Did you see the viral Craigslist ad with a dog in each room’s picture? It wasn’t planned; the dog was in one of the shots, the owner had an “Aha!” moment, tons of people saw the ad, and the apartment was rented within 24 hours.
Of course, viral marketing applies to selling homes, too, and it could very well win you more listings. Plus, depending on your specific campaign, the costs can be low — maybe even free. It’s worth a try, right?
First off, what does going viral mean?
Basically, your content gets shared like crazy. People post it all over social media, the press does write-ups, and what you do may even make it on TV. Not only is it cool to see your content everywhere, but it’s a pretty incredible version of word-of-mouth advertising.
STEP 1: RESEARCH AND BRAINSTORM
To be honest, luck is a key ingredient in going viral. But a little research into recent articles, videos, trending tweets, and memes will start you off on the right foot.
One option is to do your own take on something that’s currently viral. This works well with memes and parodies. It’s important to launch this kind of marketing quickly, as these things often have a short shelf life. And, of course, be sure to skip anything copyrighted. You don’t want your low-cost marketing to turn into a big payday for your lawyer!
You can always do something unique, too. You could create a quirky video, an interactive personality quiz, a catchy original song for your virtual tour background music, and much more.
And don’t forget to keep your mind open when you’re not actively coming up with an idea. A eureka moment could happen at any time!
Step one is all about getting as many ideas as you can. Just don’t forget the cardinal rule of brainstorming — NO CENSORING! This means any idea that pops into your head gets written down, no matter how crazy or lame you think it is.
STEP 2: FOCUS ON SPECIFICS
Now that you’ve got the ideas, it’s time to take a look at the most important pieces of your current market push — buyers and the property itself.
Let’s start with the buyers. Obviously, you want your soon-to-be viral marketing to target the right people, so ask yourself some questions like:
- What are their demographics? First-time millennial buyers will be attracted to something much different than baby boomers looking for their retirement home.
- What’s their aesthetic? Modern? Eccentric? Outdoorsy? This should be incorporated into the final product.
- What do they laugh or go “aww” at? What makes them nostalgic or leads to happy crying? What inspires them or leaves them awestruck? Clearly, we’re going for the positive emotions here.
And now, the property itself:
- What are its distinguishing features? Consider featuring a top-of-the-line range, some funky wallpaper, or a perfect playroom.
- What’s the neighborhood like? Should it be part of the marketing?
- Are there any interesting stories about the property or previous owners? Anything unique, funny, or touching could be a great thing to highlight.
STEP 3: MAKE THE DARN THING
Great with Photoshop, iMovie, or creating brilliant copy? Go for it! If not, do you have a co-worker, relative, or friend who is?
Or, you can always hire an outside professional. Depending on how elaborate your idea is, this could mean anything from an affordable pro on one of the freelance-for-hire sites to well-established (and more expensive) individuals or agencies who specialize in what you’re looking for.
Another option is to embrace the imperfection of DIY. Sometimes, amateur charm is exactly what’ll get you noticed!
Regardless of which path you choose, don’t forget to let people know you’re behind the content. Include your picture, a link, or even just your company name and logo. After all, if they don’t know where it’s coming from, how can they find you to put an offer in on your listing? The goal is to capture their attention, then inspire them to follow through.
STEP 4: PUT IT OUT THERE
Post it on all the appropriate social media sites as soon as it’s ready, and remember to use hashtags! You can also consider paid social media promotions for the initial push.
If you personally know any social media influencers, now’s a good time to reach out to them. How great would it be to have them share it with their hundreds or thousands or (if you’re really lucky) millions of followers?!
So now that you’ve got the basics for creating viral content, you’re probably wondering why you should go to all this trouble to go viral when you’re trying to sell a property that’s in one very fixed place?
It’s a completely valid question. Here are just a few of the benefits:
Increased visibility means more potential buyers see your property. When you go viral, your content gets seen by thousands, if not millions, of people. Maybe you’ll catch the eye of someone local who hadn’t even been thinking of buying but is now intrigued. Or maybe someone 3,000 miles away sees it, then passes it along to a second-cousin-once-removed who’s moving to your town. You just never know whose interest you’ll pique or where it’ll lead!
Name recognition leads to increased listings. Done right, your name will become synonymous with the viral campaign. When someone (or someone they know) needs a Rsealtor, you’ll pop into their head. Voila — more listings!
Potentially lower advertising costs. Depending on what kind of content you create and how you initially get your content out there, you could have low (or even no) out-of-pocket costs from the get-go. But even if you put more money in on the front end, once your content reaches that viral level, there’s really nothing left for you to pay for.
However, do keep in mind your work’s not totally done. If your content gets shared on social media, it’s a great idea to share the share, especially if it’s by someone famous. (But be sure to comment on or share non-famous people’s posts, too — you want the public to know you’re there for them!) And, of course, if your content’s featured in articles or news stories, you definitely want to let people know about that, too.
Whether you ultimately go with an elaborate music video or a simple Where’s Waldo-inspired photo series like those Craigslist advertisers and their adorable dog, adding well-executed creativity to your marketing strategy can mean quicker sales, more inquiries about potential listings, and likely more fun.
There’s only one problem — how do you handle all the extra work coming your way?
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Joe Nickelson is a real estate professional dedicated to helping home buyers and sellers achieve their dreams of owning property, and helping real estate agents stop using the sometimes-vicious tactics that weigh on their consciences. He believes that the Smart Agents books will, quite literally, change people’s lives for the better. Check out his full bio here!