Instagram for real estate: get leads & build your business on Instagram
We recently conducted a poll on the closed Real Estate Webmasters group and Instagram was the second platform our clients spend the most time on. This isn't a surprise, since Instagram is such a casual, fun, and engaging way to connect with other people. And guess what, your potential clients feel that way too! People will follow anyone that they think is interesting or entertaining.
As a real estate agent, Instagram is your opportunity to break down those metaphorical barriers and show buyers and sellers who you really are (through a carefully curated lens, of course!) All you have to do is snap a pic or two throughout your day, add a description along with a few hashtags, and hit "Share".
That said, there are definitely strategies that will make your Instagram reach more effective and help you gain leads. Let's dive into those now.
Create a compelling Instagram profile
Your Instagram profile is your first impression so it's important to get it right. You want to create a profile that's warm, inviting, and encourages people to connect with you.
Username: Pick a username that's your name or a simple variation thereof so people remember who you are. If you're creating a profile on behalf of a brokerage or company, you can use that name instead, but keep in mind that it's easier to build relationships with individual people than brands.
Image: Choose something fun! You'll want to keep it professional because you're representing your business but for the love of all things social, do not use a cheesy business card headshot. You want an image that looks good yet seems authentic and genuine. Here are a few great examples:
And if you want a little brokerage-level inspiration:
Link: Instagram only allows you to have one link at a time and the most obvious solution is to add your real estate website to this space. However, there is a clever workaround for Realtors who have more to share: Link Tree allows you to create a simple page with several links.
Bio: You only have 150 characters to make an impression so give a quick introduction of who you are and what you're passionate about, which obviously starts with real estate. Instagram also just introduced hashtag and profile links for bios, so be sure to hashtag your location and any other keywords you think will connect you with your local audience.
Highlights: You can also add "highlights" to your profile, which appear as round circles below your bio. These highlights are previous stories (which we'll talk about a bit later in this post) that you can show off on your page. It's a great way to share info about yourself, your contact information, and anything else you want potential buyers and sellers to know.
Privacy: This needs to be Public if you're using Instagram for business purposes. Private accounts are pretty unfriendly looking and definitely won't get you any new followers beyond your existing social network.
Gain Instagram followers
There are a few solid strategies you can use to gain followers on your brand new Instagram account:
1. Share photos worth checking out
Ok, the first thing you need to do is go out there and take a few pictures. The first week or two of your new Instagram account is very much going to be an "establishment" week, where you lay the foundation for your account. You need to add fun photos, connect with the people you already know, and start to set the tone. People will judge your account based on the content on it, so it's important that you have a few share-worthy pictures already there before you start
2. Use hashtags on those photos
Hashtags connect common subject matter together. Instagram users can follow hashtags, just like they'd follow a user. For example, if someone follows #LuxuryRealEstate, their feed will contain any posts using that hashtag. Users will also click on hashtags of their own posts to see similar photos and they'll use the search function to explore related topics.
There are many popular hashtags you can use to grow your global audience, but it's the local and real estate focused hashtags that make the most sense for finding potential buyers and sellers. If you need ideas, a quick Google search for "top real estate hashtags" will provide plenty of inspirational lists.
If you want to use several hashtags at once, there's etiquette for that as well. The trick is to push the hashtags out of sight so they don't impede your users' experience. The best way to do this is by adding a comment immediately after your post with all the hashtags you want to share.
3. Connect with your target audience
Remember a minute ago when I mentioned users search photos by hashtags? This is something you can do too to find other people in your area. You can also use geotags and the general search feature to find locals you want to know. Once you've found someone interesting, like their photos and leave a comment on something they've recently posted.
Neil Patel did research that suggests every one hundred likes generates 6 new followers. Comments are the most effective way to create connections with people because most Instagram users don't actually bother. The key here is to keep your comments genuine and focused on the person's photo. In a similar vein, if someone comments on your post, reply to them!
While you're focused on connections, you'll also want to connect your Facebook and Instagram accounts together. Even if you don't push your Instagram photos to Facebook (which is a great option), Instagram will automatically suggest your Instagram account to anyone you've connected with on Facebook that's also on Instagram.
4. Optimize your habits
Once you've got the basics down, you can start trying a few tactics to really optimize your results. Here are a few things you can do to help grow your followers and turn them into buyers and sellers:
- Choose quality over quantity
- Experiment with the best time of day to post
- Use your captions to ask questions
- Share your Instagram link on your website, emails, etc.
- Incorporate popular hashtags into your post
- Try different types of content to see what resonates best
5. Get inspired by the greats
There are a lot of amazing Instagram users, including several in real estate. If you've hit a creative drought, drop by some of the top Insta accounts out there to see what they're doing. Fredrik Eklund, Barbara Corcoran, Jade Mills, Monica Breckenridge, and Aaron Kirman are just a few of the real estate greats you can find on Instagram.
Turn your Instagram followers into clients
While all your amazing imagery, conversational comments, and sharing strategies are going to help you improve likes and follows, how do you convert those loyal followers into real clients?
Focus on relationship building
People want to work with people they like, so building up relationships—especially with people who are in your target demographic and area—is a great way to be on the list of agents they want to hire when it comes time to buy or sell. Like all social media platforms, Instagram requires a genuine interest in participating with the community to be effective, so put yourself out there and get ready to network your digital heart out!
Ask the right questions in your posts
Once you have a strong following, you can start mining potential clients from your lists by asking the right questions. For example, take a few pics of a home you're about to list with some basic info, post the sneak peek on Instagram, and then add a simple CTA: "Who do you know that would love this home?" Not only are you promoting your buyer's property, you'll actively find people who want to know more, and you can follow up with them via DM (direct message) with your elevator pitch.
Share your life & personality via stories
People want to work with Realtors that they have a connection with and real estate stories allow you to share tidbits of your life in a more casual, informal way. Stories only last 24 hours before they disappear forever and they've become a hot spot for fun, quirky posts that give "behind the scenes" glimpses into a person's (or company's) day-to-day life. Stories also have the benefit of
Incentivize participation with a contest
Contests are a great way to motivate your followers to participate in your posts and they don't have to cost you much at all. For example, you can add a contest to our example from above: ""Who do you know that would love this home? Tag them for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card on me!" Suddenly you've given people a reason to participate and you have a chance to find more prospective clients.
Keep working at it (& have fun)
Instagram is a networking and social advertising tool, which means you'll get more out of it the longer you're actively participating. Make a conscious effort to actively work at your Instagram and it's only a matter of time before your network grows.
Last but not least, have fun with it! Instagram should be enjoyable for everyone involved. If you're having a good time, those vibes will radiate into your posts and your followers and future clients will feel it too!
What's your favorite Instagram account? Post it in the comments below!