I cringe almost every time I see a real estate Instagram account. Instagram is the perfect tool for building a real estate brand, and yet so many agents waste this golden opportunity. How often have you seen an Instagram feed that was filled with photos of new listings and nothing else? Or a feed filled with nothing but branded graphics? These kinds of posts do nothing to help your business.
In fact, you’d probably be better off not posting at all.
If you’re tired of getting nothing but courtesy follows, I don’t blame you. You can have a kick-ass real estate Instagram page without too much work, but there a few things you have to know first. (Just don’t complain to us when you have too manyfriends to keep up with, OK?)
Know Your Peeps
This is the most important thing to do before you post. Who is your audience? What do they like and dislike? What’s important to them? What kind of information are they interested in?
One great thing about building your real estate brand using Instagram is that if you’re being authentic, you’ll attract people who are similar to you. If you’re posting things you care about, the people you work with will likely care about them, too.
So, ask yourself:
- Would I find this interesting?
- What things do I care about most?
- What are people I look up to doing on Instagram?
- What’s the current chatter amongst my followers and in my community?
If people aren’t responding to anything you post, you should take the time to figure out why your content isn’t eliciting any response. This almost always means that there’s some kind of disconnect between what you’re posting and what people are interested in.
Instagram is all about the eye candy (at least in the feed itself). This means that you can’t skimp on aesthetics. But it does not mean that your photos need to be works of art. In fact, people are growing weary of overly edited, overly filtered photos. A feed that’s too perfect lacks interest and believability.
A quick rant: we see so many real estate Instagram feeds that are filled with nothing but stock photo after stock photo. Stock photos may be pretty, but they also look faker than The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Stick to photos you take, OK?
Be an Actual Friend
We’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again. Let’s say you’re at a party and you meet someone new. You sit down with them and talk about the beautiful mid-century home you listed yesterday, the two homes you sold last month, and the award you just got for being the top producer in your area. Then this person asks you a question, and you ignore it. Not only is this a bad way to make friends, but it’s also a bad way to build a real estate brand.
If you want people to be engaged with what you’re posting on Instagram, you have to make sure that you’re being engaging FIRST. Interacting with other people’s Instagram accounts is JUST as important as posting your own content.
This means that you promptly respond to questions and comments, you post pictures of and tell people about your actual real life (both work and personal), and you don’t talk about selling houses all the time. If your real friends wouldn’t be interested in what you have to say, your Instagram followers won’t be either. (In fact, they’ll probably be even less interested than your friends would be.)
Tell a Story
Humans of New York is one of the most successful Instagram accounts out there. Do you know why? Because it does a superb job of telling micro-stories in every post. Your posts should have their own micro-stories that give people a sense of what’s matters to you. They tell people what makes you you, which is what forges a real connection with other people.
Good visual storytelling cuts through all of the mediocre content. Tell me, which post are you going to pay attention to? The post about an agent’s latest home listing, or the post where an agent tells you about how she was having a terrible day but then her little boy gave her a picture he drew at Kindergarten and somehow it made everything seem better? Which post helps you connect with this person on a human level? Which post endears you more to this person? Our guess is the second one every time.
Make Audience Participation Easy
The whole point of Instagram is to get people to engage with you. Engagement helps you know what content is resonating with them most, and it gives you something to respond to.
If you want people to comment on your posts, you have to take the time to comment on theirs. Be genuine, and it won’t be long before they’re reciprocating. Expecting people to comment on your posts without commenting on theirs is like expecting your best friend to always be the one to call you. This is social media. Be social.
People love to give their opinions on just about everything. Use Instagram to ask questions and start real conversations with people. You’ll learn all kinds of things about people by doing this. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Post from Interesting Locations
Post from different locations in your area, which piques people’s interest and makes them more likely to notice you. You can also use Instagram’s geotags to get more attention on your post because of your location.
Tag Other People
Tag the people who are relevant to your posts. If you’re at a local restaurant and meet the owner, tag that person and the business. If you’re at a closing and take a picture, tag your clients. Say something nice. Tell an actual story instead of just saying, “Thanks, Janet,œ for letting me help you with your home purchase!” A little effort goes a long way.
Put Your Face in Front of the Camera
Video is where it’s at right now. End of story. Videos get great engagement from your audience, and there’s no better way to help people get to know you. Stop worrying about making the perfect video and just start talking.
There are three kinds of videos you’ll see on Instagram, and each has a different purpose.
One of the great things about Instagram stories is that they don’t need to be perfect. These are quick, casual ways to share what you’re thinking or something you’re doing. Think of them as behind-the-scenes videos to your life.
They don’t need to be edited unless you want to add specific effects—maybe create a Boomerang or add some emojis or light text.
IGTV is a lot like YouTube. Think of it as modern TV—videos can be as short as 15 seconds and as long as 60 minutes. IGTV videos shouldn’t be as off the cuff as Instagram stories. Think about using IGTV for a video series or a weekly video topic.
Video posts can be slightly more formal than Instagram stories, but they’re short (they have to be a minute or less). These are good for sharing quick updates or short thoughts with your followers.
People will never love you if you post once a month. We often get questions about how often to post and when to post because agents worry that they’re going to post too much or at the wrong times of day. But these concerns are often an excuse for not posting at all.
The truth is that the only thing you should be worried about is posting too little. Due to Instagram’s algorithm, your followers will not see every post. Unless you’re posting more than 10 times a day, don’t worry about it.
You want people to be excited about what you’re posting. It’s hard to do that if they hear from you just once a month. Don’t let people forget that they followed you.
Engaged Instagram followers love you because you give them something valuable, so provide interesting, useful content. Tell your Instagram friends about the great local hike you went on (and how to get there), about that historic home across the street, about the hot band playing across town next week. People aren’t on your Instagram page to see only listings (they can go to Zillow for that). They’re not here to see an agent that’s salesy and robotic. They’re here to see if you’re someone they might want to work with or stay in touch with before, during, or after a transaction. Show people the real you—you literally have nothing to lose.