Blog / Instagram for Real Estate Agents
Looking to master Instagram for real estate and improve your engagement?
Instagram for real estate is a powerful marketing tool, and active engagement with your followers is a key to success on the platform.
Starting from the beginning, here’s the complete guide to using Instagram to help grow your real estate business.
Table of Contents
1. Why Instagram Matters for Real Estate Agents
2. What Is Instagram Engagement?
2a. How to Measure Engagement
3. Instagram for Real Estate Account Setup
3a. Personal or Business Account
3b. Elements of a Good Instagram Bio
4. What Should You Post on Instagram for Real Estate?
5. How to Post
5a. Captions & Hashtags
6. What Not to Do on Instagram for Real Estate
7. Instagram Post Formats
8. How to Engage
9. Promote to Gain Followers
10. Use Analytics to Find Opportunities
Instagram for Realtors – Why It Matters
In a research done by the National Association of Realtors, social media was the tool cited as the best source for generating high quality leads among Realtors.
With over 1 billion people using Instagram every month, and very importantly, 81% of people using Instagram to research products and services, you know you need to engage with your people on your Instagram for real estate profile. Your gut tells you it’s important.
Instagram is where people go to share their experiences, keep up with their friends, and get inspired. It’s where people share with each other their thoughts, dreams, and emotions.
It’s where they go to research products and services, perhaps even a service like yours. It’s the place where they connect with their friends, or other people who are interesting. It’s where they keep tabs on their neighborhood.
Use Instagram to Build Relationships
As a real estate professional, your business is built on relationships. Your clients are people who know, like, and trust you. Most of your existing and future clients are using Instagram to engage with people they care about. So being active on Instagram is key to interacting with your clients. It’s where people hang out today.
Using Instagram for real estate means connecting with and engaging people on a personal level. It’s a place where you make friends and form relationships with people. It’s not an “advertising platform” where you blast out to the world, “I’m an agent, call me if you want to sell your home!”
No, Instagram for real estate agents is a place where you engage with people, helping them get to know, like, and trust you. Engagement is the key.
When you like and comment on other people’s posts it shows you care. When you respond to their comments on your posts, it shows you’re paying attention to them. It shows acknowledgement.
This sort of engagement causes people to start paying more attention to you. They start relating to you. They start to like you. They become much more likely to utilize your professional services.
Exactly what you want to grow your business – friendly and engaged people who feel like they already know and trust you.
That’s why Instagram engagement for real estate agents matters. It’s the long-haul work of making friends. More friends equals more business.
What Is Instagram Engagement for Real Estate Agents?
Engagement happens on Instagram when one of your followers likes, comments, shares, or saves your post. It’s how people communicate their reactions to your post. If people find your post interesting, they will show you their appreciation by commenting and liking it. It’s no different than when someone tells you they like your new outfit, it just happens around your post.
How to Measure Instagram Engagement
Engagement is measured by how many likes, comments, and saves your post receives from your followers. Your engagement rate is the percentage of your followers who engage with your post. When they share your post with others or direct message you, those are also measures of engagement.
Instagram shows likes and comments for each post. You can use those to calculate your engagement rate. For example, suppose you have 250 followers, and you post a sunrise photo you took while on your morning jog. If that post gets 9 likes and 2 comments you can add those together, divide by your followers and multiply by 100.
That’s 11 engagements among your 250 followers, or an engagement rate of 4.4%. In other words, 4.4% of your followers engaged with your post.
If you want to calculate your average Instagram engagement rate for real estate for say, your last 10 posts, you simply add up all your likes and comments for all 10 posts, then divide that total by 10, then divide that by your follower total and multiply by 100. Some posts will do better than others, but this gives you your average engagement rate for your last 10 posts.
What’s a good Instagram engagement rate for real estate? Most posts will get between 1 and 5 percent engagement. This may not sound like a lot however, look at what happens as you grow your list of followers.
For example, let’s say you have 2,000 followers and an average engagement rate of 2.5%. That means on average, every time you post, 50 people will send you a brief communication. That’s 50 people who engaged with you. Now that would be powerful.
There are no shortcuts. Posting quality content and building up followers takes time and effort. But as you can see, the benefits to your real estate business can be substantial.
Now let’s help you get those engagement rates up. We’ll start with your account setup.
Instagram for Real Estate Account Setup
Getting your account configured correctly is how you set yourself up for success when using Instagram for real estate marketing.
It’s no different than a home builder laying down a solid foundation before starting to frame up the walls and roof.
With Instagram, you have the choice between a personal or a professional/business account for your real estate business.
Should a Realtor Have a Personal or Business Account on Instagram?
As a real estate agent, go with a business account on Instagram. There are a number of reasons to go with the business account, but in a nutshell, it will give you the tools and features you need to create engagement for you and your business. With it, you can:
- post from a desktop computer
- look at post performance, showing you which posts have generated the most engagement in the past, giving you a better idea of what your followers are interested in
- run Instagram ads
- access Instagram insights, giving you a wealth of demographic and usage information about your followers
- add a contact button, giving people an easy way to get in touch with you
- link to your Facebook business page
- schedule your posts in advance
Create a good account username and name. On Instagram, the username field appears at the very top of your profile page, and the name field appears just below your photo.
These are critical when it comes to Instagram engagement for real estate, and for reaching new people, and that’s because these are the only searchable fields in Instagram.
Meaning that if someone goes into the search bar on Instagram and searches for a specific word, the only things that Instagram will search are the username and the name.
You definitely want your profile to appear in search results when someone is searching either for you by name or searching for a real estate agent in the city you serve.
To make this happen, somewhere within these two fields (the username and the name), you want to include your name (the name you’re known by, wither it’s your full name or a nickname) and the city you serve.
If you’ve already created an account on Instagram for real estate, think seriously before you change your username. You will in essence delete the entire history that went along with the old name.
If your current username is something like “Movetomiami,” that’s ok. Just add your name to the name field.
Elements of a Good Instagram Bio for Real Estate
Complete your bio. Your bio should be concise (there’s a 150-character limit) and powerful. It can be impactful by conveying what you stand for and what that means to a consumer.
Saying you’ve “been in real estate for 16 years” is not powerful. Let your brand personality shine through on Instagram for real estate. Let people know you volunteer at the school, and that you help people with their real estate needs in your area. Be a person. Give people a reason to like you.
They won’t like you because you’ve been in real estate for 16 years, they’ll like you because they can relate to you because you raise St. Bernard puppies, or have a passion for mid-century modern architecture. Give them things to relate to. And sprinkle your bio lightly with emojis.
Be sure to use an up-to-date bio picture. Don’t use an old one just because you think you don’t look good in other photos. The last thing you want is for a potential client to be shocked by how different you look in person.
Include a link to your website in your bio. This is the only place Instagram allows a link. Consider using a URL shortener such as Bitly so you use fewer characters, and you can track the clicks to your website.
Take advantage of the phone and email fields so you don’t need to take up characters in the bio with those. Make it easy for people to contact you.
Use Instagram Story Highlights to Help People Learn More About You and Your Business
Story highlights are the little bubbles that live below your bio and above your main feed, and allow you to bundle select Instagram Stories into categories. They can be a great way to use Instagram for real estate marketing.
If you did some Stories around your volunteer work at the school, bundle them into a highlight. Ideas for Instagram Story highlights for a real estate agent are:
- About Me
- Past Listings
In addition, you could segment your Stories by neighborhood or type of home sold such as:
If you have Stories about local restaurants, create a highlight category. Instagram Stories are powerful for real estate agents, and so are highlights.
What Should You Post on Instagram for Real Estate?
A well-defined strategy will not only lead to more success on Instagram, but save you a ton of time. Follow these simple rules for success:
Be Authentic and Relatable
People want to follow and engage on Instagram with real estate agents who are authentic and real. People like and trust other people they can relate to.
This means being yourself and letting your personal brand shine through. People appreciate honesty and integrity, so don’t be afraid of showing both your wins and losses. Being yourself means showing in your posts what interests you, and how you care about the people in your community.
If you’re an avid golfer for instance, show posts of you out on the course. Or posts of you playing at the local charity golf event. People will relate to you as a fellow golfer and when they do, they are far more likely to engage with you.
Partner with Local Businesses
Partnering with local businesses and organizations is a great way to be authentic. For example, you could sit down and talk with a new cafe owner in the area, finding out what type of food she serves, how she got started as a restaurateur, information about her family, and what causes she supports in the community. And of course, order a yummy-looking dish from her for the foodie shot along with the selfie with her.
