The Real Deal New York

Sellers seek Instagram showcases

Tech-savvy brokers are working social media into advertising pledges
By Ariel Stulberg | June 01, 2015 07:00AM
From left, Ryan Serhant, Elliman’s Tal and Oren Alexander

From left: Ryan Serhant, Elliman’s Tal and Oren Alexander

New York apartment sellers are starting to demand more than the usual when it comes to marketing: They want assurances that their homes will be showcased on widely followed Instagram feeds.

Tech-savvy brokers have long used the photo-sharing social network as a light-hearted, modern supplement to more traditional forms of advertising. But in recent months, more clients have started to specifically ask for the social media boost.

“It was almost like a joke, but not really,” said Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International, describing a recent sales contract that called for a dedicated Instagram post advertising the property. The “Million Dollar Listing New York,” star said the pact even called for a second solo post on his feed, which has more than 270,000 followers, if the property wasn’t sold in 30 days.

And it’s not just TV stars.

Oren Alexander of Douglas Elliman also codifies social media promotion in his marketing plans, though not quite with the same specificity. “We make sure the clients realize how many followers we have, and the quality of the followers we have, [including] developers and top agents from around the world,” he said.

The reason he gave is simple: Social media is the most effective tool in his marketing arsenal. While he doesn’t offer specific terms for posting, “I do see it going there,” he said. Alexander’s account, @orenalexander, has about 18,000 followers.

Another prolific Instagrammer, Compass President Leonard Steinberg, agreed, but also emphasized a downside. “It definitively works,” he said, but added that sellers are wary that his social media activity might do more to promote Steinberg himself than it does to sell their properties.

To counteract that impression, he de-emphasizes the more personal types of posts that most users, along with Serhant, favor. His Instagram feed, @theleonardsteinbergteam, a business account with 28,700 followers, rather than a personal one — focuses on his listings, and on real estate in general.

“I don’t get that many likes,” Steinberg said, “but I get calls for appointments, which is sometimes even better.”