Featured on Feb 16, 2011
"There's one, set for stun!"
Matthew Shadbolt is the Director of Internet Marketing at The Corcoran Group, Manhattan's leading real estate brokerage, where he is responsible for all of Corcoran's interactive output and advertising. His responsibilities include the tactical value-building implementation of new features for multiple interactive platforms such as corcoran.com, and Corcoran's initiatives in social media, advertising, video, mobile and search. Under Shadbolt's guidance Corcoran's online audience has quadrupled in less than 5 years. He recently spearheaded the organization's first steps into mobile marketing and content production with the launch of its first iPhone application, and is an active participant in Corcoran's social media presence.
Prior to joining Corcoran, Matthew spent five years at Home Shopping Network QVC, first as Senior Interactive Designer at QVC UK in London (where he developed the world's first real-time interactive television purchasing application), and later as Manager of Graphics at QVC headquarters in the United States, where he oversaw the creative strategy and production of QVC's broadcast output and brand strategy.
A native of the United Kingdom, Matthew graduated from the Jan van Eyck Akademie in The Netherlands in 1998 with a Postgraduate Laureate, specializing in Interactive Design.
He has taught Graphic Design and Critical Fine Art Practice at numerous academic institutions including Oxford, Yale, The University of Maastricht and the Art Institute of Philadelphia. He has spoken at numerous conference panels on topics related to real estate advertising and the industry's interactive future.
His work has been published across many publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian(UK), Mashable.com, Forbes and Billboard Magazine. His work is regularly published in Real Estate industry publications such as The Real Deal, Curbed, Inman News and the Real Estate section of The New York Times. Shadbolt has been a member of the New York Chapter of AIGA since 2004 and is an enthusiastic member of the Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society. He is also a current member of the Hitwise Online Competitive Analysis and Analytics Advisory Board.
- Title: Director Of Internet Marketing, The Corcoran Group
- Age: 37
- Location: Upper East Side
- Contact: @corcoran_group
You are now focused on Corcoran's mobile and social media growth and advertising strategy. What are some other companies/brands out there that you think are doing social media and advertising right?
Within real estate there aren't that many, but I think when social translates to actual real-world behavior, or benefits then it can be very powerful. For example, I love what Howard Stern did on Twitter, by providing interactive behind-the-scenes commentary while 'Private Parts' aired on HBO. Twitter seems like a great untapped source of content for television programming, and I'm excited to see how the 2 platforms will blur in the near future.
For me personally, Foursquare can be a very interesting way of working with a social advertising approach, as outside of customer loyalty programs I think it can really help change someone's lifestyle - I really like the partnerships they are doing to promote healthier living, such as a partnerships with RunKeeper and promoting visits to parks and swimming pools. This is more interesting to me than getting a badge for staying out all night, as it's more motivational and beneficial.
I'm always astonished at how many brands leave social out of their call to action messaging, but it's interesting to see how many ads you see where the Facebook URL has replaced the corporate/main website URL - I saw a lot of this during the Superbowl. I think Old Spice have done great things in social, and I thought Burger King's 'Unfriending for Whopper' campaign was a lot of fun.
How did you get involved with the Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society? Is there anything specific about the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 that interests you?
I come from a long line of soldiers and sailors, dating back hundreds of years on both sides of my family (the Shadbolt name is even an old military profession - it's someone who used to load crossbows), so I've got military history in my genes. While I never expressed any interest in a career in the services, I've always enjoyed history in all forms. As I child I visited South Africa, which was a very different place then than it is now, and I distinctly remember visiting the battlefields where the Zulus fought the British. For me, its fascination stems from being one of the last instances of war before technology took over, and one of the last great Imperial campaigns where the spear and shield was pitted against the rifle and the cannon, and often still won.
There have been many films made about the battles, but for me, nothing has come close to how terrifying it must have been to stand behind a few bags of grain and wait for 10,000 Zulus to come at you, with the ground shaking, spears rattling, and the sky turning black. If you're looking for an example of what real guts are, look no further than the battles of Isandlwana or Rorke's Drift - amazing stuff.
You worked at QVC UK in London and then later at QVC in the United States, both in the design field. In your opinion, what are some of the differences between the U.K. and U.S. markets when considering design and creative strategy?
Outside of the technical, linguistic and cultural differences, I found that the design approach in the UK tends to be simpler, more stripped down, and less 'produced' than the US creative approaches, which feel (to me), very 'over produced' in comparison. Perhaps it's my Dutch design education, but I've never been a big believer in design approaches that promote 'more is more'. In a basic sense, this is something I saw a lot of when working on typographic projects, where in the US we were often encouraged to add more and more elements to something like a logotype - effects, animations, mixing and matching styles, whereas in the UK the creative tended to be just one, simple creative, more focused on execution than impact.
Ultimately I think attention spans, especially on television, are a little longer in the UK as there's only recently been a culture of hundreds of channels, and the main channels (BBC) still remain commercial free - when I was growing up in the UK there were only ever 4 channels, so watching long-form programming was more commonplace. Whenever I visit my family in England I'm always stunned at how long the commercials and TV shows are - I think living in New York in particular has seriously shortened my attention span. The UK has some great things going on with interactive television though (especially SKY Sports), and I was thrilled to be a part of those projects during my time at QVCUK.
You manage and create the content on a daily basis for all of Corcoran’s social media outlets across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Which social media outlet do you think currently has the greatest impact and which do you think has the most potential?
In terms of actual revenue generation and brand extension, Twitter has far an away been the biggest platform for us at Corcoran. As a traditionally perceived 'luxury' brand, it's been a big step for Corcoran to open up and share more information digitally, and social media has been a big part of how we've done that. Having an outlet like Twitter has been a great deal of fun for us, and we have found that it's enabled us to extend our brand from a fairly well-known local one, to one with more of a national presence, especially within the real estate community. We're New York-based, but we get hundreds of thousands of users each month from California.
At the moment, I think YouTube holds the most potential for the real estate industry, essentially because most online real estate videos are so terrible. They are either glorified slideshows set to stock music, or handheld Flipcam movies of agents showing you what the inside of the closets look like. I think there's a huge opportunity to raise the bar on real estate video, not only from a production standpoint, but also from syndication, audience and engagement perspective. Our approach has been to create a Mahalo-like archive of frequently asked questions such as "what is the difference between a condo and a co-op?", and fold those videos back into other things we're doing online, so we don't see our video approach as differentiated from Facebook and Twitter. It's the same thing in a different form.
But if we're talking about potential, I think smartphones have the ability to create a seismic shift in how the real estate industry works. 'What's near me' is a massive thing for us.
And just for fun, I'd like to sign off with this.