TRD Forum: Ryan, Fredrik and Luis on why PR rules in real estate

"Million Dollar Listing" stars dish on social media strategy
By Tess Hofmann | May 13, 2015 01:45PM

The cast of “Million Dollar Listing New York” has an obvious advantage when it comes to self-promotion. Their faces and deals are broadcast in 140 countries — not to mention the airplanes flying between those countries — every day. But Ryan Serhant, Fredrik Eklund and Luis Ortiz are constantly looking to amplify that success, particularly through the power of Instagram.

At The Real Deal’s New Development Showcase and Forum on Tuesday, the brokers discussed their social media philosophies.

“Nobody wants to follow someone just posting apartments,” said Douglas Elliman’s Eklund. “My advice to everyone is to showcase who you really are and mix-and-match professional and personal, half-naked photos of my husband, my dogs.”

Ortiz, also of Elliman, agreed that social media is not necessarily about getting your listings in front of more eyes, but getting the people behind those eyes to care more about what you have to say.

“I think that if someone you know very well recommends a restaurant, it is very interesting to you, because you know that person,” he said. “We don’t post ‘For Sale: 25 percent discount.’ We put something personal about that property.”

Serhant, of Nest Seekers International, touted the book “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” by Al and Laura Ries.

“It was super influential for me,” he said. “People don’t trust advertising anymore because it’s being thrown in your face, but people trust PR.”

In terms of whether the television show is an accurate depiction of their personal and professional lives, the cast seemed to agree that it is.

“I wish it was scripted. For one thing it would be a lot easier,” Serhant said. “What I tell everyone is the time frame is different. In the show it’s 44 minutes… whereas that could be four months or five months for us.”

He also said the show’s practice of highlighting losses in addition to victories made it more authentic. “I know you guys have each lost a couple things this season. I haven’t yet,” he joked.

Eklund said that 90 percent of his time is spent in new development meetings now, and that he rarely shows apartments anymore — something that is not necessarily reflected on screen.

His plan for success in the future, he said, is to focus on smaller, more efficient apartments in the $1 million to $3 million range. “Trying to stay relevant and be number one in volume, that’s where the future is in the next two or three years I would say, in the new development arena.”

Unsurprisingly, in front of a huge crowd, none were willing to talk about striking out on their own.

“It would be very unfair to bring developers who have so much risk associated with the sellout, and say hey, I’m going to do this on my own because I have this brand and this TV show,” Serhant said. “I think that’s very short-sighted.”