My name is Graham Carlson, and I am the newly minted communications director at Climb and the latest to throw on a lab coat start mixing things up at Climb Labs. Our most recent experiment focuses on the mega-popular social media app Snapchat, which has turned the corner from being the app teens use to flirt and is now, officially, a Big Deal. I wanted to run through some of the basic things that I think make Snapchat valuable to realtors, brokers, and anyone else hovering around the world of real estate:
Snapchat is free
The same basic value proposition of so many other social media tools, Snapchat costs only the time you choose to invest in it. Free is good. They do offer paid features, like Snapchat filters, but for the non-business user, this isn’t terribly appealing.
Snapchat is popular
For now, anyway. Snapchat is growing quickly and already has 100m daily active users. If we wanted to place it on Gartner’s hype cycle curve, I would put it around here:
It’s new and fun, but it remains to be seen whether or not the paid marketing features Snapchat has added will prove to be a valuable investment for companies. That isn’t stopping a huge amount of investment from happening.
Snapchat is genuine
Snapchat defies everything we know about typical real estate marketing. It isn’t airbrushed headshots and immaculately staged listing photos – agents are using Snapchat to take videos of their nights out, show the incredible view from a new listing, or share something funny they see on the street. Being engaging on Snapchat isn’t a beauty contest – it’s about being yourself, whatever that might mean.
As someone who works from the office every day, I can only share so much about real estate. A major part of my role is empowering Climb agents to build themselves up on social media, which is fun because it allows me to use them as willing test subjects for different social media strategies. In that spirit, I decided to conduct a little experiment:
We took five agents and tasked them with building up their Snapchat following over the course of a month. Some of them were already on Snapchat, while others had no experience using it.
Every week, our agents submit whatever they want to their Snapchat Story, and I monitor it from the lab. After the end of each week, I check in with about their experiences, observations, and follower growth. I also provide pointers and clue them into any tools or best practices I might have run across.
You can follow our account, and our brave test subjects, here:
Brian Tran — drurock
Marcell Neri — marcellneri
Megan Penna — megan_penna
I’ll be documenting the experiment on this project page.
The agents took to Snapchat really quickly, and I was really pleased by the variety of content. I was expecting to see a lot of listing photos and videos, but there was a decent range. Some agents posted about their day, what they were doing/eating/thinking/watching and things like that. Whether or not this works to engage followers, I’m glad that they’re willing to try a lot of different things.
My main goal early on is to encourage agents to try different promotional methods outside the app. Snapchat doesn’t provide many tools to help users find others who might be interested in the same things. You have to do things like posting your Snapcode on your social media accounts or use a third party tool like GhostCodes to connect with other people interested in similar topics.
I’d love to know whether clients are finding Snapchat useful. Do people want to look at listings on Snapchat? Or is it interesting enough to just look at a video of a nice view you might not otherwise see?
I’d also love to know what role posting frequency plays. A lot of users I follow send out a ton of snaps, but I find myself skipping through some of them. Is it worth it to post constantly or should you be more choosy?
I asked a few questions at the end of the week to gauge where everyone was at, and where they wanted to go. Here are the questions and answers, with a quote which I feel sums up the group consensus:
Are you finding Snapchat useful? Fun?
“Snapchat is definitely more fun. I love the App as it gets viewers a behind the scene look into the lives of Realtors. I think that will be my theme.”
This was the same answer pretty much everyone gave. There wasn’t a strong sense that Snapchat was going to lead to tangible business benefits right away, but all of our testers seem to be enjoying it so much that it doesn’t matter. I am wondering whether interest will wane if Snapchat doesn’t start leading to valuable connections…
Have you gained new followers this week? How many?
“I have! Not sure how many more but the network is continuing to grow. The article Kenny sent describing Snapchat as a method for networking, as well as his recommendation to use the GhostCodes app was very helpful.”
Kenny was kind enough to assist me with this experiment. He’s found a lot of success using tools like Snapchat in his marketing and has been offering lots of useful pointers to me and the agents.
GhostCodes is a sort of abstraction above Snapchat that lets users find other users based on their interests and subject matter. It also allows you to offer “kudos” (the GhostCodes equivalent of a ‘like’) and build up your visibility in a particular content vertical (such as “Real Estate”, “Sports”, “Music” etc.)
What are you doing to promote Snapchat on other social media profiles?
“I have not done it yet but I am sure that if I post it on my Feed I will gain some followers.”
There hasn’t been a big push from our subjects to cross-promote, which is going to be a major goal of mine this week. I’ve been downloading some Snapchat videos and posting them on other social platforms, and I want our testers to give this a try as well.
It may end up not being the best way to promote your profile – a tool like GhostCodes is inherently more convenient than Facebook or Twitter, as a GhostCodes user is already thinking of seeking out new people to follow on Snapchat, while someone on Facebook might not even know what Snapchat is.
What do you have planned for next week?
“I’m going to continue to snap stuff, get followers, and see where it goes.”
This pretty much sums it up. We’re all in a bit of a limbo stage – we can see the potential of the app, but we’re not sure what needs to be done or how long we have to wait to start reaping tangible benefits and making significant connections.
Overall, it was a great start. I have some awesome participants and I love everyone’s willingness to try new things and post frequently.