Instagram for Realtors: The Definitive Guide to Generating Social Media Leads in 2019

In this post, we’re going to show you exactly how to use Instagram for real estate by optimizing your Instagram profile, building your followers, and maximizing your engagement. Follow this simple process and watch your sphere of influence come alive with leads and referrals. Let’s get started!

Why use Instagram for real estate?

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’ve seen your peers using Instagram for real estate, and you want to know how to get in on that action. Great idea! Instagram has been a game-changer for Realtors.

Just think about it:

Instagram is visual; real estate is visual. Who has access to more instagram-worthy photography than Realtors?

Instagram is personal; real estate is all about relationships. Most Realtors get 75% of their business from referrals and people they already know. With Instagram stories, you can now give your followers a sneak peak into your real estate life, so by the time they’re ready to buy or sell, they feel like they already know you.

Instagram is free. Even if your real estate business is in startup mode, you can achieve some pretty impressive reach and engagement.

Creating content and leveraging social media to build thought leadership is no longer optional for Realtors, and using Instagram for real estate is one of the simplest ways you can get started.

But a warning before we get started: don’t try to do too much at once. The number one mistake we see Realtors make is trying to implement every crazy marketing tactic they read a blog post about. 😛 You can go miles deep on this subject (videos, blogs, custom audiences, remarketing!), but if you try to implement a full-scale integrated digital marketing campaign all at once, you’ll fall flat.

Just start by getting in the habit of posting engaging content on Instagram. This guide will give you everything you need to know to get started using Instagram for real estate.

In this guide, you will learn:

  1. How to hone your target audience on Instagram
  2. How to create your brand on Instagram
  3. How to optimize your bio and profile page on Instagram
  4. The best types of content to post on Instagram and how to get more engagement
  5. How to track your results

How to hone your target audience on Instagram

Before you can even using Instagram for real estate, you have to understand the market you’re trying to generate leads from (this is true of any marketing endeavor, btw).

Have you ever seen a Realtor bio that looks like this?

Luis is a residential realtor specializing in first-time home buyers, luxury real estate, new construction, and investment properties in Chicago’s city and suburbs!!!!!!!!

Ugh! At least it’s not in all caps. Clearly, Luis doesn’t want to miss out on any opportunities But what’s wrong with this? By trying to appeal to everyone, he appeals to nobody. Think: would you rather capture 20% of a 500-person market or 1% of a 5,000-person market? That’s the choice Luis is making.

So who is your target audience? First-time home buyers in Chicago? Luxury properties in a certain neighborhood? Your target audience should be specific enough that when a member of it hears you say it, they think “hey, that’s me exactly!”

Once you’ve determined your target market, you need to understand the people who make it up – really climb into their heads and see what makes them tick.

  • What do they do for a living?
  • Do they have pets?
  • What grocery stores do they shop at?
  • What might their hobbies be?
  • Why are they buying or selling?
  • What fears do they have about the process?

The best way to answer these questions is to actually ask your current clients.

All this information makes up your “client persona” (Managing Broker Mike here: be mindful of all fair housing laws when constructing your personas – the psychographic information you collect is much more powerful than demographics anyway).

Understanding the personality of your target market will help you tailor your messaging. Your posts will be more relevant and therefore more memorable to the people who matter. You’ll see more engagement, and ultimately, more referrals.

Before you start using Instagram for real estate,  you must determine your audience. Need help ? Download our Social Media Brand Identity Worksheet here:

Download the Worksheet

How to create your brand on Instagram

With your target audience in mind, it’s time to craft your brand. Your brand is your reputation. It’s what you’re known for and how people perceive and experience you. Who ARE you?

Zoolander - Who am I?

Not only is it important to know who you are, you also need to know who you aren’t.

  • Are you a $10,000 suit-wearing power agent who sells more real estate than anyone?
  • Are you a relatable former teacher who educates your clients and brings a steady hand to challenging situations?
  • Are you a data wonk who can capitalize on subtle market trends that other Realtors miss?
  • Are you a member of the glitterati, selling all the most luxurious homes in town?

When it comes to determining your brand, the best piece of advice is to be yourself. It’s all about letting your personality shine through and cultivating a unique image. Know what distinguishes you from the others who do the same thing as you, and emphasize those characteristics.

It’s not always easy to put yourself out there on social media, but it’s important to overcome the fear of what people will think. Your audience can tell when you’re being authentic, and those are the types of posts that get the most likes and best engagement.

