asking price and the agent’s reputation was made, sort of. She now has to field questions about what crazy animal suit she’ll don next. Lesson Learned: This strategy worked because the listing photos were really well staged and the panda was actually not the highlight of the picture. Instead, it was more of a “wink” to listing viewers. The sellers of the home were in on the experiment and actually requested the stunt because they were con- cerned their home had been listed for three weeks without an offer. ana hit the market with a price tag of nearly $2 million. This mansion was something “special” even before it was staged. It boasts an enormous dolphin fountain the middle of the driveway, incredible stonework and artistic glass windows and walls, and a number of inviting nooks, crannies, and hidden alcoves. The active listing at time of publication describes the property as “packed with income and personality plus,” and suggests renting the property out on Airbnb as an experience that would be “impossible to replicate.” All of that is just fine and dandy, but the issue for this mansion is that it tends to make headlines every year or so not for the originality of its design, but for odd staging decisions that bloggers and other social media participants love to take viral by taunting. The most recent example of this is a running Twitter thread dedicated to making snarky com- ments about the staging, such as “One lion head. Two lion head. WHERE’S THE THIRD LION HEAD?!?” While this line of commentary is certainly get- ting a lot of attention, it is not necessarily helping to sell the home because the commentary is largely negative. NO. 2 STRANGE AND “WONDERFUL” STAGING GOES AWRY… Back in 2012, a mansion in Indi-

that featuring scantily-clad, attractive women standing adjacent to nearly any product is a tried-and-true sales strate- gy. It will likely come as no surprise that many real estate agents have tried this strategy in their mar- keting videos, common- ly dubbed “lifestyle” videos. These videos often go viral, but the results can

Lesson Learned: If you go viral on social media, be aware that you might get a trophy or you might just get trolled.


NO. 3


When it comes to your

cute and cuddly furry friends, conventional wisdom says to keep them out of sight when you show a home. After all, not everyone loves dogs

vary. Some agents have gotten very risqué with videos of luxury properties, landing lots of views

and not everyone wants to live in a house where man’s best friend might have been shedding all over the carpet or, worse, making puddles on the floor. However, one Australian real estate agent’s miniature Shih Tzu mix, named Tiffany, made headlines in 2014 when her owner started featuring her in list- ing photos. Originally, the images were intended to alert buyers that a property was pet friendly, but Tiffany netted sellers nearly twice the number of page views than similar listings without the pup and the agent began offering Tiffa- ny’s services to all sellers. Tiffany, who is often pink in her pictures, now has her own Facebook and Instagram pres- ence as well. So far, she has refrained from tweeting. Lesson Learned: If you’re going to use any animal to increase your listing views, make sure the owners of the property are on board, the animal is hypoallergenic (Tiffany does not shed), and that your furry friend is well-groomed and clean in the images and in person.

but also lots of criti- cism for not being family friendly. This may not matter if

the property is a bachelor pad, but can create problems for an agent moving forward if they develop a reputation as an adult-audiences-only promoter. The best videos of this type tend to take a light-hearted approach but do take advantage of high-end bathrooms and pools to get the bikini shots in. Lesson Learned: You might get what you want with a lot of atten- tion for your listing, but be careful. Whatever you post online will stay with you and your reputation forever. The benefits of going viral with your real estate listings can certainly be mixed. Weigh the potential benefits of increased views and publicity for both an individual property and your real estate business carefully against the potential costs of that publicity before attempting this marketing strategy. •

4 Viral Marketing Stunts and HowTheyWorked “GOING VIRAL” CAN BE GOOD OR BAD FOR YOUR LISTING.

by Carole VanSickle Ellis


n theory, it sounds like a dream come true: Do something cheap and

your property stagnating on the market for months or years. Here are four examples of viral marketing stunts by real estate professionals and how they turned out:

lounged its way across a series of listing photos for a Houston home. While most buyers shook their heads and looked past the panda to the four-bedroom, 2.5-bath listing itself, local media grabbed onto the story and ran with it. Soon, the listing was making headlines all over the country and the agent had a dozen showings in two days. Shortly thereafter, the home sold for

funny to your property, then make a video that goes viral, then get lots of attention for your real estate business and sell for top dollar in record time. “Going viral” sounds great, but sometimes it can be a nightmare. In real estate, not all publicity is good pub- licity, and the wrong viral video can leave


NO. 4

BEDROOM… Watch television for no more than 10 minutes, and you will certainly be reminded by at least one commercial

Carole VanSickle Ellis is the editor of Think Realty Magazine. She can be reached at


NO. 1

YOUR LISTING… In the Summer of 2016, a giant panda

54 | think realty magazine :: december 2017

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