A Picture is Worth a Thousand Followers

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In a world where “social influence” is measured by followers, retweets and likes, a platform where the typical person might have say, a few hundred followers at best, Instagram doesn’t fit the mold of a powerful engagement tool. But it is.  Instagram, in its purest sense, is an iPhone app (soon to be available on the Droid market) which allows people to take pictures on the fly from their iPhone and share them on Instagram and out to their social web.  Sort of like Twitter for pictures, quick and easy.

The magic of Instagram is twofold…

First, photos often have the ability to prompt a visceral reaction from the viewer, touching them deeply and often unexpectedly.  Second, IG brings out a creativity that many didn’t even know they had.  Simultaneously you touch something in yourself and something in others that neither knew was even there.

The difference between iPhonography and regular photography is that you have your phone with you all of time, allowing you to capture extraordinary sights and images in your everyday life without the cumbersome process of grabbing and shooting from a camera then uploading, etc. before you can share it.  This ease of capturing and sharing allows you to share much more of yourself and your community.  A stranger’s glance, a flying bird, a reflection in a store window as you pass by can all become amazing shots to share with your community.  These everyday snippets become a captured moment of beauty that would have otherwise been gone forever.

People have commented or told me about the many ways my IG photos have touched them,

“I wake up excited to see what you’ve posted.”
“Your photos always make me smile.”
“My husband proposed to me on that island.”
“I grew up there and haven’t see that place since I was a child.”

The pictures move them, they remember them and they look forward to them.  What more could you want in a social media platform?

The results…

I would very honestly say that I have generated more engagement and response and YES, business, from Instagram, than I have from my other social networks yet the number of people I am connected to on Instagram is far fewer.  The name of the game is, quality verses quantity.

I rarely just snap and share.

Most of my pictures are run through a series of filters to create a work of “iPhone art”, sometimes resulting in a very different image.  It is this process, I believe, that also makes the photos so memorable.  They are not just photos of trees or ice cubes or sunsets, they become mini works of creativity and inspiration.  (See www.IphoneArt.com for truly inspirational artists’ works.)

I normally take as many pictures as I can in a day, often ten or twenty of the same thing from various angles, lighting, focus settings, etc.  Then later, when I have a bit of down time, I edit them with my mass collection of fifty plus iPhone photo filters.  (You can do the majority of the edits I do with ten or so apps.  Getting the new iPhone photo editing apps is just a small addiction I have.)  Most pictures will be run through no fewer than five or six filters for edits, and require approximately five to twenty minutes to complete.

Of course I have my occasional #nofilter photos, but they are the exception, not the rule.  I’ll then try to post a bit of information, quote or other text that ties in to the picture to explain the history or thought behind it.  There are many iPhone artists who just have a natural eye and don’t need to filter, but it has become my “style”, something any Instagrammer works on for themselves.

A New World

Instagram has quite literally caused me to look at the world differently.  I look at small details, the sky, everyday items, objects and scenes with a much more aware eye than I ever have before.

Just like any social media platform you might consider using for business, to use it without a plan will become a giant time-suck. Consciously think about how you can use it to engage with and a build an IG Community for yourself.

IG Insight

Here are a few tips and tricks to using Instagram in your real estate business that I have found helpful.

Find IGers geographically around you by using such sites and apps as Cartagr.am, App.bg or Instabam and or by searching tags (I.e. #Miami).  This will allow you to connect with both locals living and sharing in your immediate area, as well visitors enjoying your city.

Share pictures that you’ve taken via your social web such as Twitter and Facebook, then create a photoblog using Posterous or similar. If you took picture while you were out with your clients, email them or send a postcard, using a super simple service like Instapost or Postagram.

Create a photo-book to share with clients and potential clients, insert a blurb or use MyPublisher.com. You can also create and print calendars, stickers, magnets, and anything that will print.  A canvas printed and mounted picture of the facade or view from the new home could be a great closing gift.

Target Expired Listings by taking a picture of their home “Instagramming it up” and send them a postcard using Postagram with a link back to a short “why list with me video or blog post”.  I prefer Postagram over the other postcard services as the photo is actually perforated in the postcard and can be popped out, thereby encouraging them to keep it longer than a postcard.

Join the local IG community, either locally via Instagrammers.com and or IG meetups.

Host a IG Challenge about your community.

I’ve created a large resource list (as well as screenshots of all my apps) on Evernote here.

It’s not about a large following, it’s about an engaged one.  (Tweet This)

Instagram, for me, has created that, and more.

 

I’m super excited to be an Inman Ambassador for Real Estate Connect this January in NYC, where I will be taking Instagram-type photos throughout the event.  You can follow my work on Twitter using this hashtag: #ICNYig.