I wanted to write a piece that shows you how you can have real estate success by using Instagram.
It’s worth noting that Pinterest can be another powerful tool, especially when these two strategies are used side by side.
I’ll show you examples of how other real estate agents are promoting their listings, as well as discussing how you could put these into action.
I will also highlight some things that could have a potentially negative impact on your real estate goals.
I do feel it is important to note though, that many people have varying Instagram styles, but there will be something for you in here, to take away and use as part of your own Instagram journey.
Forgive me for not teaching you how to sign up to Instagram, there are thousands (honestly) of tutorials and videos to show you this. However I will guide you through some stages step by step. As I really don’t want to offer a suggestion, then not give you the knowledge to follow that through.
Regardless of whether you are an Instagram pro, or don’t even have the app. There will certainly be value for you within the paragraphs to come.
I will discuss positive role models, good examples of realtors to follow and also what to include within your content. Firstly I will just run through some brief Instagram points to create the whole backstory to my suggestions.
How it works
It is important to recognise that when it comes to social media, there is no one size fits all model. Instagram, and certainly its users differ dramatically from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Instagram users will have certain expectations of what they will see on the platform, as well as what they would be interested in seeing.
Their users tend to love the platform for the visual nature of it; it is primarily used as a photo and video publishing tool. Certainly there is less content which links directly to blogs, agency sites or listings compared to the likes of Pinterest. However this does not mean that there isn’t potential to add another string to your real estate marketing bow.
Instagram is primarily a mobile based app, with fewer users using the desktop based version. Although you can use the web version to gain followers, view images and profiles. You cannot upload photos this way. This is why it is incredibly important to be conscious of the type of content that you upload.
Will it appeal to the mobile viewer or be seen as clutter? The aim is to enhance your marketing potential and not to annoy viewers with the constant sight of your brand; but we’ll get to this.
One suggestion is to create a personal account for yourself, which displays all of your interests and personal images; and then create a completely separate account for your business. So that your professional side can be seen. However the balance here is to show just enough of your personality so that viewers can see you are not simply a real estate robot.
The trick is to find out what works for you.
Benefits of Instagram
Instagram can certainly help brands maintain a presence and create a visual identity.
It is important for brands to now display a strong social media presence to avoid being forgotten or ignored; Instagram is no different in this respect.
An Instagram account ran well, especially within real estate, can open potential sales and further opportunities for your business. As well as opening your brand up to the eyes of your potential future customers.
I love the fact that on Instagram, we have the potential to really tailor our brand perception in line with our audience’s interests and expectations.
If I want to be seen as a real estate brand dealing with high end properties, then that is what I can display. Alternatively if I want to be seen as someone reliable who always delivers, then again that is what I can deliver to the audience.
We can really hone in on what our audience requires, and show that we cater to those needs via Instagram.
Remember that ultimately Instagram is a free form of marketing, which is both an extension of our brand; and window of opportunity for potential clients.
Instagram Action Plan
Once you understand and are familiar with Instagram, I feel that it is important to create a plan of action for your brand.
Consider the following points:
- What are your goals? – What do you hope to achieve on Instagram? Is this to send more traffic to your site, to increase brand awareness or even to gain more visibility of your property listings.
- How will what you post reflect these aims? If your goal is to break down barriers to allow you to be seen as a personality as well as an agent, then personal pictures may be fine to post. However if you wish to be seen as the real estate go to on Instagram, then maybe your posts should be more business orientated.
Think back to your initial aim every time you post and ask yourself, will this help me recognise that goal and move me closer to it?
- Some great real estate accounts have ‘themes’ they stick to with their posts. I will highlight some of these shortly, but do consider if this is something that would benefit you.
- How often will you post? This is something you should try to determine within you plan and stick to it. There is a balance to be met between not being forgotten, and not going too overboard.
In fact let me expand on this within the next few paragraphs.
I really believe that having an Instagram action plan, which fits in with your broader social media action plan, can be extremely beneficial. It can help you from straying off course with your content. As well as ensuring that your audience and their preferences are at the forefront of your images; rather than just what you personally are drawn to.
