Instagram for Real Estate
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
A comprehensive real estate social media marketing strategy isn’t just about Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: Instagram marketing should also be part of your digital brand promotion.
Though you may not earn your next big home buyer or seller lead by posting a filtered shot or short video of your latest listing on the social network, using Instagram for marketing your company, its culture, and your value proposition can improve your business reputation and help you reach parts of your audience (and prospective leads) who have yet to engage with you online.
Learn how to use Instagram for business below, including what proactive tasks to take on with your account and what pitfalls to avoid — all of which can help bolster your overall Instagram real estate marketing strategy. We also provide 20 phenomenal accounts run by agents, brokers, and firms from all over the globe below (listed in no particular ranking or order).
The Dos and Don’ts of Instagram for Real Estate
DO: Post photos and videos that you actually recorded.
Sounds reasonable, right? The main reasons your audience follows you is to keep tabs on the newest and best listings you represent, hear your thoughts on local market conditions, and see what your clients and colleagues have to say about your business. That means posting content that’s actually photographed and recorded by you is essential.
DON’T: Use and alter stock photos for your account.
Some real estate agents think they can “game” Instagram, so to speak, as they assume add text to stock photos and use them to promote their businesses. Wrong.
Original, appealing real estate photography detailing your actual listings is the only way to get users to become followers and actually check out your Instagram real estate marketing. You already spend a great deal of time at your listings anyway, so just remember to snap a few shots here and there to stockpile visual marketing collateral for the homes.
DO: Create rough mini-scripts for short listing videos.
Know exactly what you want to say about your real estate listings in your Instagram videos before you hit record.
Yes, spontaneity with your videos can help you come off more natural, but in the limited amount of time you have with these recordings (3 to 15 seconds), it’s vital to make the most of them.
Here’s one idea: Create a bullet-point list of a few key aspects of your listing that you want to highlight. Then, shoot few-second clips of each and add some commentary.
Save the off-the-cuff videos for times when you’re attending a real estate conference or offering quick tips or updates to your audience.
DO: Find distinct uses for the Hyperlapse feature.
Hyperlapse was unveiled to Instagrammers in 2014. It allows users to create quick, time-lapse videos that speed up what you record. There aren’t many ways this tool can help your Instagram real estate marketing, but try to think of unique ways to employ it on occasion in your social media for real estate strategy.
A couple ways you could use the inventive feature: Show off a development where one of your listings resides or highlight fun amenities around the community, like parks, beaches, shops, and restaurants.
It’s a nifty tool when used for the right purpose, so play around with it to see what amusing ways you can use it to appeal to buyers and sellers.
DO: Get past clients to participate in testimonial videos.
Just as you can and should with your real estate YouTube channel, get satisfied clients to appear in testimonial videos.
Fifteen seconds is definitely a limited amount of time to get comprehensive footage of a client review. However, a series of videos showing off your happy clients in their new homes and how their lives have changed since making their big purchase along with a short testimonial can be effective. That way, you have not only a resounding approval for your services, but also evidence of what buyers can achieve by working with you: ending up in a home they really wanted and (presumably) for a great price.
DON’T: Request or buy followers or likes for your account.
Nothing says “desperate” quite like asking random people (or even people you know) to follow you on social media. The only thing worse would be to buy followers, but, in case you weren’t already aware, those aren’t worth your time or money.
Similarly, don’t try to get users to like your content. Though seeing one of your posts has a couple dozen likes may spark interest among some non-followers, it’s simply not a worthwhile pursuit.
The whole point of a medium like Instagram is to increase brand awareness — and for free. Spend your hard-earned money on other real estate marketing tactics, like getting a responsive real estate website, rather than getting people you’ll never sell homes to or represent in deals to become evangelists for your business on social media.
DON’T: Edit listing photos to the point they become unrecognizable.
Editing photos in general for your real estate marketing purposes is generally a big no-no. Sure, the occasional touch-up to fix poor lighting or enhance the contrast or brightness of a listing photo won’t lead to any Realtor ethics violations, but alterations that change images entirely won’t help your real estate marketing efforts.
Even using various filters for your listings can lead to poor photo quality. Whichever filter you decide to use (if any), just make sure it shows your homes for sale in a quality light, meaning they’re easily discernible.
