According to recent research by Postling, nearly 80% of real estate agents are using Facebook to market their practice and properties.
“Social media has definitely become the wave of the future for real estate advertising,” saysMelissa Savenko, a RE/MAX Commonwealth realtor in Richmond, VA’s affluent Fan District. “I use Facebook to promote my listings, to market open houses and to notify other agents and the public about price drops and additional incentives. In this economy, I think many agents have embraced the social media world to promote their brand and their listings because it is free, easy and efficient.”
In addition to offering cost-effective methods of promoting properties, Facebook also offers a range of new opportunities to grow and cultivate a robust community of prospective buyers and sellers.
Here are five best practices for using Facebook in real estate marketing.
1. Use Facebook To Connect with Potential Clients
Social media makes it much easier to make a fast, personal connection with people you meet.
“I used to hand out cards or had to ask for a phone number or email address — now I try to remember people’s names so I can find them on Facebook or LinkedIn and connect that way,” says Katy Dinner, a top San Francisco-based agent and founder of Katy Dinner Real Estate. “It’s a softer way to connect — instead of sending them an email from my business address, I can connect on a personal level on Facebook and then invite them to my business page.”
On that note, you may want to consider developing a separate business page on Facebook that allows you to target your content and your audience more effectively. To get started building your fan base, Dinner recommends uploading your email database to Facebook once a quarter and inviting everyone to become a fan, and then inviting new friends and contacts as you meet them.
That being said, many agents still opt to use their personal Facebook account for posts rather than setting up a business page.
Savenko originally set up a business page on Facebook, but then decided to just focus on building her personal network. “I realized that I just didn’t have time to manage posting in two places, and using my personal network was working just fine,” says Savenko. According to Savenko, about 75% of her personal network postings are business-related and include relevant articles, links to her blogs posts as well as photos and ads for her listings.
2. Maintain a Consistent Flow of Communication
It used to be that a monthly newsletter was enough to keep your network updated on your business, but with the advent of social media, you now have the opportunity to stay top-of-mind on an ongoing basis.
Dinner posts two times a week to her personal connections — once with a listing, and once with a relevant article or piece of data — and uses an RSS feed to automatically share four to five of her blog posts a week with fans of her business. She also keeps the picture banner on her business page updated with recent properties she’s sold, changing these out every few months to keep it fresh.
“You always know that I’m doing business,” says Dinner.
Even if you’re just getting started using Facebook, make sure you’re at least mixing in some real estate-related posts with your personal feed — because your extended network is often your best source of new business. Justin Bedecarré, a commercial real estate adviser at Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., says that “while you don’t want to bombard your friends on Facebook with your work, the worst thing would be if a friend didn’t know what you do and used someone else, only because they didn’t know you were in real estate.”
Dinner agrees. “It used to be that real estate agents wore a badge everywhere they went, so people knew they were agents. I teach my agents that they need to wear their real estate badge online,” says Dinner.
3. Integrate Facebook Into Your Existing Marketing
In addition to giving people the ability to follow you on Facebook from your website, think about other ways that you can integrate Facebook into your marketing. For example, if you’re blogging, set it up to automatically post each new article on Facebook.
You can also integrate Facebook with your email marketing. For example, Dinner uses Constant Contact’s Facebook app to make her monthly newsletter available to friends and fans on Facebook.
“Newsletters can easily get stuck in spam filters, and with all the email people get, not everyone opens the newsletter each month,” says Dinner. “This way, I know that my entire Facebook network is also getting my newsletter content.”
When marketing a particular property across multiple channels, Dinner suggests using different lead pictures for each. For example, the MLS listing might show the front of the house, your email might show the kitchen, the Facebook post might show the view and the Facebook Ad might show the garden.
“If the person wasn’t attracted to one element of the home, they might be attracted to something else,” says Dinner.
4. Consider Using Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads have also become a popular way for agents to market both themselves as well as new properties. To get the most value, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
When designing your ad, Facebook recommends that you write clear, targeted ads with concise text that speaks directly to the audience you will reach.
Secondly, be smart about the image you use in the ad. “People want to see properties, not your smiling face,” says Dinner. “They’ll also click on graphs if the information is focused, relevant and not available elsewhere.” Dinner recently conducted a study of the impact of parking spaces and garages on home prices in San Francisco and used a graph of the data in a successful Facebook Ad campaign.
Finally, consider how you target. Dinner recommends setting up the ads to target your fans’ friends — because the people within your sphere of influence are more likely to become clients and be in your target demographic.
But not everyone is a fan of Facebook Ads. According to Savenko, “There are so many free online resources right now, the economy is weak and agents are really suffering … so people are being very cautious and targeted with their marketing dollars. I know I am.”
5. Create and Maintain a Professional Image
Be careful what you post to Facebook — pictures of you drinking a cocktail or posts about a wicked hangover aren’t likely to inspire trust.
“Everybody on Facebook is a potential client,” adds Dinner. “It’s critical that you pay close attention to the image you’re creating with your posts and pictures.” In addition to being thoughtful about your posts, Dinner also suggests using Facebook’s privacy settings to specify what content different sets of friends are able to see.
Finally, she also recommends keep posts positive and informative. “The last thing clients want to see is how tough the real estate market is,” says Dinner. “Use your presence to educate and inspire instead.”
Are you a real estate agent on Facebook? What are your tips? Let us know in the comments below.