Instagram started in 2010 and quickly became one of the largest social media platforms in the world. Instagram has grown to well over 1 billion active monthly users. What started as just a photo and video sharing platform has become a platform for Influencers and given businesses a new channel to reach their target customers. And what’s great, since Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012 for $1 Billion, they have worked to integrate functionality between the two platforms, making it even easier for real estate agents to leverage this powerful social media platform.
If utilized strategically, Instagram can be one of the best platforms for Real Estate agents to build their personal brand, and even generate home buyer and home seller leads to grow sales.
Instagram has excellent features for marketers to leverage, including setting up a business profile, ways to engage and communicate with users, Instagram ads (managed through the Facebook Ads platform), and analytics to help marketers succeed on Instagram.
If you haven’t used Instagram to grow your brand and generate leads as a real estate agent, or you’re looking to learn better strategies and best practices, in the below, we will cover everything you need to become an Instagram pro! Not to mention helping you spend your time as effectively and efficiently as you can.
There has been some concern and controversy around what’s been coined as the Instagram Shadowban.
What it is, or isn’t, and what you need to understand as a real estate agent. A few years ago, a photographer complained that some of his images were not showing up for some of his post’s hashtags on Instagram. Some of his posts seemed to be getting banned. But it was mysterious as to why. No indications were provided, no clues. They just seemed to be banned. Similarly, people searching the same hashtag were not always seeing the same search results on Instagram.
There is no Shadowban. Instagram, though a social media platform, is arguably also a search engine. And search engines use ranking algorithms to determine whether different content is relevant for the search term (or, in this case, the hashtag) a user searches. Instagram is no different. They have a custom algorithm that serves hashtag search results to end-users. Various things go into the algorithm, including a level of personalization based on the end-users behavior on Instagram (what they like, share, comment on, view, etc.) This means, not everyone will see the same results on Instagram when they search a given hashtag.
That said, here are some restrictions that you might run into on Instagram that you should keep in mind as you’re growing your following on Instagram. In a word, SPAM. Instagram and end-users hate being spammed on the platform. (I’m sure you do too!) If Instagram determines that you are spamming, you could end up getting your account restricted and flush your hard work to date.
Here are some general guidelines to help ensure you aren’t one of those “spammers” to help you get the most from Instagram:
What is considered spamming? Primarily it’s based on the quantity of posts, Likes, Direct Messages sent, the number of hashtags used, and the number of users that are tagged per post. Here are some limitation guidelines to follow:
If you don’t already have an Instagram Business profile, doing this is pretty simple. We’ll walk you through setting that up.
Setting up your business profile is done by converting a new or existing personal Instagram account to a business account. To do this, you’ll need to open the Instagram app on your smartphone. And we recommend updating to the latest version of the app.
Instagram provides helpful analytics in the Instagram Insights tool. Here you’ll be able to see the reach and the number of impressions your posts receive, as well as clicks to your website. These analytics can help you know what content is more engaging than other content to help you be more effective at your Instagram Marketing as a real estate agent.
Now it’s time to start promoting and create personal branding and generate buyer and seller leads. Instagram has in build functionality for promoting products, but you can also promote professional services.
You’ll be able to utilize Instagram to build a following and grow your real estate business. Similar to our guide for marketing yourself as a real estate agent on Facebook, you’ll want to create and provide valuable content to your target customers (home buyers and home sellers) to create a following.
Like Facebook, Instagram has its own algorithm for determining what content is relevant to show to each user, as we touched on earlier. Here are tips on the type of content you’ll want to create and share on Instagram that works well with the algorithm:
The above mix of content types you post provides value and builds relationships with home buyers and sellers. It will help set you up as the local ‘go-to’ real estate expert they trust.
There are several ways we recommend running ads on Instagram for real estate agents.
Let’s look at creating the three most popular Instagram Ad type:
Boosting a Post on Instagram to Reach a Much Larger Audience – It’s easy to expand the reach of your posts on Instagram. Like Facebook, you also can boost your posts on Instagram. To do so, choose the post that you would like to boost, tap on the post and then tap on the “promote” link. You will then be asked to set your audience targeting, ad budget for the boosted post, and how long you would like to boost it.
Using Facebook Ads Manager to create News Feed Ads – Many of the ads you’ll want to run on Instagram are set up and managed through the Facebook Ads Manager, including Newsfeed Ads, and Instagram Stories Ads. For News Feed ads, we recommend promoting all three of your posts types we outlined earlier. This includes your helpful value-based content, like tips and blog posts, home listings, as well as lead generation offers.
In our Facebook Ads guide (part of our free Real Estate Agent’s Social Media Toolkit), we share an Ad Funnel strategy that works well for Instagram ads. Follow that same tactic running ads on Instagram to grow your email list and generate valuable home buyer and seller leads.
Using Facebook Ads Manager to Create Instagram Stories Ads – One of the great things about Instagram Stories Ads is that they appear above the News Feed, making your ad one of the first things users see. These ads, however, have a limited life of just 24 hours. So you want them to be focused and highly engaging. So focus on sharing your most valuable content for Instagram Stories Ads.
One of the great things about being a real estate agent, there are a lot of great opportunities to create engaging Instagram Stories that will help build your personal brand and add value for current Followers and grow Followers.
Before creating Instagram Stories, be sure to change your highlights covers to a cover image that’s branded. This allows you to group and save your Instagram Stories in categories on your Instagram Business Profile for your Followers to gain value beyond the 24-hour life of Instagram Stories.
When creating Instagram Stories, be sure a good portion (maybe half of your Stories) includes a call to action (CTA) link. Have an end goal in mind, an action you want your audience to take that will move them one step closer to becoming a client.
