Let’s be honest … the only thing that matters in real estate (and in life) is the engagement you get on Instagram. “Jokes” aside, the way people interact with your content certainly affects the reach and cachet of your real estate brand.
I built my Instagram to over 300,000 followers by focusing on engagement and evolving with Instagram’s constantly changing algorithm. To help you crush it on Instagram this year, I decided to share nine engagement hacks that I used to build my account.
1. Switch Up Your Location Tags
Most agents know that they should be geotagging every post when relevant. After all, you are trying to get business from clientele in a specific area, right? What many agents don’t know is that switching up location tags can help get you in front of more people and is a great way to boost engagement.
So try tagging different neighborhoods, small towns, businesses, country clubs, coffee shops (aka places your clients/future clients might be), and broader locations like cities or states. Mix it up and see which locations get you the most reach.
Instant engagement hack: You don’t have to physically be in a location to tag it as long as the location is relevant to the post or caption.
2. Share Your Best Feed Posts to Your Stories
Before we dig into this tip, let’s address the elephant in the room: This engagement strategy can be annoying AF for your followers. When I tap my way through Instagram stories, I want to see something different than what I already see on the feed. But, there are some tactical reasons to share feed posts to your story:
It gives your followers TWO chances to see the same piece of content.
Like most people, I feel like I spend more time watching stories than I do flicking through the feed these days, especially during summer. I want to see people inhaling white claws on boats! So if it’s not on your Story, chances are I won’t see it, and some of your followers won’t either. Why not double the odds that your followers see your content?
It gives you content to post to your story, and the Algorithm LOVES that.
You should be posting to your story five to eight times a day (an arbitrary number I came up with) to stay top of mind and to show Instagram you are an obedient user and prisoner to the platform. When people view and interact with your Story, they are more likely to be shown your content in the feed. This will give your posts more engagement and favorable feed placement to Story viewers.
Instant engagement hack: Always share your Reels to your Story too, because Story views ALSO count as Reels views.
3. Slide Into DMs
Direct messaging back and forth with people is an excellent strategy to get more engagement on your posts. How, you ask? Well, any kind of interaction with other users notifies Instagram that your accounts are connected. The more you DM with someone, the more they will show up in your feed and vice versa.
I don’t have a specific strategy here other than not to be creepy. A simple move is just to respond/react to other people’s stories with an emoji. Like commenting, you should respond to every *appropriate* DM you get.
Instant engagement hack: Right after you post something, go into your inbox and respond to people. Doing so will help your post rank in their feed and possibly get you more engagement.
Stop Asking Me The Same Question Every Agent Asks 😒
At least once a day an agent will slide into my DMs and ask, “I want to post funny content, but I have no idea what to post… and I’m not funny. Can I share your stuff?”
That’s why I teamed up with Coffee & Contracts to provide exclusive content for agents to customize, brand, and share to social media. Become a member to get access to monthly posts created by me in addition to the entire Coffee & Contracts platform and community!
4. Add Engagement CTAs to Your Stories
You can also use your Story as a call to action to your feed by saying something like, “Go leave a comment on your favorite bathroom” or “Guess how much this house is worth!”
To get more views and interactions on your actual story, use questionnaires, polls, quizzes, stickers, emojis, or GIFs as your calls to action (CTAs). These will lead to increased engagement on your Stories … which leads to increased engagement on your feed … which leads to increased serotonin levels in your brain!
Questionnaires with video or written responses are perfect for agents. Post something like, “Ask me anything about today’s real estate market,” and watch the responses flood in like a tidal wave. We are lucky to be in an industry that almost everyone finds interesting, and practically no one understands.
5. Use Your Story to ‘Tease’ Your Followers Into Visiting Your Feed
You can also use your Story as a “tease” to the feed by hiding the content with a sticker, GIF, emoji, or text. This way, people must click on the actual image to reveal the secret! Bikini models do this all the time for a simple reason—it works. Why not do the same with your best listing photos?
Also, the algorithm likes when users spend time on your profile. When the algorithm sees users going from your Story to your feed, it assumes you have high-quality content.
6. Use Engaging Captions
Your captions are another place you can boost engagement. If you’re having trouble coming up with engaging captions, just ask yourself: “What statement or question can I post to trigger more comments and engage my audience?”
Here are some examples:
- “Which view do you like better? 1 or 2?”
- “Scale of 1-10, how important is the backyard when considering a house?”
