Urban Dictionary offers several definitions of the term “humblebrag,” and none of them are complimentary. To paraphrase (and sanitize) from that source, the humblebrag is intentionally false modesty. It is the art of saying something self-effacing with the underlying intent of being self-promoting. The practice is most recognizable on Twitter when celebrities (or wannabes) make an explicit attempt to show the pedestrian aspects of their lives while simultaneously complimenting themselves. Most of us find their attempts both disingenuous and shallow.

Despite our general distaste for the humblebrag practice, as Realtors we are among the worst offenders, and we have built entire campaigns based on the humblebrag.

We have all seen the posts …

  • “Writing three contracts in a day is so tiring but so rewarding! #ExhaustedButHappyRealtor”
  • “I wish I had more time to work out but my buyers need me! #ReturningCallsAtTheGym”
  • “Battery on phone about to die from too many contract negotiations. #NeedABusyRealtoriPhoneBattery”

Stop it!

In our industry, we regularly fight the perception that we are less-than-accomplished in our promotional efforts. Some of this perception comes from the fact that we have neither the time, the skills nor the budget to create entire advertising campaigns, but much of it comes as a result of the shameless self-promotion we consistently offer up as “marketing.”

A coordinated marketing campaign is a difficult thing to execute; it is both expensive and time-consuming. Good campaigns require a blend of original content, cool photography and pinpoint targeting to achieve maximum effect, but aim big to dominate your market.

Forget for a moment how hard an ad campaign can be to execute logistically — creating engaging content can be even harder. What do you say? How broad or narrow is your audience? Do you use stats? Royalty-free or original photographs? How long is each piece? Do you use video? Do you write it or hire a ghostwriter? What to do???

Cue the humblebrag, the cheapest and easiest form of promotion. Constantly posting some variant of “look at me,” no matter how cleverly disguised, is not engagement. It is unfortunate that we too often mistake (un)intentionally telling people how busy we are for marketing.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have been guilty in the past of the occasional humblebrag. I am not proud of it! I was young (OK, younger than I am now), and I did not fully understand that intentionally false modesty does not create engagement. I learned quickly that the best form of engagement was to offer the audience something valuable. Narratives, interpretation, advice, reporting … all are forms of value. You can create the type of engagement you crave by helping your marketplace stay informed through discovering trends or simplifying complex issues.

Once our company began to focus our efforts on original and valuable content, all of the measurable metrics improved (page views, rankings, time on site, bounce rates and return visitors), as did the anecdotal ones (mentions, shares, reposts and retweets.) And do you know what else improved? Recruiting and sales.

Have I got your attention now?

At the end of the day, if you have no distinguishable features, you are a commodity. Trust me; no Realtor wants to live a commodity’s existence. If you create valuable content and deliver it in a way that is both engaging and transparent, you will have a long and healthy career as a Realtor.

I challenge all of us to stop telling everyone how busy we are and start helping our clients understand what is actually going on. We will be rewarded for it.

Rick Jarvis is a co-founder of the One South Realty Group in Richmond, Virginia.

Email Rick Jarvis.

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