Over the past few weeks we have gone in depth on the two social media platforms that many real estate agents tend to focus on first: Facebook and Twitter.
This week we are going to talk about another platform. One that is growing rapidly, and can be used extremely well by real estate agents.
Which platform am I referring to?
With the recent introduction of advertisements within the app, Instagram is becoming a viable marketing platform for real state professionals.
While many people use Instagram for personal use, that is all that most people use it for.
However, it is time to start looking at Instagram a little bit differently.
It it time to begin taking it more serious.
It is time to begin using Instagram for real estate!
Getting to Know the Basics of Instagram
For those of you unfamiliar with Instagram let’s begin by talking a little bit about the platform and what makes it different.
Instagram was designed as a photo sharing social media platform. Unlike Facebook and Twitter which allow link posts, text posts, and a number of other forms of posts, on Instagram you are only able to share images and videos.
One uniqueness with Instagram is that posting must be done on a mobile device. As of September 2015 you are unable to post on the web version of Instagram, or use any third party posting tools such as Buffer, Edgar, or Sprout Social.
Note: You can still use Sprout Social for the reporting and analysis features it provides for Instagram.
There only a handful of things that you can do on Instagram. We will break down each of them below:
- Post a Picture. Just like with Facebook image posts you can have a caption for the photo, and unlike on Twitter you’re not limited to the number of characters you can use. Up until recently all photos posted on Instagram had to be cropped to a 1:1 aspect ratio (a square image) but that restriction has been removed and now you can post any aspect ratio photo. Photos can be uploaded from your camera library, or can be shot directly within Instagram.
- Post a Video. Instagram videos are limited to 15 seconds, and just like with photos they can either be uploaded from the library on your mobile device, or they can be shot live from within Instagram.
- Like a Post. This is the equivalent of liking a post on Facebook, or favoriting a post on Twitter. To “like” a post you can either click on the heart icon below the post image, or double tap on the image itself.
- Comment on a Post. This is very similar to most other social media platforms. To comment on a post just click on the comment bubble below the post image (next to the heart) and enter your comment. Instagram is a very interactive platform, so commenting on other users posts is one of the best ways to connect.
- Share a Post. There are currently three ways to share a post from within Instagram. If you click on the right facing arrow next to the heart and comment bubble under the post image you can send that post to another Instagram user. To share the post to Facebook or Twitter you can click on the three dots to the bottom right under the post image and then select either Facebook or Twitter from the menu.
- Send a Direct Message to Another Instagram User. Just like on Twitter you can send a direct message to anther Instagram user. To do so click on the inbox icon at the top right corner of your screen, select the user, and then select what type of message you would like to send them (text, image, or video). Unlike with Twitter, on Instagram you can send a direct message to a user who does not follow you. It will appear as a request in their inbox, but once accepted future messages you send them will go directly into their inbox.
Speaking the Language of Instagram
One of the most important things you can do on any social media platform is to learn the “native language” of the platfrom.
What do I mean by native language?
Each platform has it own unique look and feel, and a large portion of that is the way that people engage on the platform. This is what I mean by native language.
On Instagram, a large portion of the “native language” is the use of hashtags.
If you are unfamiliar with hashtags, they are just a word or phrase preceded by a #. For example: #realestateagent
Hashtags are one of the best ways to get your posts noticed on Instagram as they can help people who are not connected to you to see your posts.
How do they do that?
If you create a post on Instagram and as part of the caption, or as part of a comment you post (more on this below), you include the hashtag #realestateagent, anyone who searches for #realestateagent or “real estate agent” has the ability to see your post.
Instagram uses hashtags as a way of sorting content and making it easier for other users to navigate through the platform.
You can currently include up to 30 hashtags per post, and you can either post them as part of the caption or as part of a comment on your post.
Which is better…. putting hashtags in the caption or in a comment?
