Instagram for Real Estate: A Complete Guide for Agents to Build Like, Know and Trust

Instagram for Real Estate: A Complete Guide for Agents to Build Like, Know and Trust

You might be thinking, “Instagram for real estate? Really?”

Yes, really. Here’s why.

Whether you’ve been a real estate agent for a year or a decade, your most important job is staying in touch with and building out your network. After all, you never know when a friend or relative needs to buy or sell a home. Not only that, but a home is the biggest expense in most people’s lives. And accordingly there is a healthy commission that someone is going to receive with each transaction for being of service.

This is why for real estate agents, your network is your net worth.

However, getting a new listing is more difficult than simply getting to know everyone in town. As real estate professionals you need to be engaging your past customers, sphere of influence, and prospective clients on a daily basis to grow your real estate business. These people might hire you themselves, or they may make a referral.

With that said, the same people might know other Realtors or choose based on corporate branding. Plus, many home buyers will “shop” for a home online after hours. This is why you need to market yourself constantly. While snail mail, phone calls, and email are still important for real estate marketing, social media gives you a chance to be engaging and found 24/7.

You’re probably already on Facebook and maybe you’ve toyed around with LinkedIn. Twitter has its value. But when we think of the most engaging social media platform today where I believe realtors have the biggest change of getting relevant eyeballs, I think of Instagram.

Why Instagram? And Does Instagram Really Help Real Estate Agents?

Why Instagram? And Does Instagram Really Help Real Estate Agents?

Before you start to use social media for networking, you must choose the right social media network. Instagram has a reputation for being young and fashionable, while Facebook is a noisy, crowded place and LinkedIn is more buttoned down. However, of all social media channels where homebuyers or home sellers might be active in mass numbers, it is safe to say that Instagram is the most engaging social network today when we look at average engagement rates for content published.

Don’t believe me? Try publishing the same image on your Instagram account and Facebook page with similar follower counts and compare the numbers. In a majority of cases, Instagram content will get you the most eyeballs.

Instagram is where people love to hang out.

In some ways, Instagram functions like the television of yesteryear. People log onto the platform to see what’s going on in the world and hang out with their friends. And in turn, the things people learn or consume on Instagram can easily influence them to make a purchase.

This idea is more than academic. In fact, the average time Instagram users spend on that website or app each day is about 53 minutes. With today’s busy lifestyles, this is quite a bit. And it’s about the amount of time spent on one episode of a TV show. Advertising, both in terms of paid social and influencer content, is highly effective.

Need more convincing? The average time spent on Instagram is about the same as your daily Facebook scroll. This is true, even though the types of content on Instagram and Facebook are a bit different, and many people have significant overlap between the people followed on each. Finally, while other networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Nextdoor and even Yelp are important, Instagram simply gives you the most visibility in its algorithm today.

Instagram helps you reach a demographic that’s buying real estate.

Here’s the thing. Instagram is a newer social network than Facebook, and it has a reputation for being popular with younger people. In particular, Millennials and Generation Z love their Instagram. And if you think that this demographic is too young to buy a home, you’d be wrong. In fact, the National Association of Homebuilders did a study on homeownership. They found that nearly 90% of Millennials would love to be homeowners, but that instead of building a custom home they often wait longer to find the perfect existing house.

Instagram helps you think visually – and home selling is visual!

Instagram helps you think visually - and home selling is visual!

Finally, Instagram will force you to think visually and create the social media content that will help you be successful repurposing it elsewhere on social media, in emails, or on your website. Think about it this way: when people look for houses on Zillow or other home showcase sites, they flip through the pictures which are available. It’s one thing to rely on the old-fashioned single picture and price/description of a newspaper article, and another to see multiple full-color pictures.

As you probably already know, the typical real estate client wants to picture themselves – and their furniture – in a house. One of the great things about Instagram is that you can use pictures to tell a story about them in their dream home. When potential buyers see this kind of creativity in a real estate agent, they’re more likely to pick up the phone (or PM you).

People work with PEOPLE they know, like, and trust

When done right, your Instagram profile can be a magnet to showcase who you are and how you support your community through your work. With every Instagram post of you or together with your family, you are building a type of digital know, like and trust that can accumulate to the point that when you meet someone, they will already like you just from your social media presence.

This might sound crazy to some, but considering that 22% of weddings come from people who meet online, the idea of getting to know someone digitally and building a deep relationship from it is not uncommon in our society today!