Once you have the touchy-feely stuff figured out, it’s time to give your audience something tangible to work with. We’re talking about your unique value proposition. One winning formula for a UVP that we like goes like this:

  • your name + what you do + why you’re different + why anyone should care

Let’s break this down:

Your name Hopefully you’ve already got a good grip on this one…

What you do Just get to the point, and keep it literal – you help your target audience buy, sell or rent homes.

Why you’re different – This is where we see most Realtors fail. You don’t have to be a one-of-a-kind unicorn (couldn’t hurt though), but your difference needs to be something that not anyone can say.

Oh, you’re super responsive and always available for your clients? Guess what – me too. And you can’t prove you’re any better than me.

You’re an interior designer who knows how to make a home look like a magazine? I…I’m not…an interior designer. I may have an eye for design, but without your credentials, I can’t compete with you on that. See the difference?

You’ll need to do some soul-searching to figure out what true competitive advantage you have.

Why anyone should care So you’re different. Great. How does that help me, a member of your target market? You need to connect how you do what you do differently to some kind of tangible benefit for them.

Let’s see how the whole thing looks once we’re done:

I’m William Brasky, a Realtor who helps investors buy property in downtown Chicago. As a general contractor, I can advise my clients on the cost of home repairs and help them avoid homes with major unforeseen defects.

Feeling stuck? Now would be a great time to download our Brand Identity Worksheet:

Download the Worksheet

How to optimize your bio and profile page on Instagram

A bio, no matter what platform you’re using, is valuable real estate (hehe). Be thoughtful about this. It should include:

  • ~4 things you want be known for
  • A call-to-action, or a next step for someone visiting the page. This could be your email, your phone number, a link, etc.  

Take Mike’s bio for example:

He has 6 words/short phrases that describe him, along with some emojis to draw attention to them. Then he has a link, AKA his call-to-action.

Instagram for real estate example 1 - Mike's Instagram

We like Mike’s Instagram. Mike has a good Instagram for real estate. But it could be even better.

Let’s look at the Center Coast Instagram page. This Instagram is set up as a business, so the structure is  slightly different. We recommend setting up your Instagram as a business. This is possible to do even if you already have a personal account, so don’t freak.  

Notice with a business Instagram, you can add “what you are” right under your name. Ours is Real Estate Company – this isn’t rocket science.

Then we have our address – you’ll want to put the address where your license is held. We do not condone putting your home address here for a couple different reasons – it not being legal/relevant, potential stalkers, etc. etc. etc. but you knew that.

There are a few call-to-actions on our Instagram; the link in our bio, the call button, the email button, and the directions button. All of these lead visitors another step closer to learning more about us.Instagram for real estate example 2 - CCR Instagram

The best types of content to post on Instagram

The first thing you need to understand about using Instagram for real estate is that your page is for your audience, not you. It may be your story, but it’s for someone else. Plain and simple, they won’t care about you unless you are providing value to them. Whether that comes in the form of great content or tangible values like giveaways, figure out how you want to build value and your audience will follow.

As a Realtor, your valuable content should span across these 4 aspects:

Education – inform your followers about real estate! You’re an expert on the Chicago real estate industry. Show it! Share market trends, real estate pro tip videos, Q&A discussions, etc.

Inspiration – inspire your followers to transform their lives (through real estate!). Their lives could be SO much better if only they made the decision to move. Post about fun or exciting aspects about particular neighborhoods, inspirational quotes, and of course, photos and videos of beautiful homes and neighborhoods.

Behind the Scenes & Entertainment – amuse your followers with your hilarious sense of humor and give them a peek into your personal life and the real estate industry. Also show them you care about you clients by including them in your posts occasionally. This build trusts and engagement as it shows a human side of you – humans connect with humans!

Community – show your followers that you are connected and involved in your community. Post about events in your neighborhood, volunteering you’re doing for your community, new buildings being built near you, etc. But don’t just throw the information out there – are you excited about this content? Share that! This shows that you’re passionate about where you live.

