Education & Training
Originally shared at Inman Connect on the Road: Chicago as 3 Deal-Killers to Growing Your Business on Instagram
As Featured in Inman Chicagoland

Remember the days when you had to pay per line or character to most effectively market your listings and business?  In the heyday of print advertising, we REALTORS learned how to succinctly create ads that just gave the bare bone basics due to cost (e.g. 3/2, B.O.M., Motv., S.S. Kit., $336k). But the problem is we have brought those habits to Instagram (IG) where you likely stick out like an aggravating, sore thumb.

To grow your network on Instagram (or any social media platform for that matter), be sure to think like a REALTOR but post like a friend.  In other words, please put on your consumer hat: if the double-tap worthy posts are funny, sad, thought-provoking, humbling, or eye-candy then you will not win being terse, dry and “salesy”.  As a consumer, if you would skip over your own post, then Houston, we have a problem!

Here are 3 ways to grow your reach on Instagram by thinking like a REALTOR but posting like a friend:


Get Personal

When you post about a listing or an upcoming open house, seminar, etc., it cannot be business as usual! As you post, remember the acronym HUTT (Humor, Unique, Thought-provoking, OR Tear-jerking) to ensure the content of your post connects with the human side of the Instagram audience.  If it does not capture at least one part of HUTT, then please do your business a favor and go back to the drawing board.

Screenshot 2016-05-25 14.31.11 Friends don't let friends not make the most of a widely celebrated holiday.  To this point, notice that Sarah Johnston (@adventuresinrealestateyyc) made what could have been a very impersonal open house event on this year's Valentine's Day, instead a fun way for singles to celebrate it along with perusing a listing of hers.

 By the way, if you want to make your images for IG snazzy like Sarah, Ripl and Canva are great apps to get out of the doldrums of images that may need some pizazz. It is not about cluttering your photos but about making them double-tap worthy.

Then check out Ryan Griffioen's post - it could have been a stodgy bathroom shot.  Instead, he wrote an amusing caption capturing the pain-point of navigating a bathroom sink as a dad with teenage daughters.  That connects WHILE also marketing to potential buyers - double bang!

Tag, YOU Are It

 Have you ever wished a magical arrow could point certain people on Instagram, like potential clients, to you? That is what tags do for you!

But are you dead-set against getting swept away by Hashtag Mania?  Hashtag Mania is what I call it when people add the number sign to any and all random phrase like #IHave3ShowingsTodayAnd1Closing, which has no organic searchable value. Tags are meant to make the search process easier, which Hashtag Mania has perverted. As a result, Hashtag Mania may make you want to disconnect yourself from using hashtags ever.  Out with the old, in with the new, right? Wrong!

I know that pop culture has diluted the power of tags by making it cliché - but that is still the best/easiest way to search on IG for now.  Skip tags only if you do NOT want to grow your relationships and ultimately business on IG

Check out my girl Nikki Singh (aka Toronto's Real Estate in Stilettos) below.   She tags like crazy and she has clients like crazy!

  Screenshot 2016-05-25 14.31.43

Tip: When tagging, be sure to use:
1) The areas you are targeting/farming (i.e. #Chicago, #LincolnPark, #GroveParkSubdivision, etc.),

2) Relevant business, organization and people usernames (i.e. #KBHomes/@KBHomes, @JohnWeiland, #YourRealtyFirm/@YourRealtyFirm, #realtor, #homebuying, etc.),

3) And your actual geolocation (just turn on your phone's location settings and select where you are). By using all three types of tags, you will “cover your bases” so that if people are searching for any one of these categories, you will be on their radar. 

Ultimately, please remember to put your consumer hat on and think about what people will likely search and use that.

Don’t Steal the Mic

 Remember Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift at a music awards ceremony a few years back and stealing the mic. A jerky, anti-social move - who does that? Unfortunately, when we put on our real estate hat on IG, many times we do :-/!

You have two choices:
1) Steal the mic by making an irrelevant comment on someone else's post to ask people to follow you and possibly lose business by irritating prospects,


2) Stay relevant, be social, make friends (instead of being annoyingly "salesy" or anti-social) and you win business!

  Screenshot 2016-05-25 14.42.10

Check out what Fredick of Million Dollar Listing NY did in the image above.  Did he (or possibly his social media assistant) jump on Sarah Johnston's post and try to steal the mic and say watch my show because a new episode airs at this day and time, buy my book, visit my listing, or follow my page? No, he did not become a mic stealer, my friend. He just liked it, which is a critical part of growing your Instagram following (simply letting your desired audience know you are also seeing and enjoying what they are posting - that builds relationships).