Doing this shows you giving authentic support to the success of local businesses. People love that sort of thing. You got to give to get. Again, Instagram engagement for real estate can come from talking about and supporting others, not just yourself.
You could do the same thing with your city’s business development manager – they usually have cool stories about what they’re doing to enhance the city and create jobs. Or go talk with the school principal who increased the graduation rate 10% this year and find out how they did it.
Be a Storyteller
People need stories about you and their community to make authentic connections. Stories make you relatable.
That can be the story of how you became an agent, how you met your spouse, or the interesting history of a neighborhood you serve.
How to Share Your Real Estate Listings on Instagram
Remember, Instagram for real estate shouldn’t just be about real estate. Yes, you can have a category for your listings, but those should be fairly limited in number, and each one should have a story, such as how you found a house with full wheelchair access for a wounded veteran – again, something that people can relate to, and gently remind them that you’re a trustworthy agent.
People won’t relate to a standard 3-bed, 2-bath rambler in need of a new roof and weak curb appeal – it just isn’t very interesting.
Remember, the goal is to build engagement with prospects and clients, not pound out all your listings – that’s what your IDX real estate web site is for among other things.
Create Topical Content
People are naturally drawn to topical content. If there’s already buzz around a current event or holiday, try to add value and be part of it.
Local events can make a lot of sense—the state or county fair, a recent flood, big power outage or damaging hailstorm. Instagram engagement for real estate means being in touch with what others are already talking about.
Did the hailstorm damage a lot of roofs in your market? You could offer helpful resources to homeowners to repair their damage.
Perhaps a local athlete just got a full ride college scholarship or qualified for the Olympics. Maybe they were a friend of your son or daughter and you remember when they had sleepovers together.
These make terrific topical human-interest stories.
If the zoning laws just changed in your area, go out and tell stories about what it means to the community from a real estate perspective.
Consider sitting down with the mayor or other representative to talk about what the zoning changes mean from their perspective – subtly making you an authority on the subject and showing your market expertise.
Post Meaningful Content
Making posts meaningful means giving them context. There is nothing wrong with posting just a photo and a few hashtags, after all they say a picture is worth a thousand words. But you can make your Instagram posts for real estate much more engaging by writing great captions.
Captions are where you can express your thoughts about the image you posted, giving them context.
Let’s say you visited a new pizzeria in town. You could simply say, “Nice new place with good food and service.” Or you could describe it in more detail, discussing what made it special for you.
For example, you could tell the story of how you ended up chatting and connecting with the waiter and he ended up giving you a bowl of artichoke dip for free.
Or describe the unique artwork they had on display that reminded you of your favorite artist, or how you loved the jazz music they played, or how it was a true neighborhood joint with charming locals.
Perhaps the owner has a unique immigration story you could relate to. Perhaps they support a neighborhood cause and how you’re looking into participating. Let people relate to you and the place.
For another example, let’s say you took a nice sunset photo from the park trail where you run. This is a great opportunity to talk about why you run. How running makes you feel. Did you take your dog with you on the run? If so, how far can your dog run? Do you have a running partner who motivates you? If you have that motivation partner you could talk about the importance of partnerships to accomplish goals. Speaking of goals, if running is helping you achieve a goal, what is it? Let people see you on the inside. They will really relate to that.
Provide Context in Your Posts
As a last example of what you should post to grow your Instagram engagement for real estate, let’s say you’re posting a picture of yourself and your family at the state fair. You could simply say you had a great time, but you can give this far stronger context.
Maybe tell the story about how your parents took you to the fair every year and how you loved the rides just like your kids do today. Or how you raised blue ribbon rabbits at the fair as a kid.
Of course a fair has endless things to share – the performers, the carnies, the animals, the food, the colorful visitors, the exhibits. Share your thoughts on any of these. Let your people see and hear your thoughts. Do you know how to juggle? If you do and you can capture a video of the juggler at the fair, then you can talk about how you learned to juggle and how hard it was to learn, but you did it.
It’s all about finding personal connections to the things you see and expressing yourself. In the media business they call it a “human interest story.” In other words, make it interesting for your followers.
Share a Behind-the-Scenes Look
People love behind the scenes stories. That’s why home renovation shows are so popular. And you can create the same kind of engaging behind-the-scenes intrigue with Instagram for real estate.
For example, the next time you have a photographer taking images of your listing, take a photo from behind or to the side of the photographer showing him and his tripod (be sure to get his permission).
Then talk about how you always use a professional photographer because they always capture the best lighting and can convey what the house really feels like. It’s a great way to use Instagram for real estate marketing.
Don’t talk about this listing in this post, it’s about how you were out there working with the photographer today. It’s a nice subtle way to “prove” you’re a smart and hard-working real estate agent.
Did you just buy a standup desk for your workspace? Post a photo of it and talk about why you purchased it. Does it help your back? Does it save you time by not having to walk after work? Does the motion help you concentrate?
Remember, Instagram engagement for real estate doesn’t come just from talking about business. Make it about you, not so much the mechanics of the standup desk or what it cost. People will want to know why you tried it. Encourage engagement by asking them if they think you’re crazy or if it would help them.
Perhaps you’re attending a training session about real estate, or a briefing on current market conditions. Snap a selfie with the session in the background or ask someone to take it showing you looking attentive, and then talk about what you’re learning.
For example, “Got my mocha latte with no whip from @Scottie’s_Java on the way here, and we’re getting briefed on the latest market data that just came out today – boy, the condo market is still tight. I love getting this update every week.”
Try and be chill about putting a call to action in here, such as “Call me if you would like me to brief you on market conditions,” remember this is a behind-the-scenes post. They will DM or call if they want it.
People are more interested in seeing that you’re a consummate professional who is always learning. And that you prefer mocha lattes with no whip.
Run a Contest
Contests can be fun and a fantastic way to get people to engage.
One way to think about contests is to get users to submit their own content. For example, every December Starbucks runs their #RedCupContest, which asks followers to submit creative photos of Starbucks’ famous red Christmas cup.
There are a number of ways to localize a fun contest to engage your followers using Instagram for real estate. The key is to keep it simple and easy for everyone.
For example, if you’re a dog lover, you could post an adorable picture or video of your dog, and then ask your followers to post pictures or videos of their pet.
Let them know that you support the local pet supply store (tag the store in your post) and that the first three people who reply with images of their pet will get a $25 coupon to the store, and that it’ll be matched with a $25 donation to a local animal shelter (tag them as well).
You can use any dollar amount you want, but by including the Instagram handles of both the pet store and shelter, they will be sharing this post (DM them so they know about it for sure) with all of their followers, giving your contest and your profile much wider exposure. And your post will get a lot of engagement.
Perhaps you regularly send a newsletter to your database. You could do a contest posting a nice local Christmas lights image, and then asking your followers to submit images of their lights and tell them you’ll feature the best one in your local newsletter. The winner will be determined by whichever image shared in the comments gets the most likes.
If you don’t send out a newsletter, perhaps you could say the winner will have a $50 donation made to Coats for Kids in their name. All the submissions and votes will be a lot of engagement.
One way to grow your followers is to have a contest where they have to tag a friend to enter. Their friend will see that and come to your post to see what it’s all about. This will drive new people to you and some of them will start following you.
Of course, make sure that your local rules allow you to use contests as a way to grow Instagram engagement for your real estate business.
Create Savable Content
When people save your post, it tells Instagram that your content is valuable and should be shown to more people. It’s a powerful form of interaction.
Usually, people won’t save a typical post such as a behind-the-scenes or contest, but they will save content that they consider a resource. The key is to make the content a true resource people will want to keep for reference later.
There are two places in a post where you can provide the content. Either in the image or in the caption text. Be mindful that text in the image is fairly limited, so don’t try and cram a big bullet list of resources into the image because nobody will be able to read it. Instead, use the image to set mood and perhaps provide a headline. Let’s look at some examples.
Every mom would like to have a big list of local events they can take their kids to this summer. In this case you could have a picture of the local water park with an overlayed headline, “Summer Events & Places for Kids.” Then in the caption text create a comprehensive list of all the events.
For each item provide useful information such as if something requires reservations, or the price of each, such as, $5 Admission, or Free. This way mom can plan for both time and budget. Moms will save this post.