DO: Automatically share most posts to Facebook and Twitter too.
In your account settings, you can set it up so that every time you post a photo or video to your real estate Instagram account, it also appears on Facebook and Twitter.
While not every picture or recording may be one you want to share across your social networks, you can always delete ones on specific social media channels on which you don’t want them to appear.
DO: Show off your personal side from time to time.
Who would you rather hire as your real estate agent: Someone who speaks in monotone and barely/rarely smiles and shows off their personality, or someone who’s bubbly, knows how to relate to people, and is seemingly enjoyable to speak with? It’s okay to show off your fun side on occasion via your Instagram account — the trick is moderation and knowing when to post such content.
For instance, taking pictures of your agency’s annual summer BBQ or a selfie with old clients can do wonders for your image. Just be sure the majority of your photos and videos posted to Instagram relate to your day-to-day (i.e. exhibiting listings, relaying market updates, etc.).
DON’T: Solely post pics and videos of your life outside of real estate.
The potential negative side of over-posting your day-to-day outside of work is your account loses focus and, in turn, followers. Remember that your account should humanize you to your audience, but that your photos and videos should nearly entirely pertain to your real estate business.
If you think balancing your personal and business posts could become problematic, simply set up two Instagram accounts: one for your friends and family, the other strictly for your real estate marketing. Add a privacy setting to your personal profile so only your connections can see your photos and videos.
DO: Take advantage of popular, relevant hashtags.
The key to getting found on practically every big social network these days (except for LinkedIn, really) is to use hashtags.
Just as you research long-tail keywords that pertain to your specific real estate market (e.g. “two-floor condos in downtown Seattle”), identify relevant hashtags for your local market. Search several combinations featuring your town or city name and common real estate terms — like “homes for sale,” “listings,” and “housing market” — to see which are used most often by Instagram users. Then, start using them in your posts.
Consistently research new hashtags over time. More likely than not, you’ll gradually discover new ones you’ve yet to utilize.
DON’T: Use a million hashtags or inapplicable ones.
The main negative that can arise from hashtag use is high volume. Tweets, status updates, and other social media posts that feature several hashtags often tend to come across as spammy. Additionally, they take the focus away from the message of the posts.
For instance, if you share a link to one of your real estate blog posts and then use five hashtags, your blog link won’t stand out and, thus, it may not get as many clicks as it would’ve sans the hashtags.
Some research, like this post from QA engineer Max Woolf and this data from TrackMaven, show the more hashtags you use, the better the engagement tends to be. But there’s a price you pay for overdoing it with hashtags: You’ll lose those you actually want following your account and instead gain random users following your account by going hashtag-crazy.
Be thoughtful with your hashtag use. Take advantage of ones you know will help get your real estate Instagram photos and videos in front of the right audience and ditch the ones that only generate random followers and likes.
DO: Respond to post comments and reply to followers’ posts.
This may not happen as often as you’d like (at least early on with your Instagram account), but reply to comments made about your photos and videos. If someone enjoyed a shot you took, say thanks. If a user asks a question about a listing, answer it either on Instagram or by email or phone. Small touches can make a difference with top- and middle-of-the-funnel leads — that is, those who are simply perusing listings and gauging their interest in buying homes.
Likewise, take some time to respond to others’ posts on the platform. For instance, if you notice someone liking a lot of your photos and videos, check out their page and find a post or two to like as well and perhaps even comment on. Instagram is a great conversation-starter if used properly, so keep tabs on followers you can interact with.
It’s also wise to comment on local business Instagram accounts to learn more about what’s going on in your community and gain new connections. Who knows? Your next big deal (or referral for one) could come from a local entrepreneur.
DON’T: Comment on every post your followers publish.
Social media engagement has shown to improve brand relations with their customers in several industries — real estate included. But there’s a big difference between tagging the occasional lead in a listing post that might interest them and chiming in on all of your followers posts (and even those of non-followers). Your online reputation extends from your real estate website to what pages populate in search results when your name is entered to (you guessed it) your social media presence.
Comment and tag judiciously on Instagram to avoid becoming an annoyance to your followers. If you want to engage with certain users to gauge their potential as possible leads, then try to find their email online to start a private conversation as opposed to request a talk via their Instagram posts. You’ll save them from spam-like comments and yourself from tarnishing your brand (and personal) reputation.