How Do I Start an Instagram Account for Real Estate?

How Do I Start an Instagram Account for Real Estate?

Ready to try out Instagram as part of your networking efforts? Your first step is to create the right account. This account should take your goals into account, and project your professional persona. Although Instagram accounts are free to use, there is one important thing to consider.

Personal account vs. business account

Your first step is to choose the kind of account you want. On Instagram, there are two main options: personal and business. For most real estate professionals, a personal account is usually better. The reason for this is that most social media algorithms place business accounts at a disadvantage. However, I have found that Instagram doesn’t do this as much as Facebook.

There’s one exception to my recommendation of a personal account. If you want to place paid advertising, then you will need a business account. Combined with the more advanced Instagram analytics, you may decide that the potential algorithm penalty is worth working around.

What Should I Do Before I Launch My Instagram Page?

what is a _____?

Setting up your Instagram page is a little more complicated than just signing up. Instead, you need a strategy for growing your network and building your brand. Specifically, because you can’t just throw up a funny joke like you could on Facebook, all of your content must be visual. Take a few minutes to consider the following to help you brainstorm content ideas for Instagram.

Determine your personal branding

First, think about your personal brand. In particular, you should know what your strengths are and what differentiates you from others. You should try to weave these elements into your content.

Personal branding is also about differentiation. Many will differentiate their Instagram content by only wearing certain colors, take photos at certain locations, or use the same Instagram filter or Photoshop preset for all of their images.

Personal branding is an art, so if you are drawing a blank here, let’s move on to some easier ways to think about this.

What unique passions do you have to share?

What unique passions do you have to share?

Especially since many other real estate agents also use Instagram, you need to showcase your personality. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people have for connecting with others is finding something they have in common. By sharing your passions, you will increase the chances that people will connect on a personal level, then potentially want to do business with you when the time is right.

What professional experiences or information can you share?

Similarly to sharing your personality and interests, professional experience is valuable for building a following. This can be within the real estate industry, or even things outside of it. One example might be having an interest in people with disabilities. Someone who fits in that category may realize you’d be perfect for finding that wheelchair accessible home. If you are an expert in real estate investment or perhaps understand real estate tax laws more than anyone, you can create and share great content on your Instagram feed.

Who can you feature in your content from your ecosystem or community?

For Realtors, this is often a happy customer. It doesn’t matter if you helped them buy, sell, or both. Future customers want to know you can get results. Most realtors stop here at testimonials. Rather than a testimonial, think of getting a picture of a happy family standing in front of their dream house and “Sold” sign shaking your hand. The power of the visual speaks for itself.

And don’t just stop at your customers. If there are people in your ecosystem or people you know in your community that are doing cool things, you can include them as part of your content, either by interviewing them or re-sharing their content. In this way, through content, you can actually improve your community networking AND give your followers valuable content.

What Should I Post on Instagram for Real Estate?

Once your account is set up and you’ve gone through the brainstorming of content ideas that I recommend above, it’s time to plan your content calendar. My best advice here is to have a plan for posting before you begin. This way, it’s harder for you to get off track. With that said, here are some guidelines.

First, don’t make the mistake of only publishing professional content: Your content should be a mix of the professional and the personal to attract people and not repel them by posting content that looks like one advertisement after another. One of the biggest advantages of Instagram is the opportunity to connect with people.

Second, your market and strategic focus will determine a lot of content you will post from a professional perspective. If you only market to a beachside community, I expect a lot of your content will be about the beach lifestyle. Also, if you focus on first-home buyers versus FSBOs, your content should reflect that.

Third, consider that your personal branding will determine a lot of the content you will publish from a personal perspective. For example, my Instagram profile showcases a love of Japanese food and culture. This lets you get to know me, and at the same time builds a connection with my clients in Asia.

Fourth, when creating your content strategy don’t forget to think how you can incorporate video into each aspect of it. This works especially well with real estate. In fact, one study determined that adding video to a real estate listing resulted in 403% more inquiries than those which lacked video.

Finally, following other real estate agents who are already doing well on Instagram will give you some great content ideas to inspire your content creation. In particular, you’ll learn what works well and what doesn’t just by examining the engagement that each one of their posts gets.

