Did you hear that Instagram is the fastest-growing social media platform globally, increasing its users by 23 percent in the last six months? What about the fact that Instagram is proactively trying to work with businesses now and has started an Instagram Handbook for Brands? Do you know that many of your kids didn’t stop actively using social media? All they did was move from Facebook to Instagram.

If none of those questions piqued your interest, there’s no need to continue reading, but if you haven’t adopted a strategy to implement this social network into your business yet, here are five reasons you should. (Please note: These items are intended for the advanced beginner and may not be suitable for someone who does not already have an Instagram profile.)

1. People want to see “behind the scenes”: Real estate is interesting to most people — just look at how many reality television shows are based on our industry. Share your experiences preparing one of your listings before it goes live. Capture the lifestyle of a local community that you’re privileged to be entrenched in. Show how happy your clients are when they find “the one” or when they’re leaving the closing table. As hectic as our jobs can be, they are NOT mundane, and there is beauty in most of the activities and places that are encountered throughout your day.

2. Facebook’s algorithm: It’s proprietary and it seems like Facebook changes it every day, so I can’t prove this point, but Instagram is Facebook’s baby, as evidenced by the $1 billion acquisition of the photo-sharing network in April 2012. Through the Instagram app, you have the option of also sharing your photo to Facebook (on your profile OR business page).

When you share Instagram photos on Facebook, Facebook wants people seeing beautiful filtered photos from their own family of networks. If you want your post to float to the top of the news feed for a longer amount of time, you’d have a better chance posting a photo through Instagram. Try sharing an image directly from a non-Facebook-owned network verses Instagram and see which one is displayed better and gets more engagement. For the simple fact of having your attractive real estate photos seen by more potential clients on Facebook, share them through Instagram.

3. Instagram’s Photo Maps: You have the option to share photos to your photo map before posting. This uses the geotag feature and puts a thumbnail of your photo onto a Google map so that you can see where it was taken. If you wanted to display your familiarity with a certain neighborhood or city, an eye-appealing Instagram photo map mixed with a Google map that shows listings you’ve sold, restaurants you’ve frequented, and local events you’ve been involved with proves that you are a local expert.

But wait, it gets better. There are plenty of third-party services, including SnapWidget, that utilize Instagram’s application programming interface, which allows you to showcase your photo map on your own website. Imagine having a page on your website titled “View the city through my phone.”

4. Personal Web profiles: Although Instagram used to be exclusively mobile, in early 2013 it created Web profiles that beautifully display your photos along with your profile photo and bio. You can find these at Instagram.com/[username] and they can be one more way to display your real estate expertise if you’re already exhibiting the aforementioned “behind the scenes” tactics.

The network has created downloadable badges to help you link and promote your Web profile. Getting consumers to your Instagram profile is one thing, but be sure to place a link to your main website in your bio so that this can be one more channel to bring prospects where you really want them. Take a look at how Georgia Wall, an agent from Seattle, puts her business on display at instagram.com/kirklandpeach as a great example to follow.

5. Short video tours of properties: Society’s attention span is on the decline and unless someone is already in love with a property, they probably aren’t interested in watching a five-minute video, slideshow or panoramic tour. Instagram allows you to share up to 15 seconds of video at a time by simply pressing and holding the record button, then lifting your finger to stop. You also have the ability to add previously recorded video from your phone. Try showing a 15-second video tour of a property by just capturing one to two seconds in each room. If you feel it moves too fast, keep in mind that the viewer can rewatch it and pause it, you’re just trying to get people interested in the property and your business.

Another option is utilizing Flipagram, which creates a short video with music using your previously taken photos. You can also share these videos (or your photos) by visiting your page on a desktop Web browser and clicking the share button on the right side of your video. This will generate an embed code for you that you can place into your blog, website or article, and Instagram ensures that everyone will clearly see that the content belongs to you.

With consumers being so visually driven, Instagram offers plenty of opportunity for the real estate business. I anticipate a large increase in agents adopting an Instagram strategy this year. With a camera on you at all times, compelling, content-filled workdays and the fastest-growing social network begging us to brand ourselves with its help, Instagram just makes sense for the real estate agent of the next frontier. If you’re already incorporating Instagram into your business, share your profile in the comments — I’m anxious to see some of the creative ways you are marketing through this medium.

Originally posted in February by Justin Levitch who lives in Washington, D.C., and is the VP of business development for Real Living | At Home. He is part of a family of Realtors from North Texas, and became the youngest managing broker for Coldwell Banker NRT at age 27.

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