1000watt Blog

Writings about real estate, branding, marketing, media and technology from the principals of 1000watt.

See how marketing is done now

Airbnb, a company anyone running a real estate brokerage or franchise should pay attention to, ran its first TV ad last week. If you guessed they’d run a quirky 30-second spot featuring their best looking users with some hipster-esque tunes layered on top, you’d be wrong.

No. Airbnb, of course, went deeper.

The ad, titled “Hollywood & Vines,” is a 4-minute long short film composed entirely of six-second, user-contributed Vines. It tells a story without using any dialogue. It doesn’t mention Airbnb in dialogue or narration, and doesn’t utter the word travel or the vernacular that’s embedded in that industry.

Yet it’s entirely relevant.

The plot is an important one for the Airbnb brand: experiencing the wonder and excitement of the world and life through travel. And while the travel in this ad is acted out by paper airplanes, it creates an emotional connection.

The plot thickens

By now, you’ve likely been hit over the head more than a few times with the phrase “content marketing”. People today have a low tolerance for the spray of mass advertising. But tell them a story that sits where your brand values and their personal values connect, and they’ll listen.

Marketing today needs a believable plot. Seems simple, yet few take the care needed to fully develop one. Instead they are forced into a system of creating content for the sake of “being social” or ranking on Google.

The most striking thing about Airbnb’s short film is that it was created entirely by regular people. We often point to the practice of featuring your customers as a way to reveal more about your brand. But Airbnb took it a step further and let their customers and fans act out the story. They challenged their creativity.

There is virtually no marketing like this happening in real estate, which feels like a missed opportunity. We know of one brokerage, RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis, that takes this approach in hosting an annual local film festival.

Have you ever noticed how candid people get when you ask them about where they live? They immediately start in with their list of likes and dislikes, firing off specific restaurants and landmarks, commenting on the weather, and naming best times of the year to visit.

Even the shyest of people will talk openly about where they live. Their neighborhood. The people. The weather. Traffic.

I’d love to see more real estate companies harnessing the tools available to mine for these stories and share them with their customers. Rather than shoveling content into social media each day and calling that a strategy, why not set yourself up to listen instead? Set up a situation like Airbnb did and call upon your customers for creative content they associate with home.

Olapic, Vine, Chute, Tumblr, Instagram. These are all tools that can be used to stoke your users’ appetite to create content.

Stop to listen

Of course, none of this is to suggest you start putting videos up on YouTube of your customers talking about how great you are. As Marc points out with video, the bar for attention and engagement is very high. Quality is important.

The content of your marketing story matters more than you may think. It’s too easy to turn you off, click away and watch something else. With each piece of marketing you send out online, you’re competing for attention with Miley Cyrus’ latest tongue shot and Beyonce’s latest hairdo.

Focus on ways you can engage your customers in telling the story. I bet you’ll find that more people stop to listen.

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7 Responses to “See how marketing is done now”

  1. Daniel Bates says:

    WOW! I’m usually pretty in tune with the posts on this blog though I don’t comment often on the blog here, but that video has got to be one of the most God-awful pieces of crap that I’ve seen in a long time. If the goal was to impress some mucky-muck at the Cannes Film Festival, maybe they’ll succeed. I, personally, rarely like those movies either and most of the general public which speaks with their wallets by buying tickets agrees as they never succeed in the box office.

    As an advertisement the video fell flat on just about every measurable scale. I can’t even count how many time I almost closed the window because it was so pointless and I just kept hanging in there thinking, surely if this is being highlighted on 1000 watt it must have some really amazing ending and then NOTHING, it just fizzled out. The rest of the post was lost on me do to this awful example.

    If AirBnB wants to grow their market share, I suggest they do one simple thing, make a video explaining what they do. They concept is ridiculously simple, but nobody has heard of them and when they do there is a huge trust barrier that they have to overcome. Tenant screening, privacy, proper use of property, reasonable expectations, limited access, handling of funds, deposits; these are all things that a professional property management company puts their neck on the line for when they provide a rental to renter, but these questions remain unanswered when I rent from a stranger through a 3rd party system. Like Craigslist, it runs a huge risk of becoming a highly used tool that everyone is highly weary of and a butt of many jokes among serious professionals. Sure, pick a roommate [vacation rental] on Craigslist [AirBnB], what could possibly go wrong with that idea?

    • Marc Davison says:

      uhh, no disrespect intended here Daniel but AirBNB has become a world sensation and seems to have nailed every single marketing attempt they’ve made.

      According to Forbes, they estimate the revenue flowing from sites that participate in the phenomenon known as the “shared economy” into peoples wallets will surpass $3.5 billion dollars in 2013 with growth exceeding 25%. AirBnB is one of the leading members of this shared economy.

      Here are some facts about AirBnB that I think you and our readers should know.

      - Airbnb has reached 10 million guest nights booked within the last 12 months with five million nights booked less than six months ago.

      - In the U.S., about 4.4 million nights have been booked, which is a 300% jump from this time last year.

      - Although demand for Airbnb accommodations in the U.S. has increased 240% in the last year, it also has 95,000 listings in Europe alone and 20,000 properties across Central and South America.

      - Of the 35,000 people that are staying in an Airbnb spot right now, about 15,000 traveled from the U.S., followed by 3,000 from the U.K. and 2,500 from both Germany and Australia.

      - Airbnb also released an infographic ( http://bit.ly/MmxoKP ) that highlights some of the most popular destinations and its growth rate. For example, a night is booked on the site every two seconds, up from every five minutes in 2009.

      Finally, this piece wasn’t about how great the video is. It was what Jessica wrote “experiencing the wonder and excitement of the world and life through travel” made by their customers. This video was AirBnB championing those people. In the regard, it’s genius.

      While I’m sure AirBnB wouldn’t mind taking marketing advice or growth pointers from our readers my advice to you and our readers are, save those pointers and advice for yourselves and execute often.



  2. Bryn Kaufman says:

    That video was horrible, as the previous poster pointed out, but the concept of user created content is interesting!

    However, how would one use the tools mentioned in the article to gather user created content? Are there any examples of any agents doing this?

    We added some user created content to our website by interviewing people who lived in a specific neighborhood about the neighborhood. While I believe that content is helpful, it is not easy to get it together.

    If anyone is using any of these tools and it is working please post about your success.

  3. Daniel Bates says:

    Bryn, I’m going to be working to add more user content to my site as well. Neighborhood pages with comments from current residents about why they live there, favorite things to do, etc. Agents need to differentiate themselves from the heard, but I don’t recommend paper airplanes or vine as a way of doing that…if you want to be taken seriously.

    • Bryn Kaufman says:

      That sounds interesting. I tested putting user comments on properties before, but the comments were so negative I had to shut it down. Most of the commenters were saying things like way overpriced, and much worse. The negative comments were really not adding to the Website.

      Please let me know how the neighborhood comments work for you.

      You can reach me from my contact page at OahuRE.com. I can let you know too if I find any other ideas for user generated content. I am thinking about adding some video interviews to my Website too.

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