Instagram’s fundamental advantage over other platforms is its visual-first nature. And users love it. Instagram (IG) has over 2 billion active users. Of that, 90% of users follow a brand on Instagram.
Given the visual nature and the user behavior, real estate marketing on Instagram makes perfect sense. The organic and ad content formats make it easy to showcase properties and the mobile-first approach is helpful for geo-targeting.
So how can you make the most of the platform? Let’s dive in.
1. Conduct research on the target audience and competitors
Before you start using your account on Instagram, first get a lay of the land. Start playing around with the features to get comfortable using them. Once you do that, you want to start with competitor and audience research. This is crucial to developing the perfect account and content.
Let’s tackle competitor research first. Competitor analysis allows you to identify gaps in the market, uncover trends, and market more effectively. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can use Instagram to analyze your competition:
Make a list of your top 10 competitors
There are three types of competitors:
- Direct – your direct competition that does precisely what you do
- Indirect – competitors that offer adjacent services
- New entrants – new competitors that seem promising
Check out their Instagram account
Your competitors have been posting content and gathering data. If you study their accounts and posts you will be able to figure out what worked for them and what didn’t. This will give you some ideas on how to set up your account and what to post. Use the following checklist to get a clear picture of their strategy:
- What kind of content are they posting?
- How frequently are they posting?
- Are they using Stories more than feed posts?
- Which features do they use?
- What kind of hashtags are they using?
- How popular are those hashtags?
- Are they targeting a specific kind of user?
- Who are they following?
- Who are their followers?
Overall, you should be focusing on the following metrics. These will help you measure how effective a competitor’s strategy is and set realistic benchmarks you can achieve. You might also want to check out reports from other companies like Mention to get an idea of what the average metrics look like. Here are some metrics you might want to check out.
- Followers: Followers are the number of people following an account on Instagram. If an account has more followers it can reach more people. Beware that some of these accounts might have fake followers.
- Likes: Likes are the number of people who like a post. If a good percentage of followers are liking an account’s posts it means that the account has more real followers and is posting quality content. If it gets a low number of likes, it means that either the content is bad or the account has fake followers.
- Comments: Comments are an indicator of top-quality engagement as it takes more effort to write a comment than to simply like a post. If an account is getting many comments, it is doing a lot right.
- Engagement: Engagement is the number of likes, comments, and views (if the account posts videos) that an Instagram account gets. Studying all of these collectively will help you gather more useful data.
- Posts: You also need to check out how many times a day an account posts on Instagram. This will help you figure out what frequency works best. Don’t just look at the number of traditional posts, but also the number of Reels and Stories the account posts daily or weekly.
- Top hashtags: Hashtags increase engagement as they help categorize your posts and people can follow hashtags on Instagram. Adding the right hashtags will help you reach people interested in your posts. So, check out the common hashtags that your competitors are using.
Map the data to your strategy
All the powerful insights you collect have to be mapped to your marketing strategy on Instagram.
For instance, if your competitor is using Reels more than Stories, you should align your content strategy to include 30-second videos for Reels instead of posting more Stories. Or, based on who follows your competition, you can use this information to tailor your ideal customer persona (ICP).
Another factor could be timing. If you find that most of your competitors are posting at night or morning instead of the afternoon like most studies recommend, you can experiment with some new times. You also need to make a list of all the potential hashtags you can use in your post, based on what your top competitors are including in theirs.
Make sure you pay attention to the negatives too. If you find that posts on a certain topic lead to a lot of angry comments, it would be best for you to steer clear of that topic. As you can see, competitive analysis already gives you a window into your potential audience, but you can dive deep into your target demographic with these tips:
Look at your existing buyer persona
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Your existing audience is already on Instagram. Find out what they’re doing on the platform so that you can serve them better. Let’s take a look at Nomad Developments, a London-based real estate developer’s Instagram profile, to exemplify this.
