“I just don’t get it.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard so many times when it comes to Instagram. The point? Simple. It’s in right now. It’s where people are playing. It’s the social media platform to be seen on and if you’re not getting it, you better soon if you want your content to be seen. Go where the eyeballs are, and that’s Instagram.

“What’s the point?” Not so long ago, I recall the same being said of another social media platform called Facebook. I remember trying to convince my friends and colleagues that this was going to be a big thing. But nobody could understand. They resisted. They complained. They whined. Why? Why do I care what someone had for dinner? Why do I care if someone has checked in at the airport? Why is it important for me to be there? Yet here we are just a decade later and if you don’t have a Facebook profile we now say, “What is she/he hiding? That’s so weird.”

Isn’t Instagram just for brands and kids? Why no my friend it is not! Did you know that approximately 225 million people over the age of 50 are actively using Instagram personally and for business? I know it can seem as if the latest and greatest social media platforms are just for the millennial crowd but fear not there is an opportunity to stand out no matter what your age, location, or niche. Instagram is a robust platform with a wide range of communities within the app, whether it is stories, posts, IGTV, or going live there is an option for you to build your brand and grow your business.

“I want to see more realtors move away from traditional marketing and into consumer-focused marketing in 2020, especially on Instagram. Not making it just about the houses, but making it about the people, the neighborhoods, and lifestyles. Focusing on education, tips, decor ideas, and so much more to actually serve their followers value rather than just another home listing. THIS will change the dialog, keep followers engaged, and lead to more loyal customers looking to buy and sell.” –Jenn Herman on Instagram @Jenns_trends

As real estate agents, we’ve found Facebook to be an amazing tool to stay in touch with our clients, build relationships, and get exposure. So why change platforms now? Why start over on another social media? Aren’t the same people we know on Facebook over there on Instagram? And these story things, what is the point of making content that’s going to disappear in 24 hours? What a waste of my time! Or is it? Don’t be such a quick judge. Let’s explore the 8 things you need to know about Instagram and the very hot item Instagram Stories.

1.) Positivity Rules.

Are you tired of the negative posts on Facebook? The people that just get on and post about their bad day, bad experience, or share the mean meme or aggressive views on politics?

Come on over to Instagram my friend. It’s a lot quieter there. Why? It’s harder to post nastiness. Negative Nellies have to go out of their way to find a photo/video to express their negativity. Facebook makes it easy. Anyone with a keyboard can make a Debbie Downer post, no picture/video required. Most posts on IG are full of positive, informative, educational, entertaining, and fun information. If someone wants to be negative on the platform they really have to work hard at it. For example, a Debbie Downer would need a miserable looking selfie to post on IG so they can post about their no good, very bad, terrible day.(That’s a lot of work in my opinion and slightly narcissistic.) Oh and guess what? It likely won’t play well if they do it. It will get the swipe on in my opinion. Users go to Instagram to see pretty pictures of things like sunsets, beaches, smiling faces. So get on the positive train or go home.

Be creative with your pictures. Have fun, use lots of colors, and make them interesting to catch those eyeballs.

2.) It’s quieter

Here’s what I mean. It’s not notification central on Instagram. There are days I wake up and look at my Facebook app and the notifications are crazy. There’s a notification for everything. The groups you’re in, you get notified. The post you commented on notifies you every time someone else comments (yes, you can turn them off, I know). It feels like you get 100’s of notifications for everything! Over on Insta, not so much. You get a little heart notification when you log in saying if someone has liked your recent photo/video post and if someone has commented. That’s about it. And if you miss it once Instagram doesn’t bombard you with more notifications. If you comment on a post, you don’t get notified 900 times over every time someone else does. (It’s so great for the pictures of the babies, and wedding posts, that you know you want to comment on but you hesitate because of the notification nightmare on Facebook.)

3.) Follow me..or not.

The days of #follow4follow #like4like are long gone. So although this may seem strange to some of you, but on IG just because you follow me, it doesn’t mean I have to follow you, and that’s perfectly O.K. in the Instagram world. It’s not like being ‘friends’ on Facebook. It’s not the personal insult of the ‘defriending’ experience. Can I explain why? Not really. It’s just the culture of the app and you know what? I like it. You can truly cultivate your “community” on Instagram by focusing on your niche, hobbies, and interests. One little tip that we believe in, DON’T pay for your followers if you want authentic engagement and you want to build relationships.

So now let’s talk about those really questionable things, Instagram Stories. These are the big ‘why’ questions I get. What is the point of disappearing content? Yes, that’s right you create content, and 24 hours it disappears. Now that seems pointless, right? I’m here to tell you it may seem crazy, but it is amazing. Here’s what I love about stories.

4.) It’s quick.

This is not a place for long-form content. This is quick and to the point posts. No long babbling videos. You get 60 seconds to do a video in your timeline, longer if you link it to your IGTV video. In stories you only get 15 seconds, so you need to articulate and get to the point fast, otherwise, your viewers swipe on to the next one. (It’s actually a great way to get better at doing video I have found.) 15 seconds is the length of the video for each story. You may think you can’t say much in 15 seconds, but you would be surprised. The good news is if you don’t like what you record, just delete and re-record a new 15-second clip.

Liz Novello talking about how to stay positive, and not judge ourselves too much. Amazing what powerful things can be said in 60 seconds!

The big picture here is the repurpose power you have with these story clips! Think of it this way every time you do a story you can repurpose it to other platforms whether that be Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or even Tik Tok. As a matter of fact, you can enable social sharing within the Instagram app via Facebook and Twitter. Taking it a step further you could take your 15-second videos, use a phone app like Splice or Inshot, and put them together to make a longer video to tell your story.

