Prospecting is a job that never ends. Real estate agents need to be everywhere at all times talking with people, making connections, and establishing relationships that will last.
I feel so fortunate to be a real estate broker in the time of social media. Instagram allows us to show up on people’s timelines, do a live video, and post longer videos to IGTV, all while doing the (more critical) day-to-day work of a Realtor. Social media, when used strategically, makes us accessible and relatable, which is what clients are searching for. Yet, not enough agents are utilizing this tool correctly.
Establish Your Purpose
Yes, even your Instagram account needs to serve a purpose.
I believe your real estate account should be kept separate from a personal account. When I created my Instagram page, I made the conscious decision not to post photos of my family, with one exception - the day my daughter was born. The main purpose of my account is to connect with agents across the country, with a secondary goal of sharing valuable content with clients and potential clients.
You will need to decide for yourself what you do and do not post on your timeline. First, ask yourself, “What do I want out of my Instagram account?” Do you want to:
Get more deals?
Be involved in the local community?
Reach local buyers?
Reach local sellers?
Connect with business owners?
Connect with agents?
Once you answer the question for yourself, you will be able to determine what posts you want to incorporate.
Build a REAL following
DO NOT pay for followers! It is so easy to get caught up in numbers - how many followers, likes, and comments you are getting. But it’s much better to have a smaller following of real people you connect with than any number of fake followers.
As real estate agents, we work to connect with REAL people, and this applies to social media as well. Here are some tips to reach people in your community and help you grow your Instagram audience without paying for followers:
1. Commit Every Day. Aim to post and engage with others on Instagram every day. Create a schedule for your content, so that you are not scrambling or wasting time figuring out what to post. By making Instagram part of your daily routine, you will show up in people’s timelines more often, which will keep you top of mind.
2. Be Selfless. The whole reason people are still using social media is for connection and attention. By giving people attention, as well as valuable information, they will start coming to your feed more often. The more you give on social media, the more likely people will be to follow you and engage back with your content.
3. Stories over Timeline. Instagram stories are usually more real and raw than the curated timeline posts that live in your feed, and they have become the most valuable part of Instagram. Even if you don’t have time to create a full post, have something in your stories within every 24 hours. This can be a quick snapshot of you at the office or on a listing, a screenshot of an excerpt from an interesting article, or a quick video of you answering a question you got asked by a client that day. Remember, if a client asked a question, other people will find value in the answer. Share your expertise! When you post a story, be sure to:
Tag other people in your stories! This gives anyone in your photo or video the credit they deserve. Plus, they may share that story on their own account.
Share other people’s posts in your stories. Press the paper airplane above the post you want to share and write in your own thoughts on the topic. Again, this gives the person credit for their original post and helps you build community within the social media world.
4. # @ ! appropriately. No, I’m not talking about swearing. In both timeline posts and stories, use hashtags (#), tag people or businesses (@), and add in the location (!). This helps you connect with individuals, businesses, and members of your community. In stories, when you add the location, it will also appear the stories for that town or city. In turn, more people will see your post and may visit your page or give you a follow.
5. Look at backend analytics. If your account is set up as a business page, you can view analytics on your posts. You can see how many people clicked the hashtag, the sticker, the location, and how many people viewed your profile. This will give you insight into what hashtags are relevant for the audience you want to connect with (i.e., #luxurylisting, #realestateagent).
6. Create patterns. Every single day, I post a picture at the gym. This is part of my daily routine, and a goal I set for myself on the East Coast 5 AM Call. This does two things: holds me accountable and give me at least one post every single day. (I have another pattern for crème brûlée - but you’ll have to watch for that one). Creating patterns and routines helps you with content ideas, and gives people insight into your personality, habits, and beliefs. Those that are in tune with what you do will naturally follow you.
7. DM to Connect. Direct message people you want to connect with. DM’s are more personal than likes or comments on a photo. They are a personalized message to one person, which means you won’t get hearts or comments from other followers. But, you may get a response and build a relationship with that person. Do this enough times, and watch your page grow.
8. ENGAGE with others. You can’t expect people to engage with your content if you aren’t willing to do the same. Comment, send DM’s, and like the content of people you want to connect with. And, most importantly, reply back to 100% of comments on your posts 100% the time.
9. Stick to your purpose. Before you post something, do a quick check in: does the post resonate with your goal? Does it follow the guidelines you set for your Instagram account? Sticking to your purpose will help you target the people you want to connect with.
10. Set Your Timer. Have time rules with yourself. It’s easy to get sucked in and spend too much time on social media. Keep it to 30 minutes a day to post and engage with others. Once time is up, move on.
Yes, doing these things takes time and consistency. But building your Instagram organically instead of paying for an audience will allow you to connect with followers online AND in real life.
And that’s what entrepreneurship is all about - learning, connection, and building real relationships.