Ready for an overused joke? Someone posted this news note on Facebook recently about the potential merger of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. The new entity will be called YouTwitFace.
Something tells me that not everyone, Realtors included, is taking social media marketing seriously.
But maybe you should. The introduction of Facebook’s Instagram app (in case you didn’t know, Facebook bought Instagram for an estimated 1 Billion in cash and stock) has taken the photography piece of social media to a whole new level. And this is a great tool to incorporate into your marketing strategy. Here are seven key benefits that Instagram can offer you:
1. Instant reality. Instagram is a simple and somewhat unusual way to create your own reality show. Share your real sales experiences with clients and potential clients through a series of pictures. You download an app to your mobile phone (Android and Apple apps are both available). Then snap a photo or series of photos with your mobile phone or tablet. And send it out to your universe, including Facebook, Tumblr, and Flickr. Link it to your web site too, of course.
“We imagine a world more connected through photos,” Instagram founders say. Evidently they really do believe that a picture is worth a thousand words.
2. Choose a filter that will transform your image into a piece of art. Instagram filters add character to your photos. You can change noontime light to sunset, add haze, or make it look like a sepia tone or an old Polaroid. When you’re shooting you’re a photo sequence on one of your properties, choose a filter that accentuates its best features, and that enhances the story that you’re trying to tell. You want your viewers to put themselves in that picture and feel at home.
3. Behind the scenes. Here’s one interesting technique that can work for your real estate business. Let people in behind the scenes, showing how you work, especially when there is a “fun factor” present. How do your clients feel when they close on the house of their dreams? Show an album of smiling faces. What’s it like to transform a cluttered cottage into an attractive showcase? Picture before-and-afters.
4. Photo maps. Here’s another really useful application for Instagram: photo maps. This feature makes you look like the hyper-local expert we’ve talked about in previous articles. Here’s how it works: Instagram pins a thumbnail of your photo directly onto a Google map so that you can see where the photo was taken. This lets you demonstrate your expertise with your specific market. You can show current listings or listings you have sold, restaurants where you hang out, and local organizations or events you’ve been a part of.
5. Use close-ups and captions. If you take photos at all, you already know the value of cropping to remove unattractive elements and bring the photo closer up. But you won’t even have to crop if you start close up to begin with. Practice until you learn good perspective. Don’t put every feature dead center—use the rule of thirds to create balance and visual interest throughout the whole picture. Instagram lets you add captions, which makes your shots even more personal. Let’s say the new gourmet kitchen is the highlight of your recent listing. Get a close-up of the new granite countertop or the designer drawer pulls and add a caption that says, “Wouldn’t you like to see this in your kitchen?”
6. Instant video is another cool feature that this program allows you to create. We’re not talking about the 15-minute video tour that shows every nook and cranny of a property. That could bore someone who’s just browsing and isn’t interested in the minute details just yet. Instead, take quick two or three-second shot of what makes each room special—the floor-to-ceiling windows, the fireplace, the new granite countertops. You can highlight the whole house in less than 30 seconds. The viewer can pause and rewind too, if he or she would like to study something in more detail.
7. And so much more. Of course you’ll use your Instagram photos across all the platforms in your social media marketing. This means getting them out on Twitter, linking them to your blog and web site, and posting them on Pinterest. But wait. . . there’s more. Start with the add-on called Postagram. This lets you take that one truly stunning shot (your local beach at sunset, the bridge in early dawn) and create postcards to send out to clients and prospects. Stickygram is another cool application that lets your create photo magnets. Wouldn’t it be fun to come to your next closing with a dramatic shot of the buyer’s brand new home on a magnet? It will be the very first thing attached to their new refrigerator, we’ll bet.
“People are connecting over photos which are much more personal and emotional,” say Instagram’s developers. When you get personal and emotional with your clients, good relationships and great sales experiences will result.
Are you using Instagram or going to give it a try?