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Instagram Ads for Real Estate Marketers: 10 Best Practices

August 21, 2019

Sometimes I think I should quit Instagram because I spend so much time on the platform each week, but then I realize that I’d depriving myself of a true guilty pleasure that carries me through each day. Why? Because who doesn’t love scrolling through pictures and videos posted by friends, family, and business you love? And I’m not the only who feels this way. According to recode, the average Instagram user spends 53 minutes per day on the platform.

In the world of real estate, there couldn’t be a better place to advertise than a visual and popular space like Instagram. Real estate marketing can be extremely challenging: competition is steep, and trust is often hard to gain. But if it’s done well, the return is often worth the investment. Instagram is a great platform for real estate marketing—people typically go on Instagram to see beautiful things, so why not show off your beautiful properties?

couple with keys

Here are a few more reasons why you need to start advertising on Instagram NOW.

Why advertise on Instagram?

Over an eighth of the 7.7 billion people on the planet use Instagram, so why not be where the people are?

Not only is Instagram one of the most used social platforms in the world, but it is also still a relatively untapped market for real estate marketers. According to FitSmallBusiness.com, only 14% of realtors are on Instagram. At the same time, 83% of all home buyers reported wanting pictures of properties online. So not only is your audience likely on Instagram, but these prospective homebuyers also want to see pictures of your listings. That sounds like reason enough to advertise on Instagram.

Here are our 10 best tips and ideas for real estate Instagram:

  1. Set the right Instagram objectives
  2. Use local targeting
  3. Get smart about demographics
  4. Make use of popular real estate Instagram hashtags
  5. Use carousel ads to show off your properties
  6. Bring real estate to life with video
  7. Leverage aspirational imagery
  8. Share testimonials from happy buyers
  9. Keep your Instagram ad copy brief and direct
  10. Maximize your budget with an ad schedule

If you’re ready to dive into the Instagram advertising world, let's go through these 10 best practices in more detail to get you ahead of your competition.

1. Set defined goals

Why are you advertising on Instagram? Is it to engage those people searching to purchase their first home? Or maybe you’re going after renters who are willing to sign a year-long lease? Perhaps you’re looking to tap into an entirely new market or even just raise awareness amongst the location your real estate firm is serving? Whatever your goals are, the first step to configuring a successful Instagram advertising campaign is defining them.

Instagram ad objectives

Setting defined goals ahead of time will help you go through the flow of configuring your first advertisement when you choose your campaign objective. It will also guide you through the rest of the process, particularly in choosing an ad format (for instance video ad vs. a static image ad vs. a carousel ad or even an Instagram story ad).

Keeping a clear goal in mind throughout the process will ensure that you’re staying on track, whether it’s selling that house that has been lingering on the market for far too long or engaging with that untapped market in the highly competitive new city your agency is attempting to break into.

2. Get local

When you set up first Instagram ad, you’ll notice there are a LOT of options in terms of creating a target audience. By far the most important targeting option for real estate marketers is location targeting. Make sure to configure this ASAP.

geotargeting on Instagram

The wonderful thing about Instagram is that you can get pretty specific with your location targeting by using a set zip code and radius. That way, you are only showing ads to the folks who are likely to be interested in your properties. Make sure to include areas where your audience tends to move from. For instance, let’s say you sell homes to new homebuyers on the North Shore roughly 30-45 minutes from Boston, but your target market often comes from rentals in the city. Target not only the towns you are selling in, but also the city so you can capture some new leads who are likely to move.

3. Take advantage of targeting options

Just because you set up your location targeting certainly does not mean you should stop there! Your real estate agency likely has a pretty specific demographic to target based on the types of properties you are selling or renting. For instance, if you are selling high-end luxury apartments in the Upper East Side of Manhattan targeting low-income 20-year-olds is likely not the best strategy…

Instagram ads targeting options

Instagram makes it insanely easy to target the appropriate older wealthy audience you might be looking for. For instance, you could target people 65 years or older who are interested in women’s clothing, who are also frequent international travelers. Whether you want to segment your audience by education, relationship status, life events, or varying interests or behaviors, the targeting options are almost endless!

I do recommend keeping an eye on the audience size meter that you’ll see to the right of your Ads Manager platform when configuring your Instagram campaign through Facebook. If you start overdoing it with layering on audience targeting filters, you could be limiting yourself to a vary small pool of people who may not be ready to make a real estate related purchase.

Instagram ads audience size

4. Research hashtags to create a relevant list

Hashtagging might seem like a useless sport, but it can actually be insanely beneficial to increasing the reach of your Instagram content.  According to Sprout Social, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without!

“Not only do hashtags help social media users organize and categorize content, but they’re also one of the driving forces behind some of today’s best marketing campaigns,” says Maddy Osman on Sprout Social.

But what should you be “hashtagging”? Well, this is where research can be helpful! There are tons of tools out there like RiteTag, ExportTweet, and Hashtagify that will give you data on what hashtags are popular. But if you’re not looking to tackle another tool, try some of the following strategies:

  • Dig into your analytics to see what your audience commonly searches for.
  • Type some hashtag ideas into Instagram to see how popular they are.
  • Look at what your competition is doing.
  • Create your own branded “hashtag” campaign that involves a giveaway to get people chatting.

