I once had one of my brokers in charge tell me, “Social media is fine, but I don’t think you’ll find many clients that way.”

  • Create an eye-catching bio, and don't be afraid to use emojis -- they're fun!
  • Choose hashtags that will bring people to your page if they search the term but not so broad that your photo gets lost.
  • Get to know the big players in your area. Who are the influencers? What are they posting about?

I once had one of my brokers in charge tell me, “Social media is fine, but I don’t think you’ll find many clients that way.”

Last month, I closed on a $220,000-plus sale where my client found me on Instagram. No, we didn’t know each other previously — nor did we even run in the same circles. If it hadn’t have been for Instagram, I don’t believe we would have ever met.

Instagram is one of my main social media marketing channels. Besides the sale I closed in January, so far this year I’ve received five to six rental leads and one referral lead looking to purchase in Texas. (I’m in North Carolina.)

And the best part — these leads were all free!

I see a lot of real estate agents on Instagram, but they’re making mistakes that alienate rather than connect.

However, before I delve into how you should brand your profile and how to engage with other users (AKA potential clients), I wanted to cover my initial thoughts when deciding on my overall social media strategy. I asked myself the following questions:

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • What are my hobbies? Is this something a potential client would also be interested in?
  • How many real estate related posts will I make per week?

I’ll go ahead and say it: the no. 1 mistake I see many real estate agents make is they have a real estate post for every single post.

What’s worse, many of them have uninspiring sales copy like, “Need help buying or selling? Contact me!”

The key thing to remember is why social media is popular in the first place. It is where you can see your friend’s pictures, keep up with their whereabouts and know what has been going on in their lives.

Nobody goes onto social media because they want to be sold to, plain and simple. So as a real estate agent looking to get leads on social media, it’s important to make people want to come to you.

What I have found success with is branding myself as the “mayor” of the town. I make it a habit of going to local restaurants and seeing the local sights — and, yes, posting about it.

I’m not above posting a really well-taken photo of my food and tagging the restaurant in my photo so they can share it to their Instagram feed as well. If you take good photos, people will want to share them!

Tapping into the local trend has been huge. There are local foodie accounts, local sightseeing accounts, government park accounts — and the best part is that they are always looking for content to share. So give it to them!

Not only that, but engage with their accounts, and engage with their followers who compliment the photo. If their followers seem cool, follow them!

People want to feel that they are interacting with a real person online — so make sure you come across as your most authentic, real self. Once they see your awesome photos, they will naturally want to learn more about you!

10 ways to do Instagram the right way

Here are 10 tips I put together to help you make sure you’re standing out on Instagram.

1. Create an eye-catching bio

Write something creative about yourself, or make it a list like I have (feel free to stalk my account: @tiffany.alexy).

Don’t be above using emojis — they’re fun! And remember to include a call to action at the bottom pointing to your website. This is the only “sales” I will tell you it is OK to do.

(If you are trying to figure out how to format the list correctly, here’s a tip: do it on your phone’s notes and then copy and paste to the bio section on Instagram. This used to drive me crazy because I wanted a beautifully formatted bio, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it until I learned this trick.)

2. Make your account public

I know, scary. But you need to be stalkable; how else are people going to know how cool you are?

Think about when you are on someone’s account trying to decide whether you want to follow them or not. You look through their photos, do you not?

That’s what Instagram was built for! So let them stalk you. There’s no privacy anymore; besides, as a real estate agent, your name and phone number are listed online anyway.

Your very business relies on people being able to find you when they need your services.

Have I been recognized in public by random strangers who know me from Instagram? Yes.

Is it slightly terrifying to have someone say your name and then realize you have no idea who they are? Absolutely.

But guess what? It means you’re doing Instagram correctly. You’re approachable!

3. Geotag every photo

A geotag is what pops up when you go to post and Instagram tries to fill in the location for you.

Sometimes, for obvious reasons you don’t want an exact location filled in, so it’s definitely OK to tag a city over a specific address. But you want to tag somewhere.