How long do you need to spend on Instagram?
However long you decide, because it must be right for you, try to be consistent.
I read one recommendation to post at the same time every day, just as a TV show would air. However I don’t feel personally it needs to be this concrete; although your audience may appreciate some kind of consistency from you.
I don’t necessarily feel that you need to commit a large proportion to your day on Instagram, in order to benefit your overall marketing strategy.
I feel up 20 to 30 minutes per day (even just whilst on a lunch break) can be plenty to reach your goals. This could include posting a photo of a new property or area, or maybe just interacting with others on the platform. This includes responding to comments, liking other images and following other people.
This does not take a great deal of time, but the significance is that it can stop your audience from losing interest due to lack of engagement.
This probably leads nicely onto how to gain an audience, and how to stand out.
I would strongly recommend that interact with those that comment on your pictures. At the same time there is a danger of overdoing it. You may choose to just reply to each person once.
Following influencers and engaging users on Instagram can be a fantastic way of gaining more of an audience yourself.
By following others, liking their images and commenting on their posts, will encourage others to follow you back. You can then start really building your following by posting engaging images on a daily basis.
I think that one of the key things to gaining local attention, which people often miss out, is to use the Instagram photo map. When you add an image, use the image location option to share the point that the image was taken.
This may really be something that stands out and grabs the attention of those nearby.
It can help to create a connection with a community and help to establish your profile as the go to person in that area.
What to include
Your ‘content’ is critical on Instagram. The types of images you share can lead to you gaining an engaged audience and a strong following, or simply a disinterested and uninspired group of small followers.
Just remember to link everything back to your action plan, what you want to achieve; as well as what would actually interest your real estate audience. What could possibly generate a warm lead or a potential homebuyer?
Within the next section I am going to highlight what others are doing well, however I just wanted to include some points here that I feel may inspire your future posts; and ultimately help you sell more homes.
With whatever image you post, consider the description you add. This is an opportunity to entice your audience and create interest. When typing consider, would this make them click through to my site, or simply not wish to read another post from me?
Test out the length and language of your descriptions with various posts. Find out what works for your audience. I would also recommend testing out relevant hashtags for your local area. See what other terms people within your market are using and consider replicating those.
One thing I did see a real estate agent do extremely well, which gained a lot of interaction, was to post a screenshot of the current weather in an area. This may not work for me right now as it is 2 degrees Celsius, raining and windy; so not particularly appealing in the slightest. However if the home you are promoting is in an area famous for the warm weather or indeed a crisp chill, then highlight that.
It is so incredibly simple, but very effective. Showing me that the weather is gorgeously sunny would certainly play on my emotions, and if you have a house listed also; then I may well take a look.
Posting images of nearby attractions and places of interest to a property you are selling can be a big draw. Do not forget that with any property you sell, you also sell the lifestyle and potential of an area.
There is every chance someone will view a listing, or fall for an area without even viewing the image of the home. Show me a glorious park where I could enjoy time with my family, or maybe a nearby beach, and that area would likely have a pull for me. Alternatively are there beautiful autumnal trails to walk to dog or perhaps cosy cafes.
Go ahead and highlight all of these beautiful features. They are not part of the home you are selling, but they are an extension onto the life the homebuyer may lead. This can be even more effective for someone looking to move into the area you are advertising.
Do also consider the volume of engagement this could create from your original images. Likes and comments from people who live there and are proud to, could well lead to more exposure for you.
It really can be this simple. Just be sure to softly highlight an available property with the description or hashtags. Consider what would connect well with your audience and attempt to capture this within the images of the home and lifestyle.
I think one of the very best examples I can show you with regards to this is not real estate related. However the exact same principal very much still applies.
Think of the brand Sharpie. They make marker pens. So if they wanted to show their product they could post images of pens. Or they could highlight the potential creative elements that could be born with the help of a Sharpie. Which do you feel they highlight?
