I receive tons of messages every day about how many of you are taking my words to heart and applying it to your lives. It's incredibly humbling when you can take my advice, put it into action against your business or career, and have great results follow. I love reading your notes on how you've crushed it and it's all part of my plan to put myself out of business.
Ever since 2011, when I did a big keynote speech at the Re/Max annual convention, my real estate audience has been asking for more actionable marketing advice. Most recently, I gave a talk at Inman Connect 2016 to a large group of real estate industry professionals about the importance of using digital for their businesses. I've always felt a sort of kinship towards real estate agents because, to be great in that industry, you have to have some real entrepreneurial tendencies.
My favorite concept for marketing real estate is the idea of owning the story around the property, the lifestyle, and the locale. And, as I've said before in a previous article, there's no better way than leveraging Snapchat to help you do it.
Recently I got in contact with Stephen Udoff, also known as "Sunset Steve," who is a real estate agent in Los Angeles. Steve started taking my Snapchat marketing advice seriously and began implementing the tactics to market his real estate properties and brand. After being patient and consistent with his use of the platform, this summer, Steve was able to convert a lead only through Snapchat–he rented out an $80,000/month property in Malibu!
I was so excited to hear about Stephen's success, that I had my team call him to get the details to share with you.
Check out our Q&A with Steve below:
Hey Steve, thanks for getting on a call with us. How did you first hear about Gary and when did you start using Snapchat for your business?
I heard about Gary about a year or two ago. I was reading his content about personal branding and sales on Facebook. Since then, I've been following along, listening, and reading his content. He's taught me and some of my colleagues a lot about business and how to use Snapchat to build our brands.
Ever since Snapchat came out, I've been trying to use it to help build my brand as a realtor. I really think every real estate agent should be using Snapchat these days.
How did you get started? Was it easy to build your brand and an audience on Snapchat?
With Snapchat, I just started grassroots. I started with everyone I knew as a base and then tried to build from there. I snapped every day. I made sure to use it consistently to showcase the lifestyle that reflected my properties and the areas around them. Fortunately, I sell real estate in Malibu, so the homes and the lifestyle are in a higher price range (over $10 million). Because this area and these properties are nice to look at on their own, I think that has helped me grow my following even more.
Real estate and sunsets is how I brand myself on my other social media outlets as well. I've become the "real estate/sunset guy." My Instagram is always sunset photos or real estate. Because my name is Steve, I've been using the hashtag #sunsetsteve.
So, Sunset Steve, while pictures of mansions on the beach probably get high view counts, how do you know people are interested in the properties? How are you using Snapchat to drive sales to potential buyers?
When I put up a $700-800K condo, say, in Brentwood, I'll do a Snapchat Story of the kitchen, bathrooms, family room, and the pool in the complex. Once it's out, I'll get a lot of people saying that they didn't know you could get a 3 bedroom in that location for that price. I get a lot of feedback and people asking for more details about the property or if they can email me about it. It's how I know people are actually watching and engaging
What's the general demographic of the people who are watching your snaps? Is your clientele usually older? Younger?
While I do a lot of high-end real estate in Malibu, I have a lot of young first-time homebuyers who live in Santa Monica and Westside in LA. They're usually between 25-35 years old.
But, since I've been using Snapchat, I've been growing my following even into the 50+ year old range, as well as international home-buyers.
We're super excited that Gary's advice has been working so well for you. We'd love to hear about how you closed an $80K/month deal using only Snapchat. How did that come about?
I had a new listing that came on the market around three months ago on Carbon Beach, also known as "Billionaires Beach." I listed it at $85,000/month as a summer rental.
Before I put it up as an open house, I did a "Snapchat walkthrough." It's like what Gary talked about in his article. I snapped the front door and what it's like to walk through the kitchen, the family room, and outside to the beach. Then I showed the bathrooms, bedrooms, and finally the master bedroom.
