Get real on Instagram—choose authenticity over automation

Blog Post by Sarah Malcolm, Chief Digital Strategist at The News Funnel

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Automation programs specifically designed for Instagram like Instagress and GramKosh enable users to set up hashtags to find, automatically like, and sometimes comment on posts without having to do the “finding” themselves. Anyone who has worked with computers long enough can recognize right away the pitfalls of this type of automation. One blogger recounts her experience as follows: “A few weeks ago I posted a picture of my feet in the ocean and I got a comment that said. ‘That looks so cute on you!!’ with an array of emojis.”

Sure, this might be a simple example of how Instagram automation can miss the mark, but the underlying flaw of the technology is consistent for real estate professionals in more serious brand marketing situations, too.

While Facebook leads the pack in generating real estate leads, real estate professionals have found Instagram to be a valuable marketing tool to expand their network and market their properties and services. Indeed, used the right way, Instagram can promote your brand in ways other platforms cannot. Live shots on Instagram of a beautiful magnolia tree in full bloom on a new property listing can trigger a like, comment, or even a showing.

What doesn’t make sense, however, is to automate likes and comments in Instagram. The platform simply isn’t ready for the technology. For real estate professionals who build their careers around people and personalization, Instagram falls way short of the level of personal connection the industry demands. Rather than improving your brand, Instagram automation can actually bruise it.  

Ironically, a NAR technology survey found the majority of REALTORS® using social media for business does so to build relationships/network (70%) and for visibility/marketing (64%). However, using Instagram automation tools actually removes the human from the building relationships part of the equation.

In the end, humans need humans.

Sure, technology and, specifically, automation in social media qualifies as a necessity for many RE professionals and businesses, but it falls short in the area of consciousness. This is that thing that distinguishes humans from all other living things. The Insta-bots utilized by automation platforms can’t think like we do, even though they can simulate behavior based on collected data from past online behaviors. Still, they behave as they’re instructed by us. Small Talk Social blogger describes this distinction like this: “They don’t understand context or practice tact. And they definitely don’t “see” that image you just posted— the one with the giant pile of poop your dog lovingly left in your hallway this morning. They simply detect that you used a certain hashtag + say “beautiful”… because well, we told them to.”

Regardless of technological advances in automation, real estate is still a people-to-people industry.  In the world of social media marketing, automation has its place, for sure. In terms of content, for example, Hootsuite has proven itself as an industry standard. It makes sense to create posts ahead of time and schedule publishing them throughout the day, week, months, and year. Instagram automation is no Hootsuite. Better to build your brand on Instagram by being authentic not automatic.