Real estate agents seem to love Clubhouse, the hot new audio-based social networking app. Here’s how agents can use it to make industry connections and, perhaps someday, even find buyers and sellers. —-
It’s a Thursday afternoon, 1:01 p.m. I’ve just opened the Clubhouse social networking app, and am immediately presented with three real estate-related chat rooms I can join:
- Selling 100 Homes & Never Showing a Single One
- Every Agent Wins: Powerful Women of Real Estate
- ZillowKiller meetup – All Things Real Estate Marketing
I’ve been on Clubhouse for about 10 days, and I’m really intrigued.
Last Saturday morning, I fired up my iPhone at 9:03 a.m. and instantly got four Clubhouse notifications about active real estate chatrooms. On Saturday night at 10:15 p.m. PT (1:15 am ET), I was in a room with 72 real estate agents having a terrific discussion about building $100M teams. (At 10:15 p.m. PT! On a Saturday!)
I woke up on Sunday morning to four more notifications about real estate chats that had been scheduled later in the day. When I logged in moments later, there were already five real estate chat rooms going. On Monday of this week, I stopped counting. There were 10-15 active real estate chats going throughout the day.
These surely weren’t all of the real estate conversations happening on the app. Clubhouse only notifies me of chats where someone I follow is involved. So it seems safe to assume there’s a lot of real estate stuff happening in Clubhouse that I don’t see.
I point out all of that just to give you a sense of what this industry is doing. Real estate loves Clubhouse.
Every time I’m in the app, I recognize at least 10-15 of the agents in the various rooms. Some are well-known real estate coaches. Some are well-known speakers I’ve seen at Inman and other events. Some are previous guests I’ve talked to on The Walkthrough. Some are agents from our Walkthrough podcast listener community! Some are HomeLight Elite agents!
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a fairly new social media platform based on audio and live conversations. As I write this, it’s in limited beta. Clubhouse only works on iPhones (sorry, Android users). You can reserve a username now, but you can only join if an existing user invites you. When you join, the app asks about topics of interest and presents a group of users you might want to follow. It’s similar to some other social networks in that way.
But after that, it’s really different. There’s no typing in Clubhouse, aside from filling out your member profile. There’s no posting of status updates, photos, videos, or anything like that. It’s completely audio-based. Users start chat rooms where they literally talk into their phones and everyone in the room hears what’s being said. If you want to join the conversation, you click the “raise hand” button to alert moderators. (They can turn the button off if they’re not accepting new speakers at any moment.) Most of the chat rooms are themed, but some are random/open conversation.
Using Clubhouse is part-podcast, part-conference, part-webinar. In some rooms, the moderators run it like a presentation with a set group of speakers discussing a specific topic; there may or may not be audience Q&A. Other rooms are more Q&A-based where anyone in the room can go to the “stage” and ask a question. Some are more wide-open chat like you’d have at a big group dinner with 10-12 people at the table. Most of the discussions I’ve heard have been interesting at a minimum, and some have shared tremendously informative and useful information.
Unlike podcasts and some conferences, the chats are all ephemeral. Nothing is recorded/saved for future listening. If you miss the live chat, you missed it. Because of this, some real estate agents who are organizing chat rooms are figuring out that they need to repeat their chat rooms. Many are scheduling their chats at fixed times every day or once a week.
How to Use Clubhouse for Real Estate
Can real estate agents use Clubhouse to grow your business? Absolutely, even today when it’s so new and so small. Your best bet for now is to approach Clubhouse as a B2B opportunity, a place to meet and network with fellow agents. The userbase is probably too small to expect that you’ll find buyers and sellers on the app. (But not impossible, as I’ll explain in just a moment.) Here are some ideas that apply now, and some that may apply as Clubhouse grows.
Agent-Focused Tips and Ideas
1) Start chat rooms to share your expertise.
As I mentioned above, lots of agents are hosting chats to talk about how they use social media, about video marketing, lead generation tips, etc. Anything like this is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to other agents. Maria Jeantet does a chat every Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. PT on “Listing Strategies and Best Practices.” Tony Baroni, one of our HomeLight Elite agents, and two of his peers have just started a regular chat on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. ET. I listened in on the first one, where agents were talking about the intentional strategies and tactics they use to get more referrals. It was fantastic.
2) Network with other agents.
It’s still a tiny userbase, but as I mentioned above, there are a LOT of smart and influential people in this industry using the app. You’ll meet them as you listen and participate in chats. Read their profiles. Follow the ones who sound smart and interesting. I’m seeing a TON of networking going on — agents meeting each other for the first time, making connections … you know the drill.
3) Start referral rooms.
I’m seeing agents starting chat rooms for the specific purpose of making referral connections outside their markets. This is the low-hanging fruit of Clubhouse right now. It would not surprise me at all if agents are already picking up referrals via Clubhouse, or at least expanding their database of agents to whom they can send and receive referrals.
4) Do a regularly scheduled recruiting chat/show where you answer questions about your brokerage/office.
This is another networking idea for those interested in recruiting agents to your brokerage, or even if you just want to be a source of industry/brokerage information.
Consumer-Focused Tips and Ideas
Clubhouse seems more B2B right now than B2C, so many of these ideas are things that will require the app to grow and attract non-agents.
