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7 Things Real Estate Agents Must Master When Getting Started on Instagram

Tim Harvey

I help develop the strategies and tactics for our clients to grow their businesses...

I help develop the strategies and tactics for our clients to grow their businesses...

Dec 12 12 minutes read

Instagram has been generating a lot of buzz with businesses lately. The real estate agents that I coach have focused their marketing efforts mainly on Facebook for the past few years. Less than half of all Facebook users indicate using Instagram and, according to Statistica, 31% of active Instagram users are between the ages of 25-34. So if your goal is to attract a new and younger audience then say hello to Instagram!

Not Convinced?

Here are some compelling stats worth paying attention to.

1 BILLION 

Users as of June 2018

80% of Users

Follow at least 1 business account

30% of users

Made a purchase because of IG

So if you’re not thinking about Instagram yet, you should be.

What I’m discovering is most real estate agents I coach already know that Instagram is the next big platform but lack an understanding of best practices and strategies to use it effectively. So I’ve put together a guide for outlining what real estate agents need to understand in order to use Instagram to grow their digital marketing footprint BEFORE they start advertising. Focus on mastering these 7 things and you’ll be on the road to success. 

1. the Science of Your Instagram Feed.

Your feed is oftentimes how people find your account. This means we need to make a great first impression so it’s imperative that you create visual consistency on your feed. Your theme should have similar color pallets, aesthetics, and even tone- this last one is important if you have more than one person posting on your behalf. Your post captions should reflect a certain consistency that is aligned with your brand personality as well.

Take a look at the examples below. Note the consistent colors and themes of the posts as they relate to their business. A person landing on any of these business pages for the first time can easily deduce their product/service and brand personality.

Instagram is obviously an artistic platform, but there’s a science behind it, too. If you’re not posting high-resolution content then don’t be surprised if you aren’t seeing tons of engagement. And if you really want to impress your followers, share photos that are captivating and unique but still related to your business and brand. Sharing photos of your happy clients, your best looking homes, and popular community landmarks. Think twice before sharing a photo of your dinner or a funny meme on your business feed so your brand identity is made clear.


Protip:

You are likely to see the highest engagement when you post to your feed Tuesday to Friday at 7:00 AM and Saturday at 12:00 PM. Your posts between 12:00 to 4:00 PM during the week will also generate a lot of engagement.


2. Hashtags to Make Your Brand More Discoverable.

So if your feed is typically how people find your business, how does that happen? Hashtags! Hashtags will make your content searchable to the public. When people search for hashtags, your photos and videos are more discoverable. Branded hashtags, those that are unique your business and brand, will drive people right to your content and account. What’s more, branded hashtags have the power to result in user-generated content. Meaning, your happy clients can share photos or videos of the new home you helped them buy. This is powerful! The stories they share are much more valuable than the story you tell of your own business.

Use a mix of branded hashtags and community hashtags (related to your industry or the content you are posting). In the Vita Coco example, #coconutoil is a community hashtag found on almost 2 million posts. It’s a great way to drive people interested in coconut oil to the Vita Coco brand. But search the branded hashtag #vitacoco, and you’ll see plenty of photos shared by users loyal to the brand.

If you haven't created a unique branded hashtag for your business then do so and use it on every photo or video you share. Also, brainstorm a list of 5-8 community hashtags related to real estate and your market that you can pull from for your future posts. Next, for each new post think of 2-3 hashtags that are hyperspecific to the content you are sharing. 


Protip:

Instagram allows you to have up to 30 hashtags per post, but according to Hootsuite’s Hashtag Guide, posts with nine hashtags have the most engagement.


3. the Art of Instagram Stories.

Think of your feed as the cover to your book and your Stories as the pages contained inside your book. Your feed will attract followers to your account, but your Stories will turn your followers into FANS by deepening your relationship. Make your followers feel like they know you on a personal level. Stories are purely opt-in, meaning people won’t see them unless they click so if people are tuning in then you’re on the right track!

How can you get people to consume more of your Stories? Make them fun and engaging! Give your followers a human experience and bring them behind the scenes. Show them your home staging process. Bring them to an open house or on a team outing. Let them see you putting on the final touches so your followers can understand how detail-oriented you are. And if you already create professional videos for your business, share photos of you filming behind the camera. Give them the uncurated version of you. You’re not just a business, you’re a real person.


Protip:

Use Stories to highlight your most recent feed photo. For instance, if you're documenting the staging process of a home in a Story, say “Adding the final touches, check out our feed for the finished product. It looks amazing!” This will drive traffic to your feed and boost engagement on that particular photo. Then in the future, your posts are likely to appear in the feeds of those who engaged with the post!


