Storify Your Success: 10 Tips For Building a Winning Brand With Instagram Stories

Ada Ciuca| June 23, 2020

As an agent, social media is the fastest way to address your audience’s curiosity while building a recognizable brand that stands out from the crowd. Among the growing list of social media networks is Instagram – a powerful visual platform that can show the intricacies of your real estate business in a digestible manner. 

Whether you’re new to Instagram or looking to grow your presence, Instagram Stories is a great tool to leverage. The feature allows you to post vertically shot content that is separate from the main Instagram feed, and disappears after 24 hours unless you choose to add it as a Highlight (which would appear under your bio). For real estate professionals, this tool provides an open, two-way communication forum between yourself and clients. You’re able to build rapport by providing a peek behind the path to homeownership curtain, as well as share strategies and build relationships that generate leads. 

To gain insights into how to achieve Instagram Stories success, Outfront spoke with three Instagram-savvy real estate professionals. Here are their strategies.


Creating a Professional Presence: Mercedes Scrivens-Erhahon

@ms_realtor; 4.2K followers

Since becoming a full-time Realtor in April 2019, Mercedes Scrivens-Erhahon’s career has rapidly ascended. As a five-time BOLD attendee and president of Keller Williams Young Professionals, Scrivens-Erhahon has quickly built a recognizable online brand by drawing from her experience growing her personal page (which boasts 20K followers). In building her brand, she chose to separate her personal and professional life, and constantly uses Instagram Stories to offer her followers a deeper look into her career.

Mirror Scrivens-Erhahon’s success by:

Distinguishing between your grid and Stories.  For Scrivens-Erhahon, the grid (the main Instagram profile) and Stories serve two different purposes. The images posted on her profile are clear and direct, making it easy for clients to understand that she is a professional and she is in production, but also the fact that she is human. Here is where she shares ‘just solds,’ under-contract properties, as well as client photos, while making sure to space out content. 

While the grid is generally the final product, her Stories are a behind-the-scenes look at the work of getting from point A to point B. “It’s where you’ll build the warmth,” she shares while outlining her Stories content: 

  • Inspections
  • Walk-throughs
  • Property viewings
  • Funny moments (like getting lost on the way to the property). 
  • Enthusiastic client interactions

“Rarely do I have somebody telling me no, because I typically attract clients that like me first, before even the business side.”

Being mindful of #hashtags. Since Instagram’s inception, #hashtags – generally added at the end of a post or within an Instagram story in order to help distinguish the type of content being presented – have always served a huge purpose in categorizing content and bringing posts in front of more eyes. Because Instagram gives the option to follow specific hashtags instead of just accounts, this is a huge opportunity to get your profile in front of people that are not following you. 

One of Scrivens-Erhahon’s claims to fame on Instagram is her personalized hashtag, #milliondollarmercedes – a nod to her specialty, luxury. Depending on whom she is targeting with the specific post, she will add additional hashtags to her content, making it visible to more individuals. “If I am targeting my sphere of influence, the hashtags will be based on the specific area I am targeting. However, if I close something at $1 million or above, my additional hashtags look different (e.g., #luxury, #listing, #findhomes). 

Engaging your audience. Scrivens-Erhahon constantly engages her audience by building rapport through commenting. She responds to every comment and direct message, even if it is something as simple as a smiley face. On Stories, she specifically seeks out the people who watch her content, but are not following her, and engages them in conversation. 

Connect with Scrivens-Erhahon on Instagram here

The Path to Thought Leadership: Johnny Giangregorio

@johnnygproperties; 7.6K followers

Now the manager of KWYP and dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders, Giangregorio built his following as an agent and local market expert in the Los Angeles area under the Instagram moniker @johnnygproperties. “I very early on created my handle, @johnnygproperties, so if any of my friends went to tag me in a photo, my name was associated with the word ‘properties,’” he shares. Here are his tips for establishing yourself as a leader on the platform. 

Gain more mindshare through Giangregorio’s tips:

Create an experience. “When Instagram Stories came into fruition, I became purposeful in creating an experience that clearly showed what I stood for,” he says. In particular, Giangregorio is mindful of the ratio of business posts versus personal posts on his profile. As an agent, he posted three personal posts for each business one. As a leader, his ratio is closer to 50/50. “I think that personal development and leadership can be helpful to everyone,” he shares. On his profile, he showcases his life as a real estate professional and a leader through KWYP, while still maintaining a human element. Aesthetically, he streamlines this content by creating cover logos with appealing illustrations and fonts using Canva. 

Focus on value. One of the best ways to grow your following and authority on the Instagram platform is finding your niche. “Whatever your superpower is as a real estate agent, focus on that and build out additional levers to enhance it,” Giangregorio says. Think through your value proposition and identify 2-3 things to focus on, whether you’re skilled at cold calling or an area expert, focus on that strength. Then, choose some personal passions to showcase your human side as well. 

Curate your Stories content. Giangregorio’s Story Highlights section (clusters of Instagram stories that live on your profile beyond the 24-hour time period generally allotted to Stories) has seven categories: agent tips and takeovers (catering to his switch from agent to leader), LA estates and LA to-dos (positioning him as a market and local expert in the City of Angels), and being silly, an Austin category showcasing his new city, and one dedicated to his cat. The last three humanize the man behind the profession and showcase his personality. 

Connect with Giangregorio on Instagram here

Real Estate Is a Lifestyle: Leann Acuña

@leannacuna; 2.2K followers

A buyer’s agent with The Loken Group, Leann Acuña just celebrated her five-year anniversary in the real estate industry. She describes herself as lucky for having found what she wants to do for the rest of her life, a mindset that radiates through her Instagram content. Before posting, Acuña thinks, is the content going to be educational, entertaining, or inspirational? From there, she creates. Here are her best practices.

Acuña shares three ways to grow your audience while staying true to you:

Be forward-facing. Whether it is on the grid or Instagram Stories, make it a point to show your face more often than not. On the grid, “posts that only have quotes or a landscape don’t do as well in engagement and don’t get people to scroll,” Acuña says. And within Instagram Stories, being forward-facing helps establish a human connection between yourself and your audience and gets more engagement when putting together content such as Q&As. 

Use Polls. Acuña has found tremendous success in engaging her audience through Polls, which can be added by clicking the sticker section on your Stories, then clicking Poll. “That’s something that I was quick to jump on whenever Instagram put it out, and it is a great way to engage my audience and give insights into the type of people that are following me,” she says. Acuña uses the feature especially during walking tours, where she shares fun aspects of the home and asks her audience whether they’d enjoy them.  

Provide a call to action. In writing for Instagram, Acuña makes sure to firstly, write the way she speaks so that her voice shines through, and secondly, provide an action item for her audience to follow through on. “Something that I like to end my captions with specifically is, ‘Do you have any questions?’ or letting them know I will be doing a Q&A or an open house that they can tune into and look forward to.” 

Consistency is key. For her Instagram Stories, Acuña commits to being consistent throughout the day. “I’ll have a vibe at the beginning of the day when it comes to fonts and colors, and I will be sure to keep the same aesthetic throughout the day for those stories,” she says. She focuses on keeping a colorful font, as she believes it makes people happy, and tries to stay away from distracting fonts, making sure everything looks thought-out and put together. 

Connect with Acuña on Instagram here

It’s Your Turn

If you are looking to get started with Instagram Stories, focusing on the aesthetics is a great place to begin. For KW agents, we have created a suite of Instagram templates that can be leveraged within Designs. Start experimenting with Instagram Stories now.


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  • @myrealtorcarly says:

    Love these tips! Implementing into my business ASAP!

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