her when they see her.

Maintain control of your message: By using social media as her own branding and marketing tool, Baker maintains control and ownership of her message and image.

Authenticity and transparency: “There’s never been a more important time to be real,” Baker said. Posting about your day-to-day experiences and learning moments on social media shows potential clients that you’re someone who can be trusted.

Adapt to change: Over the years, Baker has developed such a strong personal brand through social media that she doesn’t necessarily have to worry about the health of her brokerage. If on the off-chance it suddenly went out of business or merged with another company, she still has her own brand and client following, so she isn’t dependent on any brokerage.

Just three years after starting to use TikTok, Baker is now one of the most recognized voices and faces in real estate.

“My name is Glennda Baker, and I am a brand,” she concluded.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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