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How Do You Use Property Video To Market A Real Estate?

Published: 09/04/2015
By: larry

VideoMarketingLast week Peter asked:

I very much enjoyed seeing the latest video winner and those who came before. I am primarily a still photographer but have been doing different forms of video for a while now too. With drone video coupled with hand held, I am adding short videos to my Virtual Tours on But in looking at these winners I have a question. How are these videos published as part of the marketing for the broker/agent? Are they just branded and put on YouTube or Vimeo? Are they inserted into a Virtual Tour like with or without other stills? My clients need stills for MLS, flyers, and their own sites but how are videos of the production quality of the award winners then integrated into the online marketing and budgets of cash strapped real estate agents? How should photographers, who already supply stills, charge for adding in video as well? After all, it is really an entirely different type of production and editing procedure and different mind set. I have a hard time switching from the mind set of stills that I shoot with the post processing and image in mind as I shoot, to doing the same with video. Also some of my clients are waking up to the fact that videos are the new thing.

Using a video to market the property is more involved than just using stills on the MLS. I've done several posts on this subject and my list gets more refined and elaborate over time. Using video is more social media intensive than use of stills. Here's my updated list of ways to promote property video:

  1. Put links to video on MLSs where possible: Some MLSs don't allow it, but many do.
  2. Sign rider with video URL: Nowadays when virtually everyone is traveling around with a smartphone I believe a great way to use a video to market a property is to supply the agent with a for sale sign rider (6" x 24" sign under the main for sale sign) or sticker that has a simple URL that points to a video that anyone driving by the property can view right there at the for sale sign on their smartphone. Of course this URL can work for tradition tours too.
  3. Add links to video from broker sites and regional RE sites: Tour/video links frequently don't propagate from MLSs to brokers, regional and national real estate sites but in most cases if you have an agent account on the regional site (like Zillow, Trulia) you can claim the listing and add links to the video. The agent's broker site and the large regional and national sites are the most important.
  4. Upload the video to video sites like YouTube: Fred Light at Nashua Video Tours in Boston uploads all the video he shoots to 12 different video sites. Here is Fred's page that describes what he does to market and distribute video that he shoots. If you look at the front page of Fred's site this wide distribution that he does is a standard part of his product. Fred is clearly one of the most successful real estate videographers in the US so studying what he is doing will give you important insights. Take the time to put description text for the listing in the description field of sites like YouTube because YouTube is really a.
  5. Promote the video on social media: I asked Brett Clements of what they do to promote their property video. Brett says, "First you need an angle. The old 'water cooler' theory. Then we go social media first, across seven channels. We have built our own Hootsuite for video so Agents can automatically launch - upload video - to Facebook and other social sites. Then we boost particular posts. Then the Internet goes next. and MLS etc. Then traditional/print. is a great example. Scott is all digital now."

Clearly the videographer can't do all of these things for their agent clients but as you can see from what Fred Light and Brett Clements crew do the videographer can do a lot to help the agent promote their property videos.

What other techniques do you use?

3 comments on “How Do You Use Property Video To Market A Real Estate?”

  1. Great info. Thanks Larry. Been looking to break in to this as an offering for some time. Need to secure a few pieces of equipment and practice before adding to my repertoire.

  2. Larry, thank you for your detail rich article on this. Been busy shooting this week so was not able to follow all your links, but if Fred Light is reasonably typical, his company is really a video company that also offers stills while on site. I am a still photographer wanting to add video. I noticed that for the video that won the award from Hawaii (sorry remember cannot remember the name) had a different photographer shoot the stills at a lower quality from the video. And from the noticeable lack of responses to this post, it would suggest that either still photographers like myself have yet to make the leap to video or don't want to give away their marketing secrets or perhaps leave it up to the brokers to publish the videos as they see fit. Or just don't want to get into it.

    In my small piece of the world, there are only a few brokers who are even open to make the leap to using video but they don't know how to add them into their marketing plan. They are still having trouble wrapping their minds around virtual tour site hosting like Tourbuzz. They think of a virtual tour as a slide show supplied by an industrial real estate photo/tour company and the idea of a full service dedicated web site is still a bit of a mystery. With my Virtual Tours, I have been adding in short video clips to the lead-in to set the scene and follow up with stills. Sometimes a short video clip to cover a very small room that you can't fit into a still shot such as a small bathroom.

