How to tell if Facebook is for your real estate business

Is Facebook right for you? If you’re a real estate agent this is for you

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Is Facebook right for your real estate agent business?

Is Facebook right for your real estate business…?

This question has come up a lot recently so I thought I’d answer it. This way you can weigh up the pros and cons of incorporating Facebook into your real estate business (or not).

As well as including the things you need to consider when deciding whether Facebook is for you or not, I’ve included my journey. Fast forward down the page a bit if you’re not interested in that {I won’t be offended!}

My 180-degree Facebook turnaround

Back in the day, I was one of the early adopters of Facebook for business.

I grew my company’s Facebook Page to over 500 fans (likers) over about six months without spending a cent on advertising.

Back then 500 was the threshold that made the difference between conversations starting without the Page’s owner’s input… a bit like being at a party with a whole bunch of people talking amongst themselves without the host having to start every conversation.

Social media consultants couldn’t believe my li’l ole Page had the ‘engagement’ it did and that I’d done it without their help and without spending money.

Why couldn’t they believe it? Because I’m not exactly your typical social media person. I’m wasn’t your young, nimble, attractive 20-something social media marketing graduate (like they were!)

I was (and still am!) a middle-aged woman who speaks Digital with an accent, who grew up listening to my grandmother turn on the “wireless” (radio). I remember life (just) before email and the internet…

So what I’m saying is that because I can do it, so can youFacebook and social media isn’t just for teenagers or 20-somethings. It’s for everyone!

Back to my original Facebook story…

… Facebook started to change the rules and I didn’t like what Mark Zuckerberg and his cohorts were doing. It was getting harder and harder to get posts in front of my followers (Facebook’s algorithm change is now the constant, so I’ve sucked it up). And so I closed our Facebook page down.

I closed our Facebook Page in 2012.

And yet here I am!

I wouldn’t say I’ve had a Road to Damascus experience when it comes to Facebook, but I’ve been watching it. Closely. In the interim.

As I’ve said before, I believe Facebook is too big to ignore as a business marketing channel.

I also think business owners would be hard-pressed to find a better platform to advertise on.  Even Google Adwords doesn’t have the capability that Facebook can offer.

Is Facebook right for your real estate agent business?

I’ve recently started another Facebook Page: Julie South – Business Coach.

As at writing this, it’s still a babe-in-arms and I’m yet to cross the first critical threshold of 50 likes. However, I’ve got a few loyal followers and I’m happy with what’s happening on the page.

Facebook is the long game.

I don’t expect to make any sales from Facebook. However, I do expect (provided I do it correctly) to raise my professional profile as a real estate marketing coach.

You and Facebook – to do or not to do

Here’s what I think you need to know about incorporating Facebook as part of your real estate business.

Be prepared to play the long game

You need to psyche yourself up to the fact that very few people (apart from your grandmother) will bother to comment on your Facebook posts!

If you’re okay with feeling like you’re wasting your time (because no one is commenting, liking or sharing) then you’ve got the right attitude to succeed with Facebook.

It will take a while for your Facebook following to grow.

Facebook keeps changing the rules and it’s only going to get harder for people to see what you’re up to.

Get used to it.

Suck it up.

Facebook is in business to make money. It monetises its business by inviting you to pay to play with more people.

Don’t expect to get listings

If you get listings from Facebook that’s a bonus. But don’t expect them because it probably won’t happen.

You need to think of Facebook as being like a café, pub, party or networking event. People don’t go to those places expecting to buy.

Similarly, people don’t go to those places to listen to someone constantly bang on about the latest widget or service they’ve got for sale.

Just as people go to cafes, pubs and other social places to connect, converse and chill, so do they hang out at Facebook.

However, that being said – your name may come up in a Facebook conversation by way of a referral / recommendation and if you can’t be found, well… you may miss out on the opportunity for a listing.

Recommendations and referrals

If you’ve already got a personal Facebook profile you’ve probably seen examples of recommendation requests yourself.

Your friends’ friends will ask “who can recommend a good real estate agent?” and then wham! Hundreds of names are put forth.

Here’s what happens next

The original requester of the information will go check out the recommendations given to them online first.

If you don’t have an online presence you’re going to miss out.

If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business there’s no way anyone can tag your page into the conversation. Which means you’ll miss out.

