I saw a press release the other day talking about the increase in online video viewing for October. As I looked at the numbers I realized how dramatic the shift in video viewing has become. According to ComScore, an online data measuring company, October was a banner month for online video viewing with YouTube videos outpacing all the other sites combined. Over 13.5 BILLION videos were viewed in October and more than 147 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 92 videos per viewer.
What does this have to do with real estate?
Marketing! I believe it's no coincidence that newspaper circulation and advertising is rapidly dropping off as this online video takes off. We are in a full-blown information age now and broadband is finally becoming mainstream. This means as people become more internet savvy, they are going to expect more digital photography and video online of properties. Those who embrace this early will be the dominate players in the market.
How will agents use video?
Referrals and repeat business have been and always will be the best source of leads for agents. But in a world where online video is so prevalent, agents would be missing the boat if they don't adapt to that reality to get in front of perspective clients.
Most agents that utilize video now have a narrow vision and not much imagination. The videos are either virtual tours of their listings, or self-promotional videos trying to sell themselves. I'm guilty of this as well. But we are starting to see the emergence of other real-estate-related videos. Take Ian Watt in Vancouver. Here's a real estate agent, usually driving around in his car, giving you his point of view on everything from Realtor ethics to low-tide tunnels. And it's really interesting stuff!
Other examples include “Neighborhood Profile” videos. This is where an agent can really add some personalized style and flair. You want to make a neighborhood video that reflects the style and culture of the area, and of you. Linking to other videos is okay, but you won't communicate anything about yourself if that's all you do. Here is an example of TurnHereFilms' Ballard neighborhood video, which I think captures the essence of Ballard really well. Coldwell Banker has used them in the past for neighborhood informational videos, but they are quite expensive and not practical for most Realtors, or even brokerages.
On Seattle-RealEstate.com‘s Neighborhood Descriptions page I have attached several neighborhood videos for people to get a flavor of the areas. Some of these I created myself, and some I linked to from other sources. If I had more time I would do this for every area and personalize each one.
Where to go for help?
Let's be realistic. Not all Realtors are going to have the skills to pull-off quality, compelling videos. Hiring someone else makes the most sense and there is already a cottage industry of small production companies offering services around. WellcomeMat.com is a real-estate-business-specific website where local personalities and professionals connect and discuss the use of video to highlight real estate, cities, neighborhoods, parks, schools, events and local businesses. You can even request bids on projects. I find that the quality of videos produced and posted here to generally be a step up from what most Realtors are capable of producing themselves. Jeff Turner of RealEstateShows.com offers a unique package of coaching and video production. He has a great system for taking photos and creating simple videos with pans and zooms so that you don't have to have actual video footage to come up with a pretty decent video. Jeff also offers great on-line tips for agents that are determined to do it themselves, regardless of their lack of skill (that's my category).
One of the first places an agent should check into is their real estate brokerage. Many major real estate companies are actively promoting video these days and encouraging their agents to jump in while the industry is just taking off. This is a great place to look for local talent who can shoot the footage as well as do the production for you. My company, Coldwell Banker Bain, has made a major push to get agents to make promotional profile videos and consider using video for luxury property listings. They have already made arrangements with several videographers that offer reasonable rates and are experienced with working with agents (meaning those who have no acting talent). While these cookie-cutter videos may not be the best approach, they will at least get your feet wet and get you thinking about what's possible.