Who hashtagged it best?

The victories and fails of some of the residential world’s most active Instagrammers

Aug.August 01, 2015 07:00 AM

InstaIf a picture is worth a thousand words, New York City residential brokers on Instagram, the photo-centric social platform, are a wordy bunch.

This month, The Real Deal paged through hundreds of Instagram posts by residential real estate players and picked out some noteworthy feeds. We looked at both mega brokerages and active firms and agents, and chose a cross-section of strategies.

On the brokerage side, for example, Halstead Property almost always uses listings shots, while Compass rarely does. On the agent front, both power broker Dolly Lenz and Douglas Elliman’s Luis Ortiz, who appears on Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Listing New York,” are using the platform to build their personal brands, like so many other agents in the city. As of last month, Ortiz had a stunning 230,000 followers — far higher than anyone else in this representative survey, but less than his co-stars Fredrick Eklund and Ryan Serhant, who had 418,000 and 321,000 respectively.


To judge the effectiveness of these strategies, we asked a panel of experts to weigh in on one emblematic post — and they each had a unique take. Below is a rundown of their takes in an unscientific order.


CompassInsta222 posts | 3,169 followers | 231 following

TRD: Compass’s feed is heavy on design aesthetic and on combining polished listing shots and cityscapes with stylized agent photos. This shot fits right into that mission, depicting NYC at dusk, seen through an unique lens.

Shankman: Nice and artsy.

Harrison: Excellent use of imagery for the message they are trying to convey. The image is unique, grabs attention and provides the right context.… This is a great example of sharing the beauty of New York City without selling, as there is no link to a listing or website.

Stephen: Looks great and is visually appealing to draw followers in. However, what does it have to do with real estate sales?

Douglas Elliman

DouglasElliman678 posts | 14.8k  followers | 363 following

TRD: Followers generally see an array of buzz-worthy listings — and the agents marketing them — plus dramatic cityscapes, like this aerial shot of Manhattan under a moody sky.

Shankman: Asking for your favorite song was too BuzzFeed-y for me.

Harrison: Eye-catching photo grabs attention. Dozens of comments in response to the question shows engagement. But it’s missing hashtags to provide additional context.

Sreenivasan: Unusual photos work best, especially in real estate where so many pictures can look the same. I also liked the idea of tying in music. Good way to engage the audience, though better to seed it with a couple of songs in the original caption.

The Corcoran Group

Corcoran1,233 posts | 6,416 followers | 62 following

TRD: Corcoran’s feed emphasizes its listings, while incorporating photos and video to feature favorite neighborhood spots. Here, we see the lounge at Related’s 325-unit Carnegie Park, where Corcoran says it sold 100 condos in the same number of days.

Shankman: Nice use of sarcasm.

Harrison: The message is great. It reflects the positive momentum for deal closings for Carnegie Park. Good use of hashtags. [But] while the picture is beautiful, it’s fairly typical. 100 deals in 100 days is compelling, therefore [they should] include a link to a landing page or website to give more details about the “deal.”

Sreenivasan: I might like to know the exact building. Always good to give people a sense of the location in the caption if the photograph doesn’t. It’s confusing to call it Carnegie Park in the caption and Carnegie Hill in the hashtag.

Halstead Property

Halstead482 posts | 3,708 followers | 77 following

TRD: Halstead features listings, listings and more listings formatted like Polaroid photos. This post does just that at a 20-unit condo, the Orleans on the Upper West Side.

Harrison: Fantastic image to show spaciousness and natural light … the link to the listing is appropriate. But this post is bit of an overkill for hashtags. A few is good, a handful is pushing the limit, and 22 is over the top.

Stephen: Great-looking photo and the content is about a particular property, so it’s relevant. The only shortcoming is that they didn’t use the text to get people interested.

Sreenivasan: This is an example of a specific address, but there’s no sparkle in the caption. Presuming you got it covered in the hashtags is not enough.

Nest Seekers International

Nest-Seekers314 posts | 28.7k followers | 213 following

TRD: Nest Seekers opts for grand listings with an emphasis on exotic real estate,
often with a literary quote. This shot focuses on the curved metal staircase in a duplex pad.

Harrison: Stunning image. The viewer can sense the texture of the wall, brick, metal and iron. The message is simple and there’s an appropriate use of hashtags. But it may leave the reader wanting to learn more about this property. Is it for sale? Did it recently sell? Where is it located?

Stephen: The photo looks good and enticing, but the text has nothing to do with selling or leasing residential property.

Shankman: This is my favorite of all of them — not sales-y, they used a brilliant quote and only two hashtags. I’ve followed them based on this alone.

Town Residential

TownResidential857 posts | 2,335 followers | 633 following

TRD: The firm often adds text to photos to spotlight unique selling points and educate followers; it also features agents’ photos in a weekly competition. Here, Town touts the dining room at 111 West 13th Street as “ideal” for dinner parties.

Stephen: A good example of an effective post. It combines a real property listing with a quote that speaks to a feature in the photo.

Harrison: The message matches the image and provides the property location. There’s an appropriate use of hashtags. It would be helpful to list the hours for the open house in the message. A link to the listing and future open house dates would be fitting for this type of post.

Sreenivasan: This works, and is a clever use of text on image. It would also be good to test out Instagram’s layout app to build a collage.

Dolly Lenz

DollyLenz458 posts | 1,641 followers | 180 following

TRD: Lenz’s feed is a potpourri of personal, real estate and whimsical shots. Here, Lenz poses with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer at a Fortune’s Most Powerful Women event.

Sreenivasan: I like this. It gives a sense of the company’s connections.
I’d have included the hashtag of the Fortune event.

Stephen: This has nothing to do with
real estate, but it is perhaps relevant to Dolly Lenz showing that she’s well-connected.

Harrison: The message shows excitement for the event and meeting Marissa Mayer. It’s a flattering photo of both women without too much distraction in the background. There’s excellent engagement by followers. There isn’t a lot wrong with this post, but [better to] edit photos when possible to eliminate red eye and adjust color hues, even when posting real-time at events.

Luis Ortiz

LuisOrtiz1,445 posts | 234k followers | 127 following

TRD: Unlike his MDLNY co-stars, Ortiz often uses videos, not just photos. Here, however, we’re looking at a photo of Ortiz with Eklund and Serhant.

Shankman: They’re on a reality show. It’s no longer about real estate, it’s about their TV image.

Harrison: This is a brief post with a fun and quirky photo that resulted in a huge response from the community. The hashtag was appropriate to trend on Throw Back Thursday. It would be appropriate to add @Bravotv and #MillionDollarListings to the post to provide additional context.

Sreenivasan: It’s hard to comment on something with 8,000 likes. Obviously this team knows what it’s doing. For #tbt, I like to see the original date.

Source note: Number of posts and followers as of July 21, 2015.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

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