As a real estate agent, it is my job to market my clients’ property as completely and extensively as possible. The internet has been a huge asset to this job, and I absolutely love learning and creating new ways to get buyers to notice my clients’ listings. A few years ago, real estate agents started using YouTube to showcase their homes, and with the popularity of twitter, facebook and google+, sharing and promoting those videos was an easy task. But things are always changing.
Problem #1: Attention spans are getting shorter
Perhaps you’ve heard about, or read the studies and reports indicating that viewers attention spans are waning. If you don’t capture their interest within the first 15 seconds, you will lose them. On top of that, we’re supposed to ‘entertain’ the viewer. How do you do that with a 3-4 minute property video?
Problem #2: Extra long lead time for home-buying
2nd problem for real estate agents is the fact that buyers often start looking as much as 18 months BEFORE they are ready to make a purchase. 18 MONTHS? At that point, buyers are merely browsing, and coupled with the ever-shortening attentions span, they certainly do not want to sit thru a 4-minute bore-fest of your latest listing. What’s an agent to do? How to capture their attention. Two things: gifs and ultra-short videos (15 seconds).
Creating a GIF
This entire process starts with good quality photographs. If you’re taking property shots with your old cell-phone, STOP IT. Get a good camera and take some lessons, or better yet, hire a professional to take your property shots for you.
A GIF (which stands for Graphics Interchange Format) is a file of any number of photographs, combined to play in a never-ending loop. See the example to the right here. Creating a gif is very easy, and free. I use a site called Gifmaker.me. Here is the process: Upload 8-12 good quality pictures into the platform at gifmaker.me. Select the size via the slider on the left side . This is especially important if you want to upload the gif into your wordpress site, because you will not be able to adjust the size in WordPress. For example, the gif to the right is 350 pixels wide by 233 high.
Next you can control the speed at which the photos rotate. Anywhere from 50 milliseconds (1/20th of a second) to 10 seconds per picture. In my example, I’m using 500 milliseconds (1/2 second per pic). Lastly, hit the ‘Create Now” button and in about 10 seconds, you’ll see your finished gif. Then you can download it onto your computer and save it for future use.
Marketing on Google+
If you’re not yet using google+, consider your ultimate goal: You want buyers to find your listings online! And since google+ IS google, I highly recommend that you consider incorporating this platform into your marketing.
The beauty is that google+ displays gifs very well. Just start a new post, upload the gif you had saved onto your hard-drive and write up a text about your listing. Then add a link back to your website and voila…. your gif file will run immediately.
Using the GIF on your wordpress site
You can easily install the GIF into your wordpress post, as you can see here, but there is a trick: you must import the gif file as a ‘full size image’. No adjusting to a smaller image in your wordpress backend. Doing so will separate the images and it will no longer work.
Marketing on Twitter
Twitter displays gifs and short videos equally well. So you have to option to use either the gif, or the ultra-short video which is described later. When on twitter, simply click the photo button and upload the gif from your hard-drive. Enter a short description and also a link back to your listing site, and post the update. The gif will display, although it will NOT run automatically as it does on google+. A small start-button appears on the front image, and as soon as your twitter-followers click on it, the gif starts to run.
Marketing on facebook
Unfortunately, fb does NOT display gifs. So I came up with a different solution. In the past, I had embedded the 3-4 minute YouTube videos, but am now opting to create an ultra-short version, just to grab attention, and get eyeballs back onto my listing site. To create these ultra-shorts, I use Animoto. They offer a free service, but for my purposes, I chose the Pro-Version for $36 per year. In this upgrade, you can control the over-all length of the video AND download the finished product (which you can not do with the free version). Download ability is the key to this process.
How to create an ultra-short (preview) video
Again, you start by uploading 8-10 (or so) pictures into animoto. Arrange the order you want to show them in, and then chose the overall length of the video. Click ‘Create’ and a few seconds later you are rewarded with a finished video. Download this and store it along with your gif. (I create a file for each address listing, which then holds all of my pictures, text files, listing contracts, gif, video, etc etc.). You can either embed the Animoto player, via the i-frame code they provide, or publish the short video to youtube, and then embed the youtube player. I personally also use Vimeo, because it works well with the Yoast Video SEO plugin, but thats a story for another day. Here is what the finished video can look like:
Now go to your facebook page (I hope you’ve create a separate business page on facebook?) and upload the short video. Add some text, a link back to your listing site and publish.
Additional facebook bonus:
You may have heard that facebook is cutting back on how often your posts are seen. For example, my facebook business page WinnipegHomeFinder currently has over 1,500 ‘fans’, yet when I publish a post, it will only be served to bet. 50-200 people. This is by design, as facebook wants us to pay for extra coverage. So, if you can’t beat em, join ’em, I say. For around $60, my post is served to approximately 20,000 local people, around 10% of which have been clicking thru to my website. In the grand scheme of things, when promoting and marketing homes and condos, $60.00 is not a big investment, roughly the cost of a small classified ad. PLUS, with facebook, you can target the post to only play in your city, to a specified demographic, etc. All in all, not a bad deal.
I’d love to hear your opinions, tips and other input about this topic?