7 Steps to an Instagram Strategy That Will Actually Bring in Real Estate Leads

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

Ask a real estate agent if they love social media, and the answer will probably be “yes.” It’s the industry’s No. 1 source of high-quality leads, according to the National Association of Realtors’ recent report, Real Estate in a Digital Age.

Then ask that agent if they love Instagram, and the answer will probably be “no.” In that same study, only 39% of agents who use social media for business are on Instagram — far less than the 97% who use Facebook and 59% who use LinkedIn.

There’s a disconnect between real estate agents and Instagram. Is it because agents haven’t figured out how to take advantage of Instagram’s unique opportunities?

“Nine times out of 10, when I speak to an agent, they don’t have any strategy for the content that goes into their Instagram,” says Danielle Garofalo, Chief Business Development Officer at CORE Real Estate in New York City and a public speaker on using Instagram in real estate.

You can turn Instagram — and all your social media platforms, for that matter — into a powerful source of new leads. And because the average person spends almost an entire hour on Instagram every single day, it’s one of the best places to connect with existing and potential clients. Instagram helps you build a unique and trustworthy personal brand — photo by photo, story by story.

It’ll take serious intentionality, time, and effort. It’s not enough to just set up an Instagram account with your name, contact info, and a bio that tells clients where you’re licensed. It’s not enough to just post pretty pictures of homes. (Avoid the stock photos, please!) You have to attract potential clients with smart, authentic content and then nurture them by responding in a timely fashion to their inquiries and engagements. In short, every post needs to be intentional, because every post is a chance to sell yourself.

Ready to develop a killer Instagram strategy that attracts clients? We talked to industry experts in both social media and real estate to get their insight and advice, and collected these seven tips to help even the most successful agents take your Instagram strategy to the next level.

1. Know yourself, know your audience: Identify your focus and speak to it

Each and every real estate agent is unique — in the ways that you work with clients and in the kinds of work you do. So, what are you passionate about, and what can you talk about with both authority and personality?

Garofalo recommends asking yourself, Who am I? Who is my audience?, and then creating an Instagram strategy based around your answers. “Take a look at your audience right now and take a look at your business. See where your business comes from. The people who are following you are typically your pool of people who are going to bring you business.”

For example, if you work regularly with nervous first-time homebuyers, or that’s who is following you, speak directly to that audience in helpful posts that show you know what you’re doing and that you care.

Maybe you’re passionate or knowledgeable about a specific kind of home or decor. If so, run with it and turn your passion into content! Share a specific post on the same day each week about something you love. Kaitlyn Gottlieb, an agent in Calgary, regularly shares a “Marble Monday” post to show her interests and passions:


View this post on Instagram


[ Marble Monday 😍] My favourite inspo day of the week! For Realtors who’s busiest work day are Thursday’s through the weekend (all of us 🙋🏼‍♀️), Monday is the perfect reset day; a day to plan, energize, motivate for the upcoming week, and for myself, to find inspiration for myself and my clients! With our ongoing & upcoming Reno plans, my obsession with marble and love for stunning designs, it isn’t hard to find inspiration with the talented @verandainterior who showcases full slab marble in this gorgeous home! The hood fan is the perfect finisher & I can’t get enough! • • • • • • #marblemonday #homeinspiration #interiordesign #yyc #calgarybuilder #luxuryhome #interiordesigner #calgary #verandahomes #marble #marblekitchen #renovate #custom #hoodfan #interiors123 #realtor #realestate #homeinspo

A post shared by Kaitlyn A Gottlieb (Green) (@kaitlyn.gottlieb) on

It may be tempting to create an Instagram strategy that focuses on a dream client (i.e., the out-of-town buyer that wants to purchase a multi-million dollar home), but your daily content should focus on the everyday, bread-and-butter client, Garofalo says.

Jess Lenouvel, who spent 13 years as a real estate agent and now coaches agents via her company The Listings Lab, says “It’s so important to understand the pains, problems, fears, and desires of a specific demographic of the market.”

