It's no secret that Instagram is one of the best ways for home inspectors to connect with real estate agents.
All in all, Instagram can be less of a lift (in terms of time and energy invested) and certainly less expensive relative to other marketing strategies for your home inspection business.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Sarah Wilson, the marketing force behind Wilson & Sons Inspection and Testing. Sarah's doing Instagram right; every realtor they work with, except for one, is a connection from Instagram. Here are the lessons she had for home inspectors.
Sarah says she started forming relationships with agents by asking them questions.
When she first started out on Instagram, Sarah started finding real estate accounts that she liked and just started talking.
"I found [realtor's] accounts that I thought were interesting, that I'd want to follow, and learn from," Sarah said. "I'd just ask a ton of questions and got to know them that way."
Something that's great about this strategy: you're showing realtors you care before you ask them to work with you. Sarah started those conversations with vulnerability and honesty, explaining that she was new to the industry and to social media. She said she was blown away by how open and willing to help the realtors were.
Sarah shared an example of how this paid off for her. A realtor she'd formed a relationship with over Instagram reached out after his go-to inspector retired. The realtor in question immediately thought of Wilson & Sons because of the Instagram connection they'd made. He's now one of Wilson & Sons' highest-producing realtors.
Many Instagram followers are great, but what matters is how well they convert to business for you. Sarah's advice?
"Don't care about how many followers you have, care about who they are."
Wilson and Sons' Instagram page has just shy of 900 followers. It's converted to business well enough that they have been able to hire a second inspector and a second admin to keep up with demand.
Sarah says she intentionally is picky with who follows and interacts with her account, and noted that most of her followers on Instagram are people in her local area.
Why? By doing so, she's actually gaming the Instagram algorithm. Without getting too technical, by keeping her community relatively local, her page and her posts are more likely to show to other social media users in her geographic area, and her page is more likely to convert well.
Like any business venture, tracking how well Instagram converts is important.
Don't get discouraged if the numbers aren't there right off the bat, especially if you're new to Instagram. But knowing how many of your followers can actually convert, and most importantly, seeing that your Instagram is converting is hugely important.
When Sarah first saw the metrics for what percentage of her business came from Instagram, she was blown away -- but it also validated her feeling that what she was doing with social media was really working.
Sarah's advice is to be personal and add some of you into your posts, but always exude professionalism. A good system to check if your post strikes that balance? Ask yourself if this is how you would interact with that particular agent or client in real life.
"I tell Andrew 'This is great, but would you act this way in front of this realtor? Would you speak this way?'" Sarah said. "Have an air of professionalism and be yourself, because the people that you really want to work with, that whale of a real estate brokerage...speak how you would to them."
It's an important lesson for anyone getting into social media. You don't want a bland or generic page, but it's important to post with as much professionalism and respect as you would have in person.
It's helpful to think of Instagram as a digital open house: you meet agents at an open house, but to work with them, you won't just keep seeing them at the same open house over and over again.
Instagram is the same. It's a great place to meet agents, but you need to bring the relationship off the platform.
"People don't know what's going on outside of their own world. They just don't," Sarah said. That's why she puts effort into maintaining connections and updating her agents outside of Instagram.
Sarah sends updates to all her agents via MassMail, to keep them up to date on their business and to keep in touch. In every email, she includes a video or audio version of the updates so agents can listen on the go. These personal touches and thoughtful communication ensure that her realtors feel connected to Wilson & Sons outside of just social media.
6. Communication is Kind
Perhaps the most important takeaway that Sarah shared is that "communication is kind". Although this lesson translates well to any marketing venture or just life in general, it's important to keep in mind with connections you make on social media.
"If someone pops in my head, I'm going to make a point to reach out to them," Sarah said, noting that if she and Andrew haven't heard from an agent in a while, they'll send a text or invite them to coffee.
"We just check in on them, not because we're like 'hey, where's the work?' We just genuinely really are like 'hey, where are you? Are you okay?'" Sarah said.
Sarah knows this communication and treating realtors as partners, as opposed to competitors, has led to successful professional relationships.
Wilson didn't have any background in marketing before she and Andrew started Wilson and Sons. She learned everything she knows by observing and asking questions.
For all home inspectors getting into the social media and Instagram game -- you don't need to be an expert to succeed. In Sarah's case, curiosity, kindness, and human connection led to her success for Wilson & Sons.