It might not seem like it at first glance, but with over 100 million monthly users, 40 million photos posted per day and over 1000 comments per second, Instagram is one of the largest social networking platforms around, even surpassing Twitter in mobile traffic late last year. This free photo sharing application for iPhone and Android makes it simple to create stunning images that can easily be shared with your network in a matter of moments. Users can like and comment on photos, search photos by location or hashtag and even tag other users in their own photos.
So with all the hype – and a billion dollar acquisition from Facebook – why is Instagram often overlooked by real estate folks when talking about social media and online marketing strategy? After all, you would suspect that a social network built for smartphones (which never leave many agents’ hands) and built around sharing images (listing photos are the core of real estate advertising) would be a no-brainer, but we’ve hardly seen anything around the web explaining how to put Instagram to work in your own real estate business.
So let’s change that, shall we! Here are 7 different ways that you can starting using Instagram to increase your listing exposure and promote your business online.
1. Showcase Your Listings & Business
The most obvious use of the bunch is also the most important. Since Instagram is all about sharing beautiful photos, snap a picture of your listing’s most interesting/beautiful/gorgeous features add one of the available filters and voila, you’ve got a drool-worthy listing photo that rivals some professional shots. But remember, think beyond the listing photo; you can use pictures to showcase any part of your business. Be it photos of the charitable causes you donate your time to or photos of the neighborhood you specialize in.
Pro-tip: Just make sure you don’t go overboard on the filters & effects. There is nothing worse than a photo that is too manipulated.
2. Share The Love
Once you’ve created your photo, share it with the world! The great thing about Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook is that it makes sharing your photos on other social networks as simple as pressing a button. With one click you can cross-post your photo to Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook and Foursquare. You can also email a link to the photo as well.
Pro-tip: A great tactic is to cross-post your Instagram photos to your Facebook page to give your fans a ‘sneak-peek’ at the listing you are about to list. Build some excitement!
3. (Geo)Location Is Key
Since Instagram is built for smartphones, geolocation plays an important role. Users can enable the ‘Photo Map‘ feature which will showcase where you’ve taken your photos and explore where others have taken photos on a map. This is especially important for establishing your expertise in a particular area. If users see you posting lots of photos in a certain neighborhood that will do much more to convince them you are indeed the neighborhood expert (better than any bus bench can)
4. Explore Your World
One of the most important/powerful features in Instagram is the ‘Explore’ tab. From here users can search for photos that interest them by user, and more importantly, by hashtag. Since Twitter has socialized the idea of the #hashtag Instagram users have taken to it with force – adding hashtags to photos to make for easy search-ability. Find the most relevant tags for your own photos and use them to reach a whole new audience.
Pro-tip: Make sure that you limit your #hastags to just a few. No one likes seeing a photo with 20+ hashtags attached to it. It looks unprofessional to most users.
5. Turn Online Into Offline
Now that you have created your Instagram profile and filled with all manner of awesome real estate photos, it’s time to make something tangible! There are a variety of services available to transform your photos into everything from coffee mugs to stickers and magnets – the perfect way to further advertise your listing or to give to clients as a closing gift for their new home. Some of our favorite services are:
Printstagram – Turn your photos into adorable micro-prints that make for unique print-marketing pieces. Who wants a photocopied feature sheet when they can have a miniature coil-bound book highlighting your listing?
Postagram – Probably the slickest direct-mail solution around. Choose your photos, enter an address and you’ve got yourself a unique listing postcard that is guaranteed to impress.
StaticPixels – Create custom wall art prints from your photos. Possibly the greatest closing gift you could give a client. Even better, all the prints are printed on recycled cardboard to be sustainable and renewable.
6. Get A Photo Page With Every Profile!
One of the most recent additions to the Instagram ecosystem has been the launch of Web Profiles, a stylized web overview of all your photos and bio that gives others an at-a-glance look at your account. While these profiles allow users to like, comment and follow each other it also serves another (unintentional) purpose – it works great as a DIY listing showcase. Simply snap some shots of your listing, add the proper description and then you can send prospects to your account page at Instagram.com/yourusername (here’s mine for example). It works great in a pinch for advertising and gives users a slick overview of your listing inventory.
7. Put On Your Badge
It’s great to be involved in other social networks, but it won’t do you much good if no one knows you have an account. Add an Instagram badge to your website by visiting the badges page on Instagram’s site. From here you can choose from a variety of badge styles and get the code you need to put one onto your real estate website. That way prospects will always have another way to get in touch with you.
Bonus tip: Engage!
It goes without saying for success in all social networks, but sometimes it just bears repeating – you need to engage on Instagram to see results! Use the Explore feature to find users in your area or follow relevant #hastags, comment on photos you find interesting and respond to those who leave questions or comments for you. Engagement is the only way to be successful, online and offline.
Are you already using Instagram for your business? Leave a link to your web profile below!