People always want to know the latest in the local real estate market, and of course that’s ideal when you’re creating content on Instagram for real estate. You could post an image showing a local landmark with spring flowers, such as the town square overlaid with the headline, “Spring Market Report.”
The caption text could then be a list of key market metrics such as median sales price and change, days on market and change, etc. This is also a fantastic way to showcase your expertise by adding your commentary on the market, such as, “While single-family home prices are up 6%, we continue to see a condo shortage downtown which has driven their prices up 14% and I expect this to continue into the fall.”
Or “We’re finally seeing fewer multiple offers and contingencies are coming back with buyers wanting inspections, which is good.”
There, you just gave all your followers a market report and many of them will save it. This is you providing good value.
Sometimes, your city will have a lot of road construction happening that might cause closures and congestion. Usually, they’ll provide a calendar of these ahead of time. An image of your local road, highway, overpass or whatever people might recognize with the headline, “Avoiding Road Closures This Summer” should get their attention.
The caption text can provide all the details. Try to organize to make it easy to read, such as ranking them by date. Each bullet could be something like, “5/17-5/26 Highway 16 will be down to one lane for paving, expect very long backups” should do the trick.
Anyone who commutes or needs to run errands i.e., everyone, will want to save this.
Collaborate with Others
A great way to reach and gain new followers and build up your Instagram engagement levels for real estate at the same time is to collaborate with other people who have followers. It helps if you have mutual interests with the other person, because that will help ensure your two audiences are compatible.
In the collaboration, each person exposes and promotes the other person to their followers. There are a gazillion ways to do this so be creative.
For example, if you’re really into food you might find a terrific restaurant in town. It’s not uncommon for a popular establishment to have three or four thousand passionate followers.
You could partner with one and agree to review and discuss one of their signature dishes. You could go there and sit down with the chef or owner and capture video of the two of you talking about the ins and outs of that particular dish.
Things like what local farm grew the herbs used, what sorts of spices, how it was cooked, etc. The two of you could talk about each of your favorite ingredients, flavors, etc.
It would be a two-way discussion, with both of you relating to the other. You might agree to do this once a week for 6 weeks. This benefits both you and your Instagram for real estate, as well as the business owner.
You would both post these on your Instagram feed, tagging each other, and using each other’s hashtags. This is a great way to reach several thousand local people who share a passion of yours. You’ll both gain engagement and followers.
Another mutual interest could involve collaborating on Instagram with someone else in the real estate industry. Mortgage brokers would be a good example.
You and a mortgage broker could put together a shareable and savable market report once a month or quarter where the two of you talk on video about current market conditions, both on the finance side and on the transaction side. Perfect content to post on Instagram for real estate!
You would both post the video and the market report to your Instagram feed, including tagging and hashtagging each other. Create great content for both of your Instagram audiences and they will engage with both of you. Similarly, it’s a nice way to show your market expertise.
Perhaps there’s small group of local artists you could approach where, like the restaurant example above, you go to their studio and capture video of discussions with them where you talk about and showcase their art.
If there are, say, 6 artists in a studio you could make it a 6-part series over 6 weeks. You could post and promote each artist individually. People will engage with this in support of their local artists.
Feeling philanthropic? Go find one or a few people or organizations in your community who feel the same way.
Consider having everyone chip in a few bucks to buy meals from a local eatery and take them to a local charity or fire station. Everyone likes to support charities and first responders.
Then have everyone involved cross promote and post about it. Remember to give everyone involved the handles and hashtags of everyone else. Great way to show your support in the community.
As we said at the beginning of this section, there are many ways to collaborate with others. It just takes a bit of creativity. Remember, it’s a great way gain relevant followers and generate engagement.
Make It Fun!
This isn’t rocket science. People like to have fun. Using Instagram for real estate marketing can be a great way to show off your sense of humor. Just keep it “near” your brand.
In other words, if you have a bit of dry humor in you, go ahead and use dry humor.
If you like taking pictures of your dog doing silly things, do that. But if your brand is more “serious” or “luxury,” humor might not fit in.
Sometimes we see people posting political humor. That’s OK, just know it can be very divisive – some people will love it and some will hate it.
Be funny carefully – stay away from poking fun at tragedies or other people’s dumb actions. What you think is funny might be taken the wrong way by many. Keep it light and you should be fine. Now let’s get to the fun.
AR filters are an excellent way to grab attention and create Instagram engagement for your real estate profile.
It’s your dog’s birthday? Use an AR filter to put him in a birthday hat.
For a behind-the-scenes post, if your team is having a barbeque, us an AR filter to put everyone in a costume or put crowns on their heads. Did a support person go above and beyond? Put a championship trophy in their hands.
AR filters are a great way to grab attention and engagement by upping the emotional appeal of your posts.
Animated GIFs tend to be shared more than pictures.
Imagine your cat or little baby “saying” something funny. Or a sort of time-lapse of you eating the delicious-looking slice of pie at the café while it “vanishes” bit by bit.
You can create an animated GIF outside of Instagram, or Instagram’s version is called Boomerang.
Instagram partnered with GIPHY to create a library of high-quality GIFs for Instagram Stories. You can add fun GIF stickers to any photo or video in your Story.
Imagine creating your own animated neighborhood logo or image to put into your content. Or a blinking “Restaurant Week” image to use when you highlight local eateries.
Generating Instagram engagement for real estate doesn’t always have to be fancy or technical. It can be as simple as:
- you and your team in your Halloween costumes
- you at the lake with your wet dog shaking off the water all over you
- a video of you trying on funny hats at the novelty store
- you and the kids having a water-gun fight
People love genuine humor. Most of all, be yourself, live your brand.
Share Data and Information
A great way to establish your authority as a real estate agent and trust is to share relevant data and information with your followers.
There’s all sorts of data out there that you can use while using Instagram for real estate marketing. It doesn’t have to all be directly about houses and their prices.
It can be about employment trends in the area, population trends, etc. The nice thing about these is that you can relate them back to real estate. Let’s look at some examples.
Perhaps zoning laws have recently changed in your area. If so, the city has likely published estimates of how this will impact employment or population. You can create a post using this data and provide insights on what this means to your followers.
The U.S. Census publishes average commute times by city. Since commute time is a key part of the home-buying decision-making process, you might chart your city versus some other nearby cities. Of course, you’ll have to decide if this data looks good or bad for you.
Hopefully, your commute times will be shorter than some surrounding areas so you can entice people to move to your Shangri-La. Your followers will be very interested in this information.
The U.S. Census publishes housing information giving you access to a wide variety of information, including trends. Things such as:
- type of heating used
- number of bedrooms
- percentage that are renter-occupied
- percentage of homes with a mortgage
You get the idea. These are national figures, and you should consider them “human interest stories” and not “market reports.”
Often real estate agents will say, “But they’re not local, so they don’t make sense.” Respectfully, not true. What you share on Instagram for real estate doesn’t have to be limited to just your market.
People are interested in whether home sizes or number of bedrooms are increasing, or what the number-one fuel source is to heat a home. Get their attention and then showcase your expertise by relating the information to your market.
For example, “On a national level, 48% of homes are heated with utility-provided natural gas, but our utility has a smaller footprint and is about 30% of homes.”
People like to know how their town compares. It’s a great way to use Instagram to showcase your knowledge as a real estate agent in an engaging way.
Post Photos of People
Whenever it makes sense, post photos of people. Yes, that beautiful flower bed looks fantastic, but you’ll get more attention and engagement if there’s also a person’s face along with it. And YOUR face will likely generate the most Instagram engagement for your real estate business!
Need proof? Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs did an academic case study of 1 million Instagram images and found that that photos with faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments.
Marketers understand this well because it continually proves out in their A/B testing. Therefore, you see people and faces in nearly every TV commercial. They don’t show you just the furniture, they show people sitting in the chairs. It’s far more powerful.
Now take a few minutes and open your web browser on your desktop (not your phone), go to Instagram, and scroll the feeds of a few people who have followers. You will quickly notice that the Instagram posts with faces tend to get the most likes, shares, and comments. People and faces boost engagement. They call it social media after all.
So if you want to increase engagement on your real estate Instagram profile, make sure your face appears in at least every 9-10 posts.
Try Themes for Your Feed
Themes are a way to take your game up a notch and give your feed a more polished and thoughtful look. It’s also a way to have your feed better match your brand’s look. The more deliberate your feed, the more engagement it will get from your followers.
