How to Unlock the Power of Instagram for Real Estate Marketing

Posted On: August 13, 2019
real estate marketing

In the past, we did a deep dive on Facebook and how to leverage its near-universal reach to market your real estate services. We covered how to set up your pagegrow your following, and get results from advertising.

Now, let's talk about using Instagram to zero in on some critical demographics. Millennials are one of the top demographics of home buyers this year. More than half of them are active Instagram users.

"Insta" also claims a lion's share of high-income households, so it produces highly qualified leads. It also boasts nearly twice the engagement rate of Facebook. And a shocking number of real estate agents are still sleeping on this platform. 

If you're smart, that just means less competition for you. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, many of the lessons we already covered apply.  But let's dig into some specific strategies for Facebook's younger hotter sibling.

Getting Set Up on Instagram

The general principles of setting up your account are the same as Facebook, ­­but Instagram is much simpler:

  1. Pick a to-the-point username consistent with your branding.
  2. Upload a professional-looking headshot as your profile pic at 400px square. Like Facebook, it will display as a circle, so you'll lose any content in the corners.
  3. Fill out your profile, including your website, contact info, and a 150-character bio that describes your target audience, niche, and the area you serve.
  4. Link your account to your Facebook business page by clicking "Switch to a Professional Account."

You can (and should) link Instagram and Facebook. You'll be able to manage ad campaigns and post schedules from one location, automate cross-posting, and review all your performance statistics in the same place. Plus, you'll get business-only features like a contact button.  Having a business account also allows you to post from your desktop with approved third-party tools.  Regular Insta users can only post from the mobile app.

Posting Principles for Instagram

The basic principles for Insta posts carry over from Facebook:

  • Keep things brief
  • Hashtag or @ people only when relevant
  • Use analytics to guide your content
  • Experiment with posting times and frequencies.

There are, however, a few critical differences from your Facebook posting strategy:

  • Use original content. Whereas we recommended sharing helpful third-party info on Facebook, Insta is all about the content you create. Sharing an article link in the caption is just fine, but photos and videos should be all yours.
  • Be more salesy. On Facebook, we recommended that only 1 in 5 posts serve your bottom line, but you can tip that towards sales on Insta.

How to Post on Instagram

If you're going to use third-party apps to manage, optimize, or edit your Insta content, then your Instagram workflow will vary based on your tools.  But here are the old-school basics, along with tips for getting the most out of each post.

Choosing and Editing Content

To create a new post, hit the plus icon at the bottom of your app. You have three choices for sourcing your content: Gallery, Photo, or Video. Photo and Video let you immediately capture and post content in-app.  But it limits some of your posting options. 

You can only post one photo at a time, and your choices are restricted to adding an Insta filter (photo or video), using the Insta editing tools (photo only), and choosing which frame of a video will be the "cover." But when you choose Gallery, you can add either photos or video with more flexibility. Options include:

  1. Pick the gallery where your media is stored.
  2. Touch the photo and drag to re-center your picture in Instagram's default-square format.
  3. Click the reframe icon to show the whole photo, with white space above and below. (Note: this doesn't look very nice, so try to make your content work as a square).
  4. Click the infinity icon to make your content Boomerang.
  5. Click the layout icon to combine multiple photos into one collage-style image.
  6. Click "Select Multiple" to post more than one photo as a collection of separate pictures.
  7. Once you click "Next," you'll advance to a page with filter and editing options.

If you choose to post multiple photos at once:

  • The order in which you touch the photos is the order in which they'll display—you'll see number icons in the upper right. If you make a mistake, backtrack by "unchecking" the numbers and reselect in the right order.
  • On the next screen, you can apply a filter to all photos from the bottom menu, or you can touch the icon in the lower left of each photo to edit individually.

Write a Caption

Once your photo(s) or video are just right, you'll advance to a screen with a lot of options, including the ability to write a caption. Instagram's limits are pretty liberal, but research shows these are the best practices:

Add Location

Although your hashtags will contain location information, you should also use the "add location" feature—it's another visibility booster. Instagram will suggest locations based on your current GPS, but when you're promoting listings, make sure you're entering the property's location, instead.

How to Post an Instagram Story or Instagram Live

When you're looking at your home screen on Insta, you'll see an icon at the top to create "Your Story." When you create a Story, it's different from a normal post because:

  • It only exists for 24 hours, then it's deleted (unless you save to "Story Highlights")
  • It exists outside of the normal feed (at the top of the app on mobile, to the left on desktop).
  • It causes your icon to light up in an eye-catching way.
  • You can choose a "Live" option and speak to your followers in real time. Either you save that to Stories or go live-only.

This introduces some interesting promotional options.  It's also a way to make a post stand out from the norm. Find some great tips on using Stories to the best effect here and here.

Best Content for your Real Estate Account

You should experiment with the content and format that performs best for you, but here are some common content strategies for the platform:

  • Your most photogenic listings. Using multi-photo posts, you can show off the exterior, interior, and amenities just like a listing page
  • Virtual tours. Insta videos give you up to 60 seconds to give followers a sneak-peak of future listings. The exclusivity is a great incentive to follow you.
  • Open house reminders. Using the Stories format will put your reminder front and center in your follower's app. And since Stories disappear after 24 hours, it's the perfect way to promote an impending event.
  • Featured services. For example, before and after shots can showcase your staging prowess.
  • Happy clients. Whether in the form of a testimonial video, a selfie with you, or a shot of them mugging in front of their new home, this acts as social proof that you're great at your job.
  • Local flavor. Businesses you love, parks, museums, local events, whatever makes living in your target area great. Single photo posts are probably best. Tag the business or attraction so they know you're cross-promoting!
  • A little something personal. People want to see your personality on Insta. Share your new puppy or your passion for mountain biking, just keep it uncontroversial and in proportion to your professional goals. If it makes you more relatable and/or shows off the lifestyle you're selling, all the better.

Interacting on Instagram

Our advice for interacting with other users carries from Facebook: engage but be professional.  Reply to comments on your posts, and comment on theirs in return. Avoid controversy. And if you run into someone rude, stay unfailingly polite.

Advertising on Instagram

Insta's advertising platform is nearly identical to Facebook's—in fact, you'll manage them in the same admin. The ad formats are slightly different, mirroring Instagram's post types. Since Insta is visual, all the ad formats are a good bet.  Experiment and see what works for you. Otherwise, all our advice from Facebook advertising applies.

Bottom Line

Facebook is great for establishing a reputation for being a knowledgeable and savvy agent.  You want people to take that message from your Instagram, too, but you can also leverage Instagram's format to give behind-the-scenes insights and show off your best listings.

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