If Instagram is a bit overwhelming for you or you simply want to up your game in the new year, here is Jimmy Burgess’ step-by-step Instagram playbook for agents. Understanding the platform and the different types of content makes a huge difference in your reach.

This article was last updated September 30, 2022.

Instagram is probably the most valuable social media site for real estate agents. It really is tough to beat — especially when it comes to engaging with your ideal clients. 

The engagement rate on Instagram is higher than Facebook,  Engagement on social media platforms is measured in likes, comments and shares. If you want to grow your brand quickly with a lively audience, this platform shouldn’t disappoint those agents who are willing to roll up their sleeves and create content. 

Over the years, Instagram has proven its ability to adapt to changes in the market. It has proven it can integrate portions of new competing platforms to lead to continuous growth and enhancements of its own platform. As competitors have come, Instagram has created similar options that keep users on the site — despite the outside threats vying for users’ attention.

When Snapchat came on the scene, Instagram created StoriesAfter TikTok’s success with shorter-form videos, Instagram created Reels. Although their format features often change, you can be sure that if there is a popular format for consumers to watch or engage with content, it will be on their menu of options for users.

In short: Instagram has shown resilience and adaptability that makes it the ideal platform for real estate agents to build a personal brand and promote their businesses.

If navigating Instagram feels a little challenging to you or you simply want to up your game, here’s my step-by-step Instagram playbook for agents. Understanding the platform and the different types of content makes a huge difference in your reach.

Optimize your profile

Your profile is your resume, and people either connect by following you or they keep scrolling. The first step in optimizing your profile is to fill in every blank. Each of the questions on the profile helps widen your reach, so make sure you give complete details.

Instagram only allows one link to your website in the profile section, but you may have a website, Facebook, YouTube or other link that you would like to include. You can include multiple sites by using the website linktr.ee. This app provides the ability to connect anyone to all your content in one place. It’s a great way to make sure your profile is fully optimized for connection.

What type of account should you have?

There are three types of Instagram accounts. Identifying which one is best for you depends on the goals you have for your account. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Personal account

The personal account can remain private, so if you are looking for privacy then this is a great option. The limits are that a personal account does not have access to analytics, so if you are planning to use Instagram for business in any way, then a personal account is not your best option.

Business account vs. Creator account

Both the business account and the creator account have access to Instagram Insights, providing an opportunity to glean more information about your audience and their engagement with your content.

The main difference is the business account has limited access to music, while the creator account has full access to almost all music. This is important if you plan to utilize trending music in your content.

The 3 types of content on Instagram

There are several different types of content you can post on Instagram. Each of these options has ideal usage and targets a different segment of your audience.

When you understand the purpose of each format, you will have a better understanding of how to use Instagram in the most efficient and effective way.

1. In-feed posts

Posts are the original way that you could utilize Instagram. Posts on Instagram work much like Facebook. Posts stay on your profile forever unless you “delete” or “archive” them. When people pull up your profile, posts are on the main “grid” they’ll see.

Your posts act as a part of your resume for Instagram. When scrolling through profiles, Instagram users make quick decisions on who they will follow. This means being strategic with your Instagram posts can lead to more followers and connections.

I like to use the acronym of FARM when thinking about a good mix of content for posts.

  • F – Family: Sharing a little about your family and who you are is important. People connect with people, so adding some of your personal life increases your approachability.
  • A – Associations: Who and what are you associated with? This is the area where you would share more about the groups you are involved with, your hobbies and parts of your community that you enjoy. The people, organizations and area you are associated with help connect your ideal client to you.
  • R – Real estate: These posts are devoted to property details, market reports, testimonials from past clients and congratulations to clients who bought or sold a house. Posts should not be completely focused on real estate, but these real estate-related posts should play a part in providing people the opportunity to have a clear picture of what you do.
  • M – Motivation: This is another glimpse into your personality. This could be quote cards, sunset photos, music, books you are enjoying or anything else that motivates you. Authenticity is the key to drawing your ideal connections through posts on Instagram.

2. Stories

Instagram stories are content in the form of pictures or videos that are only available to your followers for 24 hours.  Stories are where personalized connection takes place. This is where you should share updates throughout your day or personal observations. If Instagram posts are your resume, then stories are where you strengthen relationships

3. Reels

Reels are the newest option for posting content on Instagram. These are videos that are one minute or less. Instagram Reels were created as an answer to the popularity of TikTok and its shorter form videos.

As the newest way to post on Instagram, Reels are being promoted with more organic reach than any of the post options on the platform at this time.

If you are trying to decide on content topics for you to produce, find real estate agents in other markets that are consistently producing Reels. Identify the types of content they create that generates the most engagement. Take those topics, put your own local spin on them, and they will produce results for you as well.

How to grow your followers

You can grow your audience organically over time by consistently producing valuable content, but most people want to grow quickly. The following are three strategies that are effective in building your followers right now.

1. Use hashtags

Instagram uses hashtags to organize content for people looking to sift through the platform and find content related to a certain topic.

Hashtags allow your content to be listed on the hashtag page, making it easier for your ideal client to find your content or profile, and subsequently to follow you.

2. Like and comment on other people’s content

There is an old saying my mother used to say to me: “If you want to find a friend, be a friend.” One of the best ways to grow your audience is to engage with people who are talking about the things your ideal client would talk about.

Gary Vaynerchuk built his online presence doing what he refers to as his $1.80 daily strategy. The strategy involves giving your 2 cents (opinion, thoughts or assistance) to someone on nine of the highest trending Instagram posts for 10 of the hashtags related to your ideal client.

By the end of the day, you will have commented on 90 posts that are being seen by your ideal clients. Adding value and engaging in these conversations will lead people to check out your profile, which leads to followers. If you don’t have time to do this many, start with a few.

Instagram makes it easy to find the hashtags that your ideal clients will find interesting. Let’s start with your city’s name. Go to the search bar on Instagram and type in #(your city). Once you have that typed in, Instagram will offer a dropdown bar that will show you the most popular hashtags for your city.

Think of other hashtags your ideal client might visit, like #movingto(your city), #livingin(your city), #(your city)real estate. By adding value and engaging on these posts, your ideal client will find your profile and, in many cases, follow you.

Focus on Reels

As I mentioned above, Reels are the best way to have your content reach the widest audience right now. Make sure you use hashtags to help Instagram promote your Reels to users who will be interested in your content.

To give you an idea of the reach available with Reels, I had fewer than 700 followers on Instagram when I posted my first two Reels. Those first two reels had more than 17,000 views. If you’re looking to grow your audience, Reels are the content to produce.

Instagram continues to grow with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If you are looking to grow your business by expanding your social media presence, then Instagram is the place to be.

Jimmy Burgess is the Chief Growth Officer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida. Connect with him on Facebook or Instagram.

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