"I'm challenging you to post your first 'Instagram',"my sister's text message said. "That way we can 'follow' each other."
(Ugh, do I really I have to learn another piece of technology?) Jill has been after me to "get with it" for months now. Having essentially given up on Twitter and Facebook as too "me-centric" (my feelings - not her's - and certainly not our kids' ENTIRE generation which seems to have abandoned all privacy at birth) she's encouraging me to skip right over to Instagram, Houzz, and Pinterest - sites that appeal to instantaneous gratification and operate in the here and now. Together, they are a veritable smorgasbord of visual stimulation.
"You will stay better connected to your clients and in return, they'll get a better sense of your personal style and who you are," she instructs. (Gee, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of that already . . .)
And then she went in for the kill . . .
"Nobody reads anymore, we live in a visual world. It's all about the photographs." (So I've been told.)
Here's the thing . . . Jill is the mother of GIRLS, so she's able to take advantage of the X-chromosome; which includes sharing, shopping, and often, sharing about shopping. (I'm exhausted already.)
Whereas, cracking the "cone of silence" that constitutes my boys' worlds, would require heat lamps, a two-way mirror, and hours of rigorous interrogation and even then, I'd probably only get a name, rank and serial number. I swear, Case is going to call me one day (strike that, TEXT me one day) and report that he got married a few years back, is now a parent himself, and oh by the way, lives in Spain! (Can you please send money?) Meanwhile, Jill's girls have essentially created a veritable photographic diary, whereby they send their mother artistic photos of intriguing scenes that catch their eye throughout the day. Ensconced in Seattle for college, Anna consistently posts photos of the trees in bloom, the boats on the bay, her semester abroad in Amsterdam, and a lovely little sweater she's admiring . . .
"We've never been more connected," Jill sweetly proclaims.
(Okay, that's just salt in the wound . . .)
Try as I might, it's incredibly difficult to stay on top of each new wave of technology that has outpaced my generation and my meager Internet abilities by leaps and bounds (Remember, I'm over 30, make that 40, okay 50). And just exactly when does one find the time to post, post, POST (!) each moment of their day (and do you really care)?
But I will concede that my sister is right; "visual" mediums are where it's at, which is why I continually push for professional staging and photographs when it comes to any of my listings. Listen, if you expect your property to compete and to bring top dollar in this increasingly "visual" world, paint and STAGE your home. In fact, I feel so strongly about this point, that I recently turned down a listing that refused to follow my advice.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 93% of Buyers now begin their search on the INTERNET. Thus, good staging and great photography have never been more important, as is a dedicated property website ( www.18Sandringham.com).
"But my own things are much nicer," one very well-intentioned Seller and dear friend recently informed me.
No doubt - but it's also beside the point. The blunt truth is, most of our homes aren't close to "camera ready" (we simply have too much "stuff.") Moreover, as lovely as your things are, I want the Buyers to focus on your house, not on the beautiful things within it. So while I know it's difficult to let go of your carefully orchestrated environment, try and push past your objections so that we can ultimately achieve the best and highest result with respect to the sale of your home.
Hey, I know all about "objections." That's been a bit of my challenge as well as I struggle to drop my objections and gain new skills that ultimately keep me better informed and much more relevant, not only to my current clientele, but to an up and coming generation with entirely new expectations and skill sets. (Talk about a dynamic future. They've just begun to scratch the surface.) So at my sister's urging, I am jumping on the bandwagon and I now have my own Instagram account (I'd already succumbed to Pinterest and Houzz months ago and yes, they are are a feast for the eyes). And because Jill knows I can't keep all these accounts straight, she registered me as: 'instagardn3r" (lest I forget my new purpose in life). No, I won't be posting every house I visit, but I'll certainly throw in some lovely architectural details, a bloom or two, gardens I admire, homes I LOVE and for good measure, a bit of the community that makes our neighborhood so special. Sound good?
AND if, along the way, I also end up MORE connected to my boys and to my readers (aka: "followers") then that's an end game well worth taking a run at (although I'm not fool enough to believe either Case or Tristan will send me a picture of a jaunty little polo shirt they're considering . . .).
BTW - if you're already on Instagram, let me know so we can "follow" each other.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.