“In 2020 vertical video will hit Instagram HARD. We will see fewer posts to the feed and more content posted daily to stories. In addition to stories continuing to grow now is the time to set up an IGTV series. “In Shot” is an app that will allow you to take relevant older horizontal videos and turn them into wonderful stories and your IGTV series”. — Marki Lemon Ryle on Instagram: @markielemon

5.) Behind the Scenes.

Ok, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, “Stories are the behind the scenes of your day.” Well what the heck does that mean, and why does anyone care about it? What it means is all the little things going on in your day. The showing adventures with buyers, the photos being taken for the new listing, you dropping your dry cleaning off, you having coffee at your favorite cafe in town, taking your kids to the bus stop. Sound uninteresting? It can be, but I guarantee you will start to have conversations with your followers about these silly everyday things. People will want to know where that dry cleaner is and did they get that wine stain out? They’ll say, ‘Hey I love that coffee shop too, want to meet up for a cup?’ Hmmm, what does that sound like? Oh, a relationship in the works which we all know is the cornerstone to building a business.

An “About Me” Instagram Highlight is a great way to showcase who you are, a day in the life, your town and your real estate business!

Huh? What? New people? How is that going to happen? Aren’t I just connecting with the ones I already have? Maybe but when you start to use things like hashtags (Instagram allows you to use up to 10 in stories) and geographic location stickers in your stories, your stories go out further and get in front of other people, and guess what you start to get new followers! In other words, you will get found! This works for posts on Instagram as well and you can use up to 30 hashtags in each post!) New followers bring new conversations and relationships which ultimately brings you what? New business and exposure!

“IG stories for sure! Taking people behind the scenes, sharing their day to day, sharing the work they do for clients, (all of this increases the know, like, trust factor) then turning those stories into actions for prospects to DM agent… the DM is where the relationship is built!”- Katie Lance on Instagram @KatieLance

Check out Katie Lance’s video on using Hashtags to up your game!

7.) I see you.

What does that mean? Here’s the thing with stories. You see everyone who is looking at your stories. Everyone that watches them, you know about it. It is amazing to me who watches my stories. People who never once commented on a Facebook post watch my stories daily, and because it’s more intimate, they tend to send me a message. I say intimate because it’s just between you and them. Nobody else has access to that message, and shocker some people are private and don’t want everyone to know their thoughts, so they love using stories to communicate. And the “I see you” part, also, works on those stalkers out there. You know exactly who is watching your stuff, lovers, or haters. If they touch that bubble to watch your story, they are purposely engaging with your content. That action shows intention and I think that’s pretty cool insight.

“Building a relatable brand through Stories and also leveraging personal one to one convos at scale through voice DMs. Lastly, being able to see who’s watching! It’s the only form of social media that tracks that!” — Chelsea Peitz on Instagram @Chelsea.peitz

k8.) Creativity rocks.

My biggest and most favorite thing about Instagram stories is the ability to be creative and fun. You can add fun stickers and GIFS. Do a few boomerangs and make people laugh. Filters can spice up a video. Do interactive polls and question stickers to find out what your audience likes (please make sure you respond to anyone who takes the time to vote or answer a question). Remember engagement is a big deal with Instagram and it helps you to be seen by more people. Instagram is not about being “buttoned up” in every story. It’s not about being perfectly professional all the time. It’s about showing who you are, dropping some info here and there while showcasing your fabulous self.

So now you are probably asking but does it work? Will it get me business? Is it worth my time? Yes, it does. But just like any marketing whether it’s a bus bench, newspaper ad, Facebook post, or an Instagram story, it takes time. You need to be consistent. You need to learn the platform. You need to engage with other people’s posts and stories. You need to build relationships for the business to come. Who can you learn from? We compiled a list of some great real estate agents we think you should follow for some ideas and inspirations.

Ten REALTORS we think are ROCKING in it on Instagram

@briansellspittsburgh Brian Teyssier in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

@soniafigueroare in Chicago, IL

@liznovello Elizabeth Novello, Short Hills, NJ

@ateam_sells Amy and Adam Karol St. Petersburg, FL

@erinforhomes Erin Anderson in San Fransisco CA

@nestorandmichelle Nestor and Michelle in Irvine, CA

@smilton3rd Sherman Milton III in Tampa, Fl

@billybuckandassociates: Billy Buck in Arlington VA

@loidavelas Loida Velasquez in Southern Calfornia

@real_estate_old_school: Rick Jarman in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Sue ‘Pinky’ Benson is a RE/MAX Realty Team agent in Southwest Florida REALTOR covering Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Marco Island. She is a top producing agent and along with winning awards for selling homes, she has won various awards for her real estate videos as well. Pinky is a National Trainer and Speaker in the Real Estate Industry on Video and Social Media. Follow Pinky on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/pinkyknowsnaples/

Michele ‘Bee’ Bellisari is with RE/MAX Services. She lists and sells property within specific real estate niches in Boca Raton, Florida and Palm Beaches. She is the founder of #SoooBoca® — A Boca Raton and South Florida Lifestyle Guid. Michele, also, speaks on and trains real estate agents on how to build a community on social media to generate leads and close more business…on shoestring budget! You can listen to Michele’s ‘In the Hive with Michele Bee Podcast’ on iTunes!  It’s a podcast all about marketing, branding, and social media for real estate.

Follow Michele at https://www.instagram.com/themichelebee/