A Tweet posted last week by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff — who I used to work for  — caught my attention.

My first thought was this:

Zillow Digs has hit every mainstream media outlet and is going to be huge, and this designer figured out a way to get 1,400 followers within the first two days. She’s going to show up at the top of Zillow’s lists for the next several years and get tons of business as a result. Holy crap, that’s one smart early adopter.

Note: When Spencer Rascoff Tweeted this, Beckwith Interiors had 1,400 followers. Now they have more than 4,000.

Regardless of what industry you’re in, when you think about building your brand, you should think about which platforms and vendors to associate with. The earlier in their existence, the better.

I saw this over and over in the real estate vertical throughout the more than six years I spent in it. My two past employers, Zillow and Virtual Results, were consistently looking for clients to promote in phone calls, emails, tweets, blog posts and even conference speaking slots. I talked to agents and brokers all day, every day.

A large part of those conversations involved sharing what other clients were doing — what was working for them. I have a secret for you. The people I mentioned in those conversations day in, day out were mostly the same 10 people (or occasionally someone I had talked to who told me something that had worked recently for them).

The point?

Pick a vendor or a platform you think will be big. Grab on early. Build a strong personal relationship. Show them how their product is helping you succeed. Do whatever it takes to be one of clients showcased regularly. Then, hang on for dear life.

There is a reason Spencer Rascoff is one of LinkedIn’s Influencers. A reason why the GoodLife Team is featured by Apple. There are hundreds of other examples. They realize the benefit of being early.

Grab on now.

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Oh Hey World. Global nomad originating in Seattle. Ex-Zillow community builder. Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva. Find him on Twitter @drewmeyers.

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  • http://blog.calbucci.com/ Marcelo Calbucci

    Drew, I would re-phrase your title as “why it’s smart to be an early adopter on a new platform of a established company”. Joining Zillow is hardly an early adopter move. They proved themselves already. If you think about the dozens (hundreds?) of real estate startups launched over the last 6 years or so, most of them are dead. If you have invested significants amount of time as an early-adopter on all of them, first you’d be like Robert Scoble to Real Estate :), second most of your investment would be dead on the water.

    That said, I agree with you on the sentiment of fully-embrace and embrace early platforms that have all the markings of success. It’s tricky to identify those, but you just can’t say “I’ll wait to see who’s the winner”. That’s like being a recruiter and joining LinkedIn last year,or being a PR person and joining Twitter recently after the entire world is on board.

    • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

      Hey Marcelo-
      Yea, I realize most of this post is centered around initiatives with established companies. New vendors though are an excellent place to get a good return marketing wise — they are desperately in need of “showcase” clients to promote in their conversations. For instance, Dominic at M Squared was one of the people I mentioned on almost every call when working at Virtual Results. He was our showcase client for the Broker’s Choice Platform we built – http://virtualresults.net/vr-brokers-choice/

  • http://twitter.com/Vroo Vroo (Bruce Leban)

    “hang on for dear life”

    It’s smart to be an early adopter of a successful new platform. It sucks to be an early adopter of one that fails. Unfortunately, hard to know in advance. Platforms with major backing from large companies sometimes fail (insert your favorite failed technology from Microsoft, Amazon, Apple or Google here) while those from small companies sometimes succeed against all expectations. In either case, it can be a roller coaster.

  • http://twitter.com/mustryit Mustry

    Find out if you are an early adopter! http://mustry.co

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