Have you ever wondered if social media is more trouble than it’s worth for landlords and other property investors? Or can social media really help accelerate the growth of your property business?
The good news is that social media can help your property business grow, if you go about it the right way.
This blog post shows you how to go about using social media to accelerate their your growth. There’s lots of detailed practical tips on how to create the right social media profile for your business, and make the right sort of content that speaks to your target audience.
A big shout out to Milly from Posting Property for letting me pick her brain for this blog post. Milly is the best social media expert specialising in property that I’ve come across. A big thanks also to Charlotte Edwards and Craig Sullivan, who share how they harnessed the power of social media to grow their property businesses.
Social media for property businesses at a glance
- Can social media really help property businesses?
- 3 questions to ask yourself about social media
- Which social media channels are right for your property business?
- How to create the right social media profile for property
- Creating Instagram content that converts
- Where to get personalised expert help on social media
- Social Media Success Case Study: Charlotte Edwards
- Social Media Success Case study: Craig Sullivan
- Final thoughts
Can social media really help property businesses?
Growing your social media presence can definitely have a positive impact on your property business. When done effectively, it can increase your profile, enhance credibility, and enlarge your network. Social media can also help attract angel investors and customers for property-related businesses.
As I’ve seen myself, it can also be lots of fun, and it has helped me feel part of the wider property community. Learning how to produce reels and use Canva has been a game-changer for me, as it showed me that I do have a creative side. Even if it was buried during my 25 years as a corporate lawyer! Creating content for Instagram also directly led to my starting The Independent Landlord, something that hadn’t even occurred to me previously.
The case studies of Charlotte Edwards and Craig Sullivan below show the power of social media in building successful property businesses. I find them both inspiring.
3 questions to ask yourself about social media
Where do you start?
Many landlords and property investors set up accounts on Instagram to document and showcase their projects. Then they wonder why they don’t get much traction. They’re not really sure why they’re doing it or who they’re intending to attract as followers. They also don’t know how to stand out from the thousands of other similar accounts.
If this is the case with you, or if you’re planning to start a new account on social media, you need to ask yourself these questions as a first step:
Question 1: What are you wanting to achieve from social media?
There are many different reasons why landlords and property investors might want to have a social media profile.
Milly advises that it’s important to know what your goals are, as that will guide your path on social media. She cites the following four goals as being very popular for people in property:
1. Build credibility and increase brand awareness
Social media can be an effective way for property investors to a build a credible reputation as it can enable them to show more of their personality and track record than the “about” section of a website. By sharing their knowledge, track record and expertise, they can attract a following of potential investors and customers for property-related services.
Instagram is particularly good for showcasing projects and demonstrating experience and expertise in bite sized pieces. Many investors use LinkedIn to publish their thoughts about developments in the property industry and also to showcase their own projects, helping them to establish a credible reputation. giving access to a different group of people than Instagram.
2. Attract angel investment
There are many accounts on Instagram and LinkedIn which are hoping to attract angel investors.
Kim Opszala is a great example of someone who uses LinkedIn to attract investors very effectively and directly:
3. Networking within the property community
There’s an active and vibrant property community on Instagram, and building a profile on Instagram can help you build your network free of charge.
I personally have met so many people in real life who I first got to know on Instagram, by commenting on their posts and reels, or via DMs. Being a landlord can be quite lonely. Finding like-minded people via Instagram and, more recently, LinkedIn, has helped me learn so much, as well as introducing me to nice, supportive people.
4. Promote property-related services
Instagram and LinkedIn are particularly effective at enabling service providers (such as trainers, deal sourcers, mentors and even bloggers) to promote property-related services.
Many, like Charlotte Edwards and Craig Sullivan below, started to provide training after establishing themselves on Instagram. It was a natural next step for them.
Question 2: Who are your target audience?
It’s important to know your target audience so that your content will be relevant for them, by being informative, inspiring or entertaining. Try to speak about things that matter to them.
If you have two entirely different target audiences, it might be best to have two accounts, like Craig Sullivan below. This is because content suitable for one, might not be suitable for the other.
Relatively few property investors have accounts that target renters, because most landlords have under 5 properties. This means those with larger portfolios, or property businesses such as letting agents. Instagram and TikTok might be the right channels for younger renters.
A large number of landlords and other property investors target angel investors on Instagram or LinkedIn, by showcasing their projects and making clear they do accept funds from angel investors.
There are lots of landlords and property investors who wish to provide mentoring, training and networking to other landlords and property investors. Instagram reels and posts can be very effective at this.
Social media is a very effective way of connecting landlords and property investors to others in the industry, either formally or informally. Many friendships in the industry have started in Instagram comments and DMs.
Question 3: What makes you unique?
Large numbers of accounts on Instagram are fairly similar, and produce the same sort of swirly carpet before and grey carpet after content. It can be hard to stand out among all the noise.