There really isn’t a right and wrong answer here. It comes down more to what you personally like better. Including the hashtags as part of the caption can make the caption a bit more crowded feeling, but it also makes the hashtags more noticeable. If you use specific hashtags that are unique to your brand that you want people to click on so that they can discover some of your other posts, putting hashtags in the caption may be a better option.
How to Use the Link in Your Instagram Bio
Every Instagram user has the ability to have a live link in their bio.
This is the only free way that Instagram currently supports moving traffic from your Instagram profile to an outside page, so it is important to choose a link to a page that will help Instagram users find what they are looking for.
What do I mean by that?
Let’s say that you post a picture of a new home you are listing. You did a great job capturing an amazing image, you wrote a good description for it, and hopefully you got your Instagram followers to want to see other photos of your this listing.
How can they do so?
They can go to the link in your bio and click through to your website.
You goal is then to make it as easy as possible for them to find what they are looking for, in this case more photos of that home. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to stick around on your website and look at other homes.
Sounds easy right? It is!
However, most people aren’t doing it correctly.
What do most real estate agents, and most Instagram users in any niche, do with this link? They point it to the home page of their website.
But you don’t want to do that. You don’t want to be just like everyone else.
You want this link to be more effective, and hopefully lead to making a connection with this person who has just reached your site.
So how can you use this link in a better way?
1) Change the Link to Fit Your Current Call to Action
Some real estate agents like to constantly change the link in their bio to a page featuring their most recent listing, and then they place a call to action in their posts such as, “Click the link in our bio to learn more about this home”. Personally I am not a fan of this because it can lead to users clicking on a link that is not what they think it is.
Let’s say that each week you post a new listing that you just received. The first time you use this method you put that call to action in the caption of the photo, and change the link in your bio to go to a page on your website that features your new listing. Anyone who sees that call to action and goes to your bio and clicks the link will be happy. You helped them to get to the page they wanted to get to.
However, the problem arises on week 2 when you post another new listing, with the same call to action, and you change the link to go to a page that features the second home. Anyone who follows the call to action in the post for home #2 will be happy. But when people who see the post for the home #1 read the call to action, and click on the link in the bio, they will be taken to a page featuring the second home rather than the first.
Even though you are trying to feature the most recent listing through that link, it can be confusing and disappointing for users who are new to your page.
This method does work, and is rather popular. However, I personally think you would be better off to use the same call to action in your posts, but make the link in your bio go to a page that features options for the user who has now made it to your website (we will talk about this more below).
2) Link to a Instagram About Page or Landing Page
Did you know that your About page is probably the second most visited page on your website? For most websites this is the case. It is important to have a very good about page. Once you have created that great about page, why not alter it slightly to create a second about page, this time focusing the wording and images towards your Instagram audience. By acknowledging that they came over from Instagram you will be able to make them feel a bit comfortable transitioning from Instagram to your website.
What should all be included on this page?
To start off with it should have a little bit about you, and how you can help them. I recommend using a version of your about page as it most likely already has this kind of content on it.
You also want to include some navigation for your Instagram audience.
This is where you can really connect your Instagram post to your website. In the scenario we talked about above, where you post pictures of new listings each week, you could have a section of this page that features all of your current listing, or at least a section that links to your current listings. You may even want to use some copy such as, “See more images of the listings we have shared on Instagram.”
You can also include links to anything else that you may commonly share to on Instagram. This could include bios on team members, information on upcoming open houses, saved home searches, and anything else you want to connect your Instagram audience to.
What Is Coming Up Next Week?
In addition to using the link in your bio, and driving organic traffic to it as a form of marketing, there is one more form or marketing available through Instagram.
What is it?
Just like on Facebook and Twitter, you do not need to use the paid advertising on Instagram to be successful on the platform. However it is another great option for getting your name out in front of more people, and driving more traffic to your website.
Next week we will talk about everything you need to know to begin advertising on Instagram. We will also talk about ways you can grow your Instagram following organically. See you next week!