DON’T: Publish images with text, like quotes or blog post copy.
Instagram users love the platform for its visual nature. Use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn to offer up links to blog posts, infographics, and other content, and keep Instagram as your photo- and video-publishing tool — meaning no copy overlay on images. The only text that’s beneficial to feature in the occasional post is the address of one of your listings and perhaps a couple specs for the property, like sales price and home type. Leave the inspirational quote images for your personal account.
DON’T: Share posts too frequently or infrequently.
The old Goldilocks method: You have to find the right rate at which to post photos and videos on Instagram. Not too sparingly, but not too often — a solid middle ground.
Though a Union Metrics report shows posting a lot on Instagram doesn’t deter engagement levels, you could flood your followers’ Instagram feeds by publishing too often and, in turn, annoy your audience. On the flip side, post too seldom and your audience will forget you even exist and, in turn, the chances you’ll grow your following become slim.
To ensure you post to your Instagram account at relatively even intervals — for instance, twice daily: once in the morning, once in the afternoon — use Instagram automation tools like Latergramme or ScheduGram. That way, you’ll have content that can publish to your account a week, two weeks, or even a month in advance. This doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) manually post photos or videos daily. It just means you have a safety net, of sorts, that lessens the workload needed to keep your Instagramming fresh.
And when it comes to the right time of day to post, well … there really isn’t one. Take these stats discovered by competitive intelligence service TrackMaven, for instance, which show there isn’t one ideal time or day to get the most traction with your Instagram real estate account:
DO: Use Instagram Direct to share personalized posts with specific people.
For most brands and professionals, using Instagram for business marketing means sharing all of your content publicly. However, some personalization can do your real estate social media marketing some good. Case in point: Instagram Direct is a feature that allows you to share photos and videos with a specified group of users.
So if there’s a listing you think only a handful of leads you follow on the site should know about, for instance, you can only show images and recordings of said property to them. The bonus benefit of this feature is you can create personal messages with those who you share your posts with (e.g. “This listing really seems like one that fits your wants and needs.”).
DON’T: Give up on your account! It takes time to generate an audience.
As with any real estate social media marketing plan, it takes some time to build an audience on Instagram. Don’t fret if you fail to reach your desired number of followers after a month, two months, six months, and longer. Since Instagram is far from a time-sucking social platform — it takes mere seconds to open the app, take a photo or video, and post it — it’s certainly worth using.
Having said that, if you’re not generating any followers or likes, switch up your posting strategy. For example, start taking more photos and videos of your listings and less personal shots and recordings. Or, if that plan fails, turn to more clients for testimonials and local community members for brief interview clips.
In time, you’ll find the types of posts, publication frequency, and hashtags that can help you grow your following.
DO: Analyze the performance of your Instagram real estate marketing.
You won’t be able to identify any issues or successes using Instagram for real estate if you don’t measure your account’s analytics. Services like Simply Measured, Iconosquare, and Curalate offer in-depth analytics features for Instagram, including ones that help you track engagement levels and follower growth and even offer insights as to how to better your account.
Try out different free options to see if any provide the metric monitoring you need to improve your Instagram presence and even consider paid options if you don’t find any that help you track everything you want.
Download our Real Estate Social Media Marketing Guide for real estate professionals.
Instagram for Real Estate: 20 of the Best-Run Agent Accounts
First up is a premier visual real estate social media page from Down Under. The Jellis Craig team from Melbourne, Australia, showcases everything from lavish living rooms and aerial listing videos to company outings and private showings, offering a full picture of what it’s like to both work with and for the esteemed agency. What’s more is the Aussie firm makes great use of its stylish logo, implementing it in the occasional photo and video, which helps its real estate branding.
When one works in markets with diverse demographics who speak multiple languages, it’s ideal to cater to all audiences and provide multilingual content for them. For Piquet Realty, which has offices in New York, Miami, Colorado, and some other locales nationwide, providing both English and Portuguese copy in its real estate Instagram posts bodes well for connecting with two of its primary buyer personas. Oh, and stunning pictures and videos of the buildings for which it represents numerous units for sale and lease doesn’t hurt either.