As host you can go out to get more crisps but you gotta return to the party

Facebook pages need to be kept updated.

If someone visits your Facebook Page (perhaps you’ve been recommended as per the example above) and it’s an unloved, neglected place, they’re going to go looking for someone else.

So. What I’m saying is you can get away with disappearing for a short time – to get the crisps or top up someone’s drink at your party – but you have to return and keep the conversation going.

You need to be prepared to commit to Facebook (preferably daily).

If you’re not prepared to do this yourself then you need to be prepared to pay someone to look after your Facebook page for you.

Choose your Social Media Manager carefully

While we’re talking of delegating the responsibility of managing your Facebook page, you need to choose this person carefully. Just because a teenager knows how to “do” Facebook doesn’t mean you should give them license to represent you on Facebook.

The person you delegate to manage your Page needs to understand and appreciate you’re running a business. That you are a professional whose integrity and reputation is important to you.

If you’d cringe imagining your son, daughter, nephew, niece answering your cellphone when a vendor calls, then don’t let them manage your Facebook Page. Because there’s very little difference. Both are customer-facing actions.

Personal privacy

If you’ve got a Facebook business page (which will be measured in ‘likes’) please double-check the privacy settings on your personal profile (which is measured in ‘friends’).

Contrary to what you hear in the media about Facebook’s privacy being a joke, it is possible to have a personal Facebook profile and restrict who sees what you’re up to, whom you’re hanging out with and where you are.

Facebook has made the privacy tools available for you to use. It’s up to you to make sure you’ve enabled them the way you want.

Yes – I know that Facebook screws up sometimes – but it’s not up to Facebook to make sure your door is locked if you don’t turn the key it provides you.

Keep business separate from personal

And talking of personal privacy, my professional recommendation is to keep your personal and professional Facebook friends separate. By that I mean do not accept friend requests from clients (unless they’re already good friends of yours).

Would you invite a client into your home? Because accepting a friend request from one means you’re giving them access to your private world. Don’t do it.

Excellent advertising systems

Facebook has amazing (and I mean a.m.a.z.i.n.g!) advertising capabilities.

If you want to be able to set yourself apart from your competitors then clocking up successful property (paid advertising) campaigns using ‘social’ (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) is a powerful way to do that.

Regardless of whether people actually like ‘social’ just about everyone I know appreciates that social, digital and online is where things happen. Vendors understand that even though they may not have a Facebook profile themselves, other people do.

Social advertising is gaining traction and it’s only going to become more influential.

This – if for no other reason – is why I believe every real estate agent needs to have a Facebook page to be taken seriously in today’s digital world.

Did you know, for example, that you can advertise one property to buyers who have not only looked at similar properties but who are like buyers who have looked at similar properties?

How powerful is that??

How? By creating lookalike audiences within the advertising set up.

That’s like taking your existing database and putting it on steroids!

Like I said: a.m.a.z.i.n.g.l.y  p.o.w.e.r.f.u.l!

What difference would that make to being able to sell a property?

Split testing adverts

Let’s say you’ve got a property that’s suitable for a couple of types of buyers:

  • Large family
  • Owner + flatmates
  • Multi generational families (eg, inlaws / grandparents)

And you’ve got a couple of different adverts for each situation (with advertising one size does not fit all) but you’re not sure which is the best one to use…

With Facebook’s split testing capability you can run a split-test advertising campaign. That is, you can start off with both adverts and let Facebook choose (based on each advert’s results) which is best.

By the way: Mailchimp also has A/B split testing capabilities (as a premium option).

Everything online must lead back to your website

Remember: you don’t own Facebook!

You have no control over what rule changes are going to happen at Facebook. Which means you need to always be directing visitors to your website.

If you don’t have your own website then use your profile page on your company’s website. That’s better than nothing – not ideal (because you don’t own that either) – but it’s better than nothing.

You lead people back to your website by posting information from your website to your Facebook page.

For example, I will be linking this article to my Facebook page via a post.

Property listings are ways you will probably do this.

Facebook’s Ts & Cs

If you’re using Facebook for your business then you must have a Facebook Page. Using your personal profile for your business is a breach of Facebook’s Ts &Cs. Breaching these could result in your Facebook page being shut down.

