Realtors as influencers? CT agents use TikTok, Instagram to sell a lifestyle

The social account I Love Greenwich is about romanticizing the lifestyle of living in Greenwich rather than simply posting active real estate listings, said broker Christian Perry. He throws in what he calls “shock and awe” to help boost posts by jumping into clients’ swimming pools in a full suit, running around a golf course or busting a move in a local taqueria.

In the world of real estate, platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become powerful mechanisms to essentially turn realtors into social media influencers, pushing them to levels of popularity previously unattainable from traditional marketing campaigns.

Danielle Claroni and Christian Perry of the I Love Greenwich team.

Danielle Claroni and Christian Perry of the I Love Greenwich team.

Bob Capazzo

For Danielle Claroni of the I Love Greenwich brand, it started out back at the rise of the internet. She said that she was interested in writing blog posts about how great it was to live in Greenwich, and so she purchased the domain ilovegreenwich.com. While her previous broker was not interested in the endeavor, Perry said that when he came on as Claroni’s broker, he said, “Wait, wait wait? You own what?’ Then all of a sudden we decided that we have to bring it to light, and that’s what you see now. We said, ‘We’ve got to be different and be catchy.’ A little bit of shock and awe has always been my model, and we breathe life to listings that don’t normally have it.” 

Wallingford-based CT Property Sisters — a play on TV’s Property Brothers — have also been establishing their virtual brand for years, dating back to before Instagram was ever popular. The real estate duo of sisters Megan Foggitt and Mikell Germond said being consistent with their branding is key. They have a signature “Sold” sign spelled out in big, cursive letters that they have clients hold once they close on a property. 

“It now has become a joke for people when they start working with us, they are like, ‘We cant wait to make it on the CT Property Sisters’ Instagram page. We look forward to holding that sign,'” Foggitt said.

Approaching real estate marketing in a new way is something both pairs credit to their success. And they are not alone. Interest in eye-catching homes and using the “wow factor” to market luxury units via short-form videos has has been trending upward since the pandemic, the New York Times reported 

Not only are the realtors themselves becoming these sort of micro-influencers, but influencers are being paid to promote or advertise luxury apartment buildings in places like Manhattan and Miami. The New York Times reported that the buildings invite influencers to post photos in new units, offering advance access to shocking views of the city and granting them ownership of the photos as compensation. Thus, these developers are slashing their marketing budgets and letting TikTok do the work for them.

Additionally, Madeline Sutton, known as @TheNYCAgenttold CNN that all of her business now comes from TikTok and that she has doubled her commissions. The virtual nature of her work removed traditional barriers to showing properties and people across the country could view ten listings in a matter of minutes. Popular account Zillow Gone Wild highlights strange, unique and over-the-top listings across the country, and a few Connecticut ones, including one with an ice rink, have even made the cut. 

Meanwhile, on TV, Netflix’s “Selling Sunset” (preceded by many shows like “Million Dollar Listing” and “Flip or Flop”) has catapulted realtors into stardom.

@thenycagent When the real estate agent secretly wants the apartment… #createwithapril #nyc #nycapartment #realestateagent #luxuryhomes #serhant #realestatetips ♬ original sound – TheNYCAgent

The CT Property Sisters do not see themselves as influencers, though, and they said they are aware that other businesses do blur the line between professional accounts and influencing. To avoid just that, the I Love Greenwich team prefaces every blog post with a business banner and their Instagram bio notes that it’s powered by the pair at Sotheby’s.

CT Property Sisters Mikell Germond and Megan Foggitt.

CT Property Sisters Mikell Germond and Megan Foggitt.

Courtesy of CT Property Sisters

When it comes to the managing ethical boundaries in the ever-changing social media landscape, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors said there is a code of ethics that applies to all of its members. Standard of Practice 12-10 reads that real estate agents’ “obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes internet, content, images, and the URLs and domain names they use,” and states they should refrain from “engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage websites.” 

But both the I Love Greenwich team and the CT Property Sisters have seen influencer-like results through their own social media accounts. Perry said that using the previously-mentioned “wow factor” has brought people to their account, and many of these people stick around or remember him when its time to buy a house. The same is true for the Property Sisters, who said they get emails from clients who tell them they have been following the duo for years and are now ready to buy a home. Foggitt and Germond guess that 50 percent of their business comes as a result of their social media page.

“Ultimately, it’s a very inexpensive or free way to promote your business and get recognized,” Foggit said. “Not that it’s easy, because it is a lot of work to maintain a business page, but it’s just a great way to reach a lot of people.”

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