Storytelling is a key component to any real estate social media marketing plan — something Orlando Realtor Nicole Mickle seems to understand, as evidenced by her well-operated Instagram account. Take the image above as an example: Instead of showing off just listings she represents, Mickle shares the tale of a recent client whom she helped close on this lovely home for sale. In other words, she humanizes the property purchase and the work she put in to find the perfect residence for her buyer. The icing on the cake was the excellent use of hashtags to spread word about her latest deal.
Top-producer, expert coach, go-getter — these are just a few ways to describe Kase Real Estate’s Keven Stirdivant. While that would be enough adjectives to satisfy many other agents and brokers, he’s gone a step further and added “adept social media marketer” to his resume. Aside from showing off the occasional intermittent personal life photos of him and his growing family, Stirdivant highlights his company’s latest listings in unique fashion (such as drone footage), spotlights his career training sessions he hosts for his team, and accentuates the beautiful Southern California market in which he and his agents operate. In other words, Stirdivant uses Instagram for real estate near-perfectly.
Ask agents and brokers — particularly those located on the West Coast — which firm does it “right” in terms of real estate marketing and many will point to The Agency. Based in Beverly Hills, this high-end real estate sales company is known for its cutting-edge promotional tactics, including an exhaustive email newsletter highlighting the brand’s latest business updates, the latest listings to hit the market, and comprehensive content featuring the face of the franchise, CEO Mauricio Umansky. Social media for real estate is something The Agency has also mastered, as this Instagram account shows. Announcing new team members (like the image above), giving well wishes around the holidays, and exhibiting attractive homes for sale make up most of its posts on the social network.
Though Watson’s other job as a notable sports radio host for the San Diego area certainly doesn’t hurt his career aspirations, having a well-executed real estate Instagram account also bolsters awareness of his personal brand and other ventures, like his home sales business. Watson uses the account as both a professional and personal medium, but there’s one commonality to both his work and home-life images and photos: They show what it’s like to reside in sunny SoCal. This factor can get prospective clients more interested in his services, given his knowledge of the best places to eat, businesses to use, and places to hang out.
Professional real estate listings photos can do wonders for your promotional activities, but don’t forget to show off your surrounding market also. The Hopper Group team abides by this Instagram marketing philosophy, as it shares equal parts homes for sale and shots of its community — like new shops that open and local events — that paint a picture of what life is like in the metro Seattle area. Moreover, the agency maximized its appearance on an HGTV show by highlighting on Instagram the behind-the-scenes moments and smiles from their satisfied clients.
If you decide to go with strictly real estate photos for your agent Instagram account, Smash Properties is an agency you should follow on the social network, as it displays some of the ritziest and most gorgeous homes for sale in Chicago. Luxury condos, sprawling mansions, and ultra-modern estates are just a small portion of the niche property types shown off via this Windy City–based agency’s account. Stunning pics from around town, including ones of the city’s high-rises, parks, farmer’s markets, and other community locales and events are also shared.
There is certainly no shortage of unique ways to share photos and videos on Instagram. For instance, by using an app like Layout, which is run by the social network, you can display multiple pictures in a single post — the perfect way to promote listings for sale and lease in your market, particularly those you represent. BOND New York posts these kinds of shares with its attractive account, along with local housing market data (like its quarterly market report) and striking images from other Instagram accounts around town that show off historic properties, fun events, and other happenings across the Big Apple.
YouTube has traditionally been the chief real estate video marketing platform for agents and brokers. Then, in 2013, Instagram revealed its new video-recording feature, and, later on, its Hyperlapse app, which turns footage into time-lapse videos. These new video tools appealed instantly to marketers worldwide … including the real estate community. The Buying PDX team at Windermere Stellar is one firm to take advantage of this functionality. The agency condenses its real estate listing videos into 15-second clips (which some prospective buyers undoubtedly prefer as opposed to five-minute listing clips often found on YouTube). What’s more, the firm provides ample proof of its efficacy as top producers by showing off the latest homes it helps clients purchase and lease.
Some brands and professionals who try to use Instagram as a marketing tool fail to realize one commonality between the social network and all other promotional tactics and outlets: the necessity to be human with any and all marketing. Consumers — including home buyers and sellers — want to know the people behind the company, not just what the company offers. Over at Usaj Realty in Downtown Denver, Instagram users can get a glimpse of what goes on at the agency’s office, take part in fun giveaways, and even check out the firm’s charitable endeavors — all of which helps the company’s aim to relate to its audience and show they’re people, too.
