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Mainstream apps that realtors should use


By now you know that if you’re a realtor, you need to be using social networks as much as you use direct mail, advertising, and email. The most common tools are Twitter and Facebook, and a bit of YouTube to share home videos.

If you follow me on Twitter @Melissa808, you know that I’m addicted to Instagram as much as I’m addicted to social networking. Before you dismiss it, thinking it’s “another social network to worry about,” let me tell you why it’s easy for you.

Unlike Twitter, the feed is all photos, not text, and users can interact with each other on each photo. The application allows you to push your photo out to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr, and email; a combination of any of these, or none at all (keeping the photo just in Instagram, which has its own social media community). Many people enjoy its ability to simultaneously provide a photo for their Foursquare check in, thus sreamlining their social media activity.

With 90 million active users, it has emerged as an effective marketing tool because you can enhance brand recognition and generate interest through an ongoing stream of photos that personalize you, and your business.

Here are some ways realtors can use Instagram:
1.    Share photos of what you see at open house. On Wednesdays and Sundays, realtors Rick Nakama and Khai Tran often post photos of homes they see with a quick opinion and the price.

Most Instagrams show just one shot, but if you want to collage them as seen here, you can download a free app like PicStitch or Frametastic to group one property’s shots together.

2.    Share photos of your own listing or open house. When his company gets a photogenic new listing, realtor Jaymes Song posts a photo of it with some details and encourages people to visit the open house. That way, people can see the new listing—often before the photo appears in MLS.

3.    Hashtags. Instagram stores hashtagged items more efficiently than twitter, which makes it a better venue for storing photos that relate to a specific subject. Nakama always uses #RealtyRickSees when sharing his real estate-related Instagrams; Tran, shown here, uses #RealEstate and #Realtor. This may also be why hashtags are huge in this app for garnering “likes” and, subsequently, interested followers.
4.    Show real people. Since it’s all photos, show some of your real customers and/or employees (with permission, of course) to make your business more tangible. Better yet, have them share their positive experience on their own Instagram account, and tag you.
5.    Go behind the scenes. People love to get a glimpse of exclusive shots (even though you’re sharing it with the world). Share photos of fun moments staging a home, getting ready for open house, or even meetings. Again, this humanizes your business and makes you feel accessible to consumers. It’s also a good opportunity to share tips.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a good start. As you use the app more, you’ll figure out best uses and how to maximize the networking benefits.

Next week: an overview of Vine, a quick video app.

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