The 7 Instagram Content Buckets for Real Estate Agents

Need some ideas for Instagram posts? I recommend that real estate agents begin to think about publishing a variety of content and then find what is easiest for them to create and/or is most effective. Here, you can measure effectiveness based on engagement and inquiries from potential clients.

Using the concept of content buckets that I wrote about in Maximize Your Social, these 7 content buckets will give you daily ideas (7 days to a week) and if you can find 4 ideas for each bucket per month, you can be publishing daily on Instagram.

Listings / events / promotional activities

Listings / events / promotional activities

Probably the most obvious content bucket is the overtly promotional. Feel free to post on the latest listings, open houses, or meet-and-greets. This way, your followers will know what you have to offer. “Promotional” also includes things like testimonials, but remember that Instagram users would like to see visual over text so try to post those in moderation.

Collaboration content

Another way to promote yourself is by collaborating with your local community. This can include local celebrities, business owners, and thought leaders. By doing this, you can introduce yourself to their networks and provide unique content to your followers. Make your Instagram presence once that is good enough to represent your entire community!

Strategic content

Next, consider posting strategic content based on your market. For instance, if you primarily work with luxury residences then you might showcase the latest luxury furnishings. Or, you might represent the kind of person who’d enjoy such a home.

Community content

Community content

Being proud of your community is a great advertisement for your services. One way to include community content is posting about the fun you had at the local Memorial Day celebration. Or, you might showcase a local landmark. Once again, if anyone can monetize their being an influencer of a particular community, it should be YOU!

Real estate company content

If you work for a real estate company then people should know it. As with many other professions, people prefer to work with others who are proud of their jobs. In this case, being a Realtor for a particular company provides social proof and credibility. It also means that your brokerage might be able to offer you content that you can share as is to lessen your content creation load.

Personal passion content

Personal passion content

In this case, you’re talking about your hobbies. Or, it could be some social cause or other important interest. Posting on these things shows potential clients that you’re human and creates different ways to connect with them.

Holiday content

Finally, there’s always holiday content. People love to see how you and your family celebrate holidays. And for holidays which you don’t celebrate, it means a lot when you reach out anyway.

Further Reading: 19 Engaging Real Estate Social Media Posts Ideas

Don’t Forget Your Hashtags

One of the common ways people find new content creators on Instagram is by discovering their content. This can happen through a friend’s feed, but it also results from organic search.

On Instagram, search is often done with hashtags. For this reason, it’s unsurprising that Instagram posts featuring a hashtag receive 12.6% extra engagement compared with untagged posts. We also know that Realtors achieve similar results through the effective use of hashtags.

Need some ideas? Consider these popular real estate hashtags:

  • Locale: #county #city #neighborhood so that users searching in your community can find you
  • Professional: #realtor #realestate #realestateagent #yourbrokeragename so that those looking for agents or your brokerage can find you
  • Transactional: #forsale #justlisted #newlisting #homeforsale #openhouse to help those looking for new properties find yours FAST!
  • Property Style: #beachfront #bungalow #victorian #modern #dreamHome #starterhome to be found by those looking for specific types of homes
  • Luxury: #luxuryrealestate #luxuryliving #luxurylife #milliondollarlisting #luxuryhome #luxurylistings #luxurylifestyle if your property style is that of a luxury home
  • Hybrid: #cityrealestate #cityrealtor #cityforsale #cityopenhouse for those searching for something more specific

Further reading: 8 Powerful Ways How to Use Instagram Hashtags for More Exposure

Don’t Forget to Location Tag!

The other kind of tag on Instagram is the location tag. These simply identify where a picture was taken. Studies done on location tagging indicate that these tags boost engagement by as much as 79% for the typical post. Considering that real estate is location-specific, you can imagine even better results in this sector.

Further Reading: Instagram Highlights: 10+ Ways You Should Use Them for Your Marketing

Instagram is More Than Just Photos: Instagram Stories, Reels and IGTV

When most of us think of Instagram, the classic photo post comes to mind first. After all, Instagram was originally designed as a photo sharing site. However, nowadays there are several kinds of content that you can post. Let’s take a look at each one.

  • Instagram Stories allow you to engage daily when you don’t have content to put on your Instagram Feed and short videos and photos make it easy to be engaging. How can you do this? By using existing photos and repurposing them into this new content. Instagram Stories also allows you to do engaging content such as Questions, Polls, and Instagram Live. Often these items are fan favorites.
  • Instagram Reels is a content format that comes from TikTok but will get you the most eyeballs. People just love the short videos, and they can absorb information quickly. Consider putting your Stories on Reels and see what happens.
  • IGTV is for longer videos more than a minute. If you post videos to YouTube or have longer videos of your listings, they will be stored in IGTV when you post them to your feed. This is an efficient way to share and repurpose content across platforms. Consider using it for video home listings.

