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 more than 400,000 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 the nine Instagram hacks that I used to build my account. After the tips, The Close weighs in with three ways to beat the Instagram algorithm in 2023.
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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 clients in a specific area, right? One Instagram hack 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, and coffee shops (aka places your current and future clients might be), alongside 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. 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 to not be creepy. A simple Instagram hack is just to respond or react to other people’s stories with an emoji. Similar to your commenting strategy, you should respond to every appropriate DM you get.
Instant engagement hack: Right after you post something, go into your inbox and respond to messages people have sent you. 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 on social media. Become a member to get access to monthly posts created by me in addition to those from the broader Coffee & Contracts platform and community! As a special thank you to Close readers, use promo code THECLOSE for $15 off your first month.
3. 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’ve already seen 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
a prisoner an obedient user of 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 in front of Story viewers.
Instant engagement hack: Always share your Reels to your Story too, because Story views ALSO count as Reel views.
4. Add Engagement CTAs to Your Stories
Another Instagram hack to consider is using your Story as a call to action (CTA) to your feed by saying something like, “What’s your one must-have bathroom feature?” 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 CTA. 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 questions 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.
Instagram Stories for Agents: 12 Easy Ways to Drive Engagement
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 notices 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
Captions are another Instagram hack you can use to boost engagement. Now, you could tell people to like, comment, and share your post, but that’s cringe AF in 2023.
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!”
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.
Want more ideas for engaging captions and post ideas? Check out our 147 real estate social media post ideas here.
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. Using this Instagram hack invites more comments and catches the attention of people who may not read the entire caption but instead 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
Another Instagram hack to try is commenting 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. Avoid These Common Hashtag Mistakes
Hashtags are another great way to boost engagement, but only if you use them shrewdly. This is why learning the do’s and don’ts of using hashtags is crucial.
Here’s what NOT to do:
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. 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 is three to 10 hashtags per post.
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 drop significantly. I could just be paranoid, but I have been testing this theory for a while now, and it seems to check out. So, I’ve been using hashtags sparingly, maybe once every three to four posts. They seem to be way more potent when I use them less frequently.
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:
1. Content-specific hashtags refer to the actual content of the post: #openhouse #openhouses #sundayopens #sundaysareforopens (also a good T-shirt idea).
2. Location-specific hashtags refer to the setting of the post: #tucsonrealtor #tucsonagent #tucsonrealestate #tucsonopenhouse.
3. 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.
4. Branded hashtags are what you use for your business. Mine would be #brokeagent and #thebrokeagent.
107 Top Real Estate Hashtags: Instagram, Twitter & More
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 slideshows, videos, IGTV posts, Stories, and, of course, Reels. Instagram loves it when you use its newest features.
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 Instagram hack 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.
10 Agents & Coaches Crushing It on Instagram Reels
Staying Ahead of the Latest Instagram Algorithm Updates
Emile from The Close here. Since Eric is off starting yet another real estate empire over at Broke Agent Media, it fell to us to fill you in on the latest changes to the Instagram algorithm. All of Eric’s tips here are still very relevant, but there are a few changes to the algorithm you should know about:
1. Users Can Now View Posts in Chronological Order
Instead of just letting Instagram choose the order posts show up on their feeds, Instagram now lets users switch to seeing the most recent posts first.
How to beat the algorithm: That means posting content consistently and at popular times (early morning, lunchtime, and evenings) will give you a better chance of showing up in front of people who have switched their feeds to chronological order.
2. Instagram Is Tripling Down on Video
Since TikTok has done nothing but grow in popularity since this article was written, Instagram has been emphasizing and prioritizing video. That means a video will be much more likely to be seen on your followers’ feeds.
How to beat the algorithm: Simple. Make more videos! They don’t have to be Stephen Spielberg-quality movies, either. In fact, the most popular quick-hit videos are less than 30 seconds long.
3. Instagram Is Using More AI in Recommendations
Like Google, Instagram is using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend posts and Reels to your followers.
How to beat the algorithm: This is like asking, “How do I speak French?” Artificial intelligence makes decisions based on, well, intelligence. Even the programmers running it sometimes don’t know why it makes the decisions it makes. So how do you beat it? Give your followers what they want: funny, quick-hit videos and posts designed for engagement.
Over to You
How are you boosting engagement on Instagram? Let us know in the comments!