Instagram is definitely one of my favorite social media outlets and recently, it seems, I’m being asked more and more how folks in service-based businesses, like us, can use it. It’s a more personal, informal and humorous outlet. It’s my go-to for a good laugh with Instagram Stories. For real estate businesses - like real estate agents and mortgage advisors - it’s ideal as a more visual platform. And for other service-based business, it’s a good way to enable our audience to better know, like, and relate - thus, trust - us.
As with most social media outlets, how people are using it changes often; but I can say that with this platform, it’s fun to use. Below I’ve assembled a Step-by-Step Mini Training to get your well on your way to becoming an Instagram super-user. Remember, have fun with it, let your sparkling personality shine through and you will definitely build your network and create deeper relationships with your tribe.
Step 1 - Download the app
The first step, if you haven’t already done so, is to download the app to your smartphone. Instagram is primarily a smartphone app. There is a website but it’s not really the best way to use this platform. Sign up using your Facebook sign-in information and tie your Instagram to your Facebook Business Page, which will make cross-posting easier.
Step 2 - Set up your Instagram presence as a Business Page
By setting up your IG profile as a business tied to your Facebook Business Page you will get really slick insights on your visitors and later you’ll have the option to create ads and promotions - but we won’t worry about that for now. Choose a username that is short and easy to remember, I’d recommend using your name, so people know who you are when they see you on Instagram. Include your website address and write your bio. You have only 150 characters, so keep it simple, short and to the point.
Step 3 - Start ‘following’ others
Follow your Facebook friends, family, colleagues, contacts, and others you admire. If you’re brand new to Instagram, take a few days or a week just to see how others in your sphere are using the platform. Notice what you like and don’t like. Each day, watch the Instagram Stories, which are the circles at the top of your feed, and get a feel for those. They’re a great way to get used to doing video, and they disappear in 24 hours, which I like because it doesn’t feel so permanent.
Step 4 - Ok, ready? It’s time to start posting!
A good mix of posts will keep your audience engaged. And by a mixture, I mean cycling through different types of posts such as: personal photos, funny behind-the-scenes videos, instructional/tips and tricks videos, tour of listings or sales, new and noteworthy happenings such as a new blog post. Remember, you cannot include links in your posts like you can in other social media outlets. Read on for my suggestion to get around this.
Step 5 - Use Hashtags
When you post, include a few, relevant hashtags that relate to your post. They can be unique but will be more searchable by potential leads if they are more obvious and easy. For example, #JustListed or #JustSold. It’s a good idea to include your area of specialty, such as #luxuryrealestate; and your geographical location, like #Atlanta, and your brokerage’s hashtag. Don’t get crazy with the hashtags but smart use of them will help you get discovered by new people.
Step 6 - The Leads are in the DM
The whole purpose of doing all this is to increase leads and opportunities, right?! Well, the use of DMs or direct messages is becoming ‘the’ way to interact personally with your audience, start conversations, increase engagement, and even generate leads. Direct messages are much more interactive and proactive. Use DMs in two ways: one way is by inviting viewers of your stories and posts to DM you for more information, or for a link to your latest listing or blog post. But please, make it easy.
One tactic I’ve seen used is to post “DM me with a thumbs-up and I’ll send you the link.” Make it easy for your followers. This type of engagement is much more proactive and successful than the “Swipe up” feature you’ll notice in Instagram Stories - which you have to have 10,000 followers to unlock - by the way.
Secondly, you can DM your followers. It goes without saying that you want to avoid being spammy and overuse the privilege, but say you’re having an open house or are launching a new offering, why not send a friendly message those you know would be most interested and include a link to more information or invite them to DM you back. Be prepared for responses and always, always be as responsive as possible to your DMs.
There you have it, the beginners nuts and bolts of using Instagram for professional services! Now, just get in there and play with it. Remember, IG Stories disappear in 24 hours, so try them out. If you are not comfortable on camera, start by filming from your perspective and narrate. I encourage you to challenge your comfort zone! Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Questions? Comment below, send me a DM, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to help you get set up.
One more thing...I’m hosting my Fall Marketing Bootcamp beginning in September 2018! This Bootcamp - designed specifically for real estate industry pros - will help you generate more leads, increase your network, and get the word out about what you do best. At the end you will have a fully launched, fully-functional Marketing System that YOU can maintain. We’ll cover what to include on your website, creating consistent content on your blog, podcast or video channel, email marketing, social media marketing, and lead generation using landing pages. You can do this! Click here to be notified when registration opens!