Instagram: the next Pinterest?

Real estate pros discover the photo social network
By Zachary Kussin | January 01, 2013 07:00AM

A photo posted on Instagram by Elliman’s Fredrik Eklund

Several times a day, Douglas Elliman Managing Director Fredrik Eklund uploads images to Instagram, the popular photo-sharing platform recently purchased by Facebook for $1 billion.

Eklund, who stars on “Million Dollar Listing New York” and has 3,999 Instagram followers, likes to post photos of architecture and New York City sunsets. But he doesn’t consider Instagram a business tool.

“I think what’s so nice about Instagram is it’s one of the few things that doesn’t feel like it’s touched by the business side,” Eklund said.

But that may not be true for long. Instagram surpassed the 80 million–user mark this summer, and in response, real estate brokers and firms have started using the smart phone application for business, just as they’ve done with other social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. (Last month, Instagram also made national headlines when it announced controversial new terms of service seemingly allowing it to sell users’ photographs without permission.)

Nest Seekers International agent Sam DeFranceschi said he’s been on Instagram for eight months, mostly posting scenic building shots, and finds it to be a good marketing tool for his business.

He’s reconnected with old clients through Instagram, he said, and has also received inquiries about his listings from potential buyers from as far away as Europe, who find his feed by searching Instagram for real estate–related content. “It’s been a great way of connecting locally and globally,” DeFranceschi said.

Another active Instagrammer is Elliman’s Prince Group, headed by agent Prince Dockery. The group has been on Instagram for four months, and frequently posts pictures of its listings along with asking prices, square footage and other vital stats. Dockery said he, too, finds that Instagram helps reach potential client followers from all over the world.

“Instagram has made an impact in that we are reaching a wider audience,” said Dockery.

It’s not just individual brokers who have started using Instagram. Elliman recently set up an Instagram account, said company spokesperson Ashley Murphy. She noted that Instagram and other social networks “allow us to engage with consumers en masse in real-time on a variety of topics.”

The Corcoran Group, meanwhile, has been on Instagram for over a year and has amassed 1,098 followers. Usually, the firm posts pictures of properties, some of them Corcoran listings, said Matthew Shadbolt, Corcoran’s director of interactive product and marketing. Instagram helps the firm “to connect with people that are interested in life in New York,” Shadbolt said.