As Seen On Instagram

A picture is worth a thousand words. Cliche, but words to live by for the real estate world. Home buyers and renters alike typically visit many places before deciding where to live. Much of the decision process is based on aesthetics: from cleanliness and style to color and the exterior architecture.

And the rate at which we take in these staged first impressions is becoming a much more rapid vortex, with the often fabricated descriptions an attempt to draw a larger audience. With the ever present millennials who all want a home but can’t afford them, it’s no wonder Instagram has gained popularity as a marketing platform, especially in the residential real estate sector.

An Instagram “like” translates into an important key to your information: valuable intelligence on your consumer base, real-time data on what content is popular, customer engagement, and, eventually, sales. On Instagram, followers are synonymous with brand loyalty, whereas “likes” represent content approval, and comments a snapshot of customer engagement.

Instagram’s features make it easy for businesses to be involved on what is considered a more casual and fun social networking app through accessible customer awareness and interaction. Hashtags, mentions, tags, locations and comments allow for efficient quantitative data on how to attract new individuals and gain a following.

Users can search hashtags, which pull up photos with captions including said hashtag. They then show up in lists according to “most recent” and “most liked”, allowing the user to quickly see what is timely and relevant for them. Just as easily, the company can search hashtags to find competitors. Mentions, tags, and location allow customers to gain a shoutout on your account, or vice versa. Clicking on a location immediately brings you to a page filled with other posts from the same location.

Gaining features on other accounts, direct messaging, and contests serve as other sources of communication. Niche or popular accounts create a valuable opportunity to showcase your brand or building, and through this usually free promotion, see other types of accounts and their success through past posts. Direct messaging boasts an easy method for current and potential customers to immediately get in contact, and contests can encourage followers to promote your company on their own account. With a low opportunity cost, winners can receive some small form of compensation, while the company has now received free PR and content to then use later.

Real estate is an extremely visual field that, by replicating the intimate feeling of a potential home through a screen, provides an economically beneficial marketing opportunity. Print ads have a shorter reach, even if it is an effective tactic, but it has a steep price. By turning online media into an essential form of promotion, a larger market can be accumulated, transforming “likes” into deals, and those carefully selected deals into lasting residencies.

 

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Ad Placement in the New Internet

Advertisements may seem like an irritant, but they are (unsurprisingly) imperative to the companies that utilize them. Advertisements are tailored to different demographics of consumers in an attempt to ensnare their target market. This can entail language used, both the terminology and the dialect, as well as content and the location of the ad.

 

Recently, advertisement placement has been the topic of controversy. Google’s algorithm — one of the key factors to the rise of Google — tracks user clicks and web pages visited. The data collected allows the algorithm to place advertisements on sites that the user has previously visited. However, this method affects more than just the consumer; some companies do not want their advertisements to be featured on websites with certain content. Some of the content in question includes hate speech, racial and anti-Semitic sentiment, or heavily-slanted political commentary.

 

Because the algorithm does not yet possess the flexibility to exclude websites based on content when determining ad placement, many major companies that use the service have backed out, including AT&T and Verizon. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, faces a similar problem, and advertisers are pulling out their business due to their ads shown before or during controversial or discriminatory videos.

 

There will not be a quick fix for this issue. Flagging problematic words might be easy enough, but subtext, connotations, and statements can create derogatory messages without using the contentious words. Additionally, flagging words can arguably interfere with free speech and deny some websites access to a larger audience base through Google’s services due to improper characterization of content.

 

The larger issue at hand comes from the recent repeal of online privacy measures. While any given individual never had much privacy to begin with, the Federal Communication Commission’s rules created protections against reporting an individual’s information to companies without their permission. The absence of these rules provides an advantageous opportunity for companies to access the spread of information, as well as create and use more specifically targeted ads. Businesses looking to more accurately target potential customers benefit from the change. On the other hand, it creates increasingly transparent channels for the distribution of consumer information. The security measures that used to monitor the flow of information to companies is now almost non-existent.

 

As individuals and consumers, what can we do? For the most part, be aware that advertisements are targeted at you, and do not necessarily approve of the content of the website they appear on. To create a little more privacy online, a virtual private network can be obtained.

 

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