Recently, Anne Jones, agent/owner of Windermere Abode, spoke about the powers of Instagram at the Genuine Hustle event in Denver, Colorado. She summed it up nicely saying, “These tools fascinate me because they bring me closer to real people. I get to have real connections with real people.” And aren’t conversations the heart of any relationship marketing strategy?
Nearly one billion users are on Instagram. That means there are plenty of people who are showing up, ready to discover something new and interesting. Hilary Rushford, owner of a thriving styling business, Dean Street Society, is an instagram magician. With over 219 THOUSAND followers, she spills the secret sauce about how to make it work.
“Your instagram profile isn’t about you. We share content as business owners since its the way we connect with our customer--their lives, their hopes and their dreams.”
BAM! There it is again. The same message over and over again about what makes a brand truly resonate>>> less ME, more WE.
Know Thyself 101
Before ANY marketing strategy is going to actually work, you have to understand who you are and what value you bring to the conversation. The days of being neutral and blending in are over. It’s just too noisy to stand out in the crowd if you are trying to please everyone. Instagram, and any other social platform for that matter, is no different in this regard. Hilary Rushford lays out some solid questions to ask yourself before you even post your first story.
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What are you selling them?
- Why are you gathering this tribe?
- What will your life be like with this tribe?
Once you answer the above questions, then you can begin to cultivate a strategy that will curate the experience and build rapport. Connections help you magnetize the right people and build familiarity. Remember we are humans after all, and are hard wired by what we know, like, and trust.
Top of the Funnel
The experience begins with your bio. Let your people know what it will be like to follow you and be part of your story. Tell them upfront what’s in it for them, why they should care and what you have to offer. Anne Jones points out how critical it is to include contact info in your bio because you want to move the conversation into a direct message or “DM” as the insiders call it. What exactly is a “DM”? It’s a 1:1 conversation, human to human, chance to build rapport. It’s the golden chalice for real estate professionals who are looking to connect and build trust. So post when you have a chance to respond to these DM’s and have a conversation. Now, if only I could figure out where to respond to those DM’s…
Hilary Rushford also reminds us that the bio in instagram is actually the start of your marketing funnel. And, she is in fact correct. This framing was an AHA! Moment. As a refresher, here is a quick diagram of a typical marketing funnel for most real estate agents.
That bio, that quick paragraph that tells me whether or not I should care and be interested in you, is the moment where someone will “follow” or not. And that “follow” is a virtual handshake, eye contact or smile, otherwise known as the top of the marketing funnel. Since Instagram is a social platform, or engagement platform, it's a great top of funnel to leverage--did I mention there were one BILLION users on the platform?
Tell Your Story
We all have a story to share, every single one of us. Becoming a storyteller is a required skill if you want to connect emotionally with your people. Why? Because stories tap into our brain chemistry. It’s no coincidence the Instagram experience is all about stories, which is arguably why so many are obsessed. It’s addictive by design and taps into that cortisone-dopamine-oxytocin cycle that hooks us and keeps us coming back. Here are a few questions and reminders that Hilary Rushford gives regarding what stories you should tell:
- Who are you speaking to and why?
- What are you going to sell them?
- Your content should tell the story of your brand.
- What is the purpose of your profile as you convert them to clients?
Best of luck to you as you figure out who you are and how to tell your story. It will take time, trial and error, maybe some serendipity and lots and lots of learning. Remember, consistency is the key to unlocking any marketing success. So go forth, connect with your people, be you, and most importantly, serve your clients well.