There's no question that Instagram is one of the most important social media platforms for branding. Real estate brokers have been using the photo-sharing app for years to show off properties and their personalities.
Developers of new high-end residential buildings under construction and for sale in New York City are also getting in on the Instagram game. And while moving a multi-million dollar apartment is not quite as simple as selling a pair of boots on social media, they are increasing the buildings’ visibility by highlighting the surrounding neighborhood and businesses and partnering with influencers.
Hunter Frick, senior vice president of marketing for Halstead Development Marketing, says that all of the 45 properties he represents, including The Brooklyn Grove, which straddles Boerum Hill and the burgeoning Downtown Brooklyn, and The Vandewater in Manhattan's Morningside Heights, have a social media presence. Organic social and paid social is the lead driver to the developments’ websites, producing 30% to 50% of the traffic and 25% of leads, across neighborhoods and price points.
Each development employs a different strategy, Frick says.
For Brooklyn Grove, that's showing off the building's construction as well as the growth of surrounding downtown Brooklyn, with an immediate area that is constantly changing, while at The Vandewater it's reinforcing the proximity to Columbia University.
"Content really needs to be branded specifically to the project," Frick says. "We create an overall marketing approach. From there, it's what can't be told on a website. What would incentivize someone to follow you on social media."
Jordan Brill, a partner at Magnum Real Estate Group that is developing 196 Orchard on Manhattan's Lower East Side, says the company is conscious of the neighborhood's gritty history and shows off the building's "rough luxe" aesthetic, with concrete ceilings and black and gold brick .
"We are a luxury building in a neighborhood that is cool and exciting, but that hasn't seen a lot of this kind of development," Brill says.
When fashion blogger Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, with an Instagram following of more than two million, came to the building's launch party and shared some of the furniture in the building’s model units, 196 Orchard saw an uptick in Instagram followers.
Anna Zarro, head of sales, marketing and communications for Ceruzzi Properties, which is behind The Centrale in Midtown Manhattan, said Instagram is able to "provide a personality for the building, to create a voice that is really able to speak to our relevant audiences. It allows us to find our tribe and speak their language."
That means showing off internationally recognized brands like Jimmy Choo, landmarks like St. Patrick's Cathedral and restaurants like Dadong near Bryant Park.
"It's one thing to say there are great restaurants, it's another to show that," Zarro says.
Charlie West in Hells Kitchen is another development showcasing a changing neighborhood, and created its campaign around the what they see as their buyer, called "I am Charlie West," showcasing the neighborhood's diversity.
"Traditionally, it's been a rental market," Shlomi Reuveni, president and chief executive officer of Reuveni Real Estate, which is the firm that leads marketing and sales for Charlie West. "People want to grow, they need more space, but they want to stay in the neighborhood. That's a strong narrative to buyers."
It's hard to say if an Instagram presence definitely translates into sales, however.
"It's really hard to track these things," Brill says. "People can swipe up and buy jeans. There's more dot connecting with Instagram. For us, it's really a tool of awareness. If it translate to one sale, it's worth it."
While every buyer might not be on Instagram, real estate brokers definitely are, Reuveni notes.
"Everyone is on it and sees what's out there," Reuveni says.