Are you investing time just liking and commenting on other people's posts? If not, then that's a deal-killer to making Instagram a successful platform for your business.

In review, just say no to: 

  1. Posting without connecting 
  2. Skipping relevant tags (hash and user)
  3. Stealing the mic 
Thanks so much Brad Inman and the Inman News team (especially Drew and Matt for seeing my mug at 7 am!) for inviting me to share the stage with so many phenomenal industry leaders.  It is humbling as I do not take the responsibility of sharing with your audience lightly and I look forward to the next Connect on the Road event.


Over to you! What are you doing to grow your business on Instagram?  
I would love to read your triumphs below.  Or, give me a shout me on 
FacebookInstagramYouTubeGoogle+ or at LearnWithLee.Realtor. And, be sure to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win, to transform your real estate sales game plan. Here's to your success!


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Chrissi Chapman Topoleski
Re/Max Real Estate Connections - Haymarket, VA
HOME~There is no place like it!

My kids love it, and although I  have an account I have not yet figured out a way to integrate my business on Instagram. Great post and information to help me get started. Your writing style is awesome, too.

Jun 14, 2016 12:35 AM #1
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I can tell you're young and hip - you talk about this stuff seamlessly.  I will reread this several times to understand it because I really want to be on Instagram - with a purpose!

Jun 14, 2016 09:31 AM #2
Virginia Youngblood
DO-STAGE! LLC - an ASPM® Home Staging Company - Charlotte, NC
DO-STAGE! LLC - Home Stager - ASPM®

Lee , this was awesome info! 

I'm a stager and trying to learn how to use Instagram! Wish you were here to give me some one - on - one lessons!  I love this: HUTT (Humor, Unique, Thought-provoking, OR Tear-jerking)

Blessings to you

Jun 14, 2016 12:32 PM #3
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Thanks for a very informative post about using Instagram for business.

I have recently been using it and have far more response than I was getting on FB.

Great tips I will follow up on.

Jun 14, 2016 12:56 PM #4
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Think like a REALTOR but post like a friend - sounds like a great tip.  I am going to have to check this out further.

Jun 14, 2016 01:08 PM #5
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Lee Davenport instagram has great potential for marketing our services. Great tips - and yes...tagging game is on!

"Skip tags only if you do NOT want to grow your relationships and ultimately business on IG."

Jun 14, 2016 03:02 PM #6
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

wow, a lot of heavy stuff. Have it tagged. It would be even be better if font sizes are bigger.


Sam Shueh

Jun 14, 2016 03:49 PM #7
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There's so much content here I have to go back and look at it later and see what I can get from it as far as sage wisdom.

Jun 14, 2016 04:56 PM #8
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I agree with that little bit of that last comment with the heaviness of this. I do have to go back to it

Jun 14, 2016 04:56 PM #9
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

I love the way you think! I have an instagram but have no idea what to do with it...  I better bookmark this and come back to it !  thank you!

Jun 14, 2016 05:42 PM #10
Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

Thanks for sharing your information Lee Davenport - I don't use it myself, but it's still good to know about these things

Jun 14, 2016 08:40 PM #11
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

This is wonderful information. I laughed at the part about "if you would skip over your own post" - that's so true! We have to view our material as the reader will.

Jun 14, 2016 08:43 PM #12
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Lee Davenport ,

Great information to share! I just starting using instagram and have it on both my websites and just trying to get comfortable with it! Thanks for the tips!

Jun 14, 2016 08:53 PM #13
Sham Reddy
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Thanks for some practical tips

Jun 14, 2016 10:13 PM #14
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I have to learn more about Instagram and using it for real estate. Thanks for sharing the information.

Jun 14, 2016 10:19 PM #15
MaryKay Shumway
The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948) - Sister Bay, WI
Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert

Nice post!  I love Instagram, and these are some fantastic tips!

Jun 14, 2016 10:24 PM #16
Athina Boukas
Virginia Capital Realty - Richmond, VA
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

These are smart tips on how to maximize our social/business connections.

Jun 15, 2016 12:02 AM #17
Diana Dahlberg
1 MONTH REALTY - Kenosha, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Great and Informative Post Lee Davenport ... I love the advice ... Think like a Realtor but post like a Friend.  Powerful! 

Jun 16, 2016 03:35 AM #18
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