Instagram boasts a whopping 1 billion users, with 500 million of them logging into the platform every day. The hashtag #realestate has been used on 26 million posts, and that’s merely one of endless hashtag options.
So what does this tell us? For real estate agents and mortgage lenders, Instagram has the potential to be an incredibly lucrative platform for building an engaged audience and attracting new customers. In this article, we’ll lay out some ground rules for real estate professionals getting started on Instagram.
How To Create Great Real Estate Content For Instagram
Above all else, Instagram is based on beautiful images.
If you’re an agent, you have a wealth of content at your fingertips with your listing photos. Focus on posting images that are high quality, well lit and clutter free. Your target audience is an aspirational one, so when posting listing photos ask yourself, “would this image make a buyer want to live here?”
Sadly, mortgage applications don’t make the most photogenic subjects, so lenders will need to get a little more creative with content for Instagram. Instead of relying on boring stock photos to convey dull financial information, use your feed to position yourself as an expert on the lending process as it pertains to your local area. You can do this by sharing pictures of area streetscapes, family friendly attractions, neighborhood restaurants and shops, and actual happy customers in their new homes.
Your image may be the top priority when posting to Instagram, but with so many users competing for attention on the platform, a pretty picture only goes so far. True Instagram power users have mastered the art of combining eye-catching visuals with thought-provoking captions to make a lasting impact.
If you’re sharing photos of properties, use your caption not just to tout the features, but to help paint a realistic, captivating picture of what it might be like to own it. You can also ask questions to get followers to engage.
Instead of this:
“123 Mulberry Lane features three bedrooms, two baths and this gorgeous patio.”
“How stunning is this backyard oasis at 123 Mulberry Lane? We’re daydreaming of long mornings sipping coffee while reading the newspaper on this patio. What’s your favorite way to start the day?”
If you’re a lender, your goal is to make yourself a helpful guide leading your customers through the often-complex lending process. Use your captions to share useful tips, dispel myths, and help prospects visualize how your services fit into their homebuying journey.
Instead of this:
“Check your credit score before applying for a mortgage so you can clean up any inaccuracies ahead of time.”
“Buyers love Pleasantville because of the friendly neighbors and the rich cultural scene. Are you looking to buy here? Checking your credit score ahead of time is a great way to improve your chances of being approved for your dream home.”
How To Use Hashtags Effectively
On Instagram, hashtags are used to group posts on similar topics and help users discover new content. You can and should use hashtags to help people find you and understand what your content is all about.
While Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags with every post, the general consensus in 2019 is that posts with between 9 and 12 hashtags seem to get the most engagement.
To keep your caption from looking cluttered, tuck hashtags neatly out of sight. You can do this by creating line breaks between your caption and your set of hashtags. Just hit the ‘return’ key and add a character, like a period, to a few lines before typing in your hashtags. Or, simply add your hashtags as a comment to your own post and they’ll work the same way.
Check out how this agent grouped all her hashtags in a comment:
Focus On Authentic Engagement
There are loads of services out there promising to help you game the system on Instagram. Some advertise instant follower growth, while others say they can get you a certain number of likes on every post. User beware: in 2019, these services will do more harm than good for your account.
Just as Google penalizes websites for using black-hat SEO techniques, Instagram has started cracking down on accounts that use third-party services to inflate their likes and follower counts. Instead of using artificial means to raise your numbers, concentrate instead on building authentic engagement.
You can do this by interacting with hashtags related to your city and industry, leaving comments on accounts that are within your target audience, and spending time on the platform rather than just publishing a post and logging off. It’s better to have 1,000 real, engaged followers than 50,000 fake followers who don’t see or care about what you post.
As the Instagram algorithm evolves, the rules on posting frequency have changed. Back when Instagram displayed posts in chronological order, it was important to post frequently to stay near the top of followers’ feeds.
Now, the algorithm displays posts based on what the user is most likely to be interested in. This means for real estate professionals, posting great content is more important than posting all the time. It’s better to publish an amazing post that will be shown at the top of users’ feeds every few days, rather than posting mediocre content several times a day, since it can get buried way down in the feed and never seen.
Take Advantage Of Stories And IGTV
Instagram’s newest features, Stories and IGTV, were practically made for real estate professionals. These features allow you to easily share quick, bite-sized video clips that audiences love.
Your Stories can be viewed for 24 hours after you post them. Thus, they’re great for sharing up-to-the-minute information about your business and day-in-the-life content as you go about your day. For example, agents might use Stories to announce price changes or share sneak peeks of new listings. Lenders might use them to break the news about mortgage rate changes or congratulate customers on a closing.
IGTV videos can be up to an hour long and they don’t disappear unless you delete them. They’re displayed at the top of your Instagram profile, so they’re great for sharing longer form, informational content.
For real estate professionals, IGTV is useful for helping followers get to know you and what you do. Use it to explain your services and what sets you apart. You can also create videos on topics related to your expertise, like walk-throughs of properties or how-to’s on filling out mortgage documents.
By focusing on quality over quantity and zeroing in on content that’s relevant to your audience’s buying journey, real estate agents and lenders can stand out on Instagram. Have you made the platform part of your social media strategy?