Their target demographic is pretty evident from their profile – London-based with an affinity for modern design and luxury and someone that can appreciate architecture. Starting with your existing buyer persona allows you to create a content strategy that serves them.
Check your Instagram Insights
If you have been using Instagram already, you can use the insights from your business account to verify if you are reaching the right target audience and uncover a new segment interested in your content. This is only available for business and creator accounts so make sure to switch to a business account to unlock this goldmine.
To check your Instagram insights, click on the Insights -> Audience. This is what you can find:
- Accounts Reached – how many accounts does your content reach? Instagram gives you a visual breakdown of your followers vs. non-followers that are seeing your content.
- Content-Type – What kind of content reaches users more?
- Top Posts – You can tap on this and explore what kind of content gets more eyeballs.
- Impressions – The number of times your account shows up on users’ feeds, stories, and the explore page.
- Profile Visits – What do your users do when they land on your profile? You can check out clicks on your website, email, or business address.
- Total followers – This is a crucial metric. This allows you to learn more about your followers – age range, times they are active, gender, top locations.
Study your followers
Apart from the insights you get from Instagram, you can glean some valuable insights if you look at your followers’ profiles.
- Who do they follow?
- What kind of content do they like?
- Do they follow your competitors?
- Do they follow influencers?
For instance, if you find out that your followers tend to gravitate towards a handful of influencers, you can partner up with them to create a marketing campaign. You can also use Instagram polls and questions to study your followers.
2. Set up the perfect Instagram business account
Armed with all of this research, now you can set up the perfect Instagram business account. Apart from being able to view Insights on your business account, the other benefits are enormous. Here are some of them:
You can schedule posts: When you have a business account, you can directly schedule posts on Instagram. There’s no need to use a third-party app.
Promote posts: You can promote your best-performing organic posts with Instagram’s promoted posts option and reach more people instantly.
Run ads: You can also use the Facebook ads manager to run detailed ads on Instagram. You can use these ads to drive traffic, generate sales, get more brand impressions, and get followers.
Create shoppable posts: When you have a business account, you can integrate it with your ecommerce store and tag products in your photos and videos. This will help you drive more traffic and generate sales.
Add links in stories: Initially, to share links in stories, you needed to have more than 10,000 followers. But Instagram recently introduced a link sticker that business accounts can use no matter how many followers they have.
You can switch to a business account by going into your Settings and clicking on ‘Switch to business account.’
Now you want to choose the right category for your account. You can choose from:
- Real Estate
- Real Estate Service
- Real Estate Company
- Real Estate Developer
- Real Estate Agent
- Real Estate Investment Firm
- Real Estate Lawyer
- Real Estate Title & Development
- Real Estate Appraiser
- Commercial Real Estate Agency
Based on the sheer number of categories Instagram allows you to choose from, it is pretty obvious that real estate businesses like yours are already on the network. This category helps users understand what your business is all about and also pulls up your profile when they are searching for real estate related keywords.
Now, let’s take a look at Ansley Real Estate, a luxury real estate brokerage firm:
The brand’s name already has “Real Estate” in it which is great for Instagram SEO. SEO (search engine optimization) is a term people usually use in reference to search engines. They are tactics you can use to appear at the top of search results. But it applies to social networks like Instagram too.
On Instagram, if you optimize your business name with keywords that your audience usually searches, you will appear at the top of the results and people will find you quicker. This is why along with your brand name, you should write a bit about what you do to help users find your profile.
Also, make sure you choose a good Instagram username. Here are some quick tips to get it right:
- Add your brand name to make it easy for people to find your account.
- Make sure it is similar to the username you use on other social media. This will make it easy for your followers on other social networks to find you.
- Ensure that it’s unique. Instagram will reject your username if someone already has it.
- If possible, add some keywords as it too can help with your Instagram SEO.