Types of Content

There are so many different ways to share pieces of information. Keep things interesting and mix it up. Here’s a list of content formats:

  • How-To’s
  • Charts/Graphs
  • Cartoons/Illustrations/Memes
  • Photo Contests
  • Giveaways
  • FAQs
  • Q&A discussions
  • Photos
  • Video
  • Quotes
  • “Day in the Life” Post
  • Infographics
  • Lists
  • Maps
  • Helpful Applications/Tools
  • Surveys
  • Slideshows
  • Resources
  • Quizzes
  • Polls
  • Podcasts
  • Photo Collage
  • Research
  • Market updates
  • Company News
  • Timelines
  • User Generated Content
  • News Stories
  • Press Releases

Posting Calendar

Need inspiration on what to post? Use a posting calendar for ideas. Here’s an example:

Instagram for real estate example content calendar

Coming up with engaging content ideas is obviously one of the toughest parts of using Instagram for real estate. Need a simple way to brainstorm content and track your results? Download our Social Media Content Planner + KPI tracker here:

Download the Planner

Posting Pro Tips

Keep it simple Pick one media platform to focus on, and then another one or two to be active on. Today, we’re talking about Instagram.

Keep yourself simple…(ish) When posting about yourself, pick 3-4 hobbies or interests you want to be known for.  You can’t be about too many things, or you’re crazy. You can’t be about only one thing, or you’re boring.

Don’t post the same stuff everywhere If you post a picture to Instagram, avoid clicking those share to Facebook and Twitter buttons. If you share the same exact content on every platform, people have no incentive to follow you on all of them. Make them feel like they’re missing out if they don’t. If you have something that you feel you need to post everywhere, try changing the caption or format.Instagram for real estate example 3 - Don't Share Everywhere

Use the 80/20 rule The golden rule of social media is that 80% of your content should inform, educate, and entertain your audience, and 20% should promote your business directly. No one wants to see only cute pics of your kid on your page. No one wants to see only real estate listings either.

Post regularly The best way to stay top-of-mind is to be posting on a regular basis. That being said, don’t go blowing up everyone’s feed. Rule of thumb is to keep it to 1 or 2 posts a day, and a maximum of 15 stories per day.

Show them the lifestyle they dream about Most people don’t spend their days touring beautiful apartments, condos, and houses. Every marble master bathroom or updated kitchen is like a little gift you can give to your audience, while subtly conditioning them to crave that #luxurylifestyle. The photos below are screenshots from our agent Kate Gaffey’s personal instagram account.

Instagram for real estate example 4 - Kate's Instagram

Take live video Video is becoming big in real estate. Instagram/Facebook Live are great features to create more interesting content. Take videos of listings, answers to questions clients often ask, walking a dog during a showing, etc. Once you are done with a live video, save it to your story.

Be engaging Include a question at the end of your captions to encourage your audience to comment. Inviting people to interact with you makes you seem more personable.

Know what posts are most appealing Here’s what generally people like to see pictures of: food, pets, house porn. That being said, if you’re not a big foodie or don’t have any pets, find other things you like that appeals to the masses.

Instagram for real estate example 5 - Appealing Posts

Know best times to post on Instagram There is a best time to post on specific platforms that will get you the most engagement.

  • For Instagram, it’s Monday and Thursday, from 8-9am or around 5pm.
  • For videos in general (that aren’t “live”), post these after 9pm. People are going to watch your videos when they’re laying in bed before they go to sleep, not when they’re at work.

Make your feed aesthetically-pleasing Try to use the same color scheme/filter in all your pictures to keep your feed looking consistent and visually appealing. You want your feed to look like a magazine not a catalog. There are also different kinds of layouts to experiment with: checkerboard, cascade, multi-tile pictures, borders. Check out the examples below. The leftmost feed is that of our agent Kate Gaffey’s business page.

Instagram for real estate example 6 - Aesthetically Pleasings Feeds

Stay relevant to past clients For example, when trying to appeal to past buyers, information on things like renovations can keep your posts useful for them but also for current ones who are interested in the topic. Entertainment, community and behind the scenes posts are also good for this.

Invite them to go deeper After you catch their eye with your irresistible photography, invite them to go deeper by including links.

Instagram Hashtags

You can have a total of 30 hashtags in one post. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that and tap into the ever-expanding community that is social media. Pro tip: save your consistently-used hashtags somewhere so you don’t have to type them out every time you post.

We suggest posting your hashtags as the first comment. This is not so in-your-face and spammy as posting them in the caption can be. Make sure to use a mix of relevant hashtags to broaden your reach. (If you use unrelated hashtags, Instagram catches this and limits your presence in people’s feeds.)

