Change Agent: An Interview with Herman Chan, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie

If you are ready to create a stand-out online presence, then an introduction to Herman Chan is a must. As a San Francisco Bay Area top producing real estate agent, Herman is a master of harnessing the power of the Internet.

As part of our Change Agent series, I sat down with Herman to discuss his success and what steps he has taken to create a unique and completely compelling real estate image.

Q: Tell us how you got your start in real estate. Was it something you always wanted to do or did you (as so many have) stumble in?

herman chan hermanity My start in real estate came after I graduated from UC Berkeley. I had a brief stint at Gap, Inc. where I was chained to a desk crunching numbers as an analyst, and knew it just wasn’t my cup of tea. In fact, I was downright depressed. I’m talking crying in the bathroom! How could I be so unhappy?

I had done everything “right” from scoring high on SAT’s, top tier school, and recruited by a Fortune 500 company. Where did I go wrong? After a bit of flopping around, my mother finally confronted me and told me to “just get a real estate license and sell a few homes so you stay afloat while you figure things out!” Well, being the overachiever I am, I jumped right in head first. That was about 10 years ago and the rest is history.

Q: From your website to your videos, you have done a phenomenal job positioning your personal brand. Tell us how “Habitat for Hermanity” evolved.

First of all, I know it is industry lingo, but I always feel odd when people say I have this amazing brand. For me, I was just being myself, and somehow that connected with people.

I started my blog Habitat for Hermanity as a way to bring some levity to what is very often a conservative and stuffy business. Our lives as real estate professionals are chock full of hilarity and funny stories. I just wanted to share a slice of that with people.

Video has been a huge medium for you. What inspired you to use it within your business?

Hello? Have you seen my cheekbones?! (Just kidding) Well, I think everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people are great with numbers, so they blog about charts and stats. (Yawn) Me?  I flunked out of calculus, so I had to rely on my other assets: interpersonal skills, high energy, and speaking in sound bytes which makes it easy for consumers to relate.

I also don’t mind putting myself out there for people to see. When I started, no one was really doing much video, so I decided to give it a whirl and stand out from the crowd. The technology and upload speeds weren’t viable yet. I still recall shooting in TV studios and green screens. It is unbelievable how in just a few years, video blogging has become more far more accessible.

Watch one of Herman’s videos and you’ll know why this has been such a huge medium for him!

What tips can you share with someone interested in getting started with video marketing?

  • Evergreen: If you are going to invest time, you want the video to have as long a life as possible.
  • Teach: Talk about your neighborhood, frequent Q&A. How-to videos rank really high in search for obvious reasons. People want to learn, so give them the answers they are searching for!
  • Be bright, be brief, and be gone: Keep it short and sweet, around 1-2 minutes. People have very short attention spans. If you don’t snag them in first 15 seconds, they move on. There is an art to speaking in sound bytes, practice whittling down your content so people can best process your information.
  • Smile: This might sound rudimentary, but I can’t tell you how many people post clips of them sitting there expressionless.
  • Don’t sell: The 80/20 rule is still true. 80{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} sharing your knowledge for free, 20{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} selling your product or service.
  • Be creative: If you aren’t blessed with cheekbones to die for, don’t fret! Interview other people on camera like a stage or lender. This not only gives you more content, but it also broadens your scope. Furthermore, your stager will probably post the content to their website, which will expand your reach and put you in front of a whole new audience.

You seem to be everywhere online from the Huffington Post to MSNBC and Money Magazine. What advice can you offer to an agent eager to promote their brand online?

  • Just be yourself, everyone else is taken. (Per Oscar Wilde)
  • Be strategic with what you post/share. The message and image you portray must be seamless! If you have a great real estate website, but then you are snapping Instagram photos of your food, I am confused. Or, if you have a fantastic blog, but your last update was 2012, I have to wonder if you left the business?
  • Get on Instragram. It is the easiest and fastest way to brand you through visual association and multiple platforms (Tumblr, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook)
  • Be consistent. The search engines and social media titans are really smart, they know if you are stagnant and will punish you accordingly (push you down in rankings).Put together quality content and be consistent in sharing it. The battle to find clients through online search is real and when it comes to search, content is King.
  • If you do all the above that includes creating unique content that is entertaining, educational and enlightening, people will take notice.

Connect with Herman at Habitat for Hermanity or on Twitter!

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