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Hang on a sec… what’s Instagram?

Caroline Steer Oracle Group image

Caroline Steer

They say a picture paints a thousand words and, in this fast-moving digital world, this is more pertinent than ever. Our average attention span has dropped to a goldfish-like eight seconds as more brands wrangle for attention every day, from every social media platform on every digital device.

Instagram imageBut it is not just about the sheer volume of content pushed at potential consumers. Interaction and engagement levels have dropped across Twitter and Facebook, and as both platforms move steadily away from organic reach, this is going to continue. Facebook pages reach just 2 per cent of fans organically and experts expect Twitter to drop to these levels later this year.

90% of Instagram users are under 35 and largely urban, so it makes sense to focus on first time buyer properties.” Caroline Steer, Oracle Group

So how can you catch and keep a potential buyer’s attention in a fiercely competitive online marketplace without relying on advertising?

Enter Instagram, the free photo sharing service that is now owned by Facebook. It is mobile focused, easy to use and with an active user base of over 300 million, and growing, it is now officially bigger than Twitter. Instagram’s trademark square images can be easily edited, uploaded and shared instantly via the app and across numerous linked social networks.

The importance of using multiple, high quality images in online property marketing is a no-brainer and a great way to catch the attention of a busy property searcher. You are probably already uploading photos via social media, but with the social landscape changing every day, the image based platform should be on your marketing agenda, especially if you want to target the younger, socially savvy, first time buyer audience.

Instagram is also proving fantastic for engaging with audiences; whilst Twitter and Facebook see brand engagement levels of less than 0.3 per cent, Instagram’s levels are closer to four per cent. Of course, it is all too easy to post on social media and forget about it, but isn’t the whole point of social media to be social? Connecting and talking with your audience is paramount to avoid your  messages being lost, and if you can find a platform that drives that conversation and gives you unique insight into what your audiences responds to, that should be your priority.

If Twitter and Facebook are working for you and capturing your audience, then keep going, but if you want to reach a young, fast moving, reactive audience, Instagram could be a great solution.

Social media is a time consuming activity to get right and managing an extra channel might feel unnecessary or overwhelming, especially for smaller businesses, but there are ways around that. Instagram’s mobile focus makes it easy for individual agents to take ownership whilst out and about, rather than your office staff taking on more networks.

Ultimately that is what Instagram is about: capturing a specific moment on-the-go and sharing it with your audiences, helping them to picture themselves at home, in one of your properties.

5 Reasons for agents to use Instagram
  1. Unlike the other major social media channels Instagram has an almost even split between male and female users
  2. 90 per cent of its users are under 35 and living in urban areas, which is perfect for capturing the first time buyer market
  3. It’s free, which is brilliant for SMEs and can be downloaded straight onto smartphone and tablet device
  4. There is less competition – only 27 per cent of brands use Instagram
  5. Engagement levels on Instagram are 15 times higher than Facebook and 20 times higher than Twitter
Ways to make the most of Instagram
  • Know your audience: With 90 per cent of users under 35 and largely urban, it makes sense to focus on images of properties that are right for the first time buyer market
  • Trust your agents: Instagram is made for posting whilst out and about so encourage your agents to take images of houses fresh to the market and post as a teaser prior to professional photography
  • Use filters and effects sparingly: There are 22 filters to choose from, which can be instantly added to add a professional feel to an image, but do not go too mad: make sure the image captures what the house looks and feels like
  • Use a call to action: Web links are not live, so add a phone number and a reference that can be used for enquiries
  • Use hashtags & location tagging: Images can be searched for using hashtags and locations. Use a snappy caption and a popular and relevant hashtag like geographical areas, landmarks and adjectives that sum up the image.

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