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Instagram Ads For Real Estate Agents – Are They Worth It in 2021?

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by Kyle Handy       Updated November 17, 2020

Did you know only 10% of real estate agents who run ads on Facebook also run ads on Instagram? 

With that statistic, you might wonder if it's even worth your time to run Instagram ads for real estate agents in 2021.

Overall, my answer is yes. When implemented properly, Instagram ads can be a highly effective tool in your social media marketing strategy.

What We’ll Cover

  • Are Instagram ads worth it?
  • Instagram ads vs Facebook ads
  • The difference between promoted posts and Instagram ads
  • Instagram ad placements and types
  • Six examples of Instagram ads for real estate agents
  • Seven tips for Instagram ads

Are Instagram Ads for Real Estate Agents Worth It?

The answer to this question will depend on the following four aspects of your social media marketing strategy.

Targeting and Demographics

While similar in many ways, Facebook and Instagram each serve a specific audience. Overall, Instagram’s audience tends to be a younger demographic.

In fact, almost 70% of Instagram's user base is made up of users between the ages of 18 and 29. Facebook’s user base in this age range is much lower, with their target audience being users aged 30 to 65.

Ask yourself who your target audience is and do the research to find out where they spend their time on social media.

Focus on the Long Term

In order to get the most value out of Instagram ads, you have to take a more strategic, long term approach. This means coming up with a consistent advertising campaign, since one-off ads won’t go very far on Instagram’s platform.

It will take time, but your overall goal is to guide your leads down a structured funnel consisting of at least three steps:  

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversion

Running separate Instagram ads for each of these three steps will increase your advertising power and make your ads more effective. We’ll discuss these steps in more detail below.

Long Term Budgeting

Building traction on Instagram takes time, and you’ll need to run ads for a while before you start to see the effects. 

In general, you’ll want to budget for six months to a year of Instagram ads. If you don’t have the money to invest in starting a long term campaign, chances are your ads will not be effective. 

It’s important to stay active on the platform long enough for your ads and lead follow-up system to improve over time.

Image and Video Quality

Since Instagram’s focus is on video and image sharing, you’ll need to post higher quality content to stand out. If you don't want to invest time in creating attractive advertisements and quality images and videos, Instagram might not be a good fit for your business.

Instagram ads vs Facebook Ads

Facebook is the leader when it comes to social media marketing, with millions of businesses worldwide advertising on the platform. 

In fact, Facebook is such a giant when it comes to social media marketing, that you won’t even be able to create an Instagram ad without first having a Facebook business page and Facebook Ad Manager

That said, advertising on Instagram is unique in that the platform is not completely saturated with ads, like Facebook. When people do see your ad, they will actually take notice instead of just scrolling past it. As a result, Instagram ads tend to yield a higher engagement than their Facebook counterpart.

A major difference between Instagram ads and Facebook ads is the ability to place links within your content. While Facebook allows you to use links freely throughout the text of your ad or the caption of a photo, Instagram does not. Instead, you’ll need a good call to action to encourage Instagram users to engage with your ad. 

Finally, although Facebook takes the cake as far as numbers go, Instagram lends itself to a younger demographic, which could be helpful when creating ads geared toward first time home buyers. 

If you already use Facebook ads for your business, utilizing Instagram ads can be a great opportunity for you to show up in multiple places and reach your audience on different platforms.

You can only run ads using an Instagram business account. If you already have a personal account with a lot of followers, it may be worth it to convert your account from personal to business, which can easily be done through your Instagram settings.

The Difference Between Promoted Posts and Ads

You can enhance your social media strategy on Instagram in two ways: promoted posts and custom Instagram ads.

Learning how to do both promoted posts and Instagram ads will give you the flexibility to choose the most effective style for each step in the customer funnel.

Promoted posts are designed to boost an existing post or piece of content. When you promote an existing post, it will pop back up on your main Instagram feed, and the feed of your target audience, giving your post a much wider reach than before.

This is a great way to get your audience into the top of your customer funnel by generating brand awareness. It’s also best to use promoted posts for the middle of your customer funnel, which aims for a micro commitment from your audience via a like or comment.

Custom ads, on the other hand, focus on conversion and are great for tackling the bottom of your customer funnel. To be effective, custom ads should always include a specific call to action. 

Ads are created through the Facebook Ads Manager, with a variety of unique optimization choices, including whether to show the custom ad on your Instagram feed, or just on your audience’s feed. 

Instagram Ad Placements and Types

When it comes to placing your Instagram ad, there are three options to choose from: 

  • Your main feed
  • Instagram stories
  • The explore page

Your Feed

Ads placed on your feed will also appear on your audience’s feed, making this the most common type of ad to run. Your ad can consist of a single image, a carousel of up to 10 images, or a 120 second video.