The real estate agents with the most engagement on Instagram tend to have a consistent look. Randomness tends to throw people off, and it doesn’t support your brand.
There are a million creative ways to be consistent with Instagram for real estate. For example, if your personal brand uses sky blue as a primary color in your print materials, your logo, the masthead on your electronic newsletter, and your website, you might want to use a thin sky blue border on your Instagram images. It helps tie it all together.
As a local real estate agent, you might develop a theme around images of local businesses and organizations. This is a great way to show you’re all about your local area.
Check out this list of 22 themes for inspiration. While several of these may not make sense for a real estate agent, just take a scan for ideas and get a better feel for how a theme really takes your posts to the next level.
Don’t Ask for Anything
It’s oh-so-tempting as a real estate agent to try and ask for the order, to overtly tell people you’re ready to help them find their dream home.
Yes, you’re on Instagram for your real estate business, but remember – Instagram is about building relationships. Helping people get to know, like and trust you.
Think for a moment, would you go to the neighborhood block party or your kid’s basketball game and run around to 15 people asking if they’re ready to sell their home? Of course not.
When you build engaged relationships on Instagram, people will figure out you’re a real estate agent and will let you know when the time is right. Stay cool and build relationships. You’re in this for the long haul!
Share User-Generated Content
Don’t be afraid to share other people’s content when it aligns with your brand. It’s a great way to participate in your community and engage with others.
Let’s say you frequently post about what’s happening in your community. And let’s say a local arts group announces on Instagram that they’re putting on a workshop for aspiring artists. This would be a perfect time to like their post, share it, and comment on it.
When you do, it shows that you’re paying attention to others, that you’re not just using Instagram for real estate topics, that you genuinely care about your community, and your followers will appreciate the information.
(One important caveat – Never share an image from someone else’s Instagram feed without crediting them or asking for permission.)
You can also leverage user-generated content.
When there’s a holiday or local event in your area, you might ask your followers to submit posts of their own favorite images from the event (think county fair, arts festival, 4th of July parade, etc.) using a hashtag you’ve created for the event. Then, you can review and comment on all the event images. You can even ask your followers to vote for their favorite.
This is a fun way to involve all your followers and get them engaging with you.
Partner with Local Businesses
As a real estate agent, you’re a big part of your local business community. And other local businesses in your area appreciate your support.
Most will have a promotional offer they can provide for you to share on Instagram if they think it will help them get exposure and traffic.
These are usually simple and fun. Things like a free scone at the coffee shop, or a free rose at the florist, or 50% off of some item.
You could create a hashtag for your followers to use such as “#LoveTownNameCoffee” (where TownName is the name of your town) and let them know that if they post something nice and creative about the coffee shop (think selfie while eating a scone in the shop) and show it on their phone with the hashtag they get a free cup of coffee. And of course, you’ll share their post.
There’s no way after someone does this activity, that they won’t know and like you. It’s both virtual and physical engagement. You could do it with several shops in the area all at once.
How to Post
Simply throwing up a photo isn’t all it takes for a good Instagram post. There are several components to consider.
Add Location to Your Posts
Location on Instagram for real estate matters a LOT – it allows relevant people to find you and it helps showcase your local market expertise.
Instagram is a global platform with over 1 billion monthly users. If you don’t add location to your posts, you’ll attract people from all over the world, which might increase your follower count but will do nothing to grow your business.
In fact, it will actually decrease your engagement levels – the exact opposite of your goal.
There are two ways to add location to your posts:
First is by clicking “add location” when creating a post. When you do this, it tells other users where you are, and very importantly, your post image will come up when other people search that same location. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Let’s say you have lunch at your favorite neighborhood pizza parlor and you take a photo and post it along with a nice review of your lunch. If it’s you and a real estate client having lunch, even better.
If you add the location to your post, now whenever someone searches for that particular pizza parlor, your photo will appear and some of those users will click on it and learn more about you.
Some of those might even start following you, which is great, since they are interested in something you’re interested in.
It doesn’t have to be a place to eat either. It could be any number of places in your area:
- the beach
- tennis club
- county fair
- community pool
- river walkway
- children’s playground
- dog park
- historical district
Basically, anywhere people might want to visit. When you’re at one of these locations, perhaps the historical district walks, take a picture and add the location to your post. When people search for those walks, your picture will be in the results they see. It’s a great way to use Instagram to get exposure and show you’re a local real estate agent.
You might consider taking some time around town to generate a number of these. Why limit yourself to one location? Why not 25 or 50? The more you have, the more exposure you will receive.
Second, you can use hashtags to identify the location. Hashtags are great because they give you additional flexibility. Let’s go back to the pizza parlor example.
You could add several relevant hashtags to your post (we’ll cover hashtags in more detail later in this post) such as, the hashtag that pizza parlor uses, plus something like #BestLakeNamePizza, #NumberOnePizzaInYourTown, etc. Whatever you can think of that people might search for.
When they search, posts with searches matching the hashtags in your post will put your post in the search results. By using relevant Instagram hashtags, you will gain much wider exposure for your real estate business and attract engaged people.
Instagram captions are the text you write along with your photos and videos, and they are critical to building engagement with your followers.
Captions enable you to give context to your images, impart your personality and expertise, and encourage people to engage and act. There are several components to captions, including the text of the caption, calls to action, emojis, and hashtags. Let’s take a look at each.
Always caption your images on Instagram for real estate. Your text is where you give context to the images and impart your thoughts and emotions.
Don’t underestimate the power of captions to generate likes and comments. Think of it this way, it’s what you’re saying to the other person as if you were sitting together having a conversation.
Use the text to tell your story. Give it meaning and emotion.
If you captured a great sunset, what brought you to that place that day? Were you celebrating a special occasion? What were you thinking as the sun went down – grateful, worried, happy, relieved?
How about that selfie you took at the cafe where you and your client were enjoying a couple slices of killer apple pie? What is the back story to the coffee shop? How often do you get together with your real estate clients? Is there an insightful or entertaining story about the transaction(s) you have had with this client?
Be authentic and real. You can be as funny, clever, or artistic as you want, if it fits with your brand. Captions can be up to 2,200 characters which gives you plenty of space to tell your story.
Longer captions drive more engagement, especially comments. Longer captions garner more likes and comments than shorter captions. Numerous marketers have found longer captions work better for Instagram engagement including for real estate, likely because they can be more expressive and ask questions.
Hootsuite is a publishing tool for posting on Instagram and other social networks and they did a test of long vs. short captions. They posted the same images – one with a short caption and one with a long caption. The long captions were the clear winner. In fact, one of the long captions earned 50 extra likes and 20 extra comments vs. the short version.
Calls to Action
If you want more engagement when using Instagram for real estate, you literally have to tell your followers what you want them to do. This happens when you include strong calls to action in your Instagram captions whenever possible.
You might be asking someone to:
- consider making a charitable donation
- register for one of your real estate webinars for new home buyers
- vote for their favorite thing (not political, rather pie, cake, or ice cream)
- enter one of your contests, or
- share their own favorite pictures
You can ask them to act right in the caption text.
Another favorite is asking people to leave a comment to fill in the blank such as
- “If I could travel anywhere in the world right now, I would visit ______” or
- “If I could choose between winning a new wardrobe, a world vacation, or five free Starbucks coffees a week for 10 years, I’d choose ______.”
Have fun with it and be creative. There are a gazillion possibilities. Remember, every action they take is engagement.
For relevant posts, ask your followers to share and tag a friend who they think might want to participate in your event, or read your post, or save your resource guide, or participate in some other way. This is a great way to reach friends of followers.
You can also edit a call-to-action text overlay on the image you upload. Just remember to keep the text in the image very concise and clean. One way to do this is to make a quite simple overlay in the image and then give more details in the caption. But whatever you do, try to include a call to action because this encourages engagement on Instagram.
In addition, all of Instagram’s ad formats offer a call-to-action button that followers can click on to take them to your website. This is a great way to move people to your website and brand environment.
Emojis are a fantastic way to embed more emotion into your posts. They are like “emotional shorthand.” The more emotion your posts express and solicit, the more engagement you’ll get – it’s just that simple. Use them appropriately. They are a great communication tool.
Instagram hashtags are key to growing engagement on Instagram for real estate agents – because they help get your content shown to more people, and that makes for more people who are likely to engage.
Hashtags are also key to reaching the right audience – meaning people most interested in using your services.