Another agent,, who was planning to come look at the property, ended up previewing it with me because he loved the snaps. He had a client in Dallas who was looking for a summer rental, so he sent the Snapchat Story to her. The client immediately fell in love with the property. She rented it out for around $80K a month, sight unseen.
That's awesome! So, the buyer didn't come view the property at all?
It was all through Snapchat. The tenant never had to take a look at it in person. She said she got a "better feel" from watching the snaps than the photos online. She felt as if she was actually there walking into the house for her first time.
The pictures online were great as well, but Snapchat really sold it. This is one of the biggest deals I've done through Snapchat.
Before Snapchat, what did you use to market properties?
Other than photos, the number one tool agents really use is listing videos, usually posted on YouTube or Vimeo. Listing agents just used straight video to show their homes. That was the #1 tool and YouTube views mattered.
Real estate is a relationship business. So, emails, direct mail, phone calls, door knocking, fliers, Instagram, blogging, and Facebook are all tools.
Snapchat is just more ammunition to use in real estate marketing.
So, what do you like about Snapchat instead of using YouTube or Vimeo?
In order to do a full listing video on those platforms, you're often dealing with another cameraman or crew who has their own vision and production is more costly.
What's great about using Snapchat for real estate is that you are your own producer, director, and actor in your own tv show.
Snapchat gives a behind the scenes look at the house. It enables followers to see behind the scenes of an agent's work, life, and previewing properties. I know a lot of agents find it daunting, but it's definitely something I would suggest doing.
Since you started snapping, what have you learned in order to optimize reach and engagement? Do you have any other tips for other real estate agents trying to get on Snapchat?
As a realtor using Snapchat, it's important to be careful what you choose to snap. It takes the agent to really know how to utilize Snapchat for their own benefit. You have to know how to showcase a house correctly. I try to snap three highlights for every property I show. Sometimes it includes the front door or main living room. For my area, the snaps always have the view of the beach and the master bedroom and bathroom. The followers don't care about random small closets. I would focus on the most impressive aspects and adjust for each property.
And the sunset too, right?
Haha, yeah. I always get the sunset.
I used to show too much of the house. People click through their snaps so fast that they lose focus of what they are even looking at, so I try to do fewer, but more impressive shots.
I also found out that for videos that you want to change the direction you're panning. Alternate from left to right, right to left, up and down when you're snapping video. You have to be cautious of not making them all pan the same direction because people will feel like it's going in a circle and they'll get nauseous. Little adjustments.
To keep people engaged, I'll also ask questions like, "Which bathroom do you like the best?" when I know I'm going to look at three or four different homes. I get a lot of responses and I always make sure to reply. I think it's really important to respond and stay engaged.
What I love about Snapchat is that it's so instant and immediate and I'm directly engaging with my audience who is following me for a reason.
Thanks so much for speaking with us, Steve, and sharing your story with Gary's audience. We hope everyone who reads this interview can take a lot away from it. Okay, we have to ask one last question: Snapchat or Instagram Stories?
I've always loved Instagram because everything is saved there permanently. People can easily look me up on Instagram and see my other listings.
But, like Gary says, tech is always changing, so I'm testing. Lately, I've been focusing on creating different videos for Instagram Stories because I noticed people posting the same thing on both platforms. I'm going to reevaluate in 2-3 weeks and see what happens. I have more of an audience on Instagram so I've noticed a lot of views there.
I don't know if I can solely rely on Snapchat videos, but it's been been a great tool for showing houses, lifestyles, and the neighborhoods around them.
If you liked this interview and want more tips on using Snapchat for your business, check out my other posts here:
- Tips on How to Get More Snapchat Followers
- How the Real Estate Industry Can use Snapchat and Facebook Live Video for Sales
- The Only Snapchat Hack You Need for Marketing
- How to Create and Use Snapchat's New Custom Geofilters
- Video: How to Get More Snapchat Followers
- #AskGaryVee: Fredrik Eklund, Real Estate Branding & Hudson Yards
- #AskGaryVee: Luis Ortiz, Real Estate Lead Generation & First Jobs