Using Instagram for real estate is a way to market your properties successfully. In order to achieve this, you need to learn how to set up your page, create effective posts, and use paid advertising to get in front of your target audience. Only 14 percent of real estate agents are on Instagram yet 59 percent of millennials, the largest group of first-time homebuyers, use this platform daily.
Here are the 5 steps to do it yourself:
Step 1: Create Your Instagram for Real Estate Page
Personal vs. Professional Instagram for Real Estate agents Pages
If you are using Instagram as a real estate professional, you are your brand, and we suggest using one single account to convey who you are and what you do. While you may integrate personal photos to show your personality and life outside of work, there is a big difference in the types of pages you construct and the elements you highlight when building a page that your clients (and potential clients) will view.
Setting Up Your Instagram Page
Setting up your professional Instagram page for real estate takes a bit of planning but, above all, it should convey a clear identity. This section will show you how to set up your page correctly.
People who go to your profile should have no doubt as to what you do and what the purpose of your page is.
Download the Instagram App and Sign Up
Instagram activity and account setup takes place primarily over your mobile phone. The first step is downloading the application. While you can set up your Facebook or Twitter account using your computer, Instagram should be set up through your mobile phone and all postings (both photo and video) should be made through your phone.
To sign up to Instagram, you can use an email address or access it via your Facebook account. Facebook owns Instagram (which will be useful to know for later), so feel free to link the two together and sign up using your Facebook account.
Select a Username
When you first sign up to use Instagram, you will be asked to give your name. This is the formal name on the account but not your username. When asked to select a username, this is the name that people will see when they look at your Instagram page or search for you. For example, on the account above the username is Mick.Kalata.Realtor, but his actual name is Mick Kalata.
There are a few unique considerations for selecting a username when using Instagram for real estate-related purposes. One is that you do not want to include a brokerage in your username. For example, notice above that Mick includes Berkshire Hathaway in his photo but not in his username. What if he changes brokerages? Select a name that will identify you as a real estate agent but, for consistency, be sure it can translate no matter where you move or work.
Write Your Bio
In Instagram, you are given 150 words to write a biography that conveys who you are, what you do and your professional persona. Be as creative or straightforward as you like when writing your bio, and remember that this Instagram account will be a reflection of your real estate business. A wonderful idea to promote your business even further is to put a link to your website in your bio for the listings that you post.
Add a Profile Photo
Your profile photo should be approximately 400×400 pixels and convey the image you want people to see when they find your page or see your comments. This is a perfect opportunity to use a professional headshot or branded logo. While some people prefer to use a headshot that appears more personal, others find that using their branded logo works well as long as it is consistent with their other real estate marketing collateral. It’s up to you.
Invite Your Friends and Family to Follow You
Give your professional Instagram account a boost by announcing your new page to everyone in your network. Invite friends and family to follow you. Make an announcement on your other social networks, and link to some of the images and videos you’ll be showcasing on Instagram to get your audience involved across platforms.
Step 2: Post Engaging Content
Instagram offers some incredible features to engage your audience and always remain top of mind as a real estate agent. The ways in which Instagram allows you to reach your audience through posts include photos, videos and Instagram “stories.” This section will show you how to optimize Instagram to post content that engages followers.
Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Posting for Real Estate Agents
Before you put up one photo, let’s discuss some elements that are great to share and elements that could cost you clients. You want to post photos that will engage your potential clients, impress the ones you have and create a persona of competence and likeability for any people or groups who stumble upon your services.
What makes great real estate content on Instagram is a combination of personality and product. Do you have fantastic homes you are listing? Fantastic! Post them, post who you sell them to and post virtual tours of upcoming listings. Do you have a dog that you love that tends to get in trouble around the house? Post it too.
People come to your page to see not only your listings but who you are and whether or not you are someone they’d want to work with. Ryan Serhant, a pretty well-known real estate agent, likes to have fun, which is everywhere on his Instagram. Look at the photo above. Doesn’t it seem like it would be fun to look for real estate with that guy? Of course.
Be sure to craft an image of a person with whom you would want to work. They say that polite company never discusses politics or religion at the dinner table, and you should likely keep clear of those topics on your Instagram as well. Have fun, post about things that can’t offend and make people excited to work with you.