When you post something without including any hashtags at all Instagram won’t show your posts to anyone new.
You want to use up to 30 relevant ones – that means ones that are specifically related to your business, and ones your ideal customer is likely to be searching for.
When you post on Instagram for your real estate business, don’t just throw dozens of hashtags in and hope for the best, you need a strategy. And that starts by doing a little research and creating lists of the most effective hashtags you can use for your business.
A great place to start is by taking a look at other agents in your area who are generating a lot of engagement on Instagram. What hashtags are they using?
The next, step is to begin researching hashtags.
To do this, go into the search box on Instagram and begin searching hashtags using the city and neighborhood names you serve. If you’re in Atlanta for example, you want to search things like #AtlantaRealEstate” “#AtlantaRealtor” “#AtlantaHomes” etc.
Remember that you want to be using hashtags that your ideal client will be searching for, NOT ones that speak to you or your expertise. By that we mean ones like #TopAgent or #ISellHouses.
And we hate to break it to you, but no one is searching #Realtor to find an agent near them, so stop using that one.
When you’re doing your research for local hashtags, you want to pay close attention to the number of posts that have used that specific hashtag. Try to have the majority of the hashtags you use fall within 1,000 to 100,000 uses.
Fewer than 1,000 and not many people will see it. More than 100,000 and your content will get lost in a sea of other posts using that same hashtag.
Once you’ve come up with lists of hashtags for your Instagram for real estate posts, simply save them to your computer and/or phone and easily add them to your posts. Try to mix them up a bit and not always use the same hashtags on every post.
Now let’s talk about what real estate terms people search for on Instagram and the “long tail.”
When crafting your hashtags, think about how you would search. We all typically search with what are known as long-tail keywords, which are more specific than “head” keywords.
On the graph above, head keywords are common keyword terms such as “home,” and “land.” Generally, people don’t search for those terms by themselves because the search results aren’t very relevant.
Instead, people use long-tail keywords. For example, instead of, “beach house” they might search, “bungalow beach house in Laguna.” So, a long-tail hashtag such as, “#BungalowBeachHouseLaguna” would attract people looking to see bungalows in Laguna Beach.
Always think about how a person would search and match that. Also, people don’t search for the real estate jargon such as, “top producer,” “certified negotiator,” “CMA,” or “FSBO,” etc. Don’t use those on Instagram for real estate marketing as they only make you look out of touch.
When you’re creating long tail hashtags, and you should definitely be doing this, it may become tempting to put in a LOT of combinations. You’re allowed up to 30 hashtags per post, but if you include many that are irrelevant to the post, the Instagram algorithm might think you’re spamming for engagement, which can get you shadowbanned.
Being shadowbanned means Instagram will start showing your post to fewer people because they think it’s not relevant to other users. They won’t tell you they’re doing this; you’ll just start seeing fewer likes and comments.
The best way to avoid this is to be thoughtful about your keywords and not try to be too greedy. Generally, a handful of relevant hashtags should work well.
Consider creating your own branded Instagram hashtag for your real estate business.
For example, you might have already created your own brand such as, “Dave Sells Portland,” or “Black Oak Realty.” Simply turn these into hashtags and start using them in all of your Instagram posts that are relevant to your real estate business.
The advantage of this is that for people who already know your brand, it makes it super easy to find you on Instagram. And since they already know you, they’ll likely be good, engaged followers.
Likewise, when you post about other businesses (like a local bakery or café for example), include their branded hashtags in your post so they’ll see it and hopefully share it with their own followers.
Holidays are a terrific opportunity for telling your story and helping your Instagram followers get to know you better, outside of just being a real estate agent.
For example, at Thanksgiving, you can post about your holiday plans, the new recipe you’re trying out, your trip to Grandma’s, how you and your team are doing a holiday food drive, your favorite Thanksgiving memories from childhood, front porch décor ideas, reflections on gratitude, why homes still sell during the holidays, local Thanksgiving events, and many more.
With these posts you should include hashtags such as:
Hashtag holiday can also be a fun way to engage your followers on Instagram instead of just talking about real estate. There are literally hundreds of these you can use for inspiration on what to post.
They tend to get a bit more attention than a typical post because people want to hear your thoughts on the topic.
You could post a few trivia question posts for National Trivia Day which would generate lots of engaging comments. Tag your local ice cream parlor and ask followers to share their favorite on #IceCreamDay.
Ask your followers to post their own pet’s picture and include your branded hashtag so you can see it and comment on it – a great way to expand your reach.
What if when you started using Instagram for your real estate business you either didn’t use hashtags or the ones you did use were not so relevant and powerful? No worries. You can simply clean up old ones and add relevant new ones by editing your caption.
You can also add hashtags to a comment, so simply comment on your post with the new hashtags (although this will not eliminate poor hashtags from the original caption). Like the caption, you can have up to 30 hashtags in a comment.
What NOT to Do on Instagram for Real Estate
Just as important as what you should do on Instagram for your real estate business is what you should not do. Here are four big ones
1. Do NOT buy likes or followers.
Always ask yourself, “Would I do this in the real world?” “Would I go to a wedding and try to pay people to like my posts and follow me?”
No. That would be awkward at best.
But more importantly, your whole goal is to build up followers who know, like and trust you, and you do that by attracting and engaging people.
When you buy likes, they are going to come from “like farms” from faraway places.
Heck, they might even be bots and not humans at all. Instagram will sus out that your post got 200 likes from one of these sources and not only show fewer of your posts, but potentially ban you from Instagram.
It’s similar if you buy followers, except that those followers will never engage with your posts (driving down your engagement rate) and, again, are likely from a faraway place (think Russia, Morocco, Indonesia, etc.).
There is no upside to buying likes or followers, only large downside. Don’t do it.
2. Don’t cause follower fatigue.
We know, you’re excited about real estate and your brand. It’s totally OK to show that enthusiasm but shouting it from the proverbial rooftops on every Instagram post is exhausting to your followers.
If you try and make every caption loaded with nothing but urgency, your followers will become numb and stop listening and engaging, exactly what you didn’t want to happen. Keep calm and carry on.
3. Don’t edit your post’s caption or location tag for 24 hours after posting it.
When you edit your post, the Instagram algorithm resets your likes and comments for that post, essentially putting your ranking power back to zero.
Since most of your engagement will occur in the first one to 24 hours after posting, the algorithm will be ignoring most of your engagement. You’re likely better off letting your typo slide for awhile rather than killing the post’s exposure.
Of course, you might need to make that edit if there’s something offensive or egregious in your post, but that’s your call.
4. Don’t delete and repost your post.
For the same reasons above. Your post will lose all its momentum. It’s a good reason to “measure twice and cut once” when you’re crafting your original post, so you don’t give yourself a reason to go back and re-do it. Be in the habit of proofreading before posting to Instagram for your real estate business.
Instagram Post Formats
Instagram favors posts that generate engagement from users (and of course you want it for your posts too!) Therefore, it’s important to utilize multiple formats to add variety.
Some of your video posts will appeal to followers who prefer to engage more with videos than pictures.
Other picture posts will be preferred by other followers.
To maximize your engagement from all your followers, you’ll want to mix up your posts with both videos and images.
Buffer has a good recap of how the Instagram algorithm works.
Use Multiple Video Formats
Instagram Stories are terrific for real estate for several reasons, but one is that you can combine videos and still photos in your Stories post.
The combination of both will help your followers find something they want to engage with. You can also do Stories live or pre-recorded. You should also do some posts as videos and others as photos depending on the content.
If you’re feeling a bit more creative, Instagram Reels gives you several options to take your video game up a notch when posting to Instagram for real estate. You can use several editing features, plus the Instagram music library – you’ll be surprised by how much more engaging a video of a real estate listing walkthrough can be when set to music!
Choose whichever format makes the most sense for what you’re posting about and try to mix it up from time to time. The variety will help with engagement.
Carousels Deepen the Experience
Carousels let your followers swipe across for additional videos or images. You should think of that swiping as yet another form of engagement. It means that your content was interesting enough that they wanted a little more.
You can be creative with carousels as well. How about a serious of photos that provide a time lapse of something like a storm rolling in. They also are a terrific format for promoting your real estate listings with images of the house.
There’s also a hidden bonus that comes with carousel posts that makes them twice as engaging as a typical post. Because Instagram shows them to people more than once.
They’ll start by showing a follower the first image in the carousel. If that person doesn’t engage with it, Instagram will show them another image from the same carousel the next time they log on.