This is exactly the same principal with appealing to homebuyers. Show the potential and possibilities. Just as Sharpie have done. It is
This is exactly the same principal with appealing to homebuyers. Show the potential and possibilities. Just as Sharpie have done. It is probably not surprising that a pen brand has 124k followers, when reviewing their posts. They are imaginative and creative.
I hope this one example has just given you something to ponder, and perhaps inspired your future thought process for your own posts.
Something else I have seen work well with real estate is the use of testimonial videos. As Instagram will only allow a 15 second video, this can be a perfect way of receiving a short, sharp and punchy endorsement.
Something brief like a quick thank you on the doorstep of their new property could be a very powerful message for others considering using your services.
You could script this or indeed just capture a very natural emotion as they thank you. I would not post these too frequently so as not to bore your audience. However this could another powerful tool to help you stand out, and gain new customers.
Many things will come down to testing, trial and error as well as your own personal style. However consider the use of a filter within your images. Something I personally like is the idea of using one filter for the majority of your content and sticking with it. This can help your brand and style stand out and be recognisable. It has the ability to create an instant connection with the viewer amongst other pins.
As mentioned above in the plan of action, consider what your posting schedule will be. Once per day, 3 times per day? I would say however don’t post for the sake of it. Poor or lazy content can be more detrimental to no content at all.
Most importantly of all, consider why would people follow you in the first place?
What are they looking for you to deliver?
Is this to showcase the latest listings or perhaps to present your thoughts on the local market. You have the opportunity to create a place for yourself as the local expert. So go out and deliver!
I am sure you will want to display your own style and personality in your Instagram account. However I do feel that looking at others for inspiration can be extremely powerful and effective.
This may be in the form of seeing things you do not like or agree with, or perhaps seeing an image that will inspire your next course of action.
It is extremely easy for me to talk about what I feel you should include, but I wanted to show some real examples of real estate Instagram accounts I have come across.
I do feel as though there are some positive real estate Instagram role models out there. So I would like to highlight some examples.
I will highlight some of the features that I particularly like, and then you can decide if that is something that may work for you and your approach.
The hope is that there will be a nugget of information or influence within this section that will spark an idea or consideration for your own Instagram campaign. I have attempted to highlight a number of different features within these various accounts.
Someone that I feel has a very clear and effective strategy is Ines Hegedus-Garcia. She posts bright, appealing and highly visual images; in attempt to direct real estate traffic to her Miami blog.
I really feel that these images are effective at standing out amongst others. They are highly relevant to what she discusses on her blog, and they gain a great amount of interaction.
It is worth noting that Ines does include a number of personal photographs as well on her account. Again consider what your style will be, will this show a personal side and help people relate to you; or do you wish your page to be business focused only?
That is very much for you to determine within your own strategy, and not something I feel is a one size fits all solution.
Lili Peters is an agent who I feel looks to use her Instagram as an extension of her brand and website.
Her site discusses cultural understanding and I find her Instagram page reflects this. The images are simple, yet very appealing and attempt to capture the feel of the areas that she targets.
I feel this range of images from Lili sum that point up perfectly.
The cheapest home I could see her selling was $3million, so I feel it is therefore important that she represents herself professionally on her page; which she does do. Pictures of her on a sun lounger or sipping cocktails may not have had the same effect on me, as her captivating photographs do.
This is one of her posts that I feel could well lead people to her website, and potentially her to some warm leads.
It is worth noting your emotion or impulse when viewing something like this. If it creates an urge to click through or dig deep in yourself; then it may do the same for your audience.
If that is the case then consider capturing this type of photographic element in your own work.
The next account I wish to highlight is not something I personally would choose to replicate, but that is certainly not a criticism. Kim Colaprete represents a rather quirky band of ‘Diva’ real estate agents.
However what is evident is that her Instagram account represents her Diva brand. I am not saying this is a good or bad representation of the benefits of real estate on Instagram, but I do feel that her audience will probably connect with her as a result. Whether they buy real estate from her is another question. I’ll leave that question for you to ponder…
There is a more personal images than real estate, which may well be a conscious attempt to break down barriers; however it will possibly fail to connect with your typical homebuyer (if indeed there is such a thing).