On Instagram, you should be the person who is above the noise and seems approachable to all. Clients come from all backgrounds, religions and political views so you want them to feel comfortable contacting you. If you decide to have a personal Instagram account that is separate from your professional one that addresses politics or other controversial matters, just be sure to set that account to “private” so that it is only viewable to those you invite into your circle.
In your public account, keep the focus on things that matter to everyone when searching for a real estate agent. Posting about homes for sale, homes sold, open houses, events in town, new restaurants or charity events are all things people are interested in for their real estate agent and don’t be afraid to add your unique take to it. They want someone who knows the neighborhood and can get things done and, if that comes with a fun and engaging personality, all the better.
Posting Photos on Instagram
The photos you post on Instagram should tell a story. Happy customers, lovely homes, neighborhood events, and even ancillary photos should showcase perks of living in your area and your services as a top-notch way to get there.
Consistently Post Quality Photos
Although gaining followers is important, you also want to retain those followers. The best way to do that is to consistently post quality photos.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional photographer or spend a fortune on one to create stunning images of your properties. BoxBrownie.com is a real estate photo editing service that offers professional image enhancement and day-to-dusk photo editing with quick turnaround times. Click here for a free trial and get 3 image enhancements plus 1 day-to-dusk edit when you sign up.
Using Captions in Real Estate Instagram Photos
Even though a photo can communicate wonderful messages to your audience on its own, on Instagram you can add a caption as well. Instagram allows you to post 2,200 characters in length as a caption but don’t use all of it. The ideal length of Instagram captions are 138 to 150 characters, so make it engaging even when simply listing or showing off your sales.
The wonderful thing about Instagram photo posts for real estate is that you can also create carousel posts. Carousel posts are posts that operate much like a photo book, and you can include up to 10 images. These are fantastic to showcase real estate listings or events. While you can edit your photos within Instagram, some of the best tools for photo editing are outside of the platform. Consider a tool like VSCO to make your images stand out, or Canva if you want to overlay text onto your images or outside of them.
Notice the fantastic work on both the photo and caption below. Alisha Anglin-Pagan shows enthusiasm but conveys great information. What we love is that even just checking her Instagram account, you could see clearly if there was an open house coming and what the listing price point is by the bold writing.
Capturing Leads With Instagram
Did you know that you can use Instagram to directly capture new leads? BoldLeads provides home evaluation landing pages you can place on your website and link to from your Instagram and social media posts. BoldLeads also captures social media profile info so you’ll still get a partial lead if prospects only enter an address. Click here to build a home valuation landing page.
Posting Videos on Instagram
There are so many ways to use video when posting to your Instagram account. You can showcase properties, elements about the neighborhood, local events and any other thing you can think of. Videos on Instagram last anywhere from 3 to 60 seconds, so make it short and sweet.
What makes videos good and engaging are how you showcase the property. Be unique about it. I love that The Corcoran Group takes you through five New York City penthouses in different neighborhoods in this video and makes each listing preview shine. The windows are open and each is staged beautifully.
One way to enhance your videos is to use a product like Spark Video. It’s free software from Adobe that you can use to edit existing video or add text, background music and record a voice-over. The small touches of using editing software can make videos seem well crafted and professional.
Sharing Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is a video feature that allows you to post a video in a location that is not in your followers’ traditional feed. Instagram Stories display at the side of the screen of followers if they are using a desktop (seen above) or at the top of the screen if using their mobile phones and are they are time-limited (24 hours). People who go to your profile will be greeted with a colorful ring around your profile picture noting that you have a video to be seen if you’ve posted an Instagram story, and here is the image that is displayed at the side of their desktop.
Instagram Stories allow you to remain top of mind for real estate by giving you a position outside of the traditional scrolling feed of your followers — at the very top of their phone. You can open and swipe on your story to see who viewed it and, as stated above, your story will disappear in 24 hours. The sense of urgency helps to attract those on Instagram to watch your videos since they cannot see them again.
What do real estate agents post to their Instagram Stories? Jane Hadley, a real estate agent from North Dakota, stated:
“The story posts that I make on Instagram are usually a bit more candid, behind the scenes at open houses, quick home tours and open house promotions.”
Have fun with your videos by using an app like Boomerang. It might sound silly but people pay attention to things that are different in their video streams. Boomerang plays your video on a loop, frontward and backward. You can use Boomerang to create a really interesting effect that grabs user attention and gets them engaged.
