Zillow: Social Media Superstar

authors: Erich Aguillon, Grieta King, Samantha Nadel, Case Powell and Jeanne Schneider

On Wednesday, March 14 we welcomed Grant Gurewitz (UO ’13, @GrantGurewitz) and Ahva Pakzadan (UO ’16, @theahva), Marketing Manager and Social Media Coordinator at Zillow Group to speak about Zillow’s social media strategy. Grant highlighted many of the concepts we have been discussing in class this term. One of the major reasons for Zillow’s success is the company’s ability to empower consumers in the home buying process. This is reflected in their motto, “Power to the People.” As we have been learning all term, gaining a consumer’s trust in your brand is extremely important to the brand’s success, as trust is the foundation of engagement. Once consumers are engaging, their contributions “add a layer of authenticity” to the brand, as these are real people coming forward with their real, experienced successes using Zillow. Ahva spoke on how Zillow handles emailing customers. @celine74605957 pointed out when customers think that “email volume is too high, they (Zillow) genuinely take it into account and decrease it.” This is a great example of how Zillow listens and engages with their customers. They are able to build trust and strong, personal connections which leads to improved sales.

During Grant’s and Ahva’s presentation, we took the opportunity to pose questions to the class. We posted a poll asking which students have used Zillow to find a place to live. 83% of the 12 respondents had used Zillow before and @Mei_Ling25 mentioned she only uses it to “window shop”. Since our class is relatively young, our expectation was while many have definitely looked at Zillow, it was not with the intent to buy. It is an interesting insight as it shows Zillow’s wide reach and its consumers are not solely real estate agents or homebuyers.

Zillow’s reach and social media success can be partly attributed to its recent move to bring social media programming in-house as opposed to the norm of brands working with an external agency can be attributed. We asked the opinion of the class on the effectiveness of this move. @molliemarkey weighed in noting that internal employees have stronger ties to the company and a better idea of what the company is looking to accomplish. Grant weighed in as well agreeing with @molliemarkey, “Employee connection to brand is stronger and more authentic than outside folks, IMO. Agency can be helpful for analytics, campaign/budget management, and targeting.” It makes sense employees are invested in their place of work so who better to understand the company’s objectives and what it would take to accomplish these objectives.

Zillow’s social media strategy is a smart social strategy overall. As we learned in our last class, brands create personas to help them gain insight into consumer needs and preferences. Grant revealed Zillow created several consumer personas which shapes their strategies. Moreover, the marketing funnel that Grant showed clearly displays a planned, organized approach to their social media marketing. The diagram displays the brand’s wide reach, as they boast a combination of organic as well as paid partnerships. Finally, Zillow links consumer stories to all social media platforms, which has the effect of humanizing the brand as well as spreading a clear, consistent message. It is no wonder that Zillow is considered to be a “social media superstar.”

This Article Has 10 Comments
  1. Sierra Goodman says:

    Great article summing up the Zillow presentation, it was definitely one of my favorite this term! I started using Zillow last year to look for rentals in Eugene and am using it again for rentals in Portland. Their user-driven website is definitely appealing compared to looking at individual property management sites or Craigslist. They do a great job with their social media that could otherwise be quite boring if not done right. Good idea taking a poll during class to get a feel for where the younger audience is at in regards to using Zillow.

  2. Kristle says:

    I really enjoyed this guest presentation. They did a great job explaining and helping us visualize what their strategy was. For example, their stock photo usage tell a different story from the one that they would want to tell. I like how Zillow keeps the story uniform across all their socials.

  3. Claudia Davis says:

    The presenters did an amazing job engaging with the class and helping us understand the internal perspective of media from a company’s perspective. Creating consumer personas for their strategies is a great tactic to successful media platforms. Gaining consumer trust in the brand is the key to success. Engaging with consumers via different media platforms is a great way for consumers to gain trust in the brand, ensuring success on both ends.

  4. Kayla Henderson-Wood says:

    This is article is beyond thorough and gives a great overview of Zillow’s strengths and progress. I appreciated you including multiple twitter handles. Zillow has always been my go to when looking for homes either in California or Oregon so I always like to hear a little more about it.

  5. Kenden Blake says:

    Great summary! I thought this class was awesome! Speakers were engaging and informational. Zillow is going to be an interesting company to watch as they are well-positioned to succeed with more tech-savvy buyers coming into buying power interested in real estate.

  6. Keeley O'Dougherty says:

    I love using Zillow to find housing in Eugene but I find their consistent emails a little annoying. When a company is sending me a ridiculous number of emails, I start to completely ignore them. I was very excited to hear a classmate ask the speakers about this issue and loved to hear that the people at Zillow were making changes to stop that from happening. Also, “zillions of pillows” blew my mind.

  7. Justin Hanes says:

    I believe that Zillow is doing a great job at facilitating a place for people to humanize and connect. I really love how they use their platform like Airbnb. As a homeowner, I can only imagine the stress of finding a realtor or property that is safe, in good condition and reliable. Grant did a great job in his presentation and I am really hoping to connect with him this summer in Seattle because of his presentation. I love how they shared their tier system of social strategy and how it impacts what they post. While it seemed to contradict what our last presenter said about the “funnel,” it was still insightful and valuable to their social strategy.

  8. Lola Butcher says:

    Great job wrapping together the main points of the presentation. This one was one of my favorites this term not only because of how invested and passionate the two speakers were on the subject but also because of the opportunities they are creating for themselves through social media platforms. I felt your article really captured what Zillow is all about. Nicely done!

  9. Marley McIntosh says:

    This was also one of my favorite presentations of this class not only because I would love to work for them, but because of what they have to offer. Not only do they deliver exceptional service, but they really make an effort to personalize the brand. I love this strategy because it doesn’t make them seem like a money hungry business, but just a friendly neighbor looking out for you.

  10. Maddie Landers says:

    I agree that this presentation was one of the best! It was an extra special presentation for me and my group after working on Zillow all term for our social media audit. I wish that everyone could have that experience to bring their work full circle and hear from the clients as well as just presenting. One thing I noticed about this day was that the Twitter feed was hotter than ever. Every few seconds there were consistently multiple tweets, a noticeable difference from other classes! Great job, Zillow!

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