And if you’re sitting there thinking “hahhh! As if the Mammoth Facebook is going to be interested, or notice, my li’l Facebook page!!” think again!

You might be correct: Facebook probably doesn’t care whether you’ve got a Facebook business page or not. But your biggest competitor does! And if s/he happens to know more about Facebook than you do, and dobs you into Facebook for a breach of its Ts & Cs, then you’re screwed!

Facebook will close your page down and you’re up a creek without a paddle.

Don’t even go there. It’s not worth the risk. I’ve seen pages with tens of thousands of likes be shut down without warning. Kiwi businesses shut down without warning. Years of invested time gone in the blink of an eye.

Facebook won’t care. You were in breach of its Ts & Cs so it took action. End of story.

If in doubt check out Facebook’s Ts & Cs yourself.

You gotta be socially responsive

You can quickly lose ground if you’re tardy in responding to questions asked via your Facebook Page (or Messenger).

My recommendation therefore is that you have a system for being notified of activity on your Facebook Page.

This could look like:

  • Facebook is connected to your cell phone and activity on your page shows up.
  • Your social media manager notifies you if there’s something you need to respond to (that they can’t).
  • You are diligent in checking your Page’s activity every day (preferably 2x/day) to make sure no one’s waiting to hear back from you.

Ensure your listings posts are few and far between

I’ve alluded to this above: Facebook is not the place to be constantly Sell! Sell! Sell!

You need to vary up your posts. This means ensuring that your non-sales posts far outweigh your sales-type posts.

Sure, upload every listing you get when you get it. But intersperse these posts with non-listings-based posts.

As ironic as it sounds, the more non-salesy type posts you create the better your sales-type posts will perform.

Graphics posts outperform text-based posts

There’s nothing wrong with posting just “text” (words). However, you’ll get a better bang for your time investment if you go to the effort of including beautiful graphics and images.

Photos catch the eye.

If you’re not prepared to spend time uploading photos to go with your text commentary then outsourcing is probably the way to go for you.

Facebook Live Video

I cannot stress enough what a difference including Facebook Live video will make to your personal (and property) marketing.

Not all of my clients go along with me and produce video, let alone are prepared to use Facebook Live. But when they do it makes such a difference!

For example, one of my clients has clocked up almost 9,000 video views on Facebook in the last four months.

I’ve heard of Facebook Live being responsible for bringing the only visitors to an open home. In other words, without the Facebook Live video no one would have shown up at the open home.

And just in case you’re wondering, as with any type of video, you don’t actually need to get in front of the video camera! Obviously, it’s better if you do (helps build rapport faster) but it’s not essential.

There are a squillion ways (okay, lots!) to include Facebook Live (and YouTube) video into your marketing.

Check out these articles if you’d like to know more.

Events

If you have a Facebook Page you can promote your Open Homes by using the events feature. This would obviously, also extend to auctions as well.

You have to be prepared to get used to the fact that until you get hundreds and hundreds (maybe a thousand) followers that no one will “accept” (via Facebook) your event invitation.

But that doesn’t mean they haven’t seen the invitation!

Who knows? Maybe without seeing the event they would never have known about the auction or open home…?

A bit like my client who wouldn’t have had anyone turn up at the open home without Facebook Live … using Facebook to bring attention to your event may be just what it takes.

Messenger

You can use Facebook Messenger for people to get in touch with you privately.

Just so you know: the Messenger App is available without the requirement to have Facebook.

You can schedule your posts in advance

As I’ve said in many articles already, spending time on Facebook is not where you earn your money as a real estate agent.

Prospecting is what gets you listings.

If you opt to run and manage your own Facebook Page (as opposed to outsourcing) then it’s possible to bulk schedule your posts.

I bulk-schedule the posts on my Facebook Page. I prefer to do them a week at a time. However, I have clients who bulk-schedule a month’s worth of posts at a time.

Moreover, if you’ve got this Facebook “addiction” thing going on it might be wise to outsource so that you’re not tempted to waste time getting your Facebook fix before / after / during your Facebook scheduling activities.

If you’re one of these people who struggle to leave Facebook and/or you constantly need to keep checking in to see what’s going on, then I seriously recommend you outsource your business page.

