Instagram is the hottest trend in social media. A billion users already know this.
Real estate agents are discovering what other industries are also coming to realize: Instagram is a powerful channel for marketing themselves, connecting with customers, and improving their businesses.
Instagram is almost perfectly suited for agents because it’s focused on images and what can be seen, which, of course, matters so much in real estate. Your followers—including potential buyers—can easily see pictures and short videos of homes you have listed. Instagram’s simplicity is its strength, and used correctly, it can be a secret weapon for real estate agents looking to boost their businesses.
That said, a smart Instagram strategy isn’t as easy as opening an account and posting a few pictures. Here are some tips for real estate agents to get started on what’s becoming a must-have social media channel:
Keep the Business Unique
If you have a personal Instagram account, you might be tempted to use it for your real estate business. Granted, this is convenient in that you aren’t switching accounts constantly, but it doesn’t help your brand and can put off customers who would rather not sift through pictures of your pets or the latest book you are reading. You can always get a little personal with the posts for your business (e.g., “Fido loves the big yards in this hot neighborhood!”), and you can always additionally post real estate pics and videos to both locations, but keep your professional, branded Instagram account distinct from any personal accounts. (And when you do set up an account, be sure to write a descriptive bio that touts you and your business.)
Be Creative and Informative
Instagram for real estate agents offers an obvious benefit: You can post pictures and videos highlighting listings. However, your Instagram presence shouldn’t be limited to just that—you can use the platform to promote your business and connect with customers and potential customers in a variety of ways, including:
- Pictures of neighborhoods you specialize in and features of those neighborhoods (e.g., parks, shopping, community activities, recreational facilities, and so on)
- Posts highlighting neighborhood real estate news (e.g., “The average selling in this suburb has jumped 30 percent in the last year!”)
- Pictures/videos of happy buyers at their new home
- Short video tips for buyers and sellers
- Clever memes and other fun posts—within reason (more on this later)
Instagram is social media, so be social! Do more than just advertise your listings: Engage your audience, create conversations, and make your account’s updates something followers look forward to.
Every Story Tells a Story
The Stories feature in Instagram delivers another unique way for real estate agents to connect with their followers. An Instagram Story is a 15-second video, picture or series of pictures, poll, illustration, or other content that stays online for 24 hours before disappearing, but also gets priority (and even possibly notifications) whenever a follower opens the app. Stories are great for highlighting events and listings, as well as to briefly engage your audience in a personal way. For example, you can post a Story highlighting a room in a house you are showing and invite people to the open house that day. Instagram Stories are ripe for creativity, and if something doesn’t work as well as you hoped, don’t worry—it will be gone in a day.
Posting Best Practices
Once you’ve established an Instagram account for your real estate business, you can start posting at a generous clip, but you need to be smart about what and how you post. Some best practices to follow include:
- Posting something not directly real estate-related is OK once in a while, but don’t overdo it—an occasional meme or funny video of your cat can give your account some character, but too much can get you unfollowed by people who don’t want such content clogging their feeds. And never, ever post something controversial, political, or borderline in bad taste; stay professional and neutral.
- Be consistent with posting frequency and volume. You may prefer to not go crazy with posting or strive to hit double-digit posts every week—or be somewhere in-between. Whatever your preference, if you are inconsistent, posting five times on a weekend and then going dark for a month, followers will be less likely to engage.
- Instagram offers plenty of unique photo options, but take care to post property pictures that followers can gain something from. In other words, don’t get too cute. One post with five photos split into one image may show off a home, but on a mobile device, each little picture will be tough to see. Better to post multiple photos that followers can swipe through. Also—and this should be obvious—ensure photos are high quality and not blurry or off-centered.
- Personally reply to any comments. Even a simple “thank you” or “looking forward to meeting you at the open house” nurtures a relationship that can pay dividends in the long term.
Another major component of a smart Instagram strategy for real estate agents is the use of hashtags. Instagram allows users to add up to 30 hashtags per post. Although how many hashtags is too many is up for debate, don’t be afraid to use at least 10 or more per post. Some can be general, such as #fixerupper, #starterhome, or #milliondollarlisting; others can target the neighborhood or city a listing is in or the amenities a property offers (e.g., #threecargarage or #backyardpool). The more hashtags you use, the more likely Instagram users will find you and the homes you are selling.
An important final reminder with Instagram marketing—and we’ve already touched upon this earlier—is to engage with followers who engage with you. Encourage and reply to comments. If someone likes a post, follow up with a direct message. Use Stories to speak to your followers. The social media presence you build is essential in today’s digital age, so be sure to maximize it. Happy Instagramming!