If you primarily work with big-budget buyer clients, for example, your Instagram will look and sound different than if you work with college students or people looking to buy a starter home. You want to speak to their fears, desires, and problems.

2. Use Instagram Insights to discover the content your followers love

Want more insights into your audience and how they respond to your posts? Switch to a “Business” or “Creator” account to view specific audience demographics, which can help you tailor your content. You’ll know more about your followers, when they engage with you, and who saves your posts.

Source: (Instagram)

Here’s how to do this:

  • Go to your main account screen (where you see your name, bio, and photos) and click the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner
  • Click “Settings”
  • Click “Account”
  • Click “Switch to Business Account” or “Switch to Creator Account”

The Business account option is best for small businesses like yours, while the Creator account is good for, as Instagram says, public figures, content producers and influencers. Both accounts will give you access to follower demographics and both will allow you to include a call-to-action button on your profile, like “Email” or “Call.”

Once your Business account is set up, go back to your main account screen and click those three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner again. Then look for “Insights” and click that. You’ll see data related to your content, activity, and audience. You can also see data for specific, individual posts by tapping a post and clicking “View Insights.” Viewing stats for individual posts is helpful because it can show you how many people responded to your post, saved it, and visited your profile after seeing it.

3.) Educate your followers about real estate

Lenouvel says agents should always remember the adage, “serve before you sell.” When you’ve finally figured out your audience and your unique niche, educate them. At least once per week, post about a topic you know a lot about. It could be something very specific, like jacuzzis, crown molding or home staging. Share high-quality, detailed images and write specific captions. “[You want to post something] that they’re going to walk away with that they didn’t know before,” Garofalo says.

Las Vegas-based agent Daryl Hanna posts videos discussing very specific real estate topics — in this example, the possibility of a recession and its impact on the housing market.

If you don’t have a professional recording crew, that’s totally fine — just talk into your camera like Daryl does above. Be sure to record in good lighting so viewers can see you clearly.

When you educate within your niche, you automatically stand out. Garofalo says, “I think this is a good way to tell people that you’re a real estate agent without saying, ‘Hey guys, for all your real estate needs, why don’t you give me a call?'”

4.) Celebrate your hometown to connect with potential clients

Real estate is local, so educate your followers about people, places, and events in your area. Celebrate your community whenever you can. And it’s okay if this local content isn’t about real estate.

Dan Hamilton of the Palm Springs-based Hamilton Real Estate Group posts a video every month previewing upcoming events around the city, like this one.

In addition to local events, share a post asking if your audience has tried a local restaurant and tag that restaurant in your post. If you’re lucky, the restaurant will re-share your post, driving more eyes to your content. Tagging other local businesses will attract more awareness to your brand.

5.) Don’t beat your followers over the head with sales pitches

Garofalo says that 80% of the people following you probably aren’t looking to buy or sell at any given moment. So how do you keep all of your followers around when only about 20 percent of them might need your services?

“You want to kind of keep in their consciousness that you are a real estate agent,” Garofalo says.

First, she says, don’t constantly post content that asks your audience to buy, sell or rent with you. Hitting them over the head with sales language will make people feel like you lack a personal touch, and they’ll be more likely to unfollow or mute you. (We’ll go deeper into this idea below.)

Second, develop a content strategy that allows space for you to look and sound human.

How does Garofalo do this? She posts about her passions — traveling and baking, in addition to real estate. “Those are the things that get people involved with me, that they can relate to on an everyday basis. But they all still know that I work in real estate.”

Lenouvel says you shouldn’t be afraid of posting pictures of yourself, either: “I think posting photos of themselves is important, too, along with making sure that your content is being created for the masses.” In other words, when you post a photograph of yourself, it should still have some wider appeal.

Use selfies to help people get to you know you, even if the selfies aren’t tied to real estate. Post about your love of travel or your marathon training, both of which connect you more deeply to your audience. But keep it professional; avoid personal content that you wouldn’t ordinarily share with clients or colleagues.

