Are your Facebook insights downright depressing? As sad as those stats may be, you shouldn’t abandon your business page because consumers expect Agents to have an active Facebook presence. It’s time to consider adding different networks to your marketing mix.
You know there are lots of other popular social media sites where you can connect with people in your community, but which ones are worth your time?
As a professional community manager and inbound marketer in the highly competitive LA market, I believe Instagram and Pinterest are your best bets. Let’s save Pinterest for another day and focus on the Millennial’s favorite network---Instagram.
You’ve probably heard that Millennials ditched Facebook for Instagram; Facebook responded by acquiring the photo sharing app as a media property shortly thereafter. So if you want to target the new generation of homeowners, you’re going to have to start snapping and sharing from your Smartphone.
No, you won’t be able to drive traffic directly to your listings (Instagram doesn’t allow link sharing). Think of Instagram as your go to branding tool, a place for you to build relationships with real people in your local community.
Now that you’re in the right frame of mine, let’s go over best practices for your new Realtor® Instagram account.
1. Use original quality square shaped photos
This one’s a no-brainer. At least you’d think it would be until you log on and discover all the blurry, overly edited, or stolen images Agents post on the daily. Remember, photos are the most important factor for online buyers. That means professional photography is an absolute must.
Don’t get me wrong. Every single picture you post doesn’t have to come from a pro. In fact, posting pictures you’ve taken at local restaurants, events, with happy clients, etc. help humanize your brand while demonstrating your expertise. But your property photos are another story. Choose hi resolution images that showcase curb appeal, interesting features about the home or neighborhood, and views. Feel free to get creative with your composition, just don’t go overboard with the editing. Filters should be used sparingly. After all, you’re trying to show people what the house or condo actually looks like, not entering an HDR photography contest.
Above all else, respect copyright laws. If you don’t own it, don’t post it. No exceptions.
2. Research your hashtags
If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’re familiar with hashtags as a discovery or real time conversation tool. While tweets tend to be fleeting due to the constant flow of information, your Instagram posts live on through hashtags. And unlike Twitter where adding more than 3 hashtags looks spammy, Instagram users love them tags. Specifically, posts with 7-10 hashtags earn the highest engagement.
Hashtags are an excellent way to increase your visibility, but you need to make sure you use the right tags. I see tons of Agents inventing hashtags for branding purposes (ex: hashtagging their names), which can be good, but shouldn’t replace the tags people commonly use (ex: #sellingLA). Likewise, try to steer clear of industry focused hashtags consumers aren’t familiar with (ex: #mls, #staging, #acre).
Before you add a bunch of random tags you think people use, take the time to explore posts from the community and incorporate their language into yours. You’re going for hyperlocal here, which means you should aim for terms unfamiliar to out of towners. For example, some people on the Westside of LA refer to Santa Monica as SaMo or call West Hollywood WeHo. Using insider type terms solidifies your place as a local expert and ensures that your posts reach your target audience.
Pro Tip: Keep your image caption hashtag free for readability and add your tags in the image comments.
3. Utilize the photo map for geotargeting
Geotargeting is fancy marketing speak for reaching out to people in a particular geographic area. When you upload photos to Instagram, you have the option of adding a location to your post. You can select the general city or type in the exact address. Either way your content will appear when people search for those places on the integrated Google map. This is a powerful way to market properties and enhance your reputation with brick and mortar businesses.
Pro Tip: Worried about safety? Wait till after you’ve left the photo’s location to upload and tag. Remember, you can remove images from your photo map at any time.
4. Promote your Instagram account
You’re posting away---don’t forget to let everyone know about your awesome Instagram account! Include your Instagram presence in your digital and print marketing collateral along with the rest of your social media accounts. Even though Instagram is a mobile platform, you should still add an Instagram icon to your website and blog. Instagram does have a desktop site (with limited functionality) where people with Instagram accounts can like and follow you.
Pro Tip: Be sure to write out either your username or profile URL on business cards and other print marketing pieces because offline icons can’t be clicked.
Bad practices to avoid
I’d be remiss not to warn you about rampant bad Instagram etiquette. I’m sure you know better than to engage in these unscrupulous tactics, but just to be on the safe side, here are 3 things you shouldn’t do on Instagram or any other social site:
1. Following/Unfollowing users
Instagram is filled with fake accounts and bots who annoy users by following them and immediately unfollowing after they follow back. That’s a great way to alienate the very people you’re trying to attract. Plus, only following a tiny number of users isn’t very social. Personally, I’m not inclined to connect with people who don’t bother following anyone else. Don’t focus too much on vanity metrics (follower count) and you’ll gain followers naturally.1
2. Comment spam
Another favorite tactic of Instagram spammers is leaving generic comments such as, ‘great photo!’ or ‘nice, check out my profile’ on users’ posts. Comments are a great way to build relationships; however, they should express genuine interest in the person. Begging for followers makes you look desperate, and that’s never a good thing. Instead ask thoughtful questions or offer advice, such as suggesting another spectacular sushi place nearby.
3. Posting inappropriate or irrelevant content
Ok, this point goes back to our discussion about what the heck you should be posting in the first place. The informal nature of Instagram may tempt you to go off topic. As I said before, it’s perfectly fine to post stuff besides listings provided said posts have value. Sharing your personal interests and hobbies can create relationships, but do so in moderation. And never post things that may appear unprofessional i.e. explicit, vulgar, offensive. You don’t want to risk your reputation for a few laughs.
Do you have any questions about Instagram marketing for real estate? Ask away in the comments below!
Today's Featured Article is contributed by Katherine Tattersfield. She serves as Content Marketing Specialist at Gibson International, a luxury real estate brokerage in Los Angeles. She’d love to connect with you on your favorite social network.
You might like to read:
by Bill Gassett