Overall, carousel ads tend to perform the best and create the most engagement, since they are interactive and user-driven. Video ads are a close second, leaving single image ads as the least effective.

Generally speaking, ads on your feed tend to yield the best results. However, you should experiment with other placements as well, since Instagram is always changing its algorithm.

Story Ads

Story ads are temporary ads that only last for 15 seconds. 

Once you reach 10k followers, Instagram will allow you to include links in your story. Your audience can then swipe up on your story ad, which will direct them to the next step in your funnel.

You’ll need to use a vertical 9 by 16 aspect ratio when creating your story ad. You can use static photos, a carousel of multiple photos, or a 15 second video.

Explore Page

The explore page shares the same page as the search bar, and updates constantly with posts from Instagram accounts you don’t yet follow. 

Placing your ad on Instagram’s explore page can be effective, since users who scroll this page are actively looking for new content and therefore are more likely to click on your ad. 

Six Examples of Instagram Ads for Real Estate Agents

1. Featuring an Upcoming Home or Open House

The key here is to create ads for homes that have not yet hit the market, since a home could be under contract within a day or two if the market is hot.

Include just enough information to entice people to click on it. Exclude important information like the price and address so your audience knows they need to provide their information in order to find out more.

If you wait to run ads until after your listing is live, you risk leaving a huge opportunity on the table to generate a massive amount of leads, and also potentially get the best offer for your listing.

2. Aspirational Real Estate

You can use royalty free images to create ads of unique homes that people don’t see every day. These photos aren't necessarily going to be real homes in your area.

Instead, they are photos that represent dream homes, or anything that captures your audience’s attention. Some of the best sources for royalty free images are Pixabay, Shutterstock, and Unsplash.

Up the ante by including a call to action like “Call me today to find your dream home”.

3. Showcasing Your Success

You can create an ad to showcase a successful moment in your business. For example, you might create an ad after selling a home in just three days, or to showcase a great testimonial from a past client.

4. About You

This is a great type of ad to run for awareness or consideration. Share something unique

about yourself that'll catch your audience’s attention and make them want to work with you.

5. Provide Value

Use this ad to highlight your knowledge of the market in your area. For example, give helpful information about the average prices in your area for popular neighborhoods.

Any type of infographic with this sort of information will do well when targeted to the right audience.

6. Highlighting Why Your Area Is The Best

Show something unique about your area that people may not know about, like a new restaurant or shopping place. 

This ad should show that you’re actively out in your community and have knowledge of your local market.

Seven Tips for Instagram Ads

1. Don’t re-purpose ads from other platforms

You need a very specific image size and attention to detail when it comes to running Instagram ads. Make sure that you're using a square 1080 by 1080 pixel image for photos on Instagram. Additionally, remember to use a vertical 9 by 16 aspect ratio for Instagram stories.

2. Advertise one property or service per ad

Don't show multiple homes or advertise multiple services in one ad. Instead, make them each into a separate ad. This is important so that you can measure which ads are more effective. Remember to give just enough information to get your audience to click on your ad, but exclude some key points so they still need to reach out to you.

3. Use Canva

Canva is a tool similar to Photoshop that you can use for editing and adding text to your Instagram images. Canva is user friendly and makes it simple for anyone to create images and thumbnails.

4. Don’t forget about organic traffic

Even though you're running these as ads, don't forget to make them appeal to organic traffic, too. Make sure you're still creating a good caption and using the allotted 30 hashtags so people can find your post organically.

5. Run smaller, less costly ad groups

To test your ad among different demographics, placements, and targeting, create multiple ad groups with the same ad. When you do this, it's easy to see what is most effective. You can then quickly turn off the ones that are least effective so you’re only running the best ads. 

6. Promote your best content

If you already have some great posts with organic engagement, start by promoting them. If your followers engaged with that post before, chances are a random audience will respond to it as well.

7. Use Instagram ads as part of an ongoing strategy

Instagram ads should be used as part of an ongoing lead generation strategy. As mentioned above, one-off ads are not generally effective on the Instagram platform. Without a comprehensive strategy, you’ll be missing the mark and essentially wasting your time and money.

Final Thoughts on Instagram Ads For Real Estate Agents

In my opinion, Instagram ads for real estate agents can definitely be worth it going into 2021.

If you currently advertise on Facebook, consider adding Instagram to your arsenal as well. As long as you have a strategy and implement the ads properly, Instagram ads can give you a good return on your investment.

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