‘I Want My Buyers and Sellers to Feel Confident’: Amy Cesario
“If you talk to your demographic, or to a target area, so that people are familiar with who you are and what you know, and you give them good and solid information, they will ask you: ‘Do you work in the suburbs?’ ‘Do you work with first-time buyers?’”
It was a no-brainer for Compass agent Amy Cesario to specialize in downtown Denver properties. “I personally love downtown,” she says. “I went to high school and grew up downtown, and I saw all the changes that have happened. I just really paid attention to the growth of that area, which was just my normal curiosity.”
Cesario was a member of the Denver Board of Realtors in the late ’00s, when she started sending out email newsletters on a regular basis, and focusing on the changes and developments in downtown Denver was easy because she was already immersed in keeping track of what was happening. “Because I was paying attention to zoning changes and developments, and because I got really interested in those, my natural path changed,” she remembers. She had a lot of single moms buying condos from her who were naturally interested in the areas where Cesario was following growth.
She’s been in real estate since 1999 and has always been interested in new marketing methods, so when YouTube became an opportunity for her, Cesario seized it. She’s been “on and off” YouTube for years, and she explains that her focus has shifted over time, but she started getting phone calls from clients who found her on YouTube in the early 2010s.
“I was one of the very few agents who was making videos,” she recalls. This longevity has helped her as she has tried new experiments: one example is making videos about a certain new building in particular, where she says she ended up selling about 15 units.
“I knew there was nobody else talking about the building on YouTube, and there were no keywords yet because it was so new,” she explains. “Nobody was tapped in yet.” The challenge with this strategy is to find a development that has a decent amount of inventory and a relatively high turnover rate.
“That’s always the hardest part for a Realtor,” she says. “Maybe they want to target their neighborhood, but the turnover rate is so low, is it worth the dollar investment? My last neighborhood, nobody moved.”
For Cesario, having both a target area — geographically speaking — and a target demographic have helped her market her services to the groups who are her best clients. “I don’t usually speak to first-time buyers; that’s not my demographic,” she notes. “But I get questions from first-time buyers, which is fantastic, because I don’t have to speak to them directly in order to win their trust.
“If you talk to your demographic, or to a target area, so that people are familiar with who you are and what you know, and you give them good and solid information, they will ask you: ‘Do you work in the suburbs?’ ‘Do you work with first-time buyers?’” And then she can help people outside of her target demographic and region.
While she’s been posting on YouTube relatively regularly over the years, Cesario says that she tends to learn about one new social media platform at a time. Twitter was the first purely social media project that Cesario tackled. “I fell in love with it,” she remembers, “and I found a bunch of agents across the country, and we all became friends when the market was crashing” around 2009 and 2010.
Her Twitter network of agents were also exploring videos and encouraging one another to make and post videos on YouTube, and sometimes they would send each other ideas or prompts for new videos. “I started getting calls on the videos where I was talking about the home selling and homebuying process,” she says. “You don’t have to have a lot of likes on your videos for them to work as a marketing tool.”
She’s also maintained a blog sporadically, but as she’s been able to create content for different platforms, repurposing some of that video content into a blog post has been more feasible, and now she’s starting to see some traction from those efforts. “I feel like what I’ve wanted to do for four or five years is finally now coming to fruition,” she explains, “and it takes a lot of energy and work to do it, but i know it’s going to pay off, and I’m so glad I started it when I did.”
She’s continued to create videos for YouTube on and off over the years, even as her focus shifted from Twitter to Facebook, and is now more heavily on keeping up with Instagram. The speed of the changes that take place in all these social media platforms is one of the most significant challenges that Cesario says she’s experienced during her digital-sphere-of-influence journey.
“All of the back-end stuff gets to be so much work,” she says. “When my business got flowing again, YouTube got so hard to navigate — just like Google. It’s one of the biggest challenges for using social media as an agent.
“Most of us are better with face-to-face and one-on-one, and when things change so fast like that — our real job is to sell a house, and not to know the ins and outs of technology.”
She started establishing her presence on Instagram about four or five years ago, she says, and it was initially an easy transition for her because she had a backlog of photos and videos that she’s taken of Denver. “I could pull photos of the city to tell my story,” she notes. “I know the city, I know house styles, and I know interesting things — and then Instagram changed and has suddenly become about video. And short story video is a lot different than YouTube.”
When she finally got access to Reels from Instagram earlier this year, she’d been waiting for it with a plan to implement. “It was very frustrating because I was ready to go,” she recalls. But when she finally got her Reels in February, she started recording and posting regular market updates for her followers.
“The reason I chose a weekly update was because, being in the business as long as I have been in it, I knew this was going to be a big transition year, and we would either move back to a normal market or slow down,” she explains.
Because she’s been handling her social media marketing and digital profile by herself historically, Cesario has chosen one social media platform at a time to learn, and then done her best to understand what works well for her on that platform before moving on to something new.
“I didn’t pick them all at the same time because they all have different algorithms,” she explains. And now that she’s learned how three of the top platforms work for her, she’s started experimenting with a holistic approach that’s supported with the help of an assistant.
“We have a flow,” Cesario says. “Some things go on YouTube first, some things go on Instagram first, and some things make it to the Facebook business page — but not everything. We created a flow that we’re comfortable with.”
Although the instant cross-posting between Instagram and Facebook is convenient for users, Cesario does not recommend it for real estate agents who are trying to establish and grow a digital sphere of influence. When she sees other agents doing it, “that drives me nuts,” she says, “because I think you’re wasting your power. We know that it takes somebody seven times to hear something before they get it, so why would you do everything on the same day?”
It makes more sense, in her opinion, to first post on one platform, then a week later another, and a week or so later, one more. “I have also gotten on the bandwagon in the past year of repurposing,” she adds, “because it’s a lot of time to spend to make content. And to be consistent with it takes a lot of time.”
Her assistant currently works 40 hours a week for Cesario. “We’re still learning,” Cesario says, “but I’m going to keep her at 40 hours because once we even get into a better flow than we are, I feel like we’ve got some more layers — I’ll have her do my postcards. I’m still doing paper! I literally got a listing off a postcard” recently, she notes.
Cesario says that for her, building the trust and starting a conversation with her clients through her digital sphere of influence has been one of the best marketing strategies she’s used. When she’s out on a listing presentation, she says, “I can walk into a house, and the sellers don’t want me to do the listing presentation; they just want to talk about the contract.
“The first few times that happened to me, I was confused,” she adds. But now she knows that some of her clients have more or less made up their minds to work with her when they first reached out to her.
Her current plan is to create and post as much positive information about the benefits of buying or selling a house in the current market as she can. “I’m strategic about when I do paid ads and what I post; I know that people start looking for real estate again at the end of November,” she says. “I don’t do a lot of paid advertising, but I will probably here in the future, and the reason for it is that I’m combating the negative publicity.
“I want to make sure that real, good information is out there, and it’s not the conspiracy theorists’ doldrum, negative ‘the sky is falling’ media,” she adds. “I want people to feel confident when they come to me, and I want my buyers and sellers to feel confident when they buy or sell. The way you help people be confident is you give them as much information as you can, so they can make good decisions.”
Amy’s interview is part of a blog series following our industry paper, ‘Weaving A Web of Influence Can Sustain Agents During Tough Markets and Beyond’. Learn from more influencers and download the paper now!