Hopefully some of these ideas are sparking a long list of hashtag inspiration. The next question is how many hashtags should you be using per ad? Research has found that the optimal number of hashtags per post is 11.

5. Use carousel ads to show more of each property

The nice thing about Instagram is that you are not stuck in just one format for your beautiful advertisements. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, one Instagram ad format where you cannot go wrong is the beautiful carousel ad format. This ad format may as well have been made for the real estate marketer. It allows you to display several images in a catalog-like format to allow your audience to scroll through and see multiple rooms or properties.  This format also allows you multiple opportunities to pull in new leads though beautiful imagery.

Check out this great example from a Seattle-based real estate agency where the advertiser shows a gorgeous, newly finished kitchen from multiple angles. I love this because the viewer is able to see a zoomed-out perspective, a closer angle of the gorgeous finish on the island, as well as the gas stove and tile detail.

Instagram carousel post
picture of island
stove and tile detail photo

So don’t limit your advertisements to one plain image! Rather, get creative with angles to show your audience the full picture so they can see themselves living at that property.

6. Bring your properties to life with video ads

Now that we’re talking about ad formats, how could we not discuss the ability to use the power of Instagram video ads! Why limit yourself to still frames if you have gorgeous, eye-catching videos of your dreamy properties? Video has a way of pulling users in that other ad formats just do not. And I’m not the only one who thinks this…

According to an Australian Real Estate Grouplistings with a video received 403% more inquiries than those without!

When making such a big life decision it is easy to see why video would be effective in an industry like real estate! I’d also be willing to wager that you are already doing video in some capacity within your own marketing efforts so figure out how you may be able to re-purpose some of your video footage for Instagram advertisements.

7. Ensure your imagery appeals to a lifestyle

This goes without saying, but you need to ensure your imagery is absolutely stunning!

Those in the real estate business usually have this down to a science and employ professional photographers to capture the look they’re going for. Make sure to not only choose the highest quality images for your ads, but also appeal to a certain lifestyle to draw in potential buyers.

This can be incorporated into your ad copy, as well, but always remember that first impressions are everything! If you can appeal to a desired lifestyle through powerful imagery, then you’ve got a clear hook for new leads.

Check out the Instagram page for Be Spoke Real Estate:

size photos of properties

They do an excellent job of appealing to a luxury market through their crisp and modern photography that goes along with the style of the properties they’re selling.

8. Share customer testimonials

I am ALL about testimonial when it comes to the real estate industry, and you should be too if you are a real estate marketer! Why? What could be more important than building trust in such a personal and financially committing type of industry. Your leads are in the process of making a decision that is going to affect their day-to-day lives and comes with a large price tag. Building and maintaining trust is one of the most critical things to do when trying to market to your target audience

What better way to do this then to let your happy customers speak for you? 

“A series of videos showing off your happy clients in their new homes and how their lives have changed since making their big purchase along with a short testimonial can be effective,” says Matthew Bushery from Placemaster. “That way, you have not only a resounding approval for your services, but also evidence of what buyers can achieve by working with you: ending up in a home they really wanted and (presumably) for a great price.

9. Keep your ad copy short, sweet, and direct

We’ve talked a lot about imagery and ad formats, but it’s important to not forget about your ad copy! The thing to remember about Instagram as an advertising platform is that people do not go on there to read, but rather to look. This absolutely does not mean you should neglect your copy, but it does mean that you should remember to keep your ad copy short, sweet, and direct. Tell the consumer exactly what it is they are getting before they even have to click by including information like price, square footage, location, number of bedrooms, and other key information right in your Instagram ad. This will ensure you do not waste anyone’s time, including your own!

Check out this great example for a local Boston real estate agent below:

Instagram caption

Rather than giving a lavish overly descriptive paragraph, she jumps right to the point with detailed information around number of bedrooms, location, and parking, along with her catalog ad. With this direct ad copy, her potential buyers can get a real gist to see if they would be interested in exploring the property more.

10. Create an ad schedule to maximize your budget

If you are in the real estate game, you know well that there are peak months when people come out of hibernation with cash in their pockets ready to buy. During peak season, it’s easy to put off marketing because you’re busy with other potential buyers. However, this is a big mistake—as you have a much better chance of selling if you get your listings out to the right people on Instagram during this busy time.

To do so, it is critical to plan ahead and to put a little more cash behind your ads to reach a larger audience before your competitors sweep them up.

So when is the best time to sell properties? According to Zillow it’s based on weather patterns! “In markets with warm climates like Miami, the magic window starts in March. But in places with harsh winters like Boston, waiting until mid to late April is your best bet,” says Zillow.

Zillow also reported that homes sold from mid-March to mid-April sell around 15% faster and for 2% more than the average listings. “That’s a national premium worth more than $4,000. And in hot markets like San Francisco, that could mean an extra $22,000 in your pocket!” says Zillow.

Luckily, creating a customer ad schedule is something you can easily do with Instagram. When you create your ad, you can set up a schedule of times and dates in the future when you want it to start running.

Hopefully these tips provide you with the push to up your real estate Instagram advertising game because we know how powerful the platform is. Now get out there, and take advantage of it!

Margot da Cunha

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.