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Last year showed us that having a social media presence is no longer an option — it’s a necessity. Your Facebook account is no longer to see friends’ kids play sports. Your Instagram account is no longer only about seeing an acquaintance’s vacation photo. LinkedIn is no longer only about looking for a job.
Particularly for real estate agents looking to grow and exploring client-prospecting sources, social media is now serious business.
With all the social media options, few opportunities exist to connect us so deeply with engaged consumers in a place where they visit multiple times per day, such as Instagram does.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms globally, with over 1 billion registered users. Instagram also had a 22.9 percent jump in new sign-ups during 2020 alone, according to eMarketer. This news is good for people looking to harness the power of social media for their businesses.
Using platforms like Instagram with intention offers the ability to connect with thousands of buyers and sellers with one piece of content. (Take that, cold calling.) But, do it wrong, and you could alienate your valuable database relationships and lose the interest of potential clients.
There are a few common mistakes real estate agents make on Instagram. To effectively increase your brand awareness and position yourself as the go-to authority in your market, watch out for these common turn-offs and avoid committing them yourself.
If Instagram isn’t working for you, maybe you’ve fallen into one or more of the following traps:
You’re selling too much
The biggest mistake most agents make is focusing too much on selling instead of serving on social media. Although 80 percent of Instagram users follow a business on the app and engage with its content, it’s vital to note that they don’t log in to see advertisements. Instead, their expectations when interacting with content on Instagram are that they will be entertained, motivated and educated.
This is in direct contrast with what most agents do. Most agents post primarily about their new listings, share open house opportunities, or parrot generalized market data, all in an effort to position themselves as knowledgeable agents in their areas.
Although well-intended, this strategy more often alienates more than 90 percent of those who follow you because the vast majority of your followers are not “right-now” buyers and sellers. We want to keep non-buyers and sellers engaged and stay relevant to them because we would like their referrals and future business. Instead of selling to those who aren’t currently ready to take you up on an offer, share valuable content that serves by educating or entertaining.
Creating this type of content isn’t rocket science, but it takes a little planning and research. The secret is to really understand your audience and your ideal client. Ask yourself: Who are you speaking to, and how can you create compelling content that serves as a solution to their unique problems?
I like to listen to my client base. Whenever people ask the same (or similar) questions twice, I create a post explaining the problem and giving my unique solution.
At some point, all real estate agents struggle with showing up consistently on social media, especially if they fail to understand the “why” behind what they are doing. Consistently posting and engaging is an integral part of nurturing existing relationships, cultivating new ones, and developing trust and credibility with your audience.
If you get hyped up to post every day for a week, then burn out and neglect your audience for a month, you’re harming your effort in showing up as a committed professional on Instagram. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make consistency more attainable.
Remember that consistency doesn’t equate to simply posting every hour of the day until the end of time. It’s unnecessary to post multiple times a day to Instagram, or even every day, to see results. Instead, find a rhythm that you can stick with consistently.
A good target might be making three posts to your feed each week and showing up in your stories every day to interact with your audience (in our experience, 1 in 4 stories result in a direct message, which is where we book most of our appointments).
In my personal strategy, I’m also going in deep with Instagram Reels, a relatively new feature that’s enjoying explosive reach on the platform. If you’ve been struggling to organically tap into new audiences on Instagram, creating a consistent posting schedule with Reels can significantly improve your chances of growing your followers and building new relationships.
It’s worth remembering that real estate is a people business. You’ve built your business on real people and genuine relationships. Social media doesn’t change that — it amplifies it. So, if your content is falling on deaf ears, ask yourself if you’re showing up on Instagram the way you would in real life.
Avoid the big culprits, like falling into scams and paying for fake followers, bots, or engagement, including likes and comments. Not only does Instagram penalize accounts who pay for these activities, but the practice also harms the trust we have with our audience, who can spot fake engagement and followers a mile away. (Trust me, we can all tell!)
Another mistake we want to avoid is sharing too much templated content. There are many helpful services out there that offer pre-made posts and stock images, but again, most Instagram users will see this as disingenuous and “fake.”
Instead, focus on creating content that reflects who you are, the values that you hold dear, and the way you want your real-life clients to see you. Any time you craft a well-written caption, read it out loud, and ask yourself: Is this how you’d speak to a friend who knows you personally? When you post a photo, is it on-brand and representative of your unique personality?
You should feel empowered to show up as you are on Instagram and engage with your audience like a real person. It’s not only the most effective way to cultivate relationships that will generate real clients for your business — but it’s also the most fun and sustainable way to prospect on social media.
Although 2020 catapulted Instagram from personal musings to necessary strategies for business owners and entrepreneurs, the trend won’t slow down in the future. In 2021 and beyond, your business has the opportunity to experience massive growth that will last for years to come if you harness the power of Instagram and avoid common pitfalls.
However, don’t get into the trap of doing just to do, of posting just to post. Simply being in front of your Instagram audience isn’t enough. Focus on serving over selling, stay consistent, and be true to yourself on the platform — and success is sure to follow.