By this point, most REALTORS® know what Instagram is – you likely have a profile of your own, understand how it works, and have a general idea of which content will get you the most likes. Since it’s inception in 2010, users have had plenty of time to tinker with filters and experiment with their photography skills.
But while getting interaction on your photos is great, “likes” don’t equate to dollars. And in an industry like Real Estate where the phrase “time is money” can be taken literally, if you’re spending time on Instagram, the goal should be to generate business.
By the Numbers
Let’s start with the facts: Instagram is one of the top platforms used on a daily basis, and it continues to grow. Did you know that Instagram has more than 1 billion users (yes, billion with a ‘b’), with nearly 500 million of those users logging in every single day? For comparisons sake, that’s the equivalent of everyone in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico using the platform daily. #woah
Content That Differentiates
So you’re thinking, “Ok, I get it – a lot of people use it, so I will too. What’s your point?” It’s not that simple. The amount of people on Instagram is both amazing and a bit of a hurdle. The more people that are doing the same thing, the harder it is to stand out. To succeed on Instagram, you need to stand out.
Posts can be broken down into three parts:
- The photo… (or video, or Boomerang… you get the idea)
- The caption… (text beneath the imagery)
- And hashtags
Let’s start with the imagery. This should be your top priority when creating content. If the imagery doesn’t catch YOUR attention, then do you think potential buyers will care? A good practice would be to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes for a moment.
What parts of a home would you care about the most? Do you really care to see a picture of a listing’s attic, unfinished basement or even just a boring angle of the front of the house? Or would you rather see a video panning a newly-renovated kitchen and bay window that overlooks a well-manicured lawn? Nearly everyone has a smartphone nowadays, which means that they also have access to a really nice camera (have you seen the photo/video quality of some of the new iPhones?)
Sure, there will be instances where these glamorous features don’t exist, but you have to use your imagination and really pull out the beauty and potential of a listing. Be artistic, switch between photos and video, filtered and unfiltered, outside of a listing or inside. Remember, a picture says 1,000 words, and you want it to speak loudly.
What if I Have a Listing That Needs More Than 1,000 Words?
Glad you asked. That’s where captions come into play. What’s nice about Instagram having been around for so long is that users are more trained than ever to process both the imagery and caption almost simultaneously. The imagery sparks the process, and the caption supplements it.
For example, say you have a listing that doesn’t have many jaw-dropping features to tout, but it does have a large sunroom that’s in good shape and has a pretty nice view. Paint the picture for buyers of what their life COULD look like in that home. Instead of just “567 Example Lane has 4 bedrooms, 1 bath and a sunroom,” say something like:
“Imagine Sunday mornings sipping coffee and reading the newspaper in this relaxing and spacious four-season sunroom. Link in bio.”
*Sub-tip: If you want to link your post to the listing on your site, it should be in your bio where it can be clickable. Currently, you cannot have clickable links in the caption itself (although there are other options from Campsite and Later that sort of bypass that). From a web standpoint, you should have an easily-accessible contact form on the listing page for potentially interested leads to reach out with their contact information.*
Or maybe the listing is a good candidate for renovation lending (shameless plug), and the pictures reflect that. A photo of a kitchen that could use more than a little TLC could be placed next to a photo of a virtually-rendered kitchen that looks like it’s straight out of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ brains. Pitch the needed work as a positive and inform them of their options:
“Want the kitchen of your dreams? This listing has the space and potential to be transformed into the home you’ve always wanted. Ask us how renovation lending can help.”
Build the story for them. You’ll be surprised with how effective it can be.
Number Signs … Pound Signs … Hashtags
Get it right, people! HASHTAGS, are used to group topics and posts together. More than that, they work to extend the normal reach of your posts. #huh?
When you make a post without hashtags, it will only be seen by those who follow you. And unless you’re a social media influencer, that likely isn’t a ton of people. Not judging – just stating the facts.
With hashtags, however, you force your post outside of that normal audience and into the other posts that share that hashtag. Meaning, if someone were to search a particular hashtag on Instagram, your post would be included in the posts that appear.
“But no one is going to ever search for Real Estate on Instagram, so this doesn’t really apply in my case.” Wrong. Take a guess how many posts have used #realestate… 1,000, 10,000? Try 26 million posts. People are talking about Real Estate, and you should be putting yourself in that conversation.
We touched on the main principals to follow when developing your lead gen campaign on Instagram, however, there are many other parts to the platform that we didn’t discuss in this blog, with more being created daily.
With any marketing tactic, you need to adapt, stay up-to-date, and see how these tools can generate more business for you.
One of those other tactics is with Instagram Stories. We actually already have an entire blog dedicated to just stories – you can check that out here.
Another way to generate leads would be through paid Instagram ads, which allow you to target outside of your normal audience and put your content into potential buyers’ feeds. The best part of paid ads is that the content itself can be clickable as opposed to having to direct someone to your bio.
If you’d like to learn more about using Instagram to generate more business, we invite you to reach out to our in-house expert, Matt Heikkinen, who would be more than willing to meet and talk through your options. Give him a call at 330-881-7451 or email MHeikkinen@AmeriFirst.com.
Zimpfer, Geoff. “[Pulse] How Real Estate Agents and Mortgage Lenders Can Use Instagram to Boost Their Business.” HousingWire.com, HousingWire, 13 Sept. 2019, https://www.housingwire. com/blogs/7-pulse/post/50151-pulse-how-real-estate-agents-and-mortgage-lenders-can-use-instagram-to-boost-their-business.
*Not intended as accounting or investment advice. Contact your tax preparer for more information. Not all borrowers will qualify.