I see clever geotags sometimes, which can be fun but not very useful because nobody else has tagged themselves in that location. At the very least, tag a city or the nearest landmark — not an inside joke.

4. Make it a “day in the life”

A “day in the life” story is so much more interesting to follow than someone who says “call me 919.555.7700” every single post they make.

But guess what? You can make it as a “day in the life” of a real estate agent!

I subtly leave hints as to what I’m doing during the day. This is content that most of my followers want to see.

I’ll post a picture of a pretty flower or a coffee from the local cafe and say “Being early to a showing means I get to take a moment to enjoy life!” or something to that effect.

It’s a subtle hint that I’m a busy professional (something most can relate to) but still care about them enough to show them my day.

5. Hashtags are Instagram gold

The key to using hashtags is that you don’t want it to look like you’re using them. So don’t put them in the caption. Instead, put them in the first comment, which collapses once you receive more comments.

Again, you should use the Notepad on your phone to write out the hashtags.

Instagram allows you up to 30 hashtags at once. What I do is I put five dots, one on each line, and then fill it with hashtags.

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, just go to my page, and look at the first comment on one of my photos.

Choosing hashtags is important. You want to choose hashtags that will bring people to your page if they search the term, but you don’t want it to be so broad that your photo gets lost.

For example, #realestate is not a great hashtag unless you are just running out of hashtags to use; #realestateinvestor is much better.

6. Comment on others’ photos

As a real estate agent, you want to be known in your community — and that means both offline and online. Get to know the big players in your area. Who are the influencers? What are they posting about?

Engage with them, in a positive way. If they just posted a photo of the restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, make a comment that says “How was it!? I’ve been wanting to go there ever since they opened!”

Make a positive comment that gets them to engage in a conversation with you. No lie, I had someone come up to me at a city council meeting, someone I’d never met, who knew exactly who I was and what I did because we’d talked over Instagram at some point.

7. Use Instagram Stories as a virtual tour

Instagram kind of copied Snapchat this way, but about six months ago it came out with “stories” which are 30-second videos.

You can write on the videos in addition to audio. So when you’re out showing a house, don’t just show it to the one client physically in front of you — show it to the hundreds, or even thousands, of virtual potential clients you might have.

I try to arrive early to showings for this very reason. It only takes a few minutes to turn on the lights and snap some quick videos walking around.

People love seeing houses — even if they won’t be in the market for another few years. Why do you think HGTV is so popular?

8. Try to get reposted

I mentioned this earlier, but it’s important enough to get it’s own bullet point. Take photos when you’re out, and don’t just tag the location but also tag relevant locations.

For example, if I take a pretty photo of the lake glistening in the July heat, I’m going to tag Wake County parks, but also Visit Raleigh, Visit NC, Triangle Explorer, Out And About NC, WRAL Out and About — all accounts geared toward showcasing the best our state has to offer.

I’ve had luck getting reposted this way, and I have always had them link back to my personal Instagram account. This definitely brings more exposure!

9. Check your DMs frequently

This tip is not as cool, but make sure you check your direct messages consistently (it is the little paper airplane looking icon at the top right of your home feed).

Any messages you get from users who you are not following will show up in small font as “message requests.” There isn’t a notification, so be sure to actually open the inbox itself every now and then.

10. Instagram takeovers are a thing

An Instagram takeover is when another user who isn’t typically one who controls the Instagram account takes it over. Also known as a “baton,” which references a race in which some runners physically pass a baton to the next runner.

For certain accounts that have a similar audience to the one you’re targeting, takeovers can be amazing ways to gain exposure.

If you post visually appealing photos and craft unique captions, you can definitely gain more followers to your account who are interested in what you have to offer.
Instagram is fun. Use it to your advantage! The above tips are just some things that I’ve done to build up my brand and account, but there’s plenty more information out there.

And trust me, the first time you are recognized in public by a complete stranger due to your Instagram account, you’ll feel like a veritable celebrity — that’s when you know you’re well on your way!

Tiffany Alexy is a real estate broker with Fathom Realty in Raleigh-Durham metro, North Carolina. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Email Tiffany Alexy

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