Instagram Best Practices for REALTORS®
December 4, 2019 Member Benefits
Instagram is a tool to help REALTORS® not only grow their business but create brand recognition while staying connected with past and future clients. Instagram’s advertising tool can be an affordable way to reach a specific group, share a certain message, or promote content straight from Facebook.
However, it is important to make sure you are compliant with the rules and regulations that could land you in trouble.
Know Your Company Policies
The first step for any REALTOR® is to find out if their brokerage has any policies or guidelines for using social media. We recommend you reach out to your broker or office manager to make sure you understand, and are complying with, any company social media policies.
Instagram Business Accounts
A nice feature of Instagram is you can convert any existing account to a business account.
Business accounts allow you to monitor engagement, view insights, and promote post -- functions which are not available on a personal account. Instagram allows a user to hold multiple accounts so you can create a page devoted to your real estate business while maintaining a personal account. Also, unlike Facebook, Instagram does not require you to have a personal account to be able to have a business account.
When deciding if you should convert your current Instagram personal account to a business account, it is important to consider if you are comfortable sharing your current personal content which exists in your account. Keep in mind you can remove photos you would not want a client to see. However, if you need to remove a large portion of your personal content, you might want to consider creating an additional account just for business purposes.
Creating the Right Username/Handle
License & Brokerage Disclosure
Under Massachusetts real estate license law, real estate agents must clearly disclose they hold a real estate license and which brokerage they are associated with. There are a few different ways you can do this, you should do what works best for you and for the post.
Creating the Right Username/Handle for Massachusetts Real Estate Advertising
Instagram allows you to change your username or handle at any point in time. Having the right user name can help you meet Massachusetts Real Estate Advertising and Compliance.
By displaying the brokerage you are affiliated with as part of your handle, it is clear to the public that you are a licensed agent affiliated with that brokerage. The added benefit is you are meeting the advertising disclosure law with each post and do not have to worry about forgetting this important step.
This also applies to teams, which need to be diligent in displaying their brokerage as to not mislead the public into thinking they may be a brokerage themselves.
Create your own location check-in
One interesting way to disclose your brokerage is to create a check-in location. This way you can easily disclose your brokerage without taking away from your post or wondering if it is apparent enough to meet Mass Law and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
It is strongly suggested that you do not create locations for your listings. The reason being, the location will forever exist on Instagram and could be against the future owner's wishes and could later affect their safety.
Hashtag and Tag Your Brokerage
One of the most frequent ways Real Estate Agents in Massachusetts disclose their brokerage is to hashtag the company name in the caption or tag their account. Just be sure that it is clear it is your brokerage. For example, if your brokerage abbreviated their username in the post, it may not be clear who the brokerage is.
If using a lot of hashtags, often people will put them in under a comment to not bog down the post. If you are hashtagging your brokerage it should be in the caption so it is easily seen and should be above the “read more” dots.
You can also tag your brokerage in your post. However, because a tag is not clearly shown, it needs to be listed elsewhere as well.
Share Listings Appropriately
There are only two ways to link to an outside source from Instagram. The first is to sponsor your post - this allows a ribbon to be added just below the image that can be linked to a website. The other is to update your profile to contain the desired link. You would then include in your caption, “Link in Bio.” Keep in mind the best links to use for listing are either directly from Flex MLS or your Brokerage’s website.
To share a listing of a property you do not represent, make sure you get permission from the listing broker, preferably in writing. And be sure to disclose who the listing brokerage and agent is.This includes when sharing a link to your website that displays the other brokerage's listing via the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy.
Remember Fair Housing When Posting & Advertising
As with any real estate advertising, ensure you are phrasing language to be the most inclusive rather than exclusive with your language.
Though Instagram's advertising tools are less specific than Facebook’s, you want to be careful of who your ad is targeting. When using targeted advertising, it is easier to think of who you are not including, rather than who you are including. It is best to include as many classes as possible when targeting -- the more you include the less likely you are to violate the Fair Housing Act.
Protect the REALTOR® Trademark
All REALTORS® should work to ensure the trademark is used correctly to help protect the brand. The term REALTOR® should only be used with your name or brokerage name, and not with a location.