Enabling your post to be seen over and over without having to do any extra work.
Use Instagram Live Stories
Instagram Live lets you broadcast video to your followers in real-time as part of Instagram Stories. And going Live on Instagram tends to get a lot of engagement.
There’s an important reason for this. Your followers are automatically notified when you go live. Let that sink in.
Suppose you have 3,000 followers and you do a live Story. All 3,000 people get notified. That’s powerful. Instagram Live is a terrific format for real estate agents – you can do a quick walkthrough one of your listings, talking about some of the house and neighborhood features.
Walking through the local farmer’s market is another great place to do a live Story and show your followers what’s going on in the area.
Use Instagram Story Stickers
Instagram Stories, which are super popular with 500 million daily users, allow you to insert interactive stickers into your post, making it simple for people to engage with you. There are a variety of Story sticker formats:
- Quiz Sticker This is one of Instagram’s most interactive stickers. You create a simple quiz, usually related to your image, giving your audience a few choices to click on. Instagram Story quizzes can be a powerful way to educate your audience on real estate related information and also a subtle way to show your expertise. For example, you might have a quiz asking what the minimum down-payment for a home is, or what is the primary heating fuel in your area, or what was the year-over-year home price change in your area. The possibilities are nearly endless.
- DM Me Sticker This is a great tool for Instagram for real estate in particular, because it encourages meaningful conversations with your individual followers. Let’s say you’ve gained a fair amount of information about a topic such as new zoning changes, a new planned development, or 1031 exchange programs. You can help your followers by encouraging them to send you a direct message asking for information about the topic and then you can help them one-on-one. Direct conversations about real estate concerns are one of the best types of engagement. Please note, this sticker is being rolled out by Instagram, so some people have it, and some don’t yet.
- Location Stickers These are powerful, just like location tags for regular Instagram posts. You can add a location sticker such as a neighborhood, or a coffee shop, and your Story will show up when people search that location. This is a great way to reach new people. You can also do this for open houses and listing Stories.
- Mention Stickers When you add a mention sticker, the user you’re mentioning will be notified that you mentioned them. This is a powerful way to engage and grow your community. Whoever you mention will likely like the post and thank you for the mention. They might even share it with their followers. Imagine a boutique or charity sharing your post to their thousands of local followers!
- Hashtag Stickers Just like location stickers, or hashtags in your captions, a hashtag sticker lets other users find and engage with your Story on that hashtag’s page. It’s a great way for people to find you.
- Music Stickers These work for both photos and videos and let you play music in your post using the Instagram library of music containing thousands of tracks. Music can set the mood and boost engagement rates. Imagine some Jimmy Buffet playing as you show the swimming pool in your property listing. Or some cool jazz while you’re at the coffee shop. It’s a great way to take your Instagram for real estate game up a notch.
- Poll Stickers These are simple and easy for users to engage with. You ask a question, and the poll choices are a simple yes or no. You might ask your followers if they think traffic congestion is getting worse, or if they think the city needs another dog park. Be creative and have fun. These are a fun way to trigger engagement. Story polls complete after 24 hours. Don’t forget to share the final poll results. Once the Story has expired, you can find the results in your Story archives.
- Emoji Slider Stickers These are similar to a yes/no poll, except viewers drag the slider to submit their answer, allowing them to submit a level of preference. The slider also includes emojis which bring in an added element of emotion and will likely increase your engagement rate.
- Question Stickers By adding a question sticker, you’re encouraging users to submit questions for you to answer. You might consider doing a live Story walkthrough of your new listing asking, “I’m live at 5233 Maple Drive for the next hour, what do you want me to show you? The kitchen? Pool? Wine cellar?” When using Instagram for real estate, it’s a great way to interact with your followers.
- Countdown Stickers This is a terrific tool for promoting community events such as the opening of the local water park, start of the food drive, shopping days left until Christmas, etc. It’s a good way to promote a new listing as well. Most MLSs usually don’t let you promote a listing more than 24 hours prior to being live, but you could do a 24-hour countdown to the listing launch. Be sure to check the rules where you work.
- Donation Sticker This is a great way to support and raise funds for a nonprofit in your community or a nonprofit you’re passionate about. Donation stickers encourage your followers to donate to the charity you’re highlighting with 100% of the funds going to the charity. If a charity isn’t already listed, the charity can easily join the Instagram donation program. Such an excellent way to show support and care for your community and build wonderful engagement with your followers.
Use The Correct Image Sizes
Using the correct sizes on Instagram eliminates the risk of your images being cropped or otherwise being displayed in unintended ways. Here’s the breakdown:
Instagram Photos (Main Feed)
- Profile photo: these display 110 wide x 110 tall px with a 1:1 aspect ratio, however you should use 180 wide x 180 tall px since this is what will be displayed on desktop and will be displayed smaller on smaller screens
- Square images: 1080 wide x 1080 tall px with a 1:1 aspect ratio
- Portrait images: 1080 wide x 1350 tall px with a 4:5 aspect ratio
- Landscape images: 1080 wide x 566 tall px with a 1.91:1 aspect ratio
- You can upload videos with the same size and aspect ratios as the photos above
- The horizontal video size is 16:9 because that is the format of your smartphone when it’s turned sideways and will appear most naturally when you keep the original size
- Keep videos no larger than 4 GB and up to 60 seconds long
- The recommended size is going full screen 1080 wide x 1920 tall px with a 9:16 aspect ratio, for both photos and videos
- Images will display for five seconds, and videos will display in 15-second increments
IGTV and Reels Videos
- Instagram encourages videos that display full screen so use video that is 1080 wide x 1920 tall px with a 9:16 aspect ratio
- Landscape videos can also be used with the same dimensions and will become full screen when the user holds their smartphone sideways and presses the expand button. These will appear with a 4:5 aspect ratio
- For your IGTV cover photo, use 420 wide x 654 tall px with a 16:9 aspect ratio and keep any important information in the center so it doesn’t get cropped out when appearing in various feeds
We highly recommend using Canva Pro to create your Instagram graphics. If for no other reason than it allows you to quickly and easily resize a premade graphic to suit multiple formats.
Use One Filter Consistently
One of the keys to building your real estate brand on Instagram is being consistent. People find comfort in consistency, and it helps them recognize you. This means using the same fonts, the same borders, the same colors, etc. in your posts.
When you review the top real estate agents on Instagram, you will almost always find that they produce a similar look and feel on all their posts. One of these visual elements is the filter, which can enhance your photos and give them consistency.
Brightness is a key to attracting engagement and filters can help with this. Canva has a study that discovers Clarendon is the most used Instagram filter not only in the US but worldwide. It’s an all-purpose filter that brightens, highlights, and intensifies shadows for color that pops.
Gingham and Juno are also popular filters. You can also rearrange your filters by clicking and dragging so that your favorite filter is always the first one to choose from.
You don’t need to use filters, but whether you do or don’t, just be consistent. Either way, just know that a large study of 8 million Instagram images found that:
- images with high lightness garner 24% more likes
- images with a large amount of background get 29% more likes
- images with blue as the dominant color get 24% more likes
- images with a single dominant color get 17% more likes than those with multiple dominant colors
- images with lower saturation get 18% more likes
- images with high levels of texture receive 79% more likes
Use AR Story Filters When Appropriate
AR Story filters are visual overlays to your Instagram Stories that can add a bit of whimsy and fun to your post.
As a real estate agent, you likely don’t want to use these for most of your posts, but they are terrific for the occasional distraction such as a behind-the-scenes post or an unexpected post.
For example, let’s say someone on your team did a great job on a listing and you want to highlight their effort. Take a picture of them and add an AR filter putting stars floating around their head.
Or suppose you reached a new milestone in your business, add glitter to the image highlighting the achievement.
Did you run into a favorite celebrity? Take their picture and put kisses on their cheeks.
Cold day outside? Add snowflakes to the image.
AR filters can be overdone and start to detract from your brand if you’re not careful, but sprinkled into your Stories occasionally, they make you more human and approachable and they usually generate a lot of engagement. People appreciate the extra emotion they provide.
Have fun with them.
Since 69% of consumers watch online videos with the sound off try to include captions on Instagram. This highlights the importance of also letting the imagery do the talking as much as possible. If you must explain something verbally, ask yourself if there is a way to do it without explaining and not adding captions in the video.
