Tiptoeing through the social media tulips

My relationship with social media has been mutable. My enthusiasm has become more cautious over time. It has, honestly, been something of a struggle.

Twitter frustrates me. The 140-character hiccup is too limiting. Facebook is like a 1960’s British sports car – marvelous, but way too much maintenance. LinkedIn is my savings account. I make periodic deposits there but won’t withdraw until the day I look for a job. And Foursquare… well, I prefer turning on to checking in.

Then there is Instagram. I love Instagram. Recently, it made me stop and wonder…

Who the hell is Janie Coffey?

Last Friday evening I broke through the third wall of social media. I decided to contact someone with whom I was unfamiliar through a connection on Instagram – Janie Coffey. I thought I had probably followed Janie because she followed me. Then I began looking at her posts. And image after image, they blew me away.

So I Googled her name with the intent to call her and personally thank her for bringing the beauty she captured into my world.

It was 8:00 p.m. in Miami when I called.

She picked up.

And I got to know her in a way that’s pretty uncommon when you’re just…

Tip-toeing through social media’s tulips

Janie’s a Realtor, working for One Sotheby’s International Realty, a Miami-based brokerage we did some work for a year or so ago. This explained the mutual follow.

She’s originally from D.C., lived in Germany for a while, and moved to Miami to help a friend start a general contracting business.

After several years she realized building wasn’t her thing. But getting into real estate – just as the bubble burst, mind you – appealed to her entrepreneurial instincts.

But there was something else: the market crash fertilized the soil upon which the seeds of technology and social media had been sown. She saw opportunity.

Janie joined Active Rain and began blogging.

She’d try anything. If there was a login, she dove in. But never for the sake of being “in” with any industry crowd. She had enough friends in real estate. This was about getting on the path of progress and driving past its speed limit.

Janie found the things that worked for her.

She didn’t phone in her content.

She made sure it was the best it could be.

She is a…


“Instagram allows me to see the world through so many lenses. It’s the visual life stream of real people from real places doing real things,” Janie explained to me. “It’s something I can do while living my daily life and forces me to be creative despite the limitations of taking, editing and sharing images through a mobile phone.”

Instagram provided her with the means to connect with new people and see their view of their world. In return, they would get a peek at hers.

“It’s not about listings. Or open houses. Or ‘now is the right time to buy this home’ rhetoric,” she explained – the sort of real estate marketing steam that fogs up social networks.

“Instagram is more than just an app. It is a catalyst.”

That makes sense to me. Instagram is the place where Twitter ends and where the visual connection – so, so important in our real estate world – begins.

A picture tells a 1,000 words

A rusted lock.

A determined flower that powered through the crack in a cement sidewalk.

The sleek, sexy lines carved into a steel high rise.

These are her photos.

Janie doesn’t post everything. Only her best images. A perfectionist, she’s downloaded a series of filter apps and will sometimes spend 20 minutes perfecting a photo before sharing.

Like me, another follower felt compelled to contact her. Unlike me, he hired her on the spot to sell his historic home in Coral Gables. No listing presentation. No competing agents. No commission negotiation.

He got all he needed to know about her through the sterling content she created. It was both emotional and practical, and demonstrated an understanding of a place – and how to capture it.

Janie, with a little app downloaded to her smartphone, did something different.

In marketing, different wins.

Some of Janie’s images