Milly advises that we should try to differentiate ourselves, by focusing on what makes us and our property business unique, interesting and relatable.
Being authentic and not being afraid to show our personality are key. Milly is adamant we shouldn’t hide behind corporate style branding. We should show our face, and as much of our life as we feel comfortable with. Some property accounts are hybrid lifestyle accounts, and that does have an audience. Others are focused on property. We all need to figure out what’s right for us.
Which social media channels are right for your property business?
Now you have a goal for social media, know your target market and how to differentiate yourself, the next step is to decide which social media channels are right for this.
1. Are you looking for click throughs to your website?
I get most of my social media click throughs to this website from LinkedIn, even though I have more views and engagement on Instagram. This is because it’s easy to include URLs in LinkedIn posts, and its algorithm doesn’t penalise content creators who send people off the platform.
Pinterest is great at generating click throughs to the websites of property related businesses such as interior design and architects.
Instagram on the hand wants to keep users on the platform, and links to websites can only be included in stories or in the main bio. The algorithm rewards content that generates engagement, such as likes, comments and DMs.
2. What age profile?
Instagram and TikTok tend to have a younger profile, and are less “corporate” than LinkedIn. Instagram suits short entertaining or informative content in a 6 second reel, or a carousel post.
Although visual content is becoming more popular on LinkedIn, text still predominates there, and the register is more formal and business-like.
3. Your existing networks
Don’t neglect your existing networks if they include your target audience.
For a long time I avoided posting on LinkedIn as I didn’t think my landlord content would be interesting or relevant to the 1,000+ connections I had from my 25 years as a corporate lawyer.
I was wrong. I now post once a week, with a link to my latest blog post. Sometimes I post a second time. I get considerably more click throughs and sign-ups to my newsletter from LinkedIn than Instagram. Clearly many of my connections on LinkedIn are either landlords or are thinking of becoming one.
How to create the right social media profile for property
A social media profile typically includes a user’s name, a nickname or handle, profile picture, bio, and a link to a website. It’s what a user sees when clicking on the person’s name, and it’s important to optimise it for the target audience.
1. Choosing your handle/ username
It’s a good idea to have a consistent handle across social media platforms, although LinkedIn will be in your name. A good length is under 15 characters, as 15 is the maximum for Twitter, and any longer can make it difficult to read without underscores on Instagram.
On Instagram, it doesn’t need to be the name of the company, but can be a nickname.
For my own Instagram handle, I decided that @theindependentlandlord was too long, so I went for a common abbreviation of ‘independent’, ie ‘indie’. Milly advised against having @the_indie_landlord, as ‘the’ doesn’t add anything, and so many handles start with ‘the’.
2. Optimise your Instagram Profile
The profile is very important on all forms of social media. It’s a virtual business card. The image above shows the different parts of a profile on Instagram which you can optimise. A classic mistake is having a generic corporate name and logo on Instagram, which doesn’t stand out. Another is having a dense, cluttered paragraph of random interests.
Your bio must connect with your target audience visually, it needs to be clear what you do and not include too many unrelated things.
3. Choose the right profile picture
Your profile picture should ideally show your face, as that is more memorable than a corporate logo. Does it communicate energy and enthusiasm? Is it clear?
I used the Background remover function on Canva Pro to create a clean profile picture. I use Canva constantly and really recommend the Pro version as that has so many additional features that make content creation for any platform easy. In fact I created all of the graphics in this blog post on Canva Pro.
4. Checklist for an Instagram bio audit
Here’s a simple checklist to audit your Instagram bio:
- Is it clear what you actually do?
- Do people know why to follow you? What’s the benefit to them?
- Is your bio friendly and relatable?
5. Using emojis in a bio
Using a few emojis on a bio can break up the text and make it easy to read. I’ve used regular emojis on my bio above.
Another solution is to use elegant ✧ black & white ✧ emojis. Click here to copy black and white emojis to paste in your bio. The site also has lots of coloured emojis.
Creating Instagram content that converts
Here are some tips for creating engaging and relevant content for your target market on Instagram. The same principles apply for other social media platforms.
1. Create content that speaks to your target audience
Milly advises that content should be informative, inspiring or entertaining for your target audience, so it resonates with them.
It’s good to have a mixture of content, reels, carousels and posts on Instagram. I mostly do informative content on my Instagram account on the nuts and bolts of “landlording” (more operations than M&A). However, I try to inject humour, with the odd inspirational post.
Reels (short form videos) tend to have greater reach, but carousels are useful for encouraging followers to linger on your account while they read the post. If you’re a complete newbie at reels, this is a great free video from Kat Coroy. It’s not property specific, but it does go through the mechanics of what to do,
Stories are a great way to connect with your followers as they can be less polished and more spontaneous. You can also save them in the highlights section of your profile.
2. Create your own colour palette for your brand
Instagram is a visual platform, and it helps to have a cohesive page, without looking too fake and curated. Most successful accounts create a colour palette to bring out in the graphics and photos.
