Real estate agents aren’t known to be shy. From catchy bus stop benches to flashy photo billboards—real estate marketing is all about capturing the community’s attention.
That’s why creating social media influence is the next logical move.
“I think social media has been untapped,” says Santa Monica-based Realtor Andrew Jevin. “You’re going out cold-calling people and knocking on doors—why aren’t you on Instagram?”
He’s got a point. With 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is a great platform for agents who want to stand out from the crowd and become true real estate influencers.
But while most Realtors already know they need a Facebook presence, Instagram can be a little trickier to nail down.
Is Instagram worth it for Realtors?
In case you hadn’t already heard, millennials make up the largest group of first-time home buyers at 66%, followed by Generation X at 26%.
You probably won’t be shocked to hear that millennials love Instagram—but did you know that 58% of millennials and 46% of Gen Xers found their home on a mobile device?
To quote the latest Homebuyer Insights Report: Americans see home buying and technology as inseparable.
Today, that’s truer than ever.
It may sound crazy, but a report from Live Person revealed that 65% of millennials and Gen Zers interact more on social media than in real life. Seeing photos of each other’s homes stirs up feelings of FOMO (that’s “fear of missing out” for any of us born before 1980) which, according to a 2017 NAR report, actually persuades them to make a first-time home purchase.
So does having a rockin’ Instagram presence guarantee more buyers and listings?
Well, if you’re looking for guarantees, you’re probably in the wrong business. But here’s what Instagram definitely does do:
- Keeps your name top-of-mind with your SOI
- Shows sellers you’re actively marketing their properties
- Helps generate referrals and new listings
- Builds your authority as an expert influencer
Love it or hate it, Instagram is worthy of your time. Here are seven stellar ways you can use this awesomely visual social platform to generate more (and better!) leads for your real estate business.
(And hey, if Twitter is more your thing, we got you. Check out this quick list of Twitter dos and don’ts to generate more leads from the tweetosphere.)
1. Create a stellar profile
Before you do anything, remember that people who visit your profile not only look at your listings but at who you are.
Here are some ways to entice them into following you over the competition.
- Create a bold identity. You want people to instantly understand who you are and what services you offer. Pick a memorable username relevant to your business.
- Balance personal and professional. Your business account should showcase your brand, but feel free to share personal posts that help your leads feel like they know you.
- Kill the jargon. Write a short personal bio (max. 150 words) with your niche, location and business contact info. Don’t forget to link your website and other social media accounts.
- Choose the perfect profile photo. Try not to use anything too loose or too buttoned-up—you want to look professional but still fun and approachable.
Source: Sarah Johnston via Instagram
2. Post engaging content
Once you’ve built your profile, it’s time to ask yourself the million-dollar question:
What makes an Instagram post great?
The answer is going to depend on your market, your competitive differentiators and your unique style and personality as a Realtor.
But there are a few fundamental factors to keep in mind:
- Make sure your content is likable and relevant. Show people you’re a super-smart expert in your field, who’s still fun to hang out with.
- Add great listings photos. A professional home photographer is soooo worth the money.
- Show a combination of personality and product. Impress people with eye-catching home listings, friendly invitations to upcoming open houses and spotless virtual tours. But remember to always stay true to your brand identity.
- Tell a story. Use videos and listing narratives to create emotion in the hearts of potential buyers. Marketing expert Seth Godin said it best, “People buy stories, not stuff, and it’s stories that spread, not stuff.”
Source: Monica Diaz via Instagram
3. Use creative captions
Captions are probably the most undervalued real estate on Instagram. Done right, they can help you position your brand above the competition and create a lasting connection with your followers.
Here are a few simple rules to help optimize your captions:
- Play with length. Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters and while the common advice is to keep it between 130-150, it’s important to recognize that every audience is different. Try out a variety of shorter and longer posts to see what generates the most engagement from your tribe.
- Don’t forget to include a call to action asking your followers to engage. This can be anything from asking for their own experience, asking them to vote on a personal question or sharing some fun market trivia.
