Karolina Adamczyk is a 36-year-old former banker who has used social media to start-up and grow her new-homes interiors and design business from scratch over the past three years.
Called Ademchic, the business works with developers in London and beyond on their pre-sales marketing material, supply chain, product design and show homes.
But it all happened without a plan, she says. While holding down a job in banking, she started up as a small-time developer doing her own interior design.
“I began putting pictures of the projects up on my Facebook page and eventually people started following me and began asking if I could do their show home and give them advice on specifications,” she says.
“I see a huge advantage and a huge profile building opportunity with Instagram and Facebook, and it’s there where I really grew my audience.
“People loved it because it was a genuine story of me stood on a construction site in my banking suit.
“I think as long as you’re genuine and you’ve got a story to tell then people can relate to it and you are going to be successful on social media because people will want to follow you. The content has to give value – there’s no point posting just for the sake of posting.”
Ademchic helps developers ‘raise their game’ with sales of their developments via strategic marketing, interior design and show homes.
“During the pre-sales stage, we produce CGIs, brochures, hoardings, a website and branding to attract the target audience to the project.
“Later on, we design the product and supply the contractors with the specification and technical drawings, which is the main bit of our service. At the end we create the show home to match our marketing and the interior style.”
Karolina now has four staff and is completing projects in eight locations including in Acton, Hanwell, Croydon, Peterborough, London Bridge and Clapham.
Russel Quirk needs no introduction for anyone with even a passing interest in property. Until late last year he was CEO of hybrid estate agency eMoov which he launched in 2010 and at which he spent eight heady years battling to grow. The business went into administration a month ago after it ran out of cash.
One of the features of its marketing was Quirk – who found out during the early ‘bootstrapping’ days of eMoov how both PR and social media can play a significant part in raising the profile of a business.
It is therefore no surprise that he since recast himself as a PR guru and property commentator who still regularly tweets about a range of property issues, admitting to using Twitter 30 times a day.
Based in offices near Moorgate in the City, Quirk remains evangelical about social media despite the trolls who attacked him on Twitter during the demise of eMoov.
“I think there are some B2B businesses who might be forgiven for thinking it’s not particularly valuable but I totally disagree – social media is an awareness game after all – if you’re not on it then you are at a disadvantage,” he says.
“It’s hard to deny its power and attraction. To me it’s an absolute necessity in raising awareness but I think it’s more than that; it’s tone of voice, which is important these days as brand is not just about the business name.
“Particularly in the property sector, if you’re an estate agent or a mortgage broker then you’re a B2C business but you’re in a very crowded space and could be one of 20 estate agents in a town, for example, so you’ve got not only to stand out but show you’ve got an expertise.”
Quirk says that he also spent considerable sums at eMoov on paid social posts in addition to his ‘organic’ activity and that, although they couldn’t get Twitter paid ads to work, Facebook was a significant tool in their armoury.
“I don’t think there’s ever been platforms like Twitter and Facebook that enable you to target the right people at the right time like they do – but you do have to pay.
“The only think I worry about is if they go the same way as Google [and become all dominant]. At eMoov we were spending £4 million a year on Google AdWords – obscene amounts of money – and Facebook and Twitter could go that way.”
Kristjan Byfield’s approach to running an estate agency is not a normal one, a luxury he can afford, arguably, because his business Base Properties, which he co-founded 14 years ago, is in London’s hipster heartland; Shoreditch.
His signature bushy beard, T-shirts, media glasses and busy Twitter feed make him unusual given the industry’s largely traditional approach to attire and doing business.
Unlike the two other social media enthusiasts interviewed here, Byfield takes a more guarded attitude towards Twitter and Facebook having had his fingers burnt five years ago.
He says Base Properties has experienced the same journey that many agents will have taken since social media became popular; everyone got very excited about its possibilities and put a lot of effort and resources into using it.
“We thought it was going to be this amazing new way to attract clients and also potentially to market properties,” he says.
“It did work, particularly when we engaged people locally, but to be honest it was the wrong demographic. It was a fun thing to do and had we been a bigger agency it would have been something worth pursuing.
“We’ve understood the fact that social media is one of many channels for our marketing, although the nicest thing is that unlike any other type of media, it gives us control and helps us get across the personality of the company.
“I think in any industry where you are interacting with people, social media is key, particularly if you have an approach and a brand that is a bit different from the norm.”
One area where social media had unintentional benefits for Byfield is that it helped make his company’s name well known within the industry.
This has proved useful now that he’s about to launch a property software solution for agents in partnership with TDS called The Depository.
“It’s great when you go to industry events or meetings and have people come up to you who’ve never met you in person and say they’ve been following you on Twitter and they are emulating what you’re doing.”