At Facebook’s annual F8 Conference in April, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said video content will result in the biggest shift in the way people share and communicate.
“We’re also at the beginning of a golden age of live online video. People watch live videos longer and they comment more than ten times as much as on regular videos,” Mr Zuckerberg said.
“People love going live because it’s so unfiltered and personal, and you feel as if you’re just hanging out with your friends.”
The launch of Facebook Live this year added the new dimension of live streaming to the social network’s cache of products and it presents new potentials for real estate businesses.
Marketing tool or fad?
Josh Cobb from digital marketing firm Stepps said Facebook’s development of Live is part of the company’s plans to overtake YouTube as the number one online video provider.
“That’s where the investment of Facebook's behalf is going at the moment and that means they’re adding so many features into their video platform that it makes it very easy for real estate salespeople and business owners to market their business,” Mr Cobb said.
“Because they’re pushing Facebook Live to be the big thing, what they’re actually doing is giving rise to Facebook Live video over and above any other content on Facebook in terms of organic reach.”
According to Mr Cobb, real estate agents in the US are already using Facebook Live for recording and sharing Q&A sessions with buyers and online audiences.
“People have got to jump on to Facebook Live with the right content so if they’re recording auctions or Q&A sessions or market updates, whatever content they’re doing, it’s got to be relevant to the audience,” he said.
“I think it’s a really powerful tool from a thought leadership perspective, so market updates are important but not so much just listed or just sold or testimonials because no one really cares about that stuff on Facebook.”
Mr Cobb said real estate businesses shouldn’t wait too long to jump on Facebook Live since it is likely