Your vendors and buyers are on Facebook

I know the whole world isn’t on Facebook. I also know there are people who have never had a Facebook account and have no intention of ever having one (the love of my life is such a man).

According to a March 2017 Stuff article, 2.9 million kiwis have an active Facebook account and a staggering 2.3 million of us check into Facebook every day. Further, there are approximately 600,000 kiwis with a Facebook account who use it, but not daily.

With this many kiwis using Facebook can you afford to be thumbing your nose at this social platform?

DIY or outsource?

Here’re some things for you to think about:

How much time are you prepared to dedicate to Facebook?

What activity will be sacrificed to make the time to do Facebook?

There’s no arguing it: Facebook is time sucky.

I create done-for-you Facebook posts for real estate agents. I’ve been doing it for a while now. I have a routine and know what I’m doing. But it still takes me approximately 3 full working days (sometimes more) to create these posts every month.

I set aside 2-3 hour blocks at a time to do this as I’ve found it’s most time economical that way.

Here’s what my typical 28 day post creation process looks like:

  • Open Excel spreadsheet to log 28x posts.
  • I usually aim for 7 different topics x 4 posts on each (one topic/day x 4 weeks = 28 posts).
  • Research info for each post.
  • Design each post (all my posts have images). This is where most of the time gets used up.
  • Download each post.
  • Upload to Dropbox (for my clients).

The process is similar for my own page except I omit the Dropbox stage. Instead I spend time scheduling 7 posts at a time (one week’s worth).

If I don’t have any interruptions it takes me approximately 15-20 minutes to schedule 7 posts. Obviously, interruptions are a nuisance because it means you have to get back into the groove and return to where you were up to before the interruption.

Managing clients’ pages takes approximately two or so hours/month.

So, all in all, you need to allow the thick end of at least 5+ hours/month in post creation and upload. On top of that you need to factor in any Q&A that happens.

This does not take into account non-scheduled and “spontaneous” posts.

Spontaneous posts happen when I find an article I think my followers would find helpful.

According to the Social Media Examiner Social Media Marketing Industry Report for 2016 (5,000 respondents took part in the survey) the amount of time marketers spent on social media:

  • 6 hours pw on social media = 63%
  • 11 hours pw on social media = 39%
  • 19+ hours pw on social media = 19%

Bear in mind these are marketers. Not salespeople.

Do you have the cashflow to outsource?

You don’t need to outsource everything all at once.

You could start with outsourcing the skillset you don’t have (eg, designing the posts) and then upload these yourself.

Or if you’re great on design you could do these yourself (but please don’t do it during normal business hours when you could be prospecting!) and then outsource the uploading.

To give you an idea of cost, if you were to opt in to the done-for-you Facebook posts service I offer real estate agents, it would cost you $172.85 (inc gst) every 4 weeks.

The uploaded-for-you service I offer agents is $458.85 (inc gst) every 4 weeks.

If you don’t have a Facebook Page I will create one for you for $199.00 (incl gst). This includes the imagery, etc that your page will need. It will also come pre-populated with 7 posts (so you’ve got some post runs on the board when you start sharing it with your world).

Unfortunately, I cannot find the prices of other service providers that do what I do to give you a price comparison.

Having said that though, I did find one company that will set up your Page for you for $999+gst (including one campaign) and thereafter run a campaign (presumably a competition or advertisement) for $495+gst/campaign + $99+gst pm for reporting.

My Facebook recommendations for you

My professional recommendation is that you get a business Facebook Page, because:

  • Your prospects are already using it
  • Your prospects will be able to find you when they look for you
  • You will be able to offer Facebook advertising to your vendors for their properties
  • You can build rapport using Facebook Live (video)

If funds permit, then I recommend you professionally outsource the management of your Facebook page so that you can focus on spending more time prospecting.

If funds don’t permit full management of your page then outsource the daily post production (because it’s time sucky) and then block schedule your posts after hours (at a time that doesn’t conflict with prospecting!).

With your Facebook page I recommend:

  • At least daily non-sales related posts
  • Including Facebook Live Video updates at least weekly
  • Aim for a ratio of 1:10 sales : non-sales related posts
  • Use events for your auctions, open homes, door-knocking (let people know you’ll be in the area)

I hope you’ve found this helpful.

If you have any questions please sing out 🙂

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