Ed Stulak is a New Jersey licensed REALTOR® and social media star. He has a new course that teaches everything he has learned over the last eight years about building a following on Instagram, including the basics of Instagram, personal branding, and strategies to build your following. He has been featured in publications such as REALTOR® Magazine and Future Sharks.
On today’s episode, Ed discusses his experience with social media, and how building your personal brand can help drive your sales.
- Showing your true personality on social media can help you develop an authentic following
- You should be consistently posting a diversity of niche content to your social media pages
- Being there for clients and showing that you care can help you maintain them long term
Q: What are the strategies you’re using to grow your real estate business, and how are you coaching others?
I’ve been in social media for quite some time, trying to figure out if it was something I could even apply to my real estate business and if I could get results. But I got results quite fast, just being on social media, building a personal brand, and finding an audience to actually follow it. So how do you find the right audience to follow it and want to be a part of it? And of course, deliver the services and value in your product for them to be able to buy it. So I’ve been doing social media for quite some time and am entering my fourth year in real estate. The leads always come in because they see what the personal brand is about. I’m always hitting people with real estate and giving them value—be it entertainment, educational stuff, emotional things—there’s always value being provided to my ideal audience. And it’s about figuring out the audience and what they want to absorb. I have this thing called the content cycle, and it’s figuring out who your ideal audience is, what they are able to digest and absorb, and come back for more. It’s this cycle that they keep getting looped into and eventually bring their friends along on the journey. This is how business slowly started to erupt, because I keep giving the value that they want. That’s what people have to do. They have to understand what the content they’re going to be posting is all about, that it portrays their brand for what it is, and that it gives your audience what they want. It’s a psychological game—make people want to be a part of your journey and eventually they’ll want to buy from you.
That all comes from branding. I hate selling. I’m a salesman but God do I hate selling. And Gary Vaynerchuk once said 90 percent of people sell, and 10 percent of people brand. Those 10 percent of people who brand end up selling 90 percent more than those who sell. Why is it that a person like Kylie Jenner, for example, can say something about her new line in Kylie Cosmetics and sell it like hotcakes, but if it comes directly from Kylie Cosmetics it doesn’t sell as well? The personal brand is more powerful at the end of the day. You’ve got Dr. Dre and Beats, Elon Musk and Tesla, Kylie Jenner and Kylie Cosmetics—there’s so many different things where the personal brand is louder.
Q: How do you find your ideal audience?
So who is an ideal avatar for a real estate agent—most likely a buyer or seller. What kind of content does a buyer and seller want to consume? A buyer probably wants to consume: “3 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Home” or “3 Things You Need to Know As a First-Time Homebuyer.” They want to know how to buy a house, so give it to them. A seller probably wants to know how to sell their home on their own: “Here Are 3 Things You Need to Sell Your Home for 70 Percent More.” There are things that sellers and buyers want. Give it to them on a consistent basis on a consistent and unique approach that another real estate agent or joe shmoe couldn’t do. What makes you stand out?
I was just on another podcast, and they asked: What makes a buyer or a seller even want to work with you? Every real estate agent can do the same thing. They can go ahead and post their beautiful listings, but every house is beautiful. I saw a video once of this real estate agent in New York—he did it so well. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or not looking at all, he made it so anyone, no matter their perspective, stayed until the end of the video. How he did it was used a character as a third party person, and it was this big guy, unshaven, eating chips in bed, living in this apartment. All of a sudden his eyes light up and you see he won the lottery. So then the agent comes on the screen and says, “What does a guy do when he’s just won the lottery? He goes and buys a mansion in New York City.” Then he goes and shows the guy running through this condo he just listed, looking at the appliances and the countertops, and he’s showing it in a fun and entertaining way. I wasn’t looking to buy it or sell it, but it was inspirational, different, and very motivating for me to know that there are other ways to portray and sell listings. Do something out of the box that makes people talk.
Q: You have over 50,000 followers, so how do you sustain it?
There are a ton of different ways to get to the result you’re looking for. In this case I like to entertain, it’s part of my characteristics and who I am. I like to make people laugh and smile and let them know I’m there for them and will get the job done. So how do I do that and portray that in a post? Well, I’ll wrap it up all into one with my brand. My brand is known to be goofy, funny, valuable, educational, all this stuff. Some might present their brand in a different way. Some people don’t like to be on camera, so do audio or podcasts—bring value that way. Get past clients of yours on the podcast with you and talk about their process and what they want to see in a buyer’s agent or seller’s agent. I’ve realized there’s five things that sell like crazy nowadays: sex, education, animals, babies, and humor. I’m obviously not going to be in a two-piece bikini trying to portray my listings. I’ve got to post it in a way that’s true to my brand.
People will either do business with you or they won’t, it’s just what it is. Those who won’t are probably people you wouldn’t want to do business with. Those who do are probably those you want to work with in the end. I love when I get a lead from Instagram, but I hate when I get a lead from Zillow. I have to fight for the Zillow lead—I have to show them, “Look, I swear I can sell you your house.” What can you do to make your brand different so that you’re trustworthy enough that when leads come in from Instagram and they say, “I want to work with you and no one else.” I love that, I don’t have to show you anything. My social media presence does it for itself.
Q: How often should someone be posting, and is the name of the game Instagram right now?