How to Engage
Engagement Builds Relationships
This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road.
Up to this point, we’ve been showing you the “mechanics” of posting on Instagram for real estate – the hashtags, the captions, the image sizes, etc.
These things are all just the table stakes that clear the way for engagement. If you want to get people to engage with you on Instagram and eventually conduct a real estate transaction with you, you need to actually engage with them.
The online world is no different than the physical world in this respect. Would you go to a Rotary Luncheon with dozens of local community members in attendance and sit quietly in the corner and talk to no one? Of course not.
You’d go up to the nearly full table and sit down and introduce yourself to everyone and strike up conversations with everyone you could. You’d be friendly. You’d look for commonality. You’d be professional and charming. You’d swap business cards when it made sense. You’d look for opportunities for further follow up. This is engagement.
What you would not do is go back to your office after the lunch and feel disappointed that you didn’t get a listing out of the luncheon. No, you’d feel like you accomplished your goal of forming new relationships and furthering existing ones.
Instagram engagement for real estate agents is no different. You use Instagram so that people can go on the journey of knowing, liking, and trusting you.
Your goal on Instagram to build relationships. Your mindset for engagement needs to be about making friends, not followers.
Now let’s take a look at the tactical activities you can do to build engagement:
Instagram is a SOCIAL network. It’s not a “blast my listings out there and hope for something good to happen” network.
Not being social is probably the number-one mistake we see real estate agents making on Instagram. Many articles say something like, “Just like in real life, Instagram …” Well guess what, we are well into the 21st century and Instagram IS real life. If you never talk to people, nobody will talk with you. Converse with people.
Respond to questions and comments! You’ve done the hard part of creating great content in the best format and you’re getting responses. Don’t drop the ball now and ignore people.
Engaging with people makes them feel seen and heard and it makes them much more likely to interact with you again in the future. It also helps to boost your own engagement.
Join the Conversation
Your posts are not the only place where you should be engaging people. Get out there and respond to questions and comments on other peoples’ posts.
Did your local parks department post something on Instagram that is beautiful or interesting? Comment on it.
Did somebody pose a question that you could answer? Sometimes these can be super simple questions such as, “What time does the July 4th parade start?” and if you know you can reply, “It starts at 1:00pm at the corner of Market St. and Harrington Ave.”
By answering questions, it shows you’re a helpful member of the community. People will notice and check out your profile. Instagram doesn’t have to be about real estate all the time.
Don’t wait until the end of the day or tomorrow morning. When people comment or ask questions, it’s a live conversation. Just like you don’t wait to answer a question posed to you in person, you should be prompt with replies on Instagram.
You can do this easily by setting up Instagram alerts so you know right away when someone has a question or makes a comment. Try to always respond within 10 minutes.
Respond to DMs Quickly. Always.
As a real estate professional, if a client or prospect sends you an email or text you always respond and do it quickly, right? Instagram DMs are no different. Somebody is sending you a direct message and they will expect a prompt response.
We know, many of you will say, “But what if my client DMs me at midnight? I have to sleep!” That’s on you to set communication expectations up front. And if they’re not a client, most people realize that nobody is on 24/7, but they will be looking for a response in the morning.
Be Active on Stories
Since Stories tend to get the most engagement, they’re good place for you to participate by engaging with others. They also go away after 24 hours, so be sure to visit them regularly.
Seems simple, but it often works. In your post ask people what they think. Ask them if this has ever happened to them. Ask them what their favorite burger joint is in town. Ask them for recommendations.
Share User-Generated Content
Did someone create a handy schedule of sports teams in your area? Share it with your followers. Did someone put together a list of the 5 newest places to dine in town with reviews? Share it. You can share just about anything you think would be relevant and useful to others. Not only will the original creator be appreciative, but so with your followers. Just be sure to always credit the source of the content.
When you mention others, both people and organizations, they will often notice and like or comment on your mention, and some will start following you. Try to focus on others who will be relevant to your followers.
For example, mentioning a taco truck while you were out of town on vacation isn’t very relevant, but mentioning a food truck in your area that serves killer tacos is.
Engage Similar Accounts
And we’re not just talking about other real estate agents on Instagram.
Let’s say you’re into mountain biking and sometimes post about your bike adventures. There will be other Instagram accounts in your area that post about mountain biking.
These might be other enthusiasts such as yourself, bike clubs, trail preservation groups, bike retailers in your area, etc. These are like-minded people, and they are likely to engage with you around the topic. It’s a great way to make new friends in the community.
As a real estate agent, you might be into historical preservation, or local architectural styles. Just find related accounts. Like-minded people are easier to engage.
Do your engaging right after you post. You want to draw as much engagement on your post within the first hour of posting.
Quick engagement on your post helps the Instagram algorithm understand that it’s likely to be interesting to a lot of your followers, causing it to appear higher up in more of your followers’ feeds.
When you engage others on their posts, they are likely to check out your profile and posts right away, helping increase engagement on your post.
Engage with 5 Posts Per Week
Strive to like and comment on other people’s posts in related areas to you 5 times per week. This only takes 10 minutes but gets you out there in the community and will both grow your followers and engagement rate over time.
Don’t look at the results of your first week and give up. You’re playing the long game and this activity will pay off over time. Remember, even when people don’t respond, they still see you.
Be Thoughtful and Sincere with Interactions
Remember, you’re “talking” with others. When you see a nice image someone else has posted, say the dish they enjoyed while eating out, try to be interesting to others.
For example, instead of simply saying, “Looks great,” or “Yummy,” try asking more about it such as, “Looks awesome, how did it taste?” or “We’re going there Friday night for dinner, how long was the wait?” or “We had crab cakes there last month and they were divine!”
Even better, “Next time you go, tell Mike the owner I said hello. Such a great place.” These are all restaurant post examples, but you get the idea, be an interesting conversationalist and someone others might want to follow.
Leverage Link in Bio
You want your followers to engage with you and a good way to do that is to tell them in a post’s caption to click the link in your Instagram bio for more information, driving directions, download your resource guide, download the list of new coffee shops in the area, etc.
Since Instagram only allows one link in your bio, we recommend utilizing a tool such as Linktree, which lets you create a page with all the destinations you want visitors to easily find such as your blog, and your other social profiles such as LinkedIn and YouTube.
You can also link to various lead capture pages such as a downloadable resource guide, your latest listing, your latest blog post, your interview in the local media, local websites with community resources, or your charities and causes.
Capture Your Competitors’ Followers
Since your competitors’ Instagram followers are likely local and interested in real estate, they’re excellent prospects for your marketing efforts. Getting them to follow you on Instagram is straightforward – follow them, like their photos, and comment on their photos. When you do, they will follow you back and start seeing your posts in their feeds.
The results can be impressive. Shopify did an experiment, in which they simply followed 100 of their competitors and took no other action.
They then followed another 100 and liked one of their photos,
Then they followed a third group of 100, liked one photo and commented on one photo.
Here’s what happened:
- follow only: 14% followed back
- follow and like: 22% followed back
- follow, like, and comment: 34% followed back
Not only does this gain followers, but now you’re marketing to your competition’s sales pipeline.
There are a couple things to keep in mind with this tactic. Carefully choose who you follow and engage with.
First, not all of your competitor’s followers are local folks. There will be a smattering of businesses, and people from all over that really are not who you want to target.
Second, don’t be spammy. Don’t just like the first picture in their feed. Scroll down a bit and find a really nice and/or relevant picture. Be thoughtful and engaging with your comments.
You can enable notifications by going to options and then push notification settings, selecting everyone for every category.
With notifications, you can see when people share or comment on your photos, enabling you to respond and engage quickly.
Keep Comments Turned On
Yes, Instagram does have a “turn off comments’” feature but you should leave them on. Comments are a primary form of engagement and one of the key reasons you’re posting in the first place. Even if somebody comments long after you’ve posted, it’s still engagement.
You’re trying to grow know, like, and trust with your followers. To do that, you need to be seen frequently and consistently on their screens. The more people see you, the more they will begin to know who you’re, and the more likely they are to think of you when they’re ready to make a real estate transaction.
Instagram will reward you when you use the app consistently by showing your posts to more people, and less often when you don’t. Not only will consistent posting increase your exposure to your followers, but the Instagram algorithm will increase your reach too.
How often do you need to post? Think quality over quantity. You can find studies that say that 2-3 times per day is ideal. However, it’s very hard to produce that many posts of quality unless you’re a big brand with a team of social marketers helping with the production.