Some agents and brokers share random luxury homes with no relation to their business (a.k.a. “real estate porn”) simply to get eyeballs on their Instagram accounts. This isn’t an entirely bad strategy, if that’s all you want for your account. But Joyce Rey actually represents a number of the high-end properties she spotlights on her addictive page. Though linking in Instagram posts isn’t allowed, Rey still provides the microsite URLs for each notable listing, which is a terrific way to garner even more traffic (though we suspect her online real estate marketing plan seems to be going just fine even sans her Instagram account).
As mentioned, “real estate porn,” even in the form of others’ listings and homes not even on the market, can drive awareness to Instagram accounts — if done well. This account from Pope Real Estate in Toronto accomplishes this feat, as it presents a myriad of residences across the world to gain attention and followers for its page. Having said that, there are certainly a fair number of Toronto-based properties showcased here as well. All in all, this is one of the more finely curated Instagram accounts you’ll find from agents and firms on the social media platform.
Consistent use of branding in Instagram photos through the addition of the company name? Check. Inclusion of “contact me” call to action (CTA) in practically every post on the social network? Check. Excellent use of real estate photography to promote various types of homes for sale in his market? Check. There’s really not much missing from Mason’s page. The icing on the cake comes in the form of short videos showing Mason working one-on-one with his clients to help educate them and get them that much closer to buying their dream homes — a phenomenal form of social proof.
When you have a “Million Dollar Listing” star on staff, things are likely going well for your business. However, a comprehensive digital real estate marketing strategy — including a presence on social networks like Instagram — is needed even for the biggest and most successful agencies. Rodeo Realty’s account on the social media channel is chock full of stunning listing photos, working-at-the-office shots, and even well wishes for its followers around the holidays. The latter type of content may not seem like a pivotal one to share on Instagram, but it shows the firm goes the extra mile to show its online audience it cares about them.
Look closely at the visual branding of the most recognizable companies on Earth and you’ll notice one thing they all have in common: simplicity. Apple’s logo is … well … an apple. The McDonald’s yellow arches have become iconic. You get the point. But even smaller, more niche brands can still gain this level of recognition for their logos and branding visuals, through things like image style, typeface, and color scheme. In the real estate field, few have accomplished this superb design plan better than Compass. Examine its Instagram account and you’ll see every single post is uniformly stylish and includes carefully crafted real estate branding elements.
This isn’t exactly your average agent’s account, as this duo of industry veterans uses humor to relate to its fellow agent audience and point out the ludicrous aspects of working in real estate sales. For instance, the guys behind the account, Wes Pinkston and Eric Simon, posted this suggestion for agents who feel it’s necessary to scream and shout at their audiences digitally via all-caps copy (chances are you’ve seen this unusual strategy employed by other agents once or twice … or dozens of times). Funny observations and banter like this make this account therapeutic in a way for all industry pros.
Short-and-sweet copy accompanying each photo, listings explained in detail, and custom links leading back to the agency’s site: That sums up pretty much every post on the Pacific Union Instagram page. The agency gets right to the point with its listing shots to succinctly relay what the properties entail, where they’re located, and how viewers of the listings can learn more about them.
Though lots of copy over your Instagram images won’t work all the time, Vancouver Real Estate Experts do an expert job explaining core details about each listing by adding in some exhaustive copy for the homes for sale. The addition of asking price, photos of the team, and contact details is what really ties together these particular types of shares on the social network. On top of overtly promotional photos, the Canadian agency also shares a bevy of landscape shots, showing off lakes, skylines, and greenery from all over the Vancouver area. The advice posts for home sellers are an especially nice touch.
The U.S. is home to many cities known for astounding architectural achievements, and Miami definitely falls into this category — the Art Deco District in the city alone has inspired residential and commercial building designs worldwide. The Iglesias Realty Group makes sure to take advantage of the countless unique properties in the Miami Beach area by sharing them routinely on its Instagram account. From the astonishing skyscraper at One City Point to the glass-encased Bentley Edgewater Hotel & Residences, the agency spotlights innumerable interesting developments, condos, and other buildings throughout the metro area.
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Published on April 25, 2019
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.