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This week, Instagram released new enhancements to their My Story feature. Just two months ago, I called it the “B-movie version of Snapchat”. Well, I’m here to tell you Instagram has shed that skin and has throttled the My Story feature into A-list territory. Folks, Instagram was a content sharing and marketing dream before these updates were launched. Now, Instagram can certifiably say that it is a POWERHOUSE of a social network and can quite literally, do it all. It’s time you learn how to harness that power for yourself!

Hashtags

Hashtags are integral to a social strategy in 2017. One of the top reasons I recommend Instagram as a premier social media network for real estate professionals is because of Instagram’s vast database of hashtags! As part of Instagram’s new feature rollout, searchable hashtags are now part of My Stories. WHAT?!?! Yes, and this can be a game changer! Essentially, take a photo or video using the camera in the top left of your Instagram feed. Make some magic, and when you’re ready to edit, select the square with the smiley face on the top right corner.

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This will unlock quite a few options, including hashtags, the one we’re looking for. Once you have it selected, start typing whatever hashtags you want. The good news? You can add multiple hashtags! You can also resize the hashtags and move them around the picture, that way you can fit a few in! However, the only drawback is that you cannot change the color scheme of the words. BUT, this may be changing, as lately Instagram is trying to do everything bigger, better, and more customizable!

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This new feature to My Stories is SO powerful for real estate professionals! Imagine if you took my advice wayyyy back in November 2015 or even September 2016 about using a signature hashtag. A signature hashtag is something unique to you, so that whoever searches for it inside Instagram will find all of your content, like previous listings, business wins, that sort of thing. Essentially, any posts you included that hashtag on will appear in that search directory. Now on Instagram stories, this adds another layer to your branding and helps to set you apart from the competition! Hashtags can also be used for local places, even neighborhoods, to increase listing exposure! All of this is just an image or video away!

Face Filters

YASSSSS FINALLY. Snapchat’s claims to fame are face filters that can alter a user’s appearance. It can add pretty flower crowns, add flattering lighting, and essentially make all signs of aging disappear, or even do really silly things like enlarge your eyes or nose. Instagram’s addition of their 8 original face filters is a game changer, and it is much more user friendly than Snapchat. On Snapchat, the user must flip the camera into selfie mode, and then hold down on the screen over his or her face. Then, a grid appears and it unlocks the filters. Not very user friendly and almost impossible to find without someone telling you how to do it. With Instagram, you tap on the face in the bottom right hand corner and it unlocks the filters. EASY.

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What I also like about it is that it is even faster than Snapchat if you can believe that. Something else to make note of, with Snapchat, some of the filters are for a singular user while other filters denote if two people can use it to receive the same fun effects by signaling on the filter that two faces are available. With Instagram, it doesn’t matter what filter you use, everyone in your images can get in on the fun! These can also be used in a photo format, or a 15 second video.

Although the addition of filters may not seem like it’s going to be helping you drive leads and business, it does serve another crucial purpose: humanizing your brand! Use them when goofing around the office; take a picture and add a funny caption about it. The sky’s the limit! It makes a great break in the day and it shows your audience you know how to harness technology, and can use that knowledge to help move their listing.

Instagram has been hard at work unveiling new features over the past few weeks and months. In February they debuted the feature of adding multiple photos and videos to a single post, which helped real estate professionals add entire listings to Instagram, fully share the customer journey from closing to opening the door for the first time, and many other vital aspects of the real estate industry! Now with the updates to My Story, Instagram is proving that they are truly a real estate professional’s best friend. This social network is truly a one stop shop!

Tune in to the HomesPro Facebook on Wednesday, May 31 at 2:30 p.m. EDT for my Facebook Live video fully discussing all the new features of Instagram, and some old ones you may have forgotten about and how to fully utilize them! Come with your questions, and be ready to learn!