One easy tactic for this is resharing posts from your Instagram page in Instagram Stories. You can do this from the moment you create a post, choosing to “Add Post to Your Story” when posting.
Another easy and highly engaging Instagram Stories tactic is to create and run a Poll in Instagram Stories. People love to give feedback or share their opinions and eagerly comply when asked. Keep in mind that your Pool is limited to one question and two answers per Poll. This works to your advantage, as a shorter poll and answers increase the rate of engagement.
To create a Poll, when creating a story post, tap on the sticker icon and then on the Poll icon that appears. You can edit the answer by simply tapping on each of the default “Yes/No” answer boxes.
How you use colors, fonts, and images in your marketing matters. And this is likely more so the case on Instagram than on other social media platforms. After all, Instagram started as an image sharing platform. You need to make sure the colors, fonts, and background images you use with your posts help you stand out among the plethora of Instagram posts.
You are also somewhat limited to the number of fonts. Instagram only provides five fonts to choose from. Play with the different fonts and different font colors and background images to figure out what is the most engaging to your audience.
Instagram Stickers are more than just cute graphics to add to Instagram Stories. Recall that the path to selecting and running a Poll is under Stickers. There are additional options here that you can leverage, including things like Questions, Mentions, Date, Clock, Temperature, Slider, GIFs, and even Music you want to ad to Stories. When thinking of creative ways to engage home buyers and home sellers through Instagram Stories, keep these in mind.
We’re all familiar with Hashtags at this point. They’re used across various social media platforms. They have been used in creative ways, people coming up with unique hashtags around an idea, an event, a topic, or a category. As a real estate agent, you can and should use hashtags in these common ways. But you nee to use them more strategically, as well.
Hashtags serve a function similar to how keyword searches bring up relevant search results in search engines like Google. One key difference, however, is that Instagram users can Follow various hashtags. This is valuable to you as a real estate agent in several ways.
Various paid and free tools are available to help you identify the most popular and relevant hashtags to use. A popular free tool is Best-Hashtags.com. Just remember that the best practice is to keep to 5 - 10 hashtags per post.
Hashtags can help get your content in front of the right Instagram users. For higher reach and engagement, be sure to use hashtags in multiple categories, but keep them relevant. You don’t want to use a trending hashtag that isn’t relevant just because it’s popular. Doing that is a Spam tactic that won’t benefit you in the end, and that Instagram’s algorithm is smarter than, anyway. For deciding what post to show users, Instagram evaluates the content of your post in relation to the hashtags you use.
As a real estate agent, it’s also a good idea to include geo or location-specific hashtags to help narrow the potential audience to the cities and counties you want to get clients in as a real estate agent. Think of this a little bit like local search keywords a person might search in google to find “auto shop near me” or “flower stores in Dallas,” for example. You want to show up for hashtags that Instagram users in your specific location are using, relevant to real estate. For example #dallasrealestate, #homeforsaledallas, #homesdallas, etc.
You’re far more likely to get engagement on your posts when you include location-specific hashtags in your posts. Plus, Instagram’s algorithm considers a user’s location when determining what content is relevant to show.
There are several very useful paid and free Instagram analytics tools to consider that can help you better understand the effectiveness of your Instagram marketing efforts. They can help you know what post content is the most engaging, who engages with your posts, where they are located, and when they engage the most.
Metrics such as Followers, Likes, Shares, etc., are important to understand what posts and content drive engagement. However, the most critical metrics are conversion metrics. Metrics on what posts, ads, and content drive leads and ultimately sales as a real estate agent.
These are conversion metrics on Clicks that convert into a lead, whether on Instagram directly with a Lead Ad or your website on a landing page.
Here are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you need to pay attention to.
If you are using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform or even a good old-fashioned spreadsheet to track what happens to after leads are generated, here are the KPIs to track marketing performance further:
Instagram Live Video streams within Instagram Stories are a great way to generate a following and build your audience of potential clients. Live Video appears in Instagram Stories on top of the News Feed, and you have the option to post your video for replay for the next 24 hours after ending your live video.
This will significantly increase the reach of your Live Video and give you a chance to promote the Live video for an additional 24 hours.
Live video is great for personal brand building and can be a fantastic home buyer, and home seller lead generation tool by sharing a call to action (CTA) offer during your Live Video.
Some ideas include promoting a contest for your audience to enter, or promoting a follow-up Live Q&A, asking viewers to submit their questions that you’ll answer in a subsequent Live Video stream. You can include a link in Comments of your live stream, and pin the comment to the top and let viewers know they can click on the link to enter the contest or submit their questions for the Live Q&A.
Some ideas for your Instagram Live Video stream itself could include a home staging walkthrough to show viewers best practices for staging their home to help them sell their home faster. You can also do live streams of showing a client their dream home and following their reaction along the way or meeting your clients to give them the keys to their new home and sharing their excitement and watching them go into their home for the first time (with their permission in advance, of course).
Where possible, try to include one or two other people as part of your live stream to help provide natural conversation to make it more engaging for your audience.
Be creative! There are lots of things you can do that would be engaging. Just think of your favorite real estate reality TV shows and develop similar ideas to engage your audience. Become your local real estate reality Live Video star! And don’t forget always to include a call to action of some kind to generate leads.
We hope you enjoyed our Real Estate Agent’s Guide to Instagram Marketing. Whether you’re looking to build your personal brand, generate home buyer and seller leads, or learn how best to use the platform effectively, Instagram can be a powerful tool to grow your real estate business.
If you haven’t begun using Instagram as part of your marketing strategy, download our free Real Estate Agent’s Social Media Toolkit. Inside, we share the strategy and tools needed for real estate agents to succeed in social media marketing. Get access now by clicking here!