My colour palette is sometimes more honoured in the breach, but my key colours are red brick (picked using the Canva colour picker), dark blue, with pops of green. I chose these as they work well with photos of Victorian houses. It’s also good to have neutral backdrop colours to break up the page and create space. I use the same palette on The Independent Landlord.
Charlotte Edwards uses pink very effectively and Milly’s coral is very distinctive.
For a detailed explanation of creating colour palettes, click here for an excellent article on Canva.
3. Write effective captions
In Instagram speak, captions aren’t the sub-titles on a reel, but they’re the text underneath. Use them to tell a story, provide context, and encourage engagement. Hashtatags can help reach, but they can also be a bit distracting.
Always remember to include a call to action at the end, and asking for comments can increase engagement without being too “salesy”.
4. Remember the “Social” of social media
Social media is, well, social. All of the algorithms encourage interaction and reward content that creates engagement.
This means you should reply to comments left under your posts, reply to DMs (unless they’re the creepy type) and create relationships. Don’t post and run.
Do also follow other people and leave non-generic comments that show you appreciate their content. Gradually you’ll expand your network and the algorithms will reward your engagement.
Where to get personalised expert help on social media
Very soon after I sent up my Instagram account in March 2022, Milly from @postingproperty popped up on my feed. At that time my account was called smithlettings, the unmemorable name of my buy to let business! My profile picture was my business logo. Very few people followed me as, unsurprisingly, they thought I was a letting agent!
I really loved Milly’s account, and went back to her very first post from September 2020 and read and watched every post. I then started putting the advice she gives on Instagram into action, and my account, which later became @indie_landlord, started to take off.
Milly offers a one-to-one bespoke training social media program for property business owners and investors to create a tailored strategy for the target audience, and create effective content. A great example of how Milly helps property investors with social media is Charlotte Edwards.
Social Media Success Case Study: Charlotte Edwards
Charlotte Edwards is an excellent example of the positive impact Instagram can have on both a property business and on personal development.
In case you don’t already know her, Charlotte is property developer and buy to let landlord based in Shropshire, who is @accidentalfemaledeveloper on Instagram. She also provides one-to-one training on how to become a property developer and a 12-week online property course. I first started following her on Instagram after reading an article about her journey in the NRLA March 2022 magazine.
Charlotte first started out on Instagram in 2019 as a consumer, gaining inspiration from property accounts like @tejtalks. As she grew in confidence, she began to share snippets of what she was doing with her new build development and growing buy to let portfolio.
She found Instagram to be a very supportive place: “the more I shared, the more I received in return. I started to make Instagram friends in the industry who were offering their advice and sharing their experiences with me”. This positive side of social media is something that doesn’t receive a lot of attention, but which I myself have also encountered, particularly as there are a lot of women in property on Instagram. Charlotte added: “Property can be a lonely business, so having people to share problems and communicate with was really motivating for me.”
Charlotte received a lot of messages from women in the construction and property industry who felt they were facing gender barriers to their career. They loved seeing that another woman was succeeding, and this gave Charlotte the boost to share even more content. This time she aimed at encouraging women into construction roles, with humour and determination, wearing pink high viz jackets and helmets.
Charlotte went through Milly’s Social Media Program, and you can see in the image above how they worked to transform her account into something distinctive, engaging and powerful. She refers to working one-to-one with Milly as a ‘game-changer”, helping her to create a strategy to achieve her goals in the property industry using Instagram. “I levelled up my content game, created a strong brand identity and she held me accountable, which really made me focus on the quality of my content and posting consistently.”
Four years later, Charlotte has built credibility in the industry, built a supportive network of property friends, and has learned a lot from others. She has also launched coaching and education programs to teach other women to succeed in property. I find that very inspiring.
Social Media Success Case study: Craig Sullivan
Craig Sullivan is well known in the property community as @property_apprentice on Instagram and TikTok. His distinctive branding, “big up the grafters” catch phrase and mix of humour, economics and the realities of running student HMOs have attracted a large following on Instagram.
Craig’s Property Apprentice Instagram account has established him as a thought-leader of the property community and promotes his regular in-person training days on student HMOs. He’s particularly known for his Stories, which are a mixture of humour and serious topics.
What isn’t so well known is that Craig has a separate account called @studenthousegillingham which specifically targets customers for his student HMOs in Gillingham. This account is so successful that he doesn’t need to advertise his HMOs or those of his letting agency customers on Rightmove. Word of mouth and Instagram do his advertising for him, without the Rightmove platform charges.
Craig describes social media as “the most cost effective form of marketing” for his property business, from finding tenants, to finding properties and even finding investors to fund them. He adds: “I can’t see my business without it and it’s an absolute must if you want to stand out in a noisy market.”
I have enjoyed building my presence on Instagram, and getting to know some wonderful people.
I hope this blog post has inspired you to make the most of social media for your property business and also for your own personal development.
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