- “Would you rather live in a house with no air conditioning or a house with no heat?”
- “Tag someone who needs a bidet in their bathroom!”
You can also tell people to like, comment, and share your post, but that’s cringe AF in 2021.
Instant engagement hack: Long captions force people to read longer, which signals to Instagram that they are spending more time on your post, which signals that your content should be pushed to more people. So try using your caption to tell a story about a house, a deal, or a client.
7. Post Engaging Comments on Your Own Photos
Yes, you read that correctly. Comment on your own photo and think of it as a secondary caption. Doing so generates more comments and catches the attention of people who may not read the entire caption but may head straight to the comments. Sometimes I’ll give one call to action in the caption and then another in the comments!
Here is an example from my feed that got 481 comments. I posted an engaging caption and TWO comments on my own post like an absolute SAVAGE!
Look. At. That. Engagement. I had people captioning the photo and replying to my comment about showing the house with the snake around the lockbox. I also shared this post to my Story and used the “vote” feature to see if they would show it or not. It was a masterclass in engagement. My phone almost exploded with notifications.
Instant engagement hack: Comment with your other accounts if you have them (we know you do). This way, you can get more engagement and control the direction and narrative of the comments. I have conversations with myself in the comments all day long.
8. Reply to All Comments on Your Posts
Comment back to everyone who comments on your posts. This is especially crucial for the first hour of the post. If people see a post with a bunch of comments, they are more likely to stop scrolling, take a look at what all the fuss is about, and possibly comment themselves.
Also, when people see an account commenting back, they get excited at the opportunity to interact with that person directly. Gary Vee responded to my comment once, and now I comment on every photo hoping to relive the best moment of my life.
Most importantly, commenting back doubles the number of comments on your post.
9. Learn the Do’s & Don’ts of Using Hashtags Strategically
Hashtags are another great way to boost engagement, but only if you use them strategically. This is why learning the do’s and don’ts of using hashtags is crucial.
Let’s start with don’ts:
1) DO NOT over-hashtag: The maximum number of hashtags you can use per post is 30, but you should use less. Hashtags are like drugs; the more you use them, the less effective they are. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but it sounds cool, and from my experience (with hashtags, of course), it seems accurate.
2) DO NOT use the same hashtags over and over: Do not use the same hashtags in every post or even in back-to-back posts. You must switch them up constantly, and they must be relevant to the actual content of the post.
3) DO NOT use hashtags in every post: On my account, I have noticed that if I use hashtags in two to three posts in a row, my engagement and reach significantly drops. I could just be paranoid, but I have been testing this theory for a while now, and it seems to check out. So, what I’ve been doing is using hashtags sparingly, maybe once every three to four posts. They seem to be way more potent when I use them less.
Large hashtag blocks are also aesthetically unpleasing, spammy, and can direct the algorithm away from the discover page as it is presented with too many options. The sweet spot I have recently found to be is three to 10 hashtags per post.
Instant engagement hack: Like location tags, it’s smart to use a variety of hashtags. Let’s use a post about an open house in Tucson as an example:
- Content-specific hashtags refer to the actual content of the post: #openhouse #openhouses #sundayopens #sundaysareforopens (good T-shirt idea)
- Location-specific hashtags refer to the location of the post: #tucsonrealtor #tucsonagent #tucsonrealestate #tucsonopenhouse
- Global hashtags are hashtags that have hundreds of thousands of posts attributed to them. Some examples would be #realtor, #realestate, #realestateagent, and so on. Use these sparingly because they are less effective but good to throw in the mix now and then.
- Branded hashtags are what you use for your business. Mine would be #brokeagent or #thebrokeagent.
BONUS TIP: Use ALL of Instagram
As I previously mentioned, the Instagram algorithm LOVES when you use all of the site’s features. So post a variety of content, including slide shows, videos, IGTV’s, Stories, and of course, Reels. Instagram loves it when you use its newest features, like Reels.
If you want to learn more about Reels, I wrote an entire e-book on how agents can get more engagement and followers using this feature. You can download it here.
Don’t have time for yet another e-book? Here’s a quick strategy from the e-book you can use right now: Post as many Reels as you can because the reach and discovery on the Reel Feed are bananas. Instagram’s algorithm is focusing primarily on promoting vertical video and original content.
Over to You
How are you boosting engagement on Instagram? Let us know in the comments!