4. Story Highlights to Showcase Your Pillars.

Stories only last 24 hours, but Highlights allow you to group old Stories on your account forever. A great strategy is creating a different Highlight for each “pillar” of your business. At a minimum, you should have one showcasing your listings, one of happy clients, one highlighting your team, and another for behind the scenes or even community content. If you want to look like a pro, include a Highlight for buyer and seller real estate tips. This last one should include video content (more on that later).


So what’s the big deal anyway? Well, you’re giving your followers access to some of your best Stories ever all the while creating a deeper connection between people on Instagram and what is important to your business. Highlights are perfect for promoting a well-rounded look into your brand.

Each of Chris Smith’s Highlights represents a pillar of his brand: his business is Curaytor, he’s a sought-after keynote speaker, the best selling author of the Conversion Code, and an avid video blogger. Any geek off the street can land on his profile and build a solid understanding of Chris’s business without even knowing who he is.


Protip:

Keep your Highlights on brand and standing out by creating Highlight covers. There are a million and one Youtube videos and blog articles like this one from Plann.


5. Getting Comfortable Making Video Content.

Instagram isn’t just a platform for sharing pretty photos. If you’ve produced a top-notch culture video for your business, share a clip in your feed (this is called cross-pollinating your content). And if you’re using video for your Stories, it doesn’t need to be slickly produced but you need to be engaging on camera. Since Stories provide a human experience, it’s ok to be raw and unedited. I consider this to be the perfect way to get comfortable making video content! Throw away the script, you don’t need it for Stories. But it should be concise and to the point. Once you create some muscle memory, you can ease into long-form curated video with professional equipment. Make this a business goal for 2019 if you’ve been camera shy.

For the businesses I coach, video has been a bridge too far for some. I want to be clear, if you refuse to take the leap then YOU ARE LOSING because your competitors have or they will begin producing video content. Video is the best way to brand your business. Other than video content, here are 3 ways to build your business’ brand on Instagram.


Protip:

Use apps like Cutstory to cut video into perfect 15-second clips for your Stories.


6. Driving Traffic to Your Website.

Now we’re getting to the good stuff! So far we’ve been focused on best practices for building a strong following, but what good is a business account if we aren’t driving people to your business? Here’s how you do it... 


Instagram allows you to share one link in your bio. It can be your homepage OR it can be a link to your most recent blog post, your newest listing, or even a sales page. To draw attention to the link, we need a creative call to action. If your new piece of content contains great imagery you can share the best photo on your feed. Include a summary of the blog as the caption and a call to action to click the link in your bio to read more. If your new content contains strong video, consider sharing a short clip as a Story with the same style call to action.


Protip:

No more than 20% of your posts should be attempting to drive your followers off of Instagram. If you focus too heavily on selling then you’re constantly making marketing pitches instead of building meaningful relationships. That’s your goal with Instagram!


7. Engaging Your Audience (It goes down in the dm).

I saved this for last so it sticks in your mind. It’s surprising how many people ask me why they’re seeing very little engagement on their business account but are not engaging with their own followers. SHOCKER! If you want activity, you yourself need to be active. Make sure you’re responding to questions and comments in a thoughtful way. 


Also, message your new followers to express your genuine thanks for the follow. John Selby, the Team Leader for The Selby Team, made a commitment to messaging his new followers with a simple, “Hey thanks for the follow. Let us know if there’s ever anything we can help out with.” He’s been having awesome responses leading to appointments with potential clients. But he’s also producing lots of consistent Instagram content focused on building meaningful relationships which make the conversations easier!


Protip: 

If you want to become really strong at engaging people on Instagram, you need to learn about Gary Vaynerchuk’s $1.80 Strategy, or if you’re struggling to grow the number of followers you have, you should read about the 3 Tactics Chris Smith used to double his following in a month.


The “Zen Takeaway”

1. the Science of Your Instagram Feed.

2. Hashtags to Make Your Brand More Discoverable.

3. the Art of Instagram Stories.

4. Story Highlights to Showcase Your Pillars.

5. Getting Comfortable Making Video Content.

6. Driving Traffic to Your Website.

7. Engaging Your Audience (It goes down in the dm).


Using Instagram for your business is a long-term play. Focus on building your social presence, turning followers into fans, and then fans into clients. Don’t make the mistake of trying to drive actual sales from the start or you’ll struggle to be successful on this platform. Your followers will see right through the ruse and they won’t remain followers for very long. 


If you approach Instagram with this authentic framework it will pay you dividends in the long wrong. You may have to step outside your comfort zone by going “all in” on another social media platform, but you’ll find once you master the 7 things above you will have created a loyal following of people who genuinely care about you and your business. If your goal is to attract a new and younger audience to your business in an authentic way, then it's time to go all in on Instagram.

Related reading

3 Ways to Build Your Business' Brand on Instagram

3 Tactics We Used to Double Our Instagram Following in a Month

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