- Always keep your captions relevant. Consider the following questions:
How does this content add value to your audience?
How does your unique voice add value to your content?
How does this content add value for your brand?
If you’re looking for a little more inspiration, Zillow’s captions are a pretty great place to start.
Source: Zillow via Instagram
4. Put your trust in #hashtags
Instagram hashtags are what help people discover your posts and listings.
And according to research by Agorapulse, Instagram posts with hashtags increase likes by 70%—and of course, more likes equals more visibility for your brand and creates a powerful compound effect that can skyrocket your follower count in a matter of days.
Right now the limit is 30 hashtags, but be careful not to overdo it. SocialFresh suggests 7 hashtags for optimal engagement, while more than 9 can be seen as spammy. Think about which hashtags really deserve to be there and drop the rest.
Here’re a few hashtag examples to try out:
- #[City/Neigbourhood] e.g. #Chicago #Manhattan
- #JustSold #JustListed #ForSale, #Flip, #Investment
- #OpenHouse, #HouseHunting, #DreamHome, #StarterHome, #LuxuryLiving, #MillionDollarListing
- #[Brokerage], #[NameOfYourRealEsatateBusiness]
- #PopularRestaurantNames, #PopularVenueNames, #PopularShopNames, #PopularGymNames
- #[HomeStyle], #Bungalow, #Beachfront, #Victorian, #Modern
Source: Peter and Paige via Instagram
5. Be consistent
You don’t want to do all the work of building an awesome profile and attracting tons of new followers, only to lose them later.
According to 2017 research from Medium, “Instagram users retain followers through projected consistency and social engagement both on the app and in real life.”
The best ways to keep and grow your followers is to:
- Block time in your calendar for Instagram. You don’t have to post every single day but it’s important to keep a steady stream of content flowing. If you have an awesome admin, they can help with this.
- Stay ahead of the crowd by scheduling your posts in advance using automated tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.
- Edit your photos to make sure their Insta-worthy. Canva is a super simple way to add text to images without having to hire a full-time designer.
6. Give video its due
Wyzowl’s 2017 State of Video Marketing Survey revealed that for “97% of marketers, video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service”—and 76% say it helped them increase sales, too.
There are a million different ways you can use video when posting to your Instagram account. From showcasing properties to revealing details about the neighborhood, advertising local events or even showing off your curbside snow-shoveling skills—there’s no wrong or right way to rock your video content.
Just try to keep these simple tips in mind:
- Aim to keep videos under 1-2 minutes max.
- Use Instagram Stories to create a sense of urgency for your followers and get them to engage more often.
- Consider live videos for promoting new listings, running contests and posting live Q&A sessions. It’s a great way to connect with followers in real time.
- Keep it real. Instagram Stories and videos aren’t the places for a hard sell. Stick to fun, creative videos that are meant to engage and entertain.
Source: Jane Hadley via Instagram
7. Be yourself
Using Instagram as a Realtor means you’ll have to do more than simply broadcast your latest listings.
You need to foster genuine interactions with your audience.
Source: Alisha Pagan via Instagram
And these days, that means standing for something.
According to the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study, 64% of consumers are belief-driven buyers. That means they will choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on where it stands on the political or social issues they care about.
- Instagram is about action. Passivity won’t get you more leads. Don’t be afraid to share your stance on an issue that is close to your heart.
- Share your personal journey and connect your individual story to your passion for real estate. You don’t need to relive every humiliating moment in your past, just be willing to let your hair down and show your followers your human side.
- Find like-minded people to follow and engage with. Instagram is a great place for real estate agents to get referrals through quality connections who care about the same things you do.
As Bernice Ross, CEO of BrokerageUP! says, “Referrals cost you nothing—all you have to do is to stay connected with the people you know and make sure that you’re top of mind when they or someone they know decide to transact.”
Whether your goal is to build awareness or grow your organic lead count, Instagram is a great way to stay connected with your audience and your passion for the business. Use it wisely and authentically, and the leads will literally follow.