Culture Scan

At the intersection of real estate, media, and pop culture.

Humor in Real Estate: What Does It Meme?

We asked the real estate pro who created the popular industry comedy page "The Broke Agent" what it takes to get a leg up in business through internet humor.

It's hard to recall a time before memes existed on the internet. Highly relatable and 100% enjoyable, memes have rapidly taken over our digital landscape. And it's fair to say they've infiltrated the real estate industry, too.

Eric Simon, a Los Angeles–based sales agent with Compass, saw an opportunity to fill the real estate meme void while also leveraging humor for his business. Thus, he created The Broke Agent, a media brand focused on providing quality content for the entertainment of real estate professionals.

"I noticed that the real estate industry craves anything that is seen as 'different' or 'edgy,'" Simon says. "Laughter lets people escape from the daily hell of a commission-only job and allows them to think, 'Hey, there is someone else out there experiencing this!'"

Memes and The Code of Ethics

"Any type of promotional marketing or advertising falls under Article 12 of the Code, which states that real estate practitioners must present a "true picture" in any advertising, marketing, or other representations—essentially a truthful, accurate picture of what is being represented. Regardless of the communication vehicle, or media type, including memes, Article 12 applies. 

Article 12 also has 13 Standards of Practice that further clarify and define the true picture test. As for online communications, Standard of Practice 12-10 deals with internet content and images. Also of note is Standard of Practice 12-5, requiring that the agent’s company name appears in a reasonable and apparent manner.

Lastly, care must always be taken not to make false or misleading statements in the communication per Article 15 of the Code.

And, outside the Code, copyright laws may always be a concern if content for memes is adopted from other sites or copyrighted materials."

Bruce Aydt

Before he was an agent, Simon was already mixing humor into his job doing marketing for The Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood. But it was the fusion of real estate and social media that ended up being the perfect place for Simon to express his sense of humor to a relatively untapped audience. Although he hasn't promoted "Eric Simon, the real estate agent" on his entertainment page, Simon says "being" The Broke Agent has helped expand his network and rapport with other agents.

Simon's brand has amassed a huge following—more than 300,000 fans across all major social platforms—and spans several creative outlets: original memes, comics, e-books, videos, and speaking opportunities.

Yet, before following in Simon's footsteps by creating sharable internet content like memes, it's important to consider NAR's Code of Ethics and proper copyright laws (see sidebar). Consumers also need to be factored into the equation: With access to so much more information than ever before, it's no surprise that consumers are focusing more on a professional's online presence to determine if they want to work with them. So, no matter what content is being shared, practitioners should maintain a level of professionalism and sensitivity for any of the audiences that might be looking, says Kate Lawton, vice president of member experience at the National Association of REALTORS®.

"Consumers want to trust the agent representing them and trust the type of person that they are," Lawton says. "Even if the professional has separate personal and business accounts online, they need to be aware consumers may see their personal comments and take that as reflective of their business."

Tbt

A post shared by The Broke Agent (@thebrokeagent) on

Real estate professionals can learn a lot from someone running a comedic online brand. Here are lessons Simon has learned in his experience as a housing meme mogul:

  1. Stay top-of-mind in an entertaining way. "Sharing a meme is the perfect way to appear relatable and show up in people's feeds without annoying them," says Simon. While it's nice to share your real estate successes, it's not always that interesting to your audience. Humor is always interesting, he adds. "Creating industry-related memes is one of the easiest and most effective forms of marketing because it results in laughter and engagement."
  2. Be thoughtful in your content. "A variety of posts is the key factor to [business] growth," Simon says. Effective humor also depends on the medium. Some jokes are most effective in the form of a tweet, while others are better as memes, sketches, or comics. The different styles and platforms through which they're shared is what keeps people interested, following, and sharing.
  3. Draw from real-life concepts. Simon says that his everyday experiences in the industry have helped him come up with new ideas. "Whenever I have an awkward experience or something that happens consistently, I write it down. This way I can look back and see if I can turn it into a funny tweet, image, video, or maybe even a long-form sketch."
  4. Avoid politics. Don't get into divisive topics, even if it's meant to be a joke. "I try to limit memes with political figures in them," says Simon. "I think it's definitely important for agents and brokerages to avoid political posts and memes so they don't alienate half of their audience or potential clientele."
  5. Don't post content that could be attributed to a specific deal or client. "I am very cognizant of what I post and the timing of it," says Simon.
  6. Learn to be adaptable. "You can't be married to a specific platform or type of post," Simon says. Social media sites and styles of posts rise and fall in their popularity. Make sure your content consistently evolves with the technology and platforms that become available. "For example, we've been spending a lot more time doing Instagram stories and TikToks as the focus has shifted from feed posts," he says. "As Brad Pitt's character in Moneyball says, 'Adapt or die.'"

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The Culture Scan blog explores the intersection of real estate, media, and popular culture. If you have an example of how culture plays a role in your real estate business, feel free to send story ideas to REALTOR® Magazine’s Lauren Tussey. You can learn more about Culture Scan's focus here.

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