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How to Win Referrals and Leads on Instagram

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

As a real estate agent, one of your main responsibilities is investing your time in social media strategies that work. Since Instagram vetoed posting website URLs, now is the time to rethink your Instagram strategy in order to win referral and client leads for 2021 forward.

Instagram is about humor, and in most cases, it is easier to follow than it is to be innovative. Videos that go viral on Instagram are usually simple to find. One particular example is six friends slowly swaying back and forth to a beat, wearing triumphant grins. This particular video racked up millions and millions of views on multiple social media platforms as viewers remixed it and superimposed their own image dancing along with the group of friends. Source.

Real Estate agent Loida Velasquez hopped on the trend in July, copied the video premise, and superimposed herself with the added the text: “When your buyer’s offer finally gets accepted.” Then she posted it to her Instagram Reel and her non-Reels feed of images and videos on Instagram. Click here to watch.

The video ended up getting her two buyer leads.

"The episode highlights the key role Instagram has come to play in the lives and work of some real estate professionals. Though social media platforms seemingly multiply endlessly, Instagram remains the gold standard for many agents and brokers. It’s big, its reach is unparalleled and it continues to evolve features that provide new ways to build and maintain a brand," says Inman journalist Jim Dalrymple.

Jim conducted a study to better understand how real estate professionals are harnessing Instagram, and the feedback was virtually unanimous: Instagram can be a vital way for agents to differentiate themselves, as well as to pick up actual business the way Velasquez did. But succeeding on the photo-sharing site isn’t a given, or even always easy. It requires working hard, and working smart. Source.

The Basics

Instagram's known for the Feed, which is the vertical scrolling stream of photos and videos. Beginning 2016, the feed became algorithmic, meaning Instagram prioritizes content it thinks its users will like the most.

Two other important parts of Instagram to keep in mind are Stories and Reels. Debuted in 2016 as a Snapchat clone, it's now the platform’s primary feature where stories appear at the top of the app, and posts to Stories disappear after 24 hours. When a user taps a story, it autoplays. Stories are prioritized by Instagram's algorithm as well. Source.

Therefore, the goal is to be one of the first few stories that will be automatically visible when a user opens the app — accomplished by consistent engagement and regular posting.

Reels effectively copies TikTok and was launched in 2020 - users select it by hitting the play button at the bottom of the app. Reels is now the number one focus of Instagram developers and users scroll the content by swiping up. Source.

What to Post

Most real estate agents think to post their real estate listings, and Ian Grossman, a Keller Williams agent based in Austin, Texas, did just that, and now, five years later, has more than 18,700 followers on the platform, and he said he first started building that following more than five years ago with simple images of homes that were for sale.

“I was taking [multiple listing service] listings of cool homes and I would post those,” Grossman told Inman. “I would always credit the listing broker. People apparently liked that. That’s how my account first started taking off.”

But Grossman also soon realized just posting home listing photos wasn’t enough. He described his early Instagram efforts as “like a robot” and said the content had “no real personality.”Source.

Eric Simon said agents on Instagram should also make sure they’re using all of the platform’s different features, such as Reels and Stories. “Instagram rewards people who are consistent,” he said, “and people who are utilizing all aspects of the platform.” Source.

Simon also advised real estate agents to focus on a specific audience, such as people in their own region.

“A niche is important,” he said. “If you’re an agent trying to reach out to your clients, I think a location is a great way to do that. You want to interact with your community. Do interviews with restaurant owners. Start specific. It’s easier to grow that way.” Source.

Building a Following

What content to post is the first challenge, but the second, and perhaps more important challenge, is making sure people actually see that content.

There are a handful of strategies for doing that.

"Because Instagram allows links in fewer places than other social platforms, one of the main tools for getting content in front of new audiences is the hashtag. Once a hashtag has been added to a post, users can click on it and find additional content with the same tag. Ergo, adding that tag may mean users exploring topics they like will end up on your content." Source.

Hashtag use should be strategic. While Instagram will allow for around 30 hashtags per post, Simon recommended using only between five and eight, and he said to make them very specific. Source.

“Do something local, like #santamonicaopenhouse as opposed to just #openhouse,” he said. “The general hashtags have millions and millions of posts on them so you’re not going to rank as highly on them. Using something like #realestate and #realtor is not going to do anything for you if you have 2,000 or 3,000 followers.” Source.

Simon would like their content and leave comments, which would then attract the attention of those bigger accounts’ followers. This should be done by taking five minutes out of your day and commenting on 10 to 15 popular accounts or other realtor accounts Source.

"Everyone who spoke with Inman also agreed that posting regularly and frequently is key. Grossman, for instance, advised users of the platform to post to Stories at least once a day." Whether it was 8-15 stories a week or 2-3, all successful persons had to stick to a routine. Source.

The Takeaways


Dalrymple, Jim II. (2021, September 30). How to Win Referrals and Leads on Instagram in 2021. Inman. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from Source.

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