He was going to quit real estate — then he went viral
Matt Lionetti channeled his desire to entertain into real estate videos, where he's gained millions of views — and million-dollar deals.
- Lionetti was thinking about leaving real estate when one of his early Instagram videos went viral.
- His social media style is "all me" and might offend a few people, but he knows he's not the agent for everyone.
- He advises other agents to get in front of the camera and show some personality so clients feel like they already know them.
The Instagram video was hardly comedy gold. Just Matt Lionetti standing in front of one of his listings, saying, "If you don't like it, you can shut the f-…"
Cut to him at the front of the house.
"... Front door."
He didn't know then, but that little post from August 2019 shaped Lionetti's future: It kept him from leaving real estate, tapped into his comedic side, and helped launched a brand that has garnered him more than 57,000 social media followers and millions of views.
"I had to try something that was all me," remembered Lionetti, managing director of The Agency Toronto West.
"I was thinking about getting out of the business, and I thought, 'What's the worst thing that could happen?' I always had these comedy ideas, and people told me not to do it because it wasn't professional. I listened, and closed off a part of myself."
But then he decided to post the video. "So to get a following, and a buzz, that was enough for me."
In the years since, Lionetti has received several awards for his innovative approach to marketing, has expanded his social reach across the globe, and has appeared on stages with business leaders such as "Million Dollar Listing New York" star Ryan Serhant, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck and real estate coach Tom Ferry.
Lionetti's video content isn't "clean"; he sometimes talks more like someone at an open bar than an open house.
"I swear, yes," he said. "But the way I grew up and many other people grow up, they don't mind. They're like-minded. I swear. I just do. I'm conscious of it, because if you swear too much it could ruin a video. But it is all about the delivery."
He's been told to tone it down and asked if he was worried about leaving business on the table when people are offended.
"Maybe I am," he said. "But I'm working with people I really like working with, and weeding out the people who weren't going to work with me anyway. We're not going to please everyone. We're not The Beatles."
Lionetti's love of performance started when he watched sitcoms and comedians on late-night television with his father. Later on, he became a touring musician and toyed with getting into comedy.
"More than anything, I wanted to entertain," he said. "But I never pursued it, ironically, until I got into real estate."
He got his license seven years ago and worked at Keller Williams and Century 21 before joining The Agency.
His content includes listings and scenarios, aimed at both agents and clients.
His advice to agents wanting to build their social media presence and improve marketing? "The cliche answer is to be authentic, be yourself. But it's true. You don't have to be funny, you have to be whatever you are. Analytical or sarcastic or bubbly. Be who you are."
And be in front of the camera, he said. Let people see your face and hear your voice. They will feel like they know you before they know you.
"Social media is such a great tool, but video allows people to see your personality," Lionetti said.
Put out market updates, but do them wearing your favorite sports jersey, or with books or records in the background, so clients can relate to you on another level. That can generate interest.
"That's all this is," Lionetti said. "I am just trying to stay top of mind and start conversations."
He would love to do more public speaking with Broke Agent Media, where he can mix education and comedy. He's also interested in podcasting. "I want to change the way people think of real estate agents," he said. "They think of us as used-car salesmen, but when it's time to take it seriously, I take it seriously."
That means giving his clients his real opinion, even when it steers them away from $2 million homes.
"It's about getting the best deal for their money and getting them the right house," he said. "If you're only worried about the highest price, they're not going to use you again. If you do the right thing, that's how you're going to get repeat business and referrals."
And if you put yourself out there on social media, you can get even more.
"I almost walked away," he said. "But I'm incredibly happy and having a great time."