Ansley has a one-line bio which does not give you enough clarity. If you look at their website, then it is immediately obvious that they are a luxury real estate brokerage firm. Consider adding that information to your Instagram bio so that users know who you are from the get-go, like this:
When you read the first line in the bio you immediately realize that it is a global community. The “Buy | Sell | Rent | Promote” helps you understand what to expect from the profile. They have also tagged another account which you can do if you are co-marketing or have a separate profile or a specific service. Finally, the last line is a good example of a clear CTA (call-to-action) that lets users know what to expect when they click on that link.
Being the visual platform that Instagram is, there is no way for you to add links to posts. You can add them to Stories but Stories primarily help engage your existing followers. So, the link in your bio is important. You can either keep updating that link for every post or send them to your website.
What a lot of brands have taken to, is to create a unique experience for Instagram. Some tools like Linktree and Jotform Apps allow you to create a simple landing page where you can add links. This is what real estate pro, Alexa Sanchez’s Instagram bio link looks like:
Finally, you want to use the highlights section in your bio effectively. Any story that you share can be saved as a highlight so that users can view it even after 24 hours are up. You can group stories and add a cover for the highlight so that it has visual appeal.
For instance, All Things Real Estate has a really nice take on highlights:
Highlights that appear on your account, below the bio, are a nice way to share more information about your business. When you publish an Instagram story, it usually vanishes within 24 hours, but using highlights you can unarchive it, add an attractive icon, and display it under your bio. Highlights will remain on your account for as long as you keep them.
You can use them to share more information that you weren’t able to include in the bio. As you can see above, All Things Real Estate uses highlights to promote its apparel and podcasts and to share more information about its business.
3. Build a funnel that compliments your Instagram marketing
Your Instagram real estate marketing strategy has to align with your overall marketing funnel. Instagram may be a brand awareness tool for you or a way to acquire new customers or to stay in touch with buyers. Based on that, you should have a clear goal.
Let’s say your goal is to use it as a customer acquisition channel. Your objective would then be to acquire X leads per month or per quarter.
Now your strategy has to support that. One part of it would be to leverage your existing follower base through stories and feed posts and accompanying them with the right hashtags. And the other part is to increase your organic reach through Reels. Reels are 60-second videos you can post on Instagram. It’s a feature that Instagram introduced to help it compete with TikTok. This is why when you post Reels, you tend to reach more people. Take advantage of them while Instagram rewards you with extra exposure.
With each type of content, you have to bring them to a central point – your Instagram profile. Here you want to optimize for the action you want the user to take. Do you want them to book an appointment, read a blog post, visit your website for more details, or sign up for your email list? Make this clear with your bio and profile buttons.
You can also nurture leads through email marketing. If you focus on educating your users through Instagram and lead them through a series of emails that explain the nitty-gritty of homeownership, they are going to look to you as an expert when they finally are in the market for a home.
4. Create attention-grabbing posts:
This one’s a no-brainer. High-quality images and videos kill on Instagram. And you don’t necessarily need fancy equipment. The basic principles no matter what equipment you are using are this:
- Use natural light or soft light
- Avoid overexposing your images
- Use the golden hour if possible. This is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. These timings provide the most optimal light for photography.
- Follow the rule of thirds
- Use leading lines
- Be creative
You don’t want to always rely on Instagram’s built-in tools for editing your photos and videos. There are plenty of free and paid tools that allow you to enhance the quality of your visual content.
Pro Tip: Users love the color blue in photos. So, you can sneak blue in the actual image or use editing tools to add a blue highlight. You might want to use a shade of blue that goes well with your brand colors. As it is also important to consistently include your brand colors in your images and videos. This will help your followers recognize your content as soon as they see it, even if someone else posts it.
When it comes to what kind of content you should put out, consider the following buckets:
- Awareness – show your users who you are and what you can do for them
- Education – educate your buyers about real estate and establish your expertise
- Engagement – real estate inspiration, new property listings
- Social proof – your happy clientele and their testimonial
Pay attention to captions as well. They aid in converting users to followers and consequently buyers. Here’s Realty Ryan’s latest Instagram post:
Based on this, you can already see a couple of things you can emulate – adding emojis, formatting for the post, and adding a clear CTA (not visible in this image but it asks users to get in touch with questions).
