Lauren Matera, team leader of the Revel Home Team
When the world shut down due to COVID-19, Lauren Matera had her hands full homeschooling three kids, on the hunt for something that was both purposeful and intentional for her. Something that she could pour her energy into, that was financially beneficial. Not willing to blend in with the crowd, Matera jumped into real estate wholeheartedly—and she hasn’t looked back since.
As the team leader of the Revel Home Team at Coldwell Banker Realty in Annapolis, Maryland, Matera increased business via the use of social media platforms by $10 million in sales in her first year alone. Passionate about all things social media (with 432K followers on TikTok and 17K followers on Instagram), Matera discussed her best tips, and why real estate professionals can’t afford to ignore social media, with us during the NAR NXT, the REALTOR® Experience in Orlando, Florida, this past November.
Paige Tepping: Please provide a brief overview of your history in the industry and how you ended up where you are today.
Lauren Matera: I’m a huge advocate as far as agents having a social media presence, so when my husband (who isn’t social media savvy) earned his license in 2017 after working as a contractor for 20 years, I decided to get my license so that I could talk about his properties and conduct walkthroughs while abiding by all of the rules and regulations as far as discussing properties are concerned.
At the time, I had other businesses that I was running, and other things that I was doing—one of which revolved around coaching and speaking events—so I kind of stayed in the background. But that all changed when my events were canceled due to the world shutting down during COVID. And while I was busy homeschooling three kids, I needed to be doing something that was purposeful and intentional for me. I wanted something that I could pour energy into again, that was financially beneficial and all those other things…and so, in the fall of 2020, I decided that if I was going to do this, I was going to be unapologetic about doing it my way.
Within the first two weeks, I had eight clients from social media alone, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I could probably make this bigger by reaching out to those who weren’t already part of my sphere of influence. How do I reach those people who don’t know that I’m an option for them and that I have a different frame of mind and a different methodology to real estate? And that’s kind of where everything just went crazy.
PT: During your first year in real estate, you increased your business via social media platforms by $10 million in sales. Tell me some of your best tips as far as utilizing social media to grow your business so significantly.
LM: I’m a huge believer in reinventing the wheel. Just because something has been done a certain way—and it’s even worked well doing it a certain way—that doesn’t mean there aren’t edits or revisions that can’t be made. I viewed real estate the same way, and while social media works for a lot of people, I’m not going to do social media the way that everybody else does it by simply posting my open houses and listings and sharing virtual walkthroughs.
In fact, my entire thought process centered around the fact that if I’m going to come into this business, I have to make up a lot of ground. If I’m here, I’m doing it. I’m going all in. So instead of taking a couple of years to figure out that those things aren’t working and blending into the background among 20,000 agents who are posting their open houses and listings, I figured out what I could do to set myself apart so that people know who I am—and where to find me. Going back to what I said earlier, I decided that I was going to be unapologetic about me and my personality. When I got into the business, I had purple highlights in my hair. I have tattoos. And I’m not going to change those things in order to blend in and make everybody else comfortable, because the reality of it is, when these people choose me, those things are going to be noticeable very quickly, and so, I want to work with people who accept me and are actually drawn to me because they associate with or align to the personality they know they’re going to get.
To that end, my clients tend to be high energy. They have tattoos and advanced degrees, and they’re tech-savvy. And they come to see properties pumping their 2000’s jam mix in their car because they’re excited to work with my personality and what they know I’m bringing to the table. Somebody else is already going to be that polished, super-professional form of me that I would try to cater myself to be, so I’m just going to do what feels good to me—and what feels right. And the people who want to work with me will find me, and they’re going to be super excited about that.
PT: You mentioned that authenticity is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to gaining followers. How do you ensure that you’re always being authentic across the social platforms where you have a presence—and why is this so important?
LM: As far as authenticity goes, I won’t do anything that I’m not super excited to do. When I lead training sessions and conduct talks, one of the things I tell people is that if you don’t love doing it from a content perspective, you won’t do it for long enough that it’s going to reap any sort of reward for you. So you’ll do that video a couple of times, but you’ll be thinking about how uncomfortable shooting the video is making you the entire time—and your viewers will see that, especially in video content. They’re going to hear it in your tone of voice. They’re going to see it in your mannerisms. They’re going to see it all over your face. And that lack of enjoyability is going to create toxicity in the content you’re producing.
For me personally, if I’m going to do a dancing video, I’m going to do it because the song is stuck in my head, and I can’t get it out…just like everybody else. And I’m going to have a lot of fun doing it. If I’m going to talk about a crazy house with bright pink walls that I saw over the weekend, I’m excited to share that house along with some tips, because if you’re going to have a house with bright pink walls, own it. I’m always trying to put myself in front of my clients so that they know that in that moment, and for every moment that they follow me afterwards, they’re getting the same person. One of my biggest things with authenticity is transparency.
If there’s a crappy situation that a client just went through, I will use that to help educate others. They’re still getting that educational value, but they’re also getting my authenticity at the same time. This allows them to see that I understand that this is frustrating sometimes from the agent standpoint.
PT: When it comes to social media, there is no shortage of platforms to choose from. From your perspective, where should real estate professionals be focusing their attention if they truly want to leverage social media?
LM: I think there are clients for everybody on every platform. We’re seeing this natural growth on Facebook as it’s aging up, and the people who are growing out of Facebook are going to Instagram—although Instagram is perceived as too old for some of the younger folks. TikTok is my primary platform, and while there are a ton of people over 30 there, it’s not the majority, so I use the platform’s algorithm to my advantage and look at it from the standpoint of knowing that I don’t need to talk to 40,000 people over 30. I need to talk to 4,000. I’m happy with 4,000.
