Rules of engagement: How to create attention grabbing social media content

by Melanie Kalmar

Staying top of mind in real estate requires a regular presence on social media and a little strategy: Know where your audience is and give them the information they want.

Carrie J. Little intentionally “hangs out” on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, where the next generation of buyers and sellers go to learn. But she is more likely to generate business on Facebook, she said, where her network lies. Becoming a familiar presence online sets the groundwork for generating business now and in the future. In 2016, the first video Little posted to her Facebook business page resulted in sales volume of $1.9 million. Little is designated managing broker of CarMarc Realty in West Chicago, a boutique brokerage she co-owns with her husband, Marc, a Realtor and major presence in her videos.

Little posts on social media every day to remain relevant while inventory is low. “Eventually there will be a shift in the market, and when it happens, we want to be the brand already recognized,” Little said.

She sticks to four self-described pillars of content: education, authentic me, marketing and entertainment. Adhering to this formula has earned Little 14,000 followers on Instagram, 11,900 followers on TikTok, 2,600 followers on her Facebook business page and 2,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Make every subject entertaining

Little’s “educational” videos tend to focus on real estate data, communities or local events. “Authentic me” presents her as a person, be it readying her garden for spring or going through her daily routine, so viewers feel like they know her. “Marketing” might feature Little showing off a gourmet kitchen inside a listing or providing educational content for agents on YouTube to attract talent to the brokerage. “Entertainment” may show her and Marc debating a relatable topic.

Anytime Little’s with her twin sister, Mina Blazy, it captures the most views. Those videos incorporate twin humor or leverage Blazy’s expertise as an educator. Blazy once shared questions for potential buyers to ask school administrators, to make sure the district is a good fit for their child.

“People want to envision themselves in a space, home, community and lifestyle,” Little said. “They want more than ‘10 steps to homeownership.’ Create content around ‘five things to look for when you walk through a home.’ If you’re talking about data, make it relevant. ‘If you need to buy a home today, here’s why interest rates aren’t bad,’ and interview a loan officer about the change in interest rates over the past decade.”

Follow trends

Establish a creator account versus just a business account on Instagram, because it lets you see the data to determine what works, said Lauren Shimmon, a broker with Dream Town Real Estate in Chicago. “If you have a post that’s hitting, getting a lot of clicks, saves or shares, keep it in mind and use it in a different way.”

Shimmon considers herself an “elder millennial” not into the TikTok trend. She has 2,200 followers on Instagram and said the platform wants videos to stand out more than anything. Rather than brainstorm ideas, Shimmon looks at what creators like Broke Agent Media
(@thebrokeagent) say is trending. Along with that, she watches what other agents across the country are doing that’s in line with her objectives and puts her own spin on it.

“The goal is to be top of mind and have people see that you’re a real estate agent and not forget that when they need you,” she said.

Useful tips

Adding text to a reel or caption keeps viewers on the post longer and gives the appearance that it’s getting additional views, which results in the algorithm pushing out the video more often, Shimmon said. A recent Chicago skyline reel, featuring the math behind the “date the rate, marry the house” concept displayed over the video, captured 5,000 views — 36% of which were her followers, and 64% non-followers.

Shimmon looks at trending audio once or twice a week on Instagram and will do her own version of a popular reel that already has 5,000 plays. “When I do that, my posts tend to get a lot more views of people who are not following me, because it will show up in their trending feed or reels feed,” Shimmon said.

She advises agents to encourage people to share, like or comment on posts. The more they do, the more Instagram gives your posts preferential treatment. Plus, it fosters engagement, which can turn into leads.

Shimmon’s other tips include:

Have your face in the video. Otherwise, viewers will think it’s spam and not watch it.
Keep videos to 30 seconds or less to keep people’s immediate attention.
Put a “contact me” link on your profile page.

Post at least once a week, whether it’s to stories, to reels or just a photo carousel. Instagram will push out your videos more.

Follow Instagram creators like @Brock11Johnson and @IG.CreatorAcademy to keep up on new features that Instagram prioritizes.

Add a unique story to “just listed” or “just sold” posts, or people will skip past it. Share how you met the client, what obstacles you had and how you got to the finish line.

Right now, Little is heavy on video and audio because she said it’s easier for people to consume. “Most of us binge watch social media after 8 p.m. and are all addicted,” Little said. “I want you to stop and binge watch what I do.”

Little goes live on Instagram every Friday at 9:05 a.m. (the extra five minutes give her time to settle in) and sends an e-blast to remind followers to watch. She suggests posting every day. If that’s not possible, she said, at least be consistent. The algorithm favors consistency.

Little’s other tips include:

Devise your own four pillars for creating content.

Pick a day and time each week to plan content.

Schedule content for automatic release on different platforms.

“Think of social media as a great way to market yourself and build a brand,” Little said. “If you’re someone that is heavy on direct mail marketing, integrate social media into direct mail so people can find you online.”


Carrie J. Little, Designated Managing Broker, CarMarc Realty

Lauren Shimmon, Broker, Dream Town Real Estate

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