How to create content that connects you to your community

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Stop trying to generate leads, new Inman contributor Lauren Harris writes. Start creating a community with the power of content creation that speaks to the neighborhoods you serve.

At Inman Connect Las Vegas, July 30-Aug. 1, 2024, the noise and misinformation will be banished, all your big questions will be answered, and new business opportunities will be revealed. Join us.

Creating regular and engaging content is one of the biggest challenges that all agents face. I’ve been in the housing industry for 15 years and first got my start in property management in 2009 when the economy and the real estate industry saw their hardest downturns in many decades.

Over the years, my passion for helping people inspired my content creation plan. I wanted to find a way to help people before they became defeated in depleting their life savings just to sell a home. This is what led me to become a licensed real estate agent. 

Here I’m sharing my best tips for creating content on social media that will not only help build your brand but also help you connect to your community.

How it started

I got my license in 2013 and started out with new home sales, where I learned the ins and outs of building new homes. In school, I wasn’t a standout student, but through real-life experiences, I found that I had a knack for numbers and analytics.

Upon leaving the new construction side of the industry, I moved into a director of operations role, which presented the opportunity to become a co-owner of a brokerage affiliated with a national brand. From there I was recruited to become the sales manager for a local boutique firm, which did a lot of video marketing production and piqued my interest in video content creation. 

I found a way to incorporate real-life issues into video content, providing solutions to the problems many homeowners face. During tornado season or heavy rainstorms, I would create videos about the benefits of flood insurance and take photos of homes and personal belongings prior to the storm. In the event they had to submit a claim, it would be smooth and easy to get the claim approved.

I found my rhythm and decided to start a weekly segment on Fridays. Each video started out having five tips, and I called them “Friday Five.” I post these videos every Friday, and I also supplement additional content each month with on-location videos, POV/Day in the Life, and live videos on social platforms.  

Finding your niche

After figuring out the algorithm and finding my niche in what people wanted to learn about, I started focusing on tips, tricks and debunking myths within the real estate industry and home buying and selling process.

The topics I cover include home maintenance, HOAs (you either love them or hate them), septic vs sewage and holiday safety tips. I make a point to cover national issues that are affecting not only my community but anyone looking to buy or sell, such as interest rates, loans and commission structures.

I also share a lot of localized content about not only the market here in Huntsville, Alabama, but also the community. Since I am a local Huntsvillian, I want to share all my community has to offer to those relocating to the area.  

Another fun segment I do is called “Cakes and Closings.” I used to have a small custom cake business and still love being able to express my creative side by making cakes and other desserts. When decorating these desserts, I do a Facebook Live where I tell the story of a recent client’s experience closing a deal and give tips on how to recreate the dessert I am making. 

After receiving an outpouring of support and feedback about my authenticity and engaging approach, I got the courage to start another type of video content that I call “Reel Talks.” These videos aren’t focused on real estate but cover topics that everyone deals with every day, such as depression, divorce, anxiety and just the fact that it’s OK to not be OK. Through these honest discussions on hard topics, my followers grew; people see that I am a real person giving real information with the sole purpose of helping others. 

My best content creation tips

In addition to providing people with helpful information, video has been a great way for me to support my repeat and referral business. If you’re interested in incorporating video into your business, here are some tips to get you started.

  1. I post my videos on Facebook and Instagram and am starting to build my YouTube channel. If you aren’t sure where to start, you should pick the platform where you’re already spending time scrolling. You already understand the platform, viral videos/sounds and the audience, which will accelerate your learning curve.
  2. I shoot my videos in a vertical frame using a 9:16 aspect ratio (vertical), which works on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube Shorts. YouTube uses a horizontal frame with a 16:9 aspect ratio (horizontal) so when I edit my videos for YouTube, I can switch the mode from vertical to horizontal with some easy editing in Canva, CapCut, or Splice.
  3. The equipment I use includes a tripod/ring light, wireless mic, a power bank for the phone and a selfie stick. You don’t need a production company to get started, just your phone. 
  4. After I gained some momentum with my videos, I hired a video assistant who handles editing, captioning and posting. That frees me up to work with my clients.
  5. I shoot two months of content at a time, which means I only spend six days a year recording video. It’s very efficient.
  6. I developed my online brand to be both consistent and memorable. I open every video with a rainbow flourish of my hands while saying, “Hey guys!” I am also widely known for my long, colorful nails — people either love them or hate them, but they always remember them. When I close my videos, I lean into my nails by doing a front-to-back peace sign to the camera which puts my nails on the main stage. 
  7. Don’t fake a personality. Don’t be someone you’re not; it will come off as fake. Your hobbies and passions can open the doors to another target audience you may not be tapping into. Talk to the camera like it is a client. Don’t be scripted; be authentic.  
  8. My involvement in many local charitable organizations and events, including serving on several boards, has expanded my video presence. Through my support of Toys for Tots, the American Heart Association, and the Rose Society, which supports charities serving women and children, I am able to interview local people about these organizations for my own videos while also being asked to be the interviewer for other media companies based on the popularity of my videos in the community. For instance, I interviewed several local company owners about their silent auction donations to a charity ball, which was used by the charity to raise funds for their marketing and awareness purposes.

Know your intentions

At the end of the day, my intentions are not to generate leads but to create a community. I pride myself on the fact that all my business comes from referrals and repeat business and my video efforts reflect that focus. My tagline reflects my business philosophy: Educating consumers for powerful moves.

All these efforts in connecting with my community I owe to my grandmother, who owned a very successful floral business across from the local high school. She had been in business long enough that families who bought prom flowers would hire her a few years later for the graduation parties, then weddings, then baby showers and, sadly, sometimes funerals.

What I learned from her was the value of building relationships with people for life — in many cases, almost their entire lives. 

Like my grandmother, I want to be a valuable, even invaluable part of people’s lives for the duration. It’s what gets me up every day.

Lauren Harris is an associate broker with over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry. Connect with Lauren on Facebook and Linkedin.

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