I would spend a fortune communicating with this number of people on a monthly basis via postcards or an email campaign, but by using the algorithm to my favor, I know that those 4,000 people who are finding me have looked for real estate, or my area, in some way. So it’s 4,000 people who actually need that content. But not every platform is for everybody, and I don’t think you need to be on every single platform.
That said, if you’re going to be on Pinterest and you’re going to be producing blogs to post to Pinterest, you should also be on LinkedIn, because that content is going to do really well on the LinkedIn platform. When you share that blog post over to LinkedIn, it looks like an article, and that personality on LinkedIn is going to be excited about having something to read. I don’t think you need to be on everything. Start with the platform you enjoy, because that’s where you’re going to be consuming content. That’s where you’re going to feel inspired. That’s where you’re going to feel happy, like you need to be in consumption of that content. What’s the trend? What are people watching?
If you enjoy writing, find out where that’s going to be received best. If you like creating cute little dancing videos, start on TikTok and then slide it over to these other platforms. I think you have to kind of go where you’re going to enjoy what you’re doing, but also where you’re consuming content so that you know what you should be spending your time on.
PT: Real estate professionals have a lot on their plate on any given day, and more often than not, social media is an afterthought and sometimes even ignored altogether. Why is this a mistake—and why should real estate professionals carve out time to dedicate to social media?
LM: Like I said, I’m a huge advocate for social media. I don’t know anywhere else that you can get the growth social media provides for the amount of time and money that you’d have to put in, especially when you consider that most of these platforms are free. I don’t think you’re going to get the return on investment that you’re going to get from social media in any other marketing plan.
The other part of it is that the future of real estate, and the future of businesses across the board, is on social media. That being said, the first misstep is people thinking that future consumers are going to go to their website. They’re actually going to try to find you on social media because that’s where it’s harder for you to lie about the service you provide and what they’re getting for the money they’re about to give you. I prefer to batch content, so I’ll find a block of time where there’s nothing on my calendar and set a goal for the number of videos I want to produce.
For example, if I have three hours on a Thursday afternoon, I’ll aim to shoot six videos. I might not use all six videos in the next 72 hours (my next three days), but I might use three of them—and maybe I’ll have a five-minute energy burst somewhere where I can record something quick and throw it up on social media. Those three videos that I didn’t use can then be posted if I have a busy day and things hit the fan, so to speak, and I haven’t had a chance to share anything. And it’s evergreen content, so it’s still relevant. There are so many agents I talk to who tell me that they just don’t have the time, and the reason they don’t have the time is because it’s not a priority for them. If I told you that I did $10 million in sales just from social media, from posting silly little videos—or I said I did $10 million in sales from postcards—you would find the time. It’s because it’s unfamiliar. And it’s the fear of the unknown. But if you prioritized it, you would figure out where the time goes.
And sometimes that means reallocating time from other areas. Are postcards working for you? Is door-knocking working for you? Is your email campaign working for you? Is your blog working for you? If not, don’t quit them, but maybe try to take an hour away from that activity and put it into something else. You’ll either find the time and make it a priority, or you’ll find an excuse. There’s no inbetween. You need to find the time, whether it’s an hour a day, or even every other day.
PT: When it comes to social media, what is your No. 1 tip for real estate professionals?
LM: Stand out and be yourself. It’s also important that you don’t overthink what it means to stand out, because sometimes, standing out is simply being yourself and being really comfortable with the fact that it’s going to be super uncomfortable at first. You’re going to try and duplicate and look like and sound like other people that you know it’s working for, but the problem with that is that it’s not going to work for you long term. It may work in the beginning, but as your tone of voice changes and what you’re doing changes, it’s no longer going to work.
So just be really comfortable with who you are and what you’re passionate about, because when you start talking about something that’s so innately part of your business and what you’re doing, that’s where people are going to pick up on your passion. They’re going to want to work with you because they can tell that you really care and that this isn’t just a job for you, that you’re really passionate about helping people. It’s so easy to watch and consume content and want to mimic and duplicate what other people are doing, but if you’re going to duplicate things, duplicate them in your own way. Do them in a way that’s super fun for you and that gives you passion. If something doesn’t make me happy, and it doesn’t fill my cup, and it doesn’t make me money, I’m not doing it.
So if something doesn’t fall into that bracket for you, don’t do it. Somebody else is already being the person that you’re going to try to duplicate, and what we’re missing is you, so just be yourself.
PT: What’s in store for social media as the future unfolds?
LM: A lot. Video content is something that people have always consumed. We’ve always had TV. Then we got into reality TV, and it has gotten diluted since it isn’t super realistic anymore. But what’s amazing about social media is that people can literally follow a life, or a success path, or even a home renovation. People can watch shows, and you’re seeing platforms organize that content into episodes or playlists.
They’re also starting to reward content creators for doing longer-form video and Lives, so I think we’re going to get to a place where social media is almost replacing people’s TV needs as it becomes the place you’re turning to in order to watch people and see their story unravel. I don’t think video is going anywhere. I think there’s always been a place for photography, and I think Instagram is still going to be really strong on the photography piece of it.
But people like having voice and motion and movement, and the video watch rates are always going to be much higher. The future of social media is going to be people really wanting personality and authenticity. And somebody where they can say, “I’ve never met her before, but I know she lives 20 minutes from me, and I know that she went and got coffee this morning.”
That’s where a lot of my clients are coming from when they say that they don’t need to interview me because they’ve been “interviewing” me for six months. They know that I’m out in the field working hard. And I think that’s just going to continue to grow.
For more information, please visit https://www.revelhometeam.com.