You’ve probably heard that you should be on Instagram because it will help you win listings. But is this true? And, if it is, how can you make it happen?
Instagram is just like any other social media channel – you get out what you put in. It’s another potentially useful prospecting tool, but it won’t deliver miracles because people don’t shop on Instagram.
The key is to consistently deliver content that your target market finds useful and wants to share. That’s a great way for agents to get inside the heads of their audience – by becoming their favourite agent before they even decide they need an agent.
Soft-touch contact can create leads
Ray White Ermington sales executive Broderick Wright says a conversation over Instagram helped him set up an appraisal with a potential vendor whom he had previously met at an open home.
“I posted something on Instagram regarding a property I was selling in a rather eclectic working-class area, which one person responded to negatively since she’d had problems living in the same suburb,” Mr Wright says.
“I sent her a really nice post back saying she was welcome to a free market appraisal on her property to get her into a different part of the suburb, to which she came back with a big smile saying she’d love that.”
Mr Wright acknowledges that while it’s a slow-building process, agents can generate new business if they engage with people in a fun, yet professional, manner.
“You can create leads from Instagram. She’s not going to write on Instagram, ‘Here are my details, give me a call’. It’s more about being relevant. If you’re continually reminding people from an arm’s distance approach, I believe that’s the way people want to do business,” he says.
“You might not be selling for them for years but, if you’ve been doing this right, when the time comes, they’re going to call you as opposed to other agents that only do the same thing day in and day out.”
Instagram can also be an excellent branding tool, according to Toop&Toop head of sales and marketing Genevieve Toop. With that in mind, she encourages her staff to take advantage of the photos that are snapped for listings.
“We’ve found that this has led buyers to the property’s individual web address and also taken them directly to our sales partners’ profiles, which showcase all properties they have on the market, previous sales and their profile video,” Ms Toop says.
Ms Toop advises agents to use hashtags with Instagram posts, as they can get picked up by a wider audience and generate more publicity for the agent and their properties.
At the same time, she says it’s important to keep Instagram accounts interesting by mixing real estate imagery with events and other interesting posts.
“One of our team, Marina Ormsby, is very new to social media and combines those aspects very well,” Toop says.
“People are provided with an insight to her life and can see what sort of a person Marina is before they even pick up the phone to call for an appraisal.”
Understand online and offline communities
Although Instagram can be used to build an agent’s brand and generate leads, one digital expert warns against trying to do too much too soon.
Stepps director Josh Cobb says agents are mistaken if they believe Instagram will deliver a short-term payback.
“If I had to give any advice to any agent, your Instagram strategy, or any other social media strategy, is going to be most effective when you focus on building profile as opposed to generating leads because people don’t want to be sold to,” he says.
Mr Cobb has found that the agents who use Instagram most effectively are those who focus on delivering entertaining and relevant content to their local community.
“You’re better off focusing on adding value to the lives of the people in your community, where you’re just continuously front of mind for being entertaining and helpful instead of someone just trying to sell me something,” he says.
Instagram posts have to be targeted to the agent’s target market and should be the sort of content that these potential clients want to share.
“Try to think of your business as a person. Stop thinking of it as a real estate agent,” Mr Cobb says.
“If you’re posting content that they’re posting and they’re sharing, then you naturally weave into that ecosystem of Instagram.”