    My clients need help in how to blend video into their online plans and I am trying to help them both understand how to do this and what I can do and offer (for a price of course). I notice that many of the videos you have linked into your articles are branded. My clients tell me that their Virtual Tours if linked in on their MLS listings have to be unbranded. Tourbuzz makes this easy providing both branded and unbranded from the same uploaded content. But this also means that the videos hosted on Tourbuzz cannot be branded and why would they be since the Tourbuzz virtual tour is already branded for those that need them branded. But also the Tourbuzz virtual tour can be embedded into a page of a broker's web site and the site itself is already branded. This leaves the branded video for YouTube with links back to the Virtual Tour and the client's own site. I know buyers often search YouTube first rather than Google and Google indexs them almost immediately they are published. Good SEO.

    So I am already putting videos on Tourbuzz for my clients for those that are willing to pay the extra for shooting video. As a rule of thumb it takes me just as much time to shoot a video and then edit it as it does to do post for a still shoot. All that is saved at doing both end to end on the shoot is drive time. For the seller, the advantage is they only have to tidy up their house once for one photo visit. I have found in my limited testing is that our MLS requires that the video be hosted on a server somewhere and a URL link is then pasted into the MLS if you want just a video listed as a link on the MLS listing as opposed to using an iFrame code that you would use on your own website. I am still muddling my way through this.

    But the questions still arise such as while clients still need stills for MLS and print flyers/post cards, just how much in the way of stills should be hosted on a Virtual Tour like Tourbuzz (which I found thanks to this blog and thank you) along with the video? If the video covers the property, do you really need stills as well? Or do stills allow a potential owner to stop and really take a good look at a room or a pool?

    Which then poses the question just what is the real purpose of photography in real estate sales? Is their use to provide an impression or a full visual description of the structure and property? Is it even desired that viewers look too closely at details or is this an exercise in spiking their interest to lift the phone and call the agent? So should a video be long or short for internet marketing? I notice that most of the ones and the winners you have posted are short which means they are filled, like ads on TV, with lots of short cuts most just a few seconds with crisp transitions. This does not leave time for viewers to linger. Some are filled with clips of high end cars arriving, curvy models in showers, pouring wine from the room sized wine cellar or sunning by the pool in, sigh, skimpy swim suits. These are ads using symbols to sell rather than descriptions to inform.

    As a photographer who has produced walk through videos for some years where you film as you walk through the structure and property (for me for hotel journalism), videos last 6-7 minutes. But we now learn that if people do not leave a video online within the first 15 seconds (because it is not what they thought it would be) than they stick around for about 2 minutes with major fall off at 2.5 minutes. This does not leave time for lingering shots especially for RE still photographers just falling in love with their video from drones as my clients call them or UAV's as we are instructed to call them.

    So my questions are as much about how you actually build the video itself, branded/unbranded, how much lingering pans vs quick clip slides and just video clips as still shots with some wind blown movement in them, and then how to publish the same on what media and once on the media (like YouTube) then where and how to link them into existing internet marketing vehicles like agent websites and social media used for marketing? What tools help with this? I notice that many companies offering all this for clients, these are companies with a team of employees with different skill sets. A broker would hire the company not the photographer. But for the individual photographer freelancing in this market, how do we do all this and still find time to shoot as well? And for those over 30 sleep becomes important to performance as well. And this does not even get to the additional equipment we will have to buy to make these videos right and at the same high quality that matches our still work. Its actually a big topic in an emerging market that my clients say is the future but who have no idea how to enter it and are tenuous about having to pay addition photo fees out of the same commission often doubling their budgets. How do we convince them to part with a greater percentage of their commission to put in our pocket before they ever get paid their commission? And if they have to split the commission with another broker who has not forked over for the photography?

    And if this is not complicated enough for freelancers and their clients, will all the new media to blend into their marketing, I am seeing them act like government - they just add them onto the existing mix. So there is a lot of duplication of effort and unconnected parts. They add photos to their web sites instead of embedding the Virtual Tour I have already created for them into their site. But photographers just shoot and provide the results leaving it up to their brokers to manage the results. Many I have still can't properly operate their computers and cell phones let along manage their marketing. Is it up to us to help them out as part of our services? Video and how to handle it being one of them? And how then do we cover our time if we do? The successful ones are great at selling but have problems even taking the time to upload their photos to MLS. Lots of questions. Tough to find answers.

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