5 tips to liven up your social presence — from Lori Lightfoot’s digital strategist

As deputy director of digital strategy for the office of the mayor, Kikora Mason is tasked with making Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot the most digitally savvy mayor in the country. But as a web marketing expert, Mason recognizes that social media skills are equally applicable in every field. That’s why she attended last week’s Titans of Industry: Women in Real Estate conference, to address the room full of agents with tips for invigorating their online presence.

Mason acknowledged three truths about the internet: It is a large space, there is a lot going on and that is not going to change. That can leave most wondering how to stand out. And for that, Mason has five guidelines, or, as she calls them, “The Five Rs.”

Kikora Mason at the Titans of Industry event

Be real

Above all, Mason advised, don’t talk like a robot: “Have fun and be a human in this space,” she said. Content needs personality to attract clients, Mason explained. “You don’t want to be stiff in the way that you communicate.” As an example, Mason cited the actor Amanda Seales who plays recurring character Tiffany on HBO’s “Insecure.” Throughout the course of the series, Seales gained a considerable internet following for her fresh takes and natural presentation.

Be relatable

“You’re not just selling properties, you’re selling experiences,” Mason said, flexing her understanding of the Realtor brand. But selling an experience requires building trust and connecting with your audience. To do that, she suggested hosting Instagram live sessions with other professionals, creating direct-to-camera Q&A videos and using Instagram Reels, the platform’s fairly new recording and editing program.

Be responsible

Most agents are well aware, at this point, that they need to be careful what they say online. “Nothing in the digital ecosystem goes away,” Mason said, going on to reference the two well-known, but very different, examples: comedian Kevin Hart and Jamal Simmons, Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director. Both men found their careers jeopardized due to decade-old tweets. “You’re not just representing yourself [when you post], you’re representing your company,” Mason said. She encouraged doing regular scrubs of your social media and, if still you’re unsure if something whether appropriate, get a professional opinion.

Be recognizable

Though most of Mason’s tips included more tangible strategies, being recognizable does come down to — as she put it — “a certain je ne sais quoi” or pleasing quality that is difficult to describe. To attain that, Mason suggested that agents consider how their social presence will help them stand out in a crowded space. “What is something that keeps people coming back to your profile?” She encouraged attendees to ask themselves.

Be rich

“In each post, make clients feel like you’re only speaking to them,” Mason said. It helps to be visual and immersive and to imbue the work with personality whenever possible. And to achieve that, Mason offered some surprising advice: “If you have to spend more than 15 minutes thinking about what will go into it, it’s probably a bad post.” While remaining responsible, Mason cautioned, “Avoid overthinking.”

Speaking to Chicago Agent after the conference, Mason also provided additional insight for cultivating authenticity. “What helps is knowing the things you want to focus on in your social media content. It comes off unnaturally when folks are not prepared to enter the space, so they’re thinking on the fly.” But social media doesn’t work like that anymore; the medium has evolved and there is strategy around all of it, she added.

Realtors in particular, Mason said, should choose three areas to focus on when posting. Agents understand their market specialties like the back of their hand, so let that confidence and expertise be a guiding light. “When you know what you want to talk about, it’s easier to be authentic,” Mason explained, noting that it’s still important to have some fun. Using digital platforms to both showcase work and attract new clients is a key aspect of marketing, she said. “Maintaining an engaged audience takes work, but you have to relax,” she said. “If you’re talking like a robot, it’s all for nothing.”

More specifically, Mason’s emphasized the significance of doing this work on Instagram. “Insta and video content is the now,” she said. “And even if it’s uncomfortable, [agents] should be pushing that.” As the most visual platform, Instagram is home to the largest percentage of social media users, and Mason believes that the core demographic of the real estate audience is on there. Similarly, Mason pointed out, the app TikTok is effective at cultivating communities based on personal interests — there is a real estate audience there too.

Real estate coaches agree — this is the most powerful way to build a personal brand

The real estate world is crowded, no doubt about it. It feels like we are constantly being challenged to find ways that set us apart from the competition.

But here’s a little secret that Buffini & Company real estate coaches want to let you in on: When you enter the scene with a strong personal brand, things start to feel a lot more spacious.

That’s because personal brands have power, and when carefully crafted, yours will set you apart from the competition and make your business unique in its industry.

What’s in a Brand?

Basically, branding is your promise to the customer. Your brand outlines what the client can expect from your offerings. It’s what sets you apart from the competition and makes your business unique.

In a culture where 65% of buyers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than advertising, it is essential to define your personal brand and commit to it in order to build loyal customers. When you create a strong, recognizable brand that shows up in all of your real estate marketing and services, clients know exactly what to expect when they work with you (psst… this is huge if you want their referrals).

3 Steps to Building a Powerful Brand

In order to build a powerful personal brand, you need to identify what makes you unique and tie that into your actions. Trust us, it’s not as hard as it sounds! Define your brand story with these three steps:

  • Brainstorm. Write words that reflect your interests, attributes and skills and how you show up in the world. Remember, 89% of consumers stay loyal to brands that share their values, so make sure your own brand is based on concepts important to you! By the way, don’t be afraid to have fun with it. If your four-legged friend is a huge part of your life, find a way to include Fido in your branding! This lets clients see more of your personality right from the start.
  • Narrow it down. Select the phrases that differentiate you. Think about the words you would want your customers to associate you with. Would they refer you for your integrity? Your enthusiasm? Your knowledge? Combine words that play to both emotion and skill. Consider what your clients are already saying about you (great negotiator, exceptional energy, tells it like it is, etc.) to help you create this picture.
  • Write your story. Create a short sentence or phrase using your favorite words to tell your brand story. This sentence is what guides your brand — any marketing or actions you take should be able to relate back to this. For example, you might say, “Sam Jones is a powerful negotiator who is dedicated to serving clients before, during and after the sale.” Make sure elements of this brand story appear in your marketing materials and your actions with clients.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Real estate coaches agree: A brand is nothing on paper. It’s what you do to bring it to life that people remember!

The most sustainable personal brands are the ones tied to exceptional customer service. Go above and beyond to impress customers with unexpected extras so that your brand becomes synonymous with high-quality service in real estate. These actions include:

  • Mailing handwritten notes to check in and thank clients for their business.
  • Consistently sending valuable information by mail and email.
  • Delivering small appreciation gifts.
  • Hosting client appreciation events for your top referrers.

Actions speak louder than words. Bringing your brand promise to life with exceptional service is the best way to create loyal fans of your business. Turn those folks into customers for life, and you will always be their go-to agent for referrals.