If you’re a realtor who is still ignoring Instagram Stories, you might be in for a rude awakening. Instagram has made it crystal-clear that its focus is on entertainment. Agents who don’t get the message will get left behind. Agents who dive headfirst into Reels and Instagram Stories will thrive. It really is that simple.
1. Use Create Mode on Instagram
Instead of posting a note, tweet, or screenshot, use Instagram’s Create Mode to post text-related stories. Instagram’s algorithm likes when you use the app as intended, so creating something organically on Instagram tends to perform better than something uploaded from your camera roll.
Using create mode, introduce a Story like a title page or hook. Say something like, “Want to see the craziest text exchange with a client that you’ve ever seen?” You could even include a little poll to boost user engagement with the story immediately.
For Real Estate Agents, say something like, “Want to see the coolest house you’ve ever seen?” Or let’s play “would you rather” and throw up a bunch of comparisons, as I mentioned above.
Add polls on each one, and boom—engagement city. Another trick is to post a long, text-based story in Create Mode. The longer the text, the longer people stay on your story. Yes, Instagram tracks how long users spend on a post. They also know when you zoom in on a post!
2. Post Stories Throughout the Day, Not All at Once
My goal is to have a new story up every time someone goes on Instagram. Top of feed, top of mind. Avoid bunching stories unless the posts are connected and must appear immediately after one another to finish a thought.
By spreading out your stories, you’re more likely to hit people using the app at different times. Also, it’s important to remember that the Instagram algorithm likes when you use Instagram. Staying consistent throughout the day with stories lets Instagram know that you are a loyal user—and they might just reward you with more engagement and a crippling social media addiction!
3. Use CTAs (Calls to Action) Regularly in Your Stories
Unlike feed posts, you can basically force engagement on stories with polls, quizzes, questions, and slides. You can poll your audience on housing styles, bathroom decor, neighborhood preferences, or anything else that is popular with your audience. Adding a CTA to a Story with low engagement can sometimes give you an immediate boost.
If you’re not sure what your audience wants, you can gauge what your audience might like by posting “would you rathers?” or “this or thats?” to see what people are interested in and (more importantly) get them to click on your story. Pro tip: My favorite “story hack” is to use the questions feature and respond with text or actual videos of myself answering questions. Once people see that you are responding, they will want to submit a question just to see if it gets answered.
The easiest question you can ask as an agent is “AMA about the (insert your local market here).” AMA is short for “Ask Me Anything” and is a very popular format for posts on social media. You can also create contests like “Guess the price of this house” and give away a gift card to whomever gets closest to the price.
4. Add Music
One of my favorite things to do on stories now is to provide further context to my content with music. For example, if you’re sharing a story about a creepy crawl space, add something spooky like “The Shining” theme song. Or, if you’re sharing an angry meme about a buyer backing out, throw some Skrillex on the story for extra effect.
I’m not entirely sure that adding music provides more engagement, but it certainly makes stories more entertaining. Every property tour is 10 times better with music. Just remember to add a “Sound On” sticker so people watching know there is music in your story.
Pro tip: If you have an Instagram Creator Account, you have access to all of Spotify’s licensed music. If you have a business account, you will not. BUT, there is a trick to getting all the music with a business account—simply switch your account “category” to entrepreneur, and you should get it right away!
5. Tell a Multi-part Story
Instagram Stories are called stories for a reason. It was literally designed for people to tell stories! Telling slightly longer stories in multiple parts is an excellent way to build engagement.
Creating teaser “slides” where people have to click to the next story to reveal what’s happening is a great strategy to keep people on your profile. You can also tell stories by physically telling a story, like with your actual mouth.
For example, “I want to tell you a quick story about the house my buyers just closed on … they wrote 15 offers on 15 different properties and thought they would never find a home … but …”
Or something like, “This restaurant has been a staple in the community for decades … I’ve gotten blackout drunk here for years.” Instagram always prefers original content that isn’t shared from another account, so the more you show your face, the better.
6. Add Hashtags & Locations
Like with feed posts, adding hashtags and locations will help expand the reach of your stories. Unlike feed posts, you can actually hide hashtags and locations by dragging them off-screen where they are not visible.
Use one to three specific hashtags on your story and tag the location if it’s relevant to what you’re posting. Definitely hide the hashtags in your story because it looks ridiculous to have them there—unless it’s an ironic hashtag like #winning when you’re clearly losing.
7. Add Captions
Adding captions to Instagram Stories is one of its newest and best features. You can find the “caption” button on the toolbar that has GIFs and stickers. The new caption sticker automatically translates what is being said in the video to text.
About 50% of Instagram users watch stories with the sound off, so captions will help provide context. It’s kind of like watching movies with subtitles on; once you do it, you will never go back.
8. Post Reels to Your Story
Reels are formatted perfectly for stories. Share your Reel or someone else’s and blow it up with your fingers to the size where it covers the entire story. It’s a sneaky way to keep people on your profile by acting like the Reel is part of your story.
If it’s a smaller size, people might click on the actual Reel and leave your profile. Of course, you should always credit the user who posted the Reel, but story views count for Reels anyway, so you are doing users a favor.
9. Ask People to DM You
Instagram sees direct messages as one of the most valuable interactions on their platform. When a story gets a lot of DM responses, it gets a lot of views. Naturally funny or shocking content will get DMs, but a more straightforward approach is to post a story asking people to DM you for something in return.
Here are some examples: “DM me if you want to see how much this house is worth.” Or “DM me if you want me to send you a market breakdown of (insert area).” Or “DM me if you want to see nudes.” That one will work 100% of the time.
10. Use GIFs & Stickers
Like adding music, adding GIFs or stickers provides context to your stories. An extra surprised GIF may get someone to look at your story for a bit longer and see what the shock is all about. Also, Instagram rewards accounts that use all of its features. Always remember: Instagram wants you hooked on Instagram.
11. Tell People to Watch Your Story in Your Feed Post Caption
If your feed post relates to your story or vice versa, use this as an opportunity to plug your story in the caption. For example, if you’re posting listing photos to your feed, you can say something like “Check my story to see the backyard” or “Check my story for showing details.”
12. Be Consistent
This is often heard but rarely heeded. It’s the most important tip of all. Story posts are so much easier because you don’t have to worry about the number of likes, comments, and engagement seen by the public. Try to post daily to your story.