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Monday, April 16, 2012

How real estate missed the emotions of Instagram

Responses were mixed when the news broke last Monday morning.

“Too much money!” a few experts proclaimed.

“A great investment for when its IPO launches,” some said.

Others feared Facebook would ruin their new favorite social network—Instagram.

Many were shocked that Facebook would pay $1 billion for a company with 13 employees that had existed for just over 500 days. The New York Times—with its 161 years of history—has been valued at about $50 million less.

Instagram is an app that allows users to apply digital filters to photos and share them on the platform or across other social networks.

Despite its widespread use and popularity—Instagram was downloaded five million times in the first six days it was available on Android—it has no current profit plan. The company has received venture capital, but does not charge for its app, which also doesn’t currently offer ads.

So why the hype? Why the billion dollars? Why did Instagram’s purchase send shockwaves through the tech world and inspire dreaming entrepreneurs the world over?

Because Facebook understands something that is often taken for granted—pictures control the Web. And perhaps more so in real estate than anywhere else.

You remember the feeling. You walked through home and thought to yourself, “this is beautiful!” You imagined you’d have no issues selling it…once interested buyers saw it with their own eyes. You even wrote in the MLS description, “A must see!” The words weren’t accidental.

But the house sat on the market. The street sign didn’t work. You questioned if you should post more pictures of it, but you were discouraged by how little justice they gave the home. The architecture was immaculate. The carpentry was impeccable. The back deck was huge, and adorned with small features that, well, would have to be seen to be appreciated.

Listing pictures show decks. They rarely show details of the deck, hidden lighting on the steps and stylized balusters. They don’t show the depth of the granite countertops, and the way the counter lighting gives the kitchen a warm, inviting glow.

The realization isn’t coming too late. But it might have taken the Instagram purchase to convince you. Pictures create an emotional connection and tell a story words can’t. Emotions sell. Connections sell. And stories sell, particularly when potential homeowners view themselves as the main characters.

And there in lies the other issue. Your MLS limits the number of home images. Even if it didn’t, your real estate website might. You can’t add additional pictures the next time you'll have a chance to take them. You can’t add copy to the images, describing what the visitor is looking at and where in the house it’s located. And you know Facebook doesn’t sell houses; trying to sell on Facebook typically turns fans away. The Web revolves around images. Social networks revolve around images. But your real estate business platform doesn’t.

And that’s when you realize you need a new business platform—a real estate website that allows you to easily upload images on the fly. Images that allow you to comment on them, describing each in detail. Unlimited images, which allow you to display all the rooms and details of the house. And the ability to add more images whenever you need—when you go through the home the next time and notice the back lawn appears a different way in the morning, and how it appears to be inviting you to sit with a cup of coffee and a newspaper (or tablet), waking up for the day.

You need a new real estate business platform that works like the Web does. You need to create a connection with your potential clients that have them turning in one direction—yours.

Contact Delta Media Group for more information on how to improve the images and presentation of your listings, and the connections you'll build with your customers.
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