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With all the things real estate agents have to keep up with on any given day, staying on top of the ever-changing world of social media can be a whole new job in itself. The thing is, if you’re a real estate professional and you aren’t on Instagram, you’re seriously missing out.
Peter Lorimer, of PLG Estates, says Instagram is tailor-made for real estate. It’s a visual, fast-paced platform that is almost like Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube — all rolled into one; and it’s where everyone is, so if you aren’t there, neither is your business, he told Inman.
Eight years after the social media platform was founded, Instagram’s audience is still growing — it hit the 1 billion active users mark this summer. The platform is evolving (read below to learn how to use features like Stories and Highlights), and an increasing number of agents are using it to sell homes online.
We rounded up the top 10 best hidden Instagram features to help you promote your brand, showcase properties and get leads.
1. Set up a business profile
First things first, you should separate personal social media accounts from professional ones where you post a steady stream of real estate content.
Instagram makes this easy by giving you the option to choose between a business account (if you have a company name) or a personal one (if you work for a larger company and want to use your regular name) that you use for professional purposes.
You can, if you like, also change an existing personal account to a professional one by clicking “Switch to business profile” in the Settings.
But whether you operate under your name or have a small real estate business, be sure to post content — for example, listing photos and information on open houses — that is relevant to a real estate audience.
2. Read, follow and use popular hashtags
One of social media’s most powerful weapons, hashtags are clickable word labels that allow users to search for specific topics.
On Instagram, hashtags like #realestateagent, #realestatedeals and #luxuryproperty have generated millions of posts. If you’re new to the platform, use these hashtags to see what kind of content other agents and brokerages are posting. (You can also view hashtags by tapping any hashtag you see on Instagram and then clicking “Follow.”)
But hashtags will not only help you find what you want to see — they are also an excellent tool for making posts that are visible to others. As you build your audience, use hashtags that describe what you write (one example could be something as simple as #kitchendesign or #luxuryhomes for a property) to reach a wider audience of users specifically looking for real estate on their account.
3. Geotagging is your friend
Similar to hashtags, geotags are a good way to reach Instagram users in a specific location — one as narrow as a house listing’s address or as broad as the city of New York.
Although geotags are not an effective way to search for real estate properties (an address of anything other than a brokerage will turn up everything from Starbucks photos to selfies), they are a good way to reach your local base.
When posting photos of homes you’re selling, be sure to tag their locations for local users to find.
4. Use the ‘Photo album’ feature for multiple shots and videos
Many people still don’t know that Instagram lets you put up as many as 10 photos and videos in a single post.
Agents and brokerages frequently use the “Photo album” to display multiple photos of the same property. Those who are interested can scroll through them while those who are not can quickly move on to the next post.
“Video, video, video! Storytelling, storytelling, storytelling!” Lorimer said. “Forgive my emphatic nature, but this is where the gold is.”
Here, according to Instagram, is how you use the feature.
5. Stories, stories, stories
As photos and video snippets that disappear after 24 hours, Instagram Stories are a good way to share more fun aspects of your life as a real estate agent or the properties you’re selling.
Some agents use the Stories feature to give quick house tours while others post photos of their pets and kids (as you know, some clients really like that) without clogging the main feed.
Learning how to use this feature might take more time, but the payoff can be huge. Sue “Pinky” Benson, a RE/MAX Realtor who recently presented at ICSF, regularly uses Stories to walk around her Florida neighborhood and discuss the types of homes that are up for sale.
6. IGTV lets you post longer house tours
This summer, Instagram launched a feature with potentially groundbreaking implications for those who work in real estate: IGTV, which lets you post videos up to an hour long.
Use the IGTV app, which works both as a button inside Instagram and as a standalone app, to put up videos of yourself talking about properties or longer house tours.
“We are seeing a lot of engagement on Instagram and decreased numbers over on YouTube, so this evolution of IG makes sense to us,” Anne Jones, a Realtor and owner of Windermere Abode real estate firm, told Inman earlier this year.
7. Highlight your best moments as an agent
Once you’ve mastered the art of Instagram Stories, save the best ones for a permanent place on your profile — here’s how. For many agents, this is a way to display the best properties that they’ve sold, feature for-sale listings or have a personal highlight reel for clients who are more interested in agent’s home life than others.
“Vanilla is choking the industry, so think clearly and carefully on who you are and what you want to present to the world and don’t be a fraidy cat,” Lorimer said.
8. Coordinate posts with other platforms, like Facebook or Twitter
Any social media pro will tell you that cross-posting on different platforms is key to reaching as many people as possible. As great as Instagram is, it’s user base leans young — a vast majority of its user base is under 34.
But if your content is great, you shouldn’t always have to write a new post for a different platform — just coordinate the same content to go out on everything, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This is how, according to Instagram.
9. Set tag approval to your posts
As you become more active on Instagram, clients may start to take photos of homes and tag their agents. This can give your posts greater reach and exposure, but it can also put photos that are off-brand or that you may simply not want others seeing on your account.
To stop this before it even happens, set a filter that makes you approve any photo that somebody else tags of you. Here’s how.
10. Save posts you like for future reference
Although built as a way to share photos with the world, Instagram also has features for your private use. Just like you would make a bookmark of a site you like on your homepage, make collections of property photos or other interesting real estate posts on Instagram.
To do so, tap the bookmark icon in the top-right menu above your profile, choose the Collections tab, and use it to start and name a new list. From then, every time you see a photo you want to save, hit the bookmark icon to bring it to the collection. (Remember: the account owner does not find out if you’ve saved one of his or her posts.)