Here are some guidelines you can use to write the perfect Instagram caption:
- Your first sentence has to be catchy
- Write how you talk
- Use elements of storytelling
- Ask a question or include a CTA
- Use emojis
- Experiment with caption length
- Use the right hashtags
Hashtags on Instagram help your content be found and act as keywords in SEO. You can either group them together at the end of your caption or use a separate comment to plug them in. Generally, you should aim to have a mix of branded hashtags along with real estate-specific hashtags. You want to choose hashtags that have a decent following.
#realestate is an example of a good hashtag as millions of people have already used it. A hashtag like this will help you reach a lot of people.
To quickly create images and find hashtags, you can use Tailwind. It is primarily an Instagram scheduling tool. But it has features like Create for quickly creating images and Hashtag Finder which analyzes your visuals and suggests relevant hashtags, see the example below:
5. Share live tours:
Instagram Live is an underrated feature that can unlock some real opportunities for your real estate business. When you go live, Instagram sends a push notification to all your followers and it adds your profile’s Live button at the top before other stories.
Go live during the times that your audience is most active and you can do a live tour and show off the best features of that property. Virtual tours are an excellent way of letting users know what kind of properties you deal with and give them a walkthrough of the property.
Remember to save the live video to repurpose the content. You can edit with a good editing tool like InVideo and upload it to Instagram and place the most engaging 15 seconds of the video at the beginning.
Instagram shows the 15-second preview first and then users can choose to view the entire video.
Other things you can do on Instagram Live are Q&As and hosting experts or influencers. You can also interact with your followers by having them on and answer their real estate questions.
6. Use ads and partner with influencers:
130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month. That is the fundamental difference between Instagram and other social media platforms. Users are following brands and almost expect to be served with a targeted ad. You can take advantage of ads and influencers and quickly generate attention to your properties.
You can stick to organic methods only, but it takes a while to build an audience big enough. Also, the Instagram algorithm limits the reach of organic posts. That story or feed post you posted earlier will not reach as many people as you’d like to. This is why it is important to supplement organic methods with paid methods.
And there are two ways you can go about this:
- Promote existing posts that are performing well
- Create multi-platform ads with Ads Manager
Here are some stats on Instagram ads that can help inform your decision:
- Instagram story ads are popular. 4 million businesses use them monthly
- 63% of the time, mobile-shot Story ads outperform studio-shot ads
- 89% of the time, story ads with an emphasis on the CTA perform better
While you could promote existing posts, Stories outperform ads in the feed and have a lower CPM.
But ads can be pretty expensive based on your campaign objectives. A good alternative is to use influencer marketing. As 83% of people credit an influencer for their shopping decision. Nicole Beauchamp, a real estate advisor offers bespoke services to both buyers and sellers and has worked with real estate businesses to promote listings and engage with potential buyers.
The best way to find the right influencer is to look at real estate agents that understand the business and have an engaged, sizable following.
Instagram is the future of real estate:
Here’s a quick checklist that recaps the strategy you should follow:
- Conduct comprehensive research
- Set up the perfect IG business account
- Build a funnel that works for you
- Create high-quality engaging content
- Use IG live for virtual tours
- Leverage ads and influencer marketing
Real estate marketing is extremely competitive. And Instagram is the solution to stand out in this red ocean. According to FitSmallBusiness, only 14% of realtors are on Instagram whereas 83% of all home buyers want to see pictures of the property online.
There is a clear demand and supply gap in real estate. One that you can fill using the strategy in this article. Jump on the IG bandwagon and start growing your real estate business.
About the author: Rachel Bowland is the content manager at Social Marketing Writing and Creatiwitt – she likes to write about marketing and design.