Get on Instagram, that’s number one. Post maybe once or twice a day, as a post on the feed, and post a minimum of five times on your Instagram Story. People think that’s a lot, but you can post once or twice in the morning, once or twice in the afternoon, and again at night. It’s so simple. It doesn’t have to be you talking about important things, just show your authentic side. If you get up in the morning and you’ve got bedhead, own it. Wake up and say, “It’s a great day to be great. I don’t really want to get up but I know I have to so get up and crush your day.” People love behind the scenes, and Instagram Stories are a great way to do that. You want to post a few times a day just to show you’re alive, you’re out there crushing it, you’re spending time with your family, but I’m also busy with work.
I’ve been big on TikTok too, I’ve been posting about once a day. So I have to come up with that content and yes, it does take maybe 30 minutes out of my day to film a video, edit it quick, and put a font on it. But things like that add up to exposure. Every time I go on TikTok now I have about 30 new followers and maybe I’ll get one or two new messages, plus five to ten new followers on Instagram too, and that’s great. People know on TikTok what my niche is because, first of all, my name is RealtorofTikTok, so they know what I do, and my content is about real estate, so it’s niche-specific—and that’s a lesson across platforms. No matter where you’re at, make sure you’re posting niche-specific content.
Be on all platforms regardless. Don’t spend too much time on the ones you aren’t good at, like I suck at Twitter. I hate Twitter, but I’m on there because God forbid a client searches my name and I don’t pop up. Now, imagine typing in Starbucks in Twitter and nothing comes up. It’s like, “Wow, I thought you were a reputable company.” We know Starbucks is across all platforms, and that’s how you should be. Why not be the Starbucks of your area? The goal is to become the celebrity of your local area. We’re all fighting for exposure.
Q: Talk about your course a little bit and what you want people to take away from it.
The course is called IGRE, IGREcoaching.com, and the reason why I made it is because I realized most of the messages I get in my DMs are repetitive and it’s people saying to me, “Ed, what are the algorithms? How can I grow my following? What tools should I use?” So I said, well, I have a coaching business right now where I do one-on-ones, but not everyone can afford that. People love the info right off the bat, and I thought the best way to do that is through a course.
I wanted to put all my content together in one spot where they can tune in and watch these videos. So I started out with the basics of Instagram. The average age of a real estate agent is 56 years old, so some agents are not going to know what Instagram is. I have that module within the course where it teaches you all the basics of Instagram—this is how you download Instagram, this is how you take a picture, this is how you add a caption, and so on. I have intermediate, where I talk about building a brand that matters to you. We talk about tools, tips and tricks and strategies, cool things that can make you get quality content. The last module is building a following, and a following that is going to convert into more engagement, likes, followers, comments, and leads.
One of my favorite strategies I talk about is called “Follow Farming” and that has gotten me the most sales and leads ever, which is amazing. And that’s what people want to know: how to get leads online for free. I talk about algorithms too, because some people don’t know what they are, and that’s really my course. People can learn all about Instagram—things you need to know to build a following. That’s what I travel the world to do now, to speak about social media and personal branding—and that’s the true passion.
Q: Give people a sneak peek—what’s an algorithm, for people who don’t know?
I said one before—posting five times to your Instagram Story—there’s a reason I said five times. Instagram detects who is an active user and who is an inactive user. You want to be considered an active user to get more exposure. Imagine if you owned a restaurant and you have one customer who comes in every day for that beer or that burger, you’re going to eventually want to reward them with a free meal. It’s the same concept with social media. The algorithm is the backbone or the bone structure, and you want to do what the algorithm wants. In this case, it wants you to post five times a day on your Instagram Story. The more you post, the more it will reward you. Be that active user.
Q: What is the fastest way to get your following up, and does that matter for agents?
Whether you have one follower or one million followers, I realized that people love to be seen and heard. Your audience loves to be seen and heard. Your clients love to be seen and heard. So see and hear them. As soon as you get a follower, reach out to them and say thank you for the follow. And don’t just text them. I send them an audio or a video message saying, “Hey, John, I see you’re located in Austin, Texas. I appreciate the follow. If there is anything I can do to help you out with your Instagram, personal brand, or online presence, you know I’m here for you. Talk soon.” 80 percent of the time they’ll respond and remain a follower. I always get this question of how you build a following, but I never get asked how you maintain it. That’s how you maintain it—show them you love and support them.
I had a kid follow me and he reached out and said, “Ed, thanks for the content you portray I love it so much.” I reached out to him with a video message saying, “Thanks man, I love you, blah blah.” He reached back out and said, “Here’s a question.” He took advantage of it. So I answered and he asked another question. I thought, “OK, cool.” But I asked for his number and if he had an iPhone, and I FaceTimed him right of the bat, but I told him, “Talk to me. What questions do you have.” I don’t think I will ever lose that kid as a follower now. Show them that you’re there for them, it’s as simple as that.
Q: What have you learned over the last two years that you wish you knew sooner?
I would honestly say, if I knew what I just told you guys a few seconds ago back then, I would have had a different result. Engagement is so key—it’s a huge thing for people to understand. Imagine reaching out to a guy like Brad Pitt and him reaching back out. You’re telling all your friends, “Woah, Brad Pitt just responded, that’s so cool.” People like that feeling, so give it to them. It will stay forever. Make people love you and give them what you want them to feel for you. Whether people leave a thumbs up on your picture, give them your feedback. People love to speak.
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- Send your new followers a personal message to let them know you’re there for them.