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  • Amy Catterson & Dylan Joubert

Catfishing CRE Listings. Good or Bad?

Should you be uploading CRE listings that look nothing like your actual properties? Or is there a better way?

By Amy Catterson & Dylan Joubert || August 25, 2022

Authors note: Catfishing is the practice of deceiving someone into believing something is real when it’s not.

Catfishing your CRE listings. To do or not to do. That is the question. Hamlet thought he had it rough, imagine being a CRE broker in 2022.

We get it, it’s not easy. So, is there anything wrong with fluffing up your content? Photoshopping here and there, maybe using a wide angle shot to play with perspective. Or should you avoid it all together?

Let’s discuss…

The argument FOR catfishing your content

Catfishing has some appeal. We get it, a professional photography course wasn’t included in ‘broker 101’. So, editing your listings by removing the stains on the floors, making areas look bigger than they should, and never showing the outside of the building isn’t that bad, right?

If it means that you’re going to get more reactions to your posts and listings, which in turn causes more people to view your properties online, which in turn means more people viewing those properties in real life, meaning you’re more likely to sell, rent or lease said properties, then yes, you should do it.

After all, you’re in this to make money, and so what if a few people get irritated that your pictures don’t look exactly like the real thing? All those fast food companies do it! You never get a burger from Mcdonald's that looks exactly like the picture on the screen.

So, if your end game is to get people to come to your property, ‘catfishing’ those images seems like a reasonable trade-off.

However, there’s another side to it you should maybe consider first…

The argument for NOT catfishing your content

What happens if you just gave your audience the raw unedited reality of your property, even though it might look like a bad day at Chernobyl? Well, they probably wouldn’t be all that keen to be honest, which is why there’s a better way, and it’s called story-telling.

Instead of just posting images and videos of your property and hoping people find it appealing enough to engage with you, we’re seeing a BIG trend around telling the story of your property through real and honest video, with images sprinkled in between.

How you sell a listing comes down to how you market a listing, especially if it isn’t The Ritz, and the best types of marketing involve story-telling. If you can interest your audience with why the property is so amazing, and paint a picture of what it could be used for, you’re doing half your sales job before you even have to meet anyone.

You’re also able to reach WAAAAY more people at the same time.

This content actually involves the viewer by allowing them to imagine the space in their mind, as opposed to you hoping that a few fluffed-up images will do that job. This type of content doesn’t catfish the viewer, and in turn, doesn't create a negative reaction to you, but instead leads to a more positive association with your brand.

The importance of consumer trust

A big part of marketing is nurturing our target market. If we build trust with the audience, we give ourselves a better chance to sell more in the long run. If we break trust time and time again by showing images that look vastly different from our actual properties, we run the risk of associating our brand with negative feelings and emotions from the audience, which we NEVER want.

Not catfishing content means honesty from your side and appreciation from the client's side. Nobody wants to be led into a trap. If you’re on the receiving end, it really sucks. Catfishing leads to mistrust between you and your potential tenant or buyer.

And believe us when we say you do not want mistrust between you and your clients. Mistrust = Bad.

Don’t get a bad reputation

Baiting your audience can also lead to you having a bad reputation. In the US, business leaders view word-of-mouth marketing as an effective marketing strategy so much so that referred customers are 16% to 24% more loyal on average.

Word of mouth is shared by people and is a result of customer experiences. Customers trust their friends and reviews online. Hence, when you fake bait or ‘catfish’ your audience, you’re building a bad reputation, and people talk.

Nobody wants to be known as the person who posts fake content, look how well that went for Mark Zuckerberg and The Tinder Swindler. Not good.

Be the best you

In conclusion, it’s really up to you. We aren’t here to tell you that your current listings strategy isn’t correct and isn’t going to work anymore, especially if it has. What we’re saying is always keep optimizing and testing new ways of getting better with your listings content.

Our first step in doing this is to look at how brokers are generating awareness with this type of story-telling content on TikTok. Get yourself acquainted with the style and then start telling your property stories (use voice-over stickers if you aren’t comfortable speaking on camera) and see how it starts to impact your lead generation and sales long-term.

Until next week,



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