1) Host a regularly scheduled chat where you answer questions about your home city/town.
Tom Tezak has been doing this with some of his agent-friends in Hawaii, creating a chat room called “Ask Us Anything About Moving to Hawaii.” I’ve been in two of his chats, and although the audience was not huge (maybe 20-30 listeners at a time), I saw Tom introduce himself each time to 4-5 people (i.e., non-agents) who are thinking about moving to Hawaii. What a great opportunity!
Tom has the luxury of being based in a destination market like Hawaii. I don’t think this would work if I opened a chat about moving to my hometown (Tri-Cities, WA) — there’s not enough people on Clubhouse yet. But if you’re in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, etc., it might. And it doesn’t have to be about “moving to” your hometown. It could just be “Ask Us Anything About Living in…….” or any topic that helps present you as the local expert.
2) Host a chat about how the real estate process works.
Think buyer/seller workshops, but inside Clubhouse. I’ve seen a couple chat rooms like this already, but they didn’t have a ton of listeners. It might be too soon for this unless you’re keeping the info generic enough to be relevant to people in any market.
3) Host a chat about your local housing market.
If the app takes off in your market, you could do weekly market updates on Clubhouse like the ones you may already be doing on YouTube/Facebook. But it seems too soon for this right now.
4) Host a chat where you interview/feature local business leaders.
You’ve probably seen agents doing videos on Facebook or YouTube like this. If the app takes off in your market someday, you could do the same thing on Clubhouse. Again, it seems too soon right now.
Those are just a few of the ideas that come to mind after about 10 days on Clubhouse.
Clubhouse Tips for Real Estate Agents
As I said above, Clubhouse is still Apple-only and invite-only. When you get an invite, I’d suggest you at least reserve your username even if you never intend to use it. You might change your mind someday and you’ll be glad to have your name.
If you decide to go further and check it out, here are a few tips:
- Follow lots of people that interest you. The more people you follow, the more different chat rooms Clubhouse will show you when you open the app. (I’d love to connect with you, so search for “matt mcgee” or my username @mattmcgee and I should show up.)
- Use an easy-to-see avatar photo that shows your face. A lot of users (me included) have put bright colors behind their headshot to help our avatars stand out in the sea of listeners in every chat room. (See image below.)
- Write a solid profile explaining who you are and what you do. Talk about your real estate background and experience. Many agents include their phone and email contact info to make it easier to connect off the app. Look at other profiles to get some ideas. A lot of us also like to use emojis to make our profiles stand out.
- Look for rooms where they teach how to use Clubhouse. You’ll probably get some good tips and info in there … I know I have. (When you’re in the app but not in a chat room, you’re in “the hall.” This is where you’ll see what rooms your followers are in. Clubhouse also offers an “Explore” button that will show other rooms you might like. That’s where the Clubhouse help/tip rooms often appear for me.)
- Listen in on chats and participate whenever you can. Go on stage when you have a good question to ask or something of value to add. The more you participate and add value, the more followers you’ll pick up. And Clubhouse will give you invites to use the more you do stuff other than just listening and lurking.
- Bring a critical ear to Clubhouse, just like you would to anything else. Earlier today, I had to go “on stage” in a chat room to clarify some misinformation that one speaker had shared about HomeLight. Last night, I heard a business/real estate coach sharing what I thought was bad marketing advice. Not everything you’ll hear inside Clubhouse is correct, relevant, or of value.
Here’s a pro-level tip related to #3 above: Write different profiles for your different interests and store them in the Notes app on your iPhone. Then when you go into different rooms, change your profile to reflect the topic of the room you’re in. For example, my main profile is real estate-related because I spend most of my time in real estate chats. But I also have a profile that focuses more on my podcasting background and another that focuses more on my marketing background, and I use them when I join podcasting and marketing chat rooms, respectively.
Where is This Going?
Clubhouse seems super-popular right now in the real estate industry, but will it last? I’m not sure where Clubhouse will fit into the social media ecosystem in, say, five years. But I think it will definitely have a place in that ecosystem. I don’t think it’ll ever be super huge, at least not in its current incarnation. (It’s very attention-intensive, for starters. Other social media is something you can more easily browse and scan when you have a few free moments.) But Clubhouse doesn’t have to grow super-huge to be a success. Let’s see how the app changes over time. Maybe it’ll become more friendly to snack-size time investments.
For now, I’m really enjoying it. I’ve learned a lot from some super-smart people. And one really cool benefit is that I already have a list of 8-10 agents who I’ve heard sharing their expertise on Clubhouse and now I want them to join me on a future Walkthrough episode. It’s a great place for guest research and recruiting.
One last thing: It’s not just for real estate. Last weekend, I listened in on a chat room where Daymond John (of Shark Tank) was chatting with his peers about business and finances; it was fascinating. And then I participated in a room with five ex-NFL players as they talked about the weekend’s playoff games. It was pretty cool.
And that’s my last piece of advice: Make sure to get out of the real estate bubble once in a while. The industry is very active on Clubhouse, but there are a lot of other interesting people and conversations happening every day.
Header Image Source: (9dream studio / Shutterstock)
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