Orlando agent Nicole Mickle recently shared this great example of a post that isn’t exactly about her business, but still evokes a sense of real estate, family and community:

Another great post idea? Post a shout-out to your clients right after a sale closes. As Lenouvel says, it’s important to show social proof of your work. What better way than to signal to your audience that you have happy clients?

Don’t be afraid to show a little humanity in your posts — it’s much better than a constant stream of sales pitches!

6.) Entice your audience with interesting, unique language and ideas

At this point, you might wonder how to let potential clients know about an upcoming open house or your newest listing without going overboard on the “I’m a real estate agent!” language.

The key is to entice them. Rather than just posting a photograph of the open house sign and saying “Come to my open house!,” post a different photo that speaks to your client’s needs and a smart caption that pulls them in.

Garofalo suggests you try a stunning set of photos of the home, along with an enticing caption that says something like, “For the best views of Fifth Avenue…,” along with the date and time of the open house. Instagram is a visual platform, so think about what would grab your attention. Be creative, and don’t just post the typical wide-shot of a living room or a photo of the home’s exterior.

“Show me a little detail, crown molding or a doorknob or a window corner,” she says, “something that makes me want to click through. A great way to get people to pay attention [is to say] ‘This is the door knob that leads to the best penthouse in New York.’ I’m clicking on that link!”

In all your posts, focus on quality more than quantity. This definitely goes for stories and IGTV videos, which shouldn’t be thrown together for the sake of posting something. Let’s dive deeper into those areas.

7.) Use Instagram Stories & IGTV to talk to your audience face-to-face

Instagram Stories and IGTV give real estate agents the opportunity to share quick videos and personalized content to potential clients.

Instagram Stories offers the trust-building magic of face-to-face engagement. When you look directly into the camera and speak to your audience, they get a sense of who you are, your personality, and how you speak. You can use Stories to share polls and questions, too, and build a sense of care and connection with your viewers.

One thing to note: Stories disappear within 24 hours, so treat them as a way to share temporary, conversational content. But, you can save and highlight Stories on your main account in the Highlight tabs above your photos. This is a good way to curate and share your best Story content. Here’s how to highlight Stories and save them on your main account:

  • Go to your main account screen (where you see your name, bio, and photos) and click the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner
  • Click “Archive”
  • Click “Stories”
  • Click “Highlight” on whichever Story you’d like to save in a Highlight tab

You can also name these Highlight tabs — name one tab “Home Tours,” for example, and save all your Stories that showcase walkthroughs and home tours.

Instagram Stories and IGTV are a great way to share a quick home tour, or to chat about issues your clients face in their buying and selling journeys. This not only allows you to humanize your brand, but it also gives your audience a quick look at the properties you’re selling without — as we discussed earlier — overdoing the sales language.

Why just a quick look? Because people don’t have time for long videos. Garofalo’s advice is to promise your viewers something at the beginning of your video to get their attention, then give it to them quickly. For example, if you promise to show an amazing jacuzzi view during your home tour video, then walk through the home quickly and end on the big jacuzzi view.

Your videos should have a beginning, middle, and end, too — with clear introductions, information in the middle, and then a closing statement or view.

Consider this short tour video made by New York City-based agent, Anastasia Usova. Notice how she introduces the property, shows it in under three minutes, and ends with “contact me” information.

Putting it all together

Creating a successful Instagram strategy starts by knowing yourself and understanding your audience. Share your passions and humanize your content. Inspire and educate potential clients. Then adjust your strategy over time as Instagram Insights shows you what content works best for your audience.

Be intentional with each and every post. Whether you post about a local pub, share a personal story about a recent travel experience, or share stunning photos of a new listing’s gorgeous bay windows, every image and caption should help build the brand of you. Posts should tell the story of your interests and knowledge while feeling human, interesting, and real.

While not everyone following you is looking to buy or sell a home today, there will come a time when that changes. They’ll remember you for your personality and the in-depth real estate knowledge that you share freely. Be authentically you, and focus on building an informed, trustworthy brand that speaks to your passions and your audience’s needs.

Header Image Source: (Nadine Shaabana/ Unsplash)