I would argue that it will not appeal to the maximum potential audience. I would point out though that I did like this post as such a straightforward way of showing a property listing feature; simple and effective.
It is likely that this image would be noted by people in the area, and anyone with an interest in the piece of furniture; hence generating awareness and possible leads.
Let me show you another account and what I would like you to do is to simply view it at face value, consider what your impression of it would be, and would you choose to replicate this style?
RemaxMalibu have some great posts on their page, although I wanted to make you think again about what you post, and what impression people would have of your company. For me personally, and some may disagree; this feels a little like brand overkill. I feel this defeats the object of Instagram somewhat.
As a potential homebuyer I do not feel I would be inspired to click through to the site. I am made perfectly aware of the Remax brand; however I feel that other agents deliver more ‘value’ within their Instagram posts.
If you don’t necessarily agree, then please just compare it to Inter Investments Reality. I really love the imagery of this.
Just imagine for one moment that this as a potential customer, this is your first impression of this company.
Looking at that certainly made me question how I will organise my Instagram images in future.
I wanted to highlight one final account just purely for a very simple video impact Randy Carlson chooses to use.
Some people will find this effective and others too basic but this is something you could replicate extremely easy, if you felt that it was something your audience would appreciate.
Don’t forget that there is the potential to create 15 second videos on Instagram. Is this something you feel could help you stand out from competitors?
Remember that the aim here is to supplement your real estate lead / sales efforts with free Instagram marketing. So with everything you post consider, would this help you achieve your business aim?
Some other real estate profiles you may wish to consider following are:
- Caroline Gosselin
- Anne Jones
- Chad Carrol
- Joyce Rey
- Nikki Beauchamp
- Fredrik Eklund
- Dusty Baker
- Live Urban Denver
- Houlihan Lawrence
- Haute Residence
- Caroline Gosselin
Each has their own unique little styles and methods. Although I hope I have given you enough to take forward with the examples I have just showcased.
As with other social media, as feel it is important to track the impact and performance of your images. This will allow you to understand which types of images are having the biggest impact on your audience.
Instagram analytics can help you monitor this, and adjust your strategy or posting schedule accordingly, depending on results.
I would recommend tracking your data weekly if you can, as trends can change quickly, as can the dynamic of your audience.
There are a number of tools out there that can help you analyse this. However until you grow to a size that makes it more difficult. I feel you can get a feel for this by simply checking in everyday to see what engagement has been created.
I really hope you have found some benefit, ideas and inspiration from this article. There are many actionable points that you can take forward with your own Instagram campaign.
Do remember to see this as a mobile format platform. Your images will be seen on a small screen, so make sure the pictures are attractive and crisp.
I would refrain from getting involved with any kind of spammy strategies or shortcuts like buying likes and followers. This is an extension of your real estate business, so do it well and do it properly. I would try to look at it from the viewpoint that someone would wish to use you as their inspiration and Instagram role model due to the quality of your content in relation to your brand.
Don’t overlook the fact that Instagram is a great tool for sharing. This could be in the form of an open house event, workshop or anything else you wish to post an invite for. If you make it relevant and visually appealing; then it will likely be seen by a relevant audience.
I would advise to not overdo hashtags, you will no doubt see examples of these where people have gone gung-ho, which can be distracting and off-putting. However do try to keep up to date with the latest real estate hash tag trends. I tend to review what other influential people are using, to see if I can spot a potential new trend. Consider if there is something you can use for your own images.
I am extremely conscious that I have not covered Instagram Ads within the content. Quite simply because it warrants a whole article of its own. It is a huge beast which can be extremely beneficial when done correctly, but expensive when not.
This article is very much in the pipeline and something I hope you are looking forward to reading. Instagram have their own details https://business.instagram.com/advertising/ however I will cover it in far more depth going forward.
In summary you can very much use Instagram to capture more real estate leads. If a potential buyer does not see your image, a friend of theirs just might. Remember that this is a superb platform to enhance your brand and your local standing. Whilst also keeping you at the forefront of potential buyers minds.
Thank you as ever for reading,