Kerb appeal was king.
Now it’s clicks.
What does it take to sell a £19.5m hillside mansion in LA? It’s simple: a handful of models in figure-hugging PJs, a bathtub filled with gold bitcoins, food towers made from macarons and 100 social influencers ready to snap, post and hashtag everything they see.
Too much? Not if you’re a West Coast realtor. But before you rush to sign the next Kim Kardashian, you must first establish what it is you want to achieve. Is it brand advocacy? A profile-boost? A new audience? A ton of sales? Fail to set your campaign goals from the get-go and you could end up spending a fortune in exchange for likes you don’t need from followers you don’t want.
Reality TV meets Battersea
Inspired by US-style fanfare, UK developer Avanton recently created a media kerfuffle with a sleb-strewn influencer campaign. Popular C-listers from Love Island and Made in Chelsea were asked to ‘test drive’ the new residential Coda building in Battersea. Some journos dismissed the idea as tacky while others revered it as a maverick move that cements Avanton’s rep as the enfant terrible of PR stunts.
Whatever your view, there’s no doubt that as promos go, this one got people gabbing. But was it a commercial success? Coda is, after all, a smash hit – with the highest sales rate of any new build in the area. But it’s doubtful this has anything to do with the eye candy they employed to endorse it. Why? Because no amount of celebrity pouting at the end of a selfie-stick will convince people to splash the cash in Battersea, unless they’re already in the market to do so.
And that’s the rub: it’s tough to distinguish between the *selection effect* (clicks and sales that are happening anyway) and the *influencer effect* (clicks and sales that wouldn’t have happened without a bevy of famous endorsements). Does this mean Avanton wasted its money? No, because we’d argue that their PR initiative wasn’t about sales. It was about impressions, new followers and free column inches – metrics that are easier to measure than campaign-driven profits. Like we said – influencer marketing works best when you set clear goals at the start.
Influencers skyrocket, despite growing scepticism
Fatigue is affecting influencers, who are tired of the hustle, and consumers, who are wary of the sponsored posts swamping their newsfeeds. It’s got so bad that one study conducted by Dealspotr – the community-based coupon site – revealed that 52% of Millennials don’t trust social influencers. Yet despite this, business pundits predict that brands will spend up to £11bn on influencer marketing by 2022. That’s up from as much as £5.5bn in 2019.
So why the optimism? Possibly because we’re seeing more ‘grown-up’ brands use TikTok and celebrity to gain trust among young people. Doing so may encourage the spotty, lank-haired youths of today to become the loyal, daily-washed first-time property buyers of tomorrow.
Future-proofing customers in this way is smart. After all, a swathe of Millennials have already turned 40. And older members of Gen Z are hurtling towards their mid-twenties.
As early adoptees of social influencers mature, we predict that brands are going to invest heavily in high-quality micro-influencer marketing strategies…which leads us neatly to our next section.
What makes a great influencer?
To answer that question, we need to cast our minds back to when Instagram was just a simple photo-sharing app. Many early contributors attracted small but highly engaged followings with authentic, premium, eye-catching posts. They weren’t monetised, e-commerce influencers. They were inspired, compelling content creators. And this is what astute brands are looking for.
In addition to quality content, you need to make sure that the influencer you’re interested in has an audience profile similar to your own. If they don’t, you’ll be targeting the wrong people.
Engagement rate is important, too. Take the time to see how many of their followers actively like, share and comment on their posts.
That way you’ll know whether you’re about to leverage a lively, switched-on crowd or a bunch of inert thumb-swipers.
There’s also the matter of professionalism. Can your influencer be trusted to represent your brand? Are they free from controversy? Are they able to talk knowledgeably and passionately about your product? Can you see yourself collaborating with them over a long period? If you hesitate to answer yes to any of these questions, you may need to look further afield.
So, can social influencers sell property?
Potentially. But they need to be specialist influencers – people who know about property, design, wellness and lifestyle. Their opinion has to count. And, of course, your product has to pack a punch. If it doesn’t, any influencer worth their salt will let you – and their thousands of followers – know about it.
That’s why, when Vertus asked us to style an apartment at 10 George Street, Canary Wharf, we considered every detail. Walls were painted in warm, jewel-like hues. Instagrammable moments were created with arresting neon art. Bathrooms were filled with luxury body products.
Beds were adorned with Egyptian cotton sheets, thick topper mattresses, soft plump pillows and mohair throws. Kitchen cupboards were packed with speciality coffees and teas. We elevated every square inch of that space to ensure that the influencers asked to review it would thrill to be there. They did. And their tens of thousands of followers got to hear about it, too. Good news travels fast.
Header image: sourced from Autoevolution.
Image 1: sourced from Google.
Image 2: sourced from Google.
Image 3: sourced from Google.