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Social media icons on smart phone screen.In real estate, agents focus on stories. Whether it’s the seller’s memories in their old home or the buyer’s hopeful dreams in their new one, agents use these emotions to connect with their clients. What better way for an agent to tell these stories than through a picture? It’s this idea that has turned Instagram into one of the largest social media platforms, with over 400 million monthly active users and about 3.5 billion “likes” happening each day. And if you plan on marketing to Millennials, Instagram is a great way to connect with this booming audience.

Instagram is a unique way to share photos and short videos, and is quite different from Facebook or Twitter. In fact, the average interaction on Instagram is about ten times higher than Facebook. Instagram gives you the ability to add filters to images and create taglines to share what’s happening in your life. While most use the app to share their personal life, many real estate professionals have started seeing the value of using Instagram to promote their business. Harnessing the power of Instagram can take some practice, but the results can be well worth it. Here are five tips to help you start promoting your real estate business on Instagram.

1. Behind the scenes
One of the most exciting ways to connect with users through Instagram is by sharing a behind-the-scenes look at your life as a real estate agent. If you work with a team, share your company culture by showcasing different events that may be happening in your office. If you’re a single agent, share a shot of your open house or a closing gift you’re planning to give to a client. Also, make an effort to show your personal side. If you’re a marathon runner, dog lover or wine enthusiast, feel free to share this niche with your followers as well. It can help you connect with more users and boost your fanbase.

2. Show off your listings
Think of different ways you can showcase your newest listing on your Instagram page. However, rather than posting a standard shot of the front of the house, separate your posts into different images. Find a special feature in the home and post a picture of it one day. Later in the week, show off the newly renovated kitchen. A few days later, share a picture of the fall flowers in the front yard.

To give your photos more of a pop, consider creating a collage or adding a text layover. Recently, Instagram created its own collage interface called Layout. Through this, users can easily create collages that upload seamlessly through Instagram. Add text layover, image overlays and more without the help of a graphic designer through apps such as PicMonkey or Font Candy. Also, don’t forget to tag the location of your listing. A recent survey found that adding a location to a post results in 79 percent higher engagement.

3. Use the video feature
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how many a video is worth. After featuring key pictures of your listing, do a video walk-through of listing. This can show potential clients exactly what they’ll see when they walk into the home. You can also create a video tour of the neighborhood. Show off any hot spots in the area and let viewers see what their life could be like if they purchase the listing. Keep in mind that Instagram videos can only contain 15 seconds of footage. To squeeze a little more into your video, Instagram teamed up with Hyperlapse to create time-lapse videos.

4. Optimize your content with hashtags
Hashtags, for example #realestate, are one of the best ways to optimize your Instagram posts. Including a hashtag makes your image searchable so others can find it, even if they don’t follow you. By tagging your post with a keyword (neighborhood name, newhome, househunting, openhouse, etc.), your picture will be grouped with images posted by other users who are using the same tag. This is a great way to engage with users who have similar interests and encourage them to follow you. We recommend using 5-10 hashtags to help draw in followers, since too many can scare visitors away.

5. Share the love
While responding to comments on your own pictures is a great way to start, make an effort to interact with others as well. Find users with similar interests and like or comment on their photos. You can also mention other users in your own posts by using the “@” sign. According to a recent survey, @mentions in captions receive 56 percent more engagement than those without. This can help you foster connections and build your group of followers. While these users may not be looking to buy or sell a home at the moment, they may plan to in the future or know someone who is. Keeping in contact with your followers helps to keep you top of mind.

While Instagram is a great way to promote your brand and your listings, it can be challenging for a busy real estate professional to maintain, along with other social sites. Need help managing your social presence? Homes.com’s Social team is here to help. Homes.com Social is a comprehensive social media suite, designed specifically for real estate professionals who are looking to better connect and engage with their audience. Give your real estate brand a social media strategy that is sure to boost your business.

For more information, visit homes.com.

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