When it comes to social media marketing for real estate, which is driven by images and personalities, Instagram has emerged as a key platform.
Here, a few New York City and Los Angeles brokers with four- and five-digit followings share how they use the photo-sharing app to to sell seven- and even eight-digit listings.
McKenzie Ryan of Compass
Ryan, who was born and raised in Manhattan, uses her Instagram feed to document how the city has changed.
“My Instagram feed is an in-depth look at the history of Manhattan neighborhoods and my favorite places to go,” Ryan says. “Through exploring a neighborhood’s history, landmarks, secrets and restaurants, you start to understand and appreciate why that neighborhood is so valuable, and why it is a privilege to own a home there. Having the privilege of walking around the city and knowing the history, the hidden facts or even the small secrets behind fancy pothole covers, or why there are huge hills, or even the history behind street names is what creates the value for someone looking to purchase or sell in Manhattan.”
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Ryan suggests creating a story or theme and showing a wide array of thoughtful photos to tell that story.
“I think pages that show only real estate photos fail in capturing the user’s imagination,” Ryan says. “There’s a whole world within New York, show it off and be authentic in doing so!”
Robert Khederian of Stribling & Associates
Khederian, a shelter writer-turned-agent and the former engagement editor at Curbed, takes more of a journalistic approach to his Instagram feed, choosing to share both his own and contributed photos of houses, with a focus on classic architecture, with nearly 32,000 followers that predates his career as a broker.
“I got serious about it after my Instagram started taking off when people would reach out to me through Instagram to help find them a home,” says Khederian, who gets a lot of leads through the platform. “People would say, ‘I love what you’re posting, I know you can help me find something wonderful.’”
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Khederian urges everyone using Instagram for business to focus less on sales and more about being authentic and sharing what you’re excited about.
“I never want it to be a place where I’m selling somebody something,” Khederian says.
“It’s more, ‘I’ve seen a beautiful apartment, let’s see it together. The No. 1 thing is to post what you find to be exciting. I don’t care if that’s real estate, or cooking, or shopping. Whatever it is that you’re excited or inspired by, that’s what you post about.”
Cindy Ambuehl of The Agency
The actress-turned-agent, known for her work on various TV sitcoms and the drama JAG, has a feed that’s noticeably light on real estate content.
“What we decided on was that we were no longer going to shove housing photos and videos down my followers’ throats,” Ambuehl says. “Instead, we began creating content that was organic and true to me. … It’s been a huge success. Sometimes I can’t get my clients to talk housing because they’re too busy talking about my latest Instagram skit. Fellow realtors, no one is following you so they can see your listings! They’re following you for the same reason they do business with you. They want to get to know the real you. Not the you from your company headshot!”
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Don’t curate and be yourself. “When I first began using my Instagram to market myself, I tried my best to curate and create content that I thought my followers would be receptive to,” Ambuehl says. “I wasn’t creating much of a buzz. It wasn’t until my son, who is also an agent on my team and the owner of a marketing agency called Electric Collective, sat me down with a new strategy, that my Instagram then took off. So, as cliche as it sounds, just be your organic self on Instagram and other platforms. Find power in being you. If you’re informed and good at what you do then surely your knowledge of the industry will take care of the rest.”
Allison Chiaramonte of Warburg Realty
Chiaramonte shares more personal moments with her nearly 4,000 followers, including photos of her two-year-old son, Wes.
“I know a lot of brokers prefer to separate these two spheres online, but I find that impossible,” Chiaramonte says. “My clients become my friends, and my friends become my clients. Who I am is my brand and it would feel dishonest to try to remove that from my social media presence. To that end, curating my Instagram is a somewhat organic process. While I don’t have set percentages, my biggest Instagram strategy is to make sure my feed isn’t all pure Real Estate, that it reflects my other interests, family, friends and love of fashion and design.”
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Chiaramonte acknowledges that it’s important to know some basic basic photography and Instagram tips, such as the rule of thirds, how crop a photo and which filters work best, and it can be a good idea to use apps like Planoly and Colorstory to store and edit images. However “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” she says. “You can’t agonize over every post. Post what moves you in the moment if something doesn’t resonate or is something you regret posting, you can always delete it after the fact.”
Kane Manera of Corcoran
Manera says his Instagram strategy involves asking “the youngest, coolest people I know who know me and my market what images work from my current professional and personal life. Then I become curator with their feedback and execute what I think is best.”
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Manera keeps posting to a minimum to avoid saturating the feed of his nearly 4,000 followers. “Photos of myself aren’t my favorite, but they encourage engagement with those who know me well,” he says.