While most commercial real estate professionals have embraced other social media platforms, there appears to be a hesitancy to adopt Instagram.
While most commercial real estate professionals have embraced other social media platforms, there appears to be a hesitancy to adopt Instagram. It might stem from a limited understanding of how to use it, but whatever the reason, many underestimate Instagram’s enormous potential.
Anecdotally, I can speak to the success our team has had on Instagram. Our followers include companies in our direct market and brokers all over the world, and Instagram helps us stay top-of-mind with all of them. For example, this summer we posted pictures from a team helicopter ride, and we’re still getting comments about it six months later.
To help you get your real estate Instagram account off the ground, we collaborated with social media strategist Beverley Theresa to explore what the top business accounts are doing right.
- New York City’s Two Trees posts high-quality photos with a consistent theme. Equally important, the account doesn’t focus solely on buildings, but also on people, city districts and neighborhoods. Consider the story you want to tell, and identify a theme that tells that story. Upload posts that revolve around that theme. Weigh photo content, editing, coloring and the caption. There are very few users that can grow a large following if they post a picture of a building, followed a couple weeks later by a picture of their cat. Even if it’s a really, really good cat picture.
- Most commercial real estate brokerages are on Instagram, but CBRE is best-in-class. By carefully posting impressive photos from all over the world, the account has attracted over 25,000 followers. There aren’t any “new listings” or “just sold” posts to be found — just great photos that people are genuinely interested in seeing. You don’t need to post multiple times per day to gain traction. Aiming for good posts 3–5 times per week like CBRE does is a good benchmark.
- There are plenty of commercial real estate associations on Instagram, but the International Council of Shopping Centers is the clear front-runner. It blends a great mix of business topics, architecture and promotion. You’ll notice it also avoids motivational quotes. While an inspirational passage here and there is fine, people are interested in seeing more dynamic content, so follow this account’s lead and post honest captions that are relevant to your business.
- Cool Working Space showcases, well, cool working spaces, with great photography that has a focus on interior design and architecture. Explore the posts and you’ll see frequent interaction with followers who comment. No wonder the account has over 20,000 fans. It’s important to interact with other users to make an impression on Instagram. Find other accounts to follow, and comment and “like” their pictures. Instagram is a community that requires a two-way dialogue to be effective.
- Will Elliott is a commercial broker in Hawaii and a talented photographer. Will toggles between personal, architectural and travel photography on his Instagram account. You’ll notice he doesn’t post blurry or low-quality images. Take a page from his book and post well-edited, carefully selected pictures. Read a book or watch a video on photography, specifically lighting and composition. Improving the quality of your pictures will immediately improve your profile.
- Tyler Cauble is a commercial broker in Nashville and one of the few individuals who can pull off pictures ranging from a Christmas pajama selfie to a shot of the grand opening at a new restaurant. He is an expert storyteller who has amassed nearly 8,000 followers by highlighting his personality. By including both personal and professional photos, you’ll be helping your audience get a better understanding of who you are, which gives potential clients more points of connection to you. People will be able to relate to you more if you sprinkle in pictures of what you do outside of work.
- Tony Mazzulli is a broker in New York State. Tony clearly calculates what he posts. Most images show what he’s doing at work or in his personal life and tell his story. This technique gets people captivated by what he’s going to do next. While Tony has a number of pictures with him in it, he is not constantly posting selfies. Like Tony, try to tie images of yourself into relevant brand storytelling that your followers and potential customers will care about.
- We had to include an architect on this list to dispel the myth that it’s difficult to sell a service on Instagram. Norman Foster has gained over 130,000 followers posting pictures mostly of himself. The pictures are carefully selected to show Foster as an expert in his craft. Instagram serves as a visual representation of your brand, so be cautious of protecting your image. Look professional and avoid gimmicks like Snapchat filters. Trust us, you look better without the bunny ears.
- Joel Isaacs is another professional with a great blend of personal and business-related photos. Joel often takes to Instagram to congratulate new tenants who have found a space by taking a photo of their signage or by visiting their space. While interacting with your clients, associates or vendors, consider sharing it on Instagram. A picture of a building does not have nearly the same story value as a picture of a building with you and the new owners in front of it.
- Retail Recon NY is a prime example of how to break the rules and still have a great account. The storefront photos are appealing because they look so simple. The photographer doesn’t center the “For Lease” signs but instead puts them off to the side to keep the storefront the focal point so followers can see what actually matters the most.
Unless you can be playful like Retail Recon, do not post just sold notifications — no one is scrolling through Instagram to see what properties just sold or leased.
Instagram provides a platform to engage with clients, prospects and business partners, but it only works if you put in the time and effort. Add some of these techniques to your Instagram strategy to take your account to the next level.