Further Reading: The Top 23 Instagram Tools You Need for Successful Marketing

How Often Should Realtors Post on Instagram?

Especially since Instagram posts can take time to create and post, most people want to know how often they should do this. Most Realtors want to post often enough to keep people’s attention, but not so much that they spend too much time on it or bombard their followers.

In most cases, I recommend 3 levels of involvement: Beginners post once a month to get used to it, Intermediate users once a week, and Experts daily. As you increase your familiarity with Instagram and your following, it’s worthwhile to post more often. You’ll also find it takes less time to produce each post.

How Do I Get More Instagram Followers for Real Estate?

No matter how well you plan ahead, one thing’s for sure: you must start at zero with followers. However, with proper account management you won’t be at zero for long. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • First, remind everyone in your network that you are on Instagram in your email signature, newsletter, and other materials. This will encourage them to check out your profile.
  • Second, find and follow your family, friends, clients, and business partners on Instagram. Many will follow you back. Then, as they interact with your content many of their followers will also see it. You never know when someone needs a Realtor.
  • Post frequently and use hashtags generously so people interested and/or subscribed to those hashtags can follow you. Arguably this increased visibility is the most important reason to use tags. And by posting frequently you show that the topic is important to you.
  • Engage! Not only with people you follow in your feed, but also go out and virtually network with people that you don’t know in your community. Then, engage with their content as part of your daily routine on Instagram. Once again, this gets you noticed and followed.

Further Reading: How to Grow Your Instagram Following from 0 to 1000 Using These 6 Hacks

Don’t Forget Instagram Ads

As I mentioned above, you can choose a business or personal account to grow your network. If you selected a business account, you do have a disadvantage in the algorithm because business exposure is highly pay-to-play. This can be advantageous, though, depending on your overall strategy due to the availability of paid advertising. Here’s why:

  • Using Facebook Ads Manager you can target by zip code for those living in, most recently were in, or those traveling in that location. This way, you can show your ads to people who are most likely to be interested in buying or selling a home.
  • You can also micro-target people of certain demographics, interests, or behaviors. For instance you can choose people who recently moved in the last 6 months, who recently started a new job, or people who live in the top 5/10/25% of US ZIP codes by average household income. By targeting ads based on these criteria you can increase your return on investment.

Further Reading: Tips for Effectively Retargeting Customers Using Instagram

Are you overwhelmed by all this information on Instagram for real estate? You shouldn’t be. My best advice is that once you have formed a basic strategy you just jump in. Get started by publishing, following and engaging with people. Then, the rest will come naturally as you begin to use Instagram more and more and be inspired by everyone! Ultimately, learning to use Instagram is like mastering any other skill. Once you get the basics mastered, the rest is much easier.

If you need some extra hand-holding, consider joining my brand new Digital First Group Coaching Membership Community.

Any other questions about Instagram for real estate that I didn’t cover? Any other advice that you would like to add based on your unique experiences? Please feel free to chime in in the comments below! Thanks!

Further Reading: TikTok for Real Estate Agents: 9 Tips to Get Started

Hero photo by Daniel Barnes on Unsplash

Actionable advice for your digital / content / influencer / social media marketing.
Join 13,000+ smart professionals who subscribe to my regular updates.
Share with your network!
Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

Articles: 399


  1. Great post Neal. However, what about the creator account?

    Should real estate agents make a business account or a creator account and can you brief a little about the difference?

    • That is a great question Ahmed – thank you!

      You don’t necessarily need to, but I have a Creator Account myself, and I think the rule of thumb is that Creators are for people and Business Accounts are for businesses. If you are in real estate where YOU are the brand, a Creator account might make sense and also gives you access to ads and analytics without the possibility of the Instagram algorithm dinging you because you are a business (no scientific data that supports this, just a personal belief of mine).

      You can find out more about Creator Mode here.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Thank you for providing this great rundown for free! Its so hard to find this info for free nowadays. This will help me build a plan for posting! Any good books or more articles you would recommend on social media marketing?

Comments are closed.

Table Of Contents