Instead, as a busy real estate agent, strive for a few Instagram posts per week that are relevant and meaningful to your followers and their community.
The key is to post every week. Week in and week out.
You’re building your brand every time you post. Protect your brand. It’s not a good idea to post regularly about your community, your family, the real estate market, and then out of the blue some posts about your sister’s nasty divorce. Stay on topic.
Be consistent with your look and feel, and your tone of voice. Be consistent with colors, fonts, and filters. Have a steady cadence. Don’t put out 23 posts one week and then 1 the next week.
Regularly Post Stories
Posting Stories regularly keeps you at the top of everyone’s feed. Instagram Stories last 24 hours, which means posting a bit more frequently, when possible, but being at the top of the feed gets you the visibility and engagement you’re working for. You will get more engagement success with Stories than non-Story posts in your regular feed.
Promote to Gain Followers and Engagement
Promote Your Posts
You can pay to give your posts more exposure than they might otherwise receive from the Instagram feed algorithm.
There are several reasons you might want to do this such as promoting a listing or an open house, or simply an effort to get more local followers.
It’s always nice to tell sellers that their listing or open house was seen by X hundreds or thousands of local people.
Start by clicking the promote button at the bottom of your post, then selecting your goal:
- more profile visits
- website visits
- more messages
Then choose your audience from among automatic, local, or manual.
Automatic tells Instagram to target people who are just like your followers.
Local lets you target people in a specific location.
Manual lets you target specific people, places, or interests.
If your Instagram post is specifically about real estate, Instagram will require you to select the Housing category. To do this, click the “Special Requirements” drop-down from the “Define Your Audience” section and choose “Housing.”
Lastly, set your budget and how long you want your ad to run.
Cross Promote Your Posts
You should link to your Instagram profile from all your other online points of presence such as your real estate blog, LinkedIn, YouTube channel, etc.
Most platforms have easy-to-use icons and links you can set up so people can find you on Instagram.
When you do a post on Instagram, consider posting similar content on your other social channels when it’s appropriate.
For example, an Instagram post about your new puppy is excellent content for Instagram but may not appropriate for the more business-oriented LinkedIn.
On the other hand, your post about a community fund raiser might be perfect to post on LinkedIn and your blog with links to the Instagram post. A video walkthrough Story showing one of your real estate listings might be perfect for YouTube as well.
Drive traffic from other sources. Include your Instagram handle on your real estate business card, in your advertisements, in your collateral material, in your newsletter, in your email signature, and in your profiles on other social media.
If you have a profile on your brokerage’s website, be sure that the Instagram link provided goes to your Instagram profile and not the brokerage’s.
If you write guest articles for other publications such as the local newspaper or community newsletter (and you should be doing this), be sure to include your handle in the bio describing you and your expertise. Include it with any giveaways you do.
Are you sponsoring a Little League team and providing jerseys? Include your name, logo and Instagram handle. Include it everywhere you can.
Influencers aren’t just rock stars or famous athletes. Every community has people who have influence.
You could, for example, go out and interview:
- a city council member
- school board member
- gym owners
- school principals
- business owners
- the fire chief
In other words, people in the community that others know and look to. They have Instagram followers.
When you interact with and post about them and their viewpoints, be sure to include their Instagram handle, and any hashtags they use. Send them a message letting them know about your post covering them and remind them to share it. Done right, they will share it.
Working with influencers establishes trust between you and them and their followers. It paints the picture that you’re “high engagement” to people browsing Instagram and you’ll gain followers because people want to hang out with people who are engaged.
Use Analytics to Find Opportunities
If you’re not a “numbers person,” fear not. Analytics is not a math expedition. It’s simply studying your content to see the impact of your engagement efforts, and the study of your audience to see what they like, don’t like, and the direction they’re headed.
It’s like turning on the lights in a dark room and looking around to see what’s going on.
Understand Your Audience
It’s hard to have a conversation with someone if you don’t know much about them.
Take the time to go to a good number of your followers’ Instagram feeds and study what they’re posting about and what they engage with. Get an understanding of what they care about.
And here’s a shocker for some of you – 99% of them won’t be posting anything real estate related on Instagram!
Many will have interests aligned with your interests, that’s probably why they followed you in the first place.
If you post about sports, many will be interested in sports. So go see what sports posts they are engaging with.
Some of you might be into cooking. See what cooks among your followers are doing on Instagram.
This is no different than getting to know your co-workers at a new job. Understand them. Relate to them. Empathize with them. Give them value.
Track Your Engagement Rate
There’s an old management saying, “You get what you measure.” So true. Remember, your engagement rate is the average percentage of your followers who engage with your post.
You want to make tracking as easy as possible. We recommend taking a few minutes each month to calculate your Instagram engagement rate for the past month and document that in a spreadsheet, or even on a piece of paper you keep in your desk.
Over time, this tracking with give you a good sense of what is working for your real estate business on Instagram and what is not.
The calculation itself is simple. Suppose you did 10 posts in the last month. And let’s also say you have 1,000 followers.
Add up all the likes and comments for those 10 posts. Let’s say you got 240 likes and 56 comments. Adding those two together gives you a total of 296 follower “actions.”
This is not exactly a count of followers who engaged, since some people might like and comment on the same post, but it’s what’s available from Instagram.
Now divide your 296 actions by your 10 posts, for an average of 29.6 actions per post. Now divide your 29.6 average actions by your 1,000 followers and multiply by 100 for an engagement rate of 2.96%.
From this example, this means that, on average, every time you post, almost 30 people engage with it. If you posted twice a week almost 60 people engaged with you. Now that’s how you drive know, like and trust!
It doesn’t much matter what your engagement rate is, a “good” engagement rate is one that improves over time.
Track and Analyze Content
It’s important to also review your Instagram for real estate posts and look for patterns by content type.
For example, are your Stories getting more engagement? How about your posts about mountain biking? Your new listing posts?
Likely you’ll be able to spot patterns and adjust your content plans accordingly. Just be careful to not go overboard.
For example, posts of your kids at the park will likely get lots of likes, but you don’t want to turn your whole feed into kid pics. Stay balanced.
But if your post about the apple pie you made took off, put in a few more cooking posts.
Similarly, if a post type does poorly, try to understand why and perhaps lighten up on those.
Study your top-engaged posts. Most likely you will be able to spot a pattern, not only topically, but also by the tone and emotion of your posts. You’ll start to see better what resonates with people, drawing their attention and engagement.
By looking for patterns across all your posts, you’ll get a much better feel for what works. And of course, what falls flat. Knowing this means that when you do use Instagram to post about real estate, those posts will benefit from the high engagement rate you’ve created.
Test New Content Types
Experiment with both format types (posts, Stories, videos, etc.) and topics. If you’ve never posted about your baking, give it a try and see how it performs.
Do you play golf? Take some golf shots and post them.
Haven’t done a behind-the-scenes Instagram for real estate post yet showing the stagers and photographers at one of your listings? Give it a try.
Do a walkthrough video at one of your open houses. Take pictures of the spring flowers at the park. You get the idea.
Try different things and see what resonates and gets engagement.
Listen to Your Community
Review the comments on your posts and see what people are saying. Go look at the feeds of people following you and see what kinds of things they are posting about and what people are saying about their posts.
Read your local newspaper and be in tune with the happenings, celebrations, and concerns. Take the time to pay attention and when you post, do it with that context.
Determine Your Best Time to Post
Instagram rewards posts that receive more engagement in the first hour after they are posted by showing those posts to more people and putting them at the top of your followers’ feed. It’s a bit like a popularity contest.
There is no universal best time to post on Instagram for real estate because it varies with your followers. Review your posts and see if you can find a time of the day where you tend to get more engagement.
By posting at your time, you can help give your posts a better start.
Instagram for Real Estate Conclusion
Instagram for real estate agents doesn’t have to be complicated. Instagram is a powerful tool for staying top of mind with your clients and building relationships with new people. Engaging and asking for engagement are key to success on the platform. Share who you are, show interest in others, be active on the platform, and the more success you’ll see.
Check out these free resources to help you rock your Instagram:
GrammarPros Free Content Page
Free Mini Workshop: Instagram for Agents
49 Instagram Post Ideas for Real Estate
41 Lead Magnet Ideas for Realtors
108 Hashtags for Real Estate
2023 Social Media Content Calendar for Real Estate
For further reading:
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