Here’s a list of real estate hashtags Realtors can use:

Popular #love #instagood #photooftheday #beautiful #happy #cute #followme #picoftheday #follow #summer #art #instadaily #friends #repost #nature

Niche/Topic Related #luxurylife #luxury #luxuryrealestate #modern #architecture #design #pool #poolwithaview #homelibrary #kitchengoals #den #beautifulbedrooms #interiordesign #homedecor

Real Estate Industry #realestate #realtor #justlisted #forsale #newhome #househunting #dreamhouse #properties #homelisting #mortgage #homeforsale #homesweethome

Location-Based #Chicago #Chitown #Chilove #ChicagoRealEstate #ChicagoRealtor #ChicagoHomes #ChicagoHomesForSale #ChicagoHomeBuyer #312       

Branded #CenterCoastRealty #CCR #MakingMovesTogether #RealEstateWithKate #JackieHintonChiRealtor  #TeddyBReal

Notable Posting Apps

Whitagram: Add borders, shapes, text, etc. to your photos.

Facetune 2: Whiten your teeth, tame your flyaway hairs, erase all your life’s problems!!!

Photogrid: This one is great for if you’re doing a multi-tile photo on your feed. It breaks a single picture up into several photos and posts them in the correct order.

Planoly: This app not only allows you to schedule your posts, but it lets you see what your feed will look like once you post a photo, without actually posting it. Great for planning cohesive-looking feeds.

Engage with your audience

Remember: this is a relationship business! Respond to comments, tag relevant people, places, and businesses, reference and share others’ content. The first 10 minutes after you post is a critical time period because the more engagement during this time, the higher your post will show up on people’s feeds. Try to make sure you’re there to respond back to people’s comments in this time period. If no is liking or commenting, it will drop further down.

Join the conversation on others’ posts as well. All of these create a network effect that can lead to greater visibility and engagement and eventually you can create a community. The law of reciprocity states that resharing, thanking, promoting others creates a boomerang effect, so eventually people will do the same for you.

Use this trick influencers use to gain more followers: go to Instagram pages that share similar content, find the people who are interacting with them, and try the 3 likes + a hello strategy. Like three different photos of theirs, and comment something. Make sure you’re being authentic about it. If you find them interesting, you can always give ‘em a follow too and hope they return the favor.

All of this applies not only to potential clients, but other agents as well. It’s good to give agents a follow for a variety of reasons.

First, you’ll to see examples of what other Realtors are doing on social media and potentially get inspiration. Next, you can learn about their listings before they hit the market. And finally, they might follow you back – that way, when you promote your own listings, it’s catching the attention of valuable eyes.

Speaking of! Now would be a great time to go follow @centercoastrealty to get some valuable inspiration.

Follow us

How to track your results on Instagram

Now that you’re putting all this effort in, how do you know if it’s working? Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all use some form of analytics to track how you’re doing.

It’s helpful to go back every week or so and see what posts of yours have the most engagement, then determine what these posts have in common and how you can incorporate more of that in your content.

Instagram’s analytics are somewhat limited compared to Facebook, but they focus on the necessary basics. Make sure you have your Instagram set up as a business so you can access these metrics.

You’ll be able to see profile visits, reach (number of unique accounts that have seen any of your posts), impressions (total number of times all your posts have been seen), your stories and their number of views in the past 14 days.

They also tell you about your audience: the top locations, age ranges, gender, and even what times of day your followers are most active. But, we recommend you keep it simple: track your likes, comments and messages for each post. Look for patterns: what types of content are your followers really engaging with?

Instagram for real estate example 7 - Instagram Insights

Fortunately, we’ve done the heavy lifting here for you: download our social media content calendar and KPI tracker.

Download the Planner

Start using Instagram for real estate

Hopefully, you found this guide useful for your real estate business! How are you using Instagram for real estate? Have you found it effective? What challenges have you run into? Leave a comment below.

By | 2019-04-09T22:18:33+00:00 October 15th, 2018|

About the Author:

Paige is the Marketing Coordinator at Center Coast Realty.


  1. Anthony May 17, 2019 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Paige,
    Thank you for this great tutorial on getting started. It is very well done.
    I am a commercial multifamily broker in Philly who is new to instagram. I am not very social media literate, so if I can follow and understand it, you’ve done a great job! You had mentioned that if you have a personal account started you can still set up a business account. Can you direct to a page where I can get some instruction on this topic.
    Thanks again for your help
    I appreciate it.

    • Center Coast Realty May 17, 2019 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Anthony! Glad you found this helpful. To change your Instagram to a business page, check out this link. Thanks!

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