Using Instagram Live Video
Whether posting a video to your feed, using Instagram Stories or Instagram live, consider using video if you are not already. Instagram found that they have more than 500 million users a month, and time spent by users watching video has gone up 80 percent in the last year. Video is something that is well suited to real estate, so give your audience something wonderful to view.
Using Instagram Live Video connects you to your followers in real-time and they see it in their “stories” area. You can leave comments for your followers to discuss what you’re sharing or turn comments off, but it is a wonderful way to schedule a “live session” of any sort.
Just know that once a live video ends, unless you save it to your stories, it is no longer available. If it’s content you want to have a longer lifespan, be sure it isn’t posted here. A sneak preview of a homecoming on the market or even a quick share about getting a house in your area can be wonderful for Instagram Live Video. Be animated, be excited and make your videos something people can look forward to.
Step 3: Use the Best Instagram for Real Estate Hashtags
Hashtags in Instagram create searchability and help your posts be discovered. Whenever you make a post, create your hashtags before you finalizing the post to your feed. Hashtags help you target the group you wish to see your posts, gain new followers, and interact with possible leads. While Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, it’s like a good rule of thumb to keep it to less than 10. Here are five effective real estate hashtag categories and how to use them.
1. Hashtags for Location: #[InsertYourNeighborhood]
If you want your Instagram posts to be discovered as a real estate agent, be sure to always hashtag your location. For example, working in New York City is an incredibly large area but hashtagging a new listing specifically with #nyc and #brooklyn will get the specific attention of those in New York City who may be looking in the Brooklyn borough.
Always use at least one location indicator on your Instagram posts. You’ll see that Anglin-Pagan above gets even more specific by hashtagging #bedstuy as well as #nyc and #brooklyn because she understands there are many areas of Brooklyn and this captures her specific target audience. Larger cities may require multiple hashtags that indicate location while small or rural towns may be just fine with one or two.
2. Hashtags for Newly Sold or Listed: #JustSold #JustListed
If you want to gain the attention of buyers or show off your skills in selling a property, using these hashtags is the way to do it. As you’ll see above, Anglin-Pagan sold this property after one showing at 10 percent above ask when another real estate agent couldn’t move it for months. Pretty compelling.
Showcase your skills and show off your listings using these hashtags. Combined with location hashtags, these can help you bring new clients to the table. Individuals searching the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn in New York City for what is sold or listed are likely going to run into Anglin-Pagan’s posts at some point, and that’s great marketing that she doesn’t even have to pay for.
3. Hashtag Your Brokerage: #[InsertBrokerage]
A way to give a shout out to your brokerage, build a reputation, and direct users to see more of their listings is to be sure to hashtag them. You want potential clients searching the hashtag and thinking, “Wow, that brokerage has a lot of fantastic properties!”
You can get creative with your brokerage hashtag use to emphasize different elements of services offered. You’ll see that Anglin-Pagan above gives her brokerage a hashtag focusing on the agent quality #agentsofcompass, which implies that the agents of her brokerage (Compass) get things done. In the post above, it was an effective use of this hashtag.
4. Hashtags for Active Buyers: #OpenHouse #HouseHunting
People searching these hashtags are actively looking for a home and may be interested in attending an open house. Using these hashtags, in addition to your specific area, can attract the buyers to the table you’re looking for. As of the writing of this article, the hashtag #openhouse alone was used on more than 1.8 million posts. People search for these hashtags, and that’s why they are so widely used. Use hashtags when hosting your next open house and find those house-hunters in your area.
5. Hashtag Great Local Amenities: #[restaurant] #[coffeeshop]
Giving exposure to local amenities does two things. It first allows your followers to see the great local amenities that come with living in the area that you represent. Secondly, it often opens up opportunities for businesses to “repost” or copy your posting and post it to its own Instagram feed. While it’s wonderful to highlight local businesses because they’re genuinely wonderful, the increased exposure to new audiences that periodically comes with it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Using hashtags to increase exposure and searchability of your postings is an essential part of using Instagram effectively for real estate lead generation. For even more tips on what hashtags you can use across social platforms see our Top Real Estate Hashtags.
Step 4: Be Social and Engaging
Using Instagram for real estate agents effectively means that you have to do more than simply post — you also have to engage. This means interacting with people who follow you and who you follow. Find interesting people out there who are in your sphere of work and talk to them. Using the full potential of Instagram will require you do far more than broadcasting.
Amanda Hudson (featured above), a broker in New York City, has more than 11,000 followers and does a wonderful job of connecting with others on Instagram. Hudson had some great insights in telling her story of using the platform.
“I started a personal Instagram account in March 2011 but didn’t really understand the platform’s full potential for small business until about 2016. For the first few years, I was looking at Instagram as a way to market myself. In reality, I should have been thinking about “how can I use this platform to connect with others?” In a time when consumers and clients look for personal connections to the brands, causes and professionals they choose, the best thing that I could do was offer people a real snapshot into my life — not market myself to them. I now spend more of my time on the platform interacting with other users’ feeds than I do creating my own content to push.”
Hudson may sell properties worth millions but she still finds incredible value in connection both personally and in her business, stating, “Saying Instagram has brought me leads wouldn’t even begin to do justice to the network this platform has allowed me to build.” Hudson reported finding a number of contractors, mortgage brokers and even the referral to the dentist who removed her wisdom teeth.
Being social on Instagram is key to using it to maximum potential for your real estate business. It takes time and effort to cultivate a following and to gain momentum but, along with posting and using hashtags effectively, it’s a wonderful way to build your network.
Step 5: Target Your Audience With Paid Ads
Instagram is owned by Facebook and allows you to target an audience and run ads in much the same way. On Instagram, your ads should fit seamlessly into the timeline of your target audience, with the expectation that some will begin to follow you for additional posts and information. One thing to understand is that all ads that appear on Instagram originate from the Facebook ads platform and metrics are tracked much the same way.
If you already know how to create an ad on Facebook, the Instagram process for running an ad will be almost identical, aside from the designation on where the ads appear and the types of formats available to you. In fact, you don’t even have to have an Instagram account to run Instagram ads (although it’s highly recommended)! Here is a brief overview for real estate agents on using Instagram ads.
4 Basic Steps to Create Your Real Estate Campaign on Instagram
Open Ads & Determine Your Objective
To begin the process of creating your campaign on Instagram, click at the top of your account where it says to “create ads,” and it will ask you to “determine your objective.” You are given a number of options. A popular objective on Instagram is simply to create brand awareness.
Select Your Audience
The Facebook ads platform allows you to customize who is exposed to your ad completely. This customization is the cornerstone to navigating Instagram effectively as a real estate professional. Here are some great audience tips.
- Limit your posts by geography and be sure to only use ZIP codes that are relevant to where you do business
- In demographics, be sure to go deeper into “homeownership,” “life events,” “financial” and “work” statuses
- In the “homeownership” status area, you can select renters, first-time homeowners, and homeowners, depending on whom you would like to appear to
- In the “life events” area, look for people who have a new job, are newly engaged or new parents for first-time homebuyers and also think about individuals with adult-aged children (who may be downsizing)
- In the “financial” area, you can select individuals by income range and net worth
- In the “work” area, you can select individuals in specific industries, specific job titles or individuals who just got a job in the past six months
Choose Your Ad Placement and Budget
Ad placement and type are really the only areas that differ from traditional Facebook ads. Be sure to select “all devices” (mobile and desktop) and then under “platforms” to only select Instagram. Within Instagram, you have four ad options that mirror the posting options discussed above.
- Videos up to 60 seconds (in landscape or square format)
- Carousel (multi-image ads, up to 10 images)
Budgeting for ads will allow you to determine how much you would like to spend, over what time frame and when you would like your ads to appear. Select an overall budget in the box given and dates in the boxes below. How much you can expect to pay varies depending on what area you live in, how many people you are targeting and how much competition there is for that market.
Format Your Ad & Go
Formatting an ad for Instagram is very similar to creating a post or video when using the platform itself. You will have options to select from that mirror the options for Instagram and be sure to select the appropriate format for the type of ad you are placing. Once you create your ad and your variables are set, you are ready to go.
Social media is becoming more and more essential to building brand awareness and operating in real estate effectively. To expand your use of social media, check out our article on the top real estate social media marketing tips.
The Bottom Line
Using Instagram for real estate takes time and effort, but the process of creating posts and engaging with others online can be fun and rewarding. Have an Instagram presence that you work on daily, even if briefly, and get users engaged in what you have to offer. While running ads on Instagram can be a useful step when starting off, the momentum comes from continued social engagement.