You might be thinking, what on earth do cats have in common with real estate? Indeed the two topics have little in common aside from maybe ensuring your allergic buyer doesn’t acquire a property that was formerly the local cat cafe. However, when it comes to social media, whether your niche is real estate, pets, travel, food, beauty or sports, there are some essential tips that anyone can apply to their social media business.

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Merlin Ragdoll
Merlin Ragdoll

More than four years ago, I started an Instagram account for my now internet-famous cat, Merlin. Originally it was purely for fun, as a place to post photos and videos of him where I wasn’t spamming friends and family on my personal accounts. I remembered seeing other famous pets and thinking it was interesting that a pet could be known and adored by people worldwide and yet have no idea that he was famous. I certainly did not expect to one day have one of those pets! As I write this, Merlin is sleeping beside me, blissfully unaware of his international fame.

Fast forward to today, Merlin (known online as Merlin Ragdoll) has quite an impressive resume. Currently, he has 278,000 followers on Instagram, 90,000 on Facebook and more than 200,000 on TikTok. We’ve traveled to Los Angeles to do meet and greets at the world’s largest cat convention, attended many of the Canadian Pet Expos and made appearances at various other events.

He has starred in a TV commercial, has his own line of “Merlin Merch”, has advertised for several pet care companies, and has been interviewed on Breakfast Television and live on a morning show in Australia. We have met actor Ian Sommerhalder and celebrities like Ellie Goulding and Joe Jonas have shared Merlin’s posts on their Instagram accounts. We have an extensive collection of art and mail sent from fans around the globe and most recently, I discovered that someone in Russia has a tattoo of his face! Merlin has some pretty dedicated fans, to say the least.

Sales rep Hailey Ward and Merlin
Sales rep Hailey Ward and Merlin

When I first started Merlin’s Instagram account, social media was only beginning to become popular for businesses. Today, it is considered essential and it has become uncommon for a business not to have an online presence. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly elevated the importance of connecting with your audience virtually. Now that we have had to change how we interact with the public, many of us have been pushed to learn various digital platforms and adopt social media into our business practice. As an unexpected record-breaking season starts to taper off for some Realtors, this presents an excellent opportunity to get familiar with and comfortable with social media.

Below are a few helpful tips from my experience that can be applied to any social media theme, including real estate:

1. Have a plan:

Think about how you want to appear to your audience. Do you have a theme, colour scheme, or style of posting? A well-thought-out plan can make for a captivating feed that is attractive to viewers. What are your followers there to see? What type of content performs best with your audience? For real estate specifically, it is important to be mindful of how your content appears on your feed. Does it have a clean and visually appealing appearance? Or does it appear cluttered or spammy? If you are going to use posts with text throughout your feed, try to keep that text style and size consistent and consider using a font that is clean and easy to read.

2. Interact and engage with your community:

Now more than ever, it is so important to connect with our peers digitally. Engaging with your audience and other members of your social media “community” can nurture organic growth and general engagement on your account. Build your social community by following pages that relate to your theme. Engage with them by liking and commenting on their posts. People who follow those pages are more likely to repeatedly see your name, view or follow your account and connect with your content. Promote relative businesses to create digital connections that could ultimately turn into real world connections. The more you give, the more you get.

3. Get to know your platform and use the available features:

Social media platforms have various tools and features to help you connect with your audience and get creative with your account. For example, to engage your audience further on Instagram, you can use features such as polls, audience questions, tagging locations, mentioning other users and keeping a link and your contact information in your bio. Sharing stories regularly is a great way to stay active and share more of your day-to-day activities, and an even better place to show your personality. For real estate, paying to promote your posts is an excellent way to reach more people and give your content more exposure.

4. Monitor your growth and engagement:

Most social media platforms have the ability to track insights. Insights allow you to see how many viewers your posts reach and enable you to track your account growth. Regularly monitoring these statistics can help you understand the content that performs best with your audience and what brings people to your page.

5. Be authentic and have fun!

Social media is a great way to get creative and express yourself. Be real, be genuine and have a good time! People connect with authenticity and like to see some personality. Let your audience get to know you and show them that there is a real person behind your business.

As times change rapidly in our society and business, we must adapt to new forms of connecting with buyers and sellers. Considering most people these days use some form of social media, it should be evident that maintaining a presence online can ultimately generate real-life connections.

So, how has Merlin’s social media presence helped me in my real estate career? Besides being a great talking point, I have had some amazing experiences and opportunities I would not have had if it weren’t for Merlin’s popularity. It has given me a crash course in communicating with my audience, opportunities to negotiate contracts, event planning and preparation for shows, and above all, social media marketing. I have expanded my network and have met a lot of great people along the way.

I am grateful for the experiences Merlin has brought to my life, and even more grateful for Merlin himself. He is an absolute sweetheart behind his angry, judgmental appearance. I often receive messages from fans telling me that Merlin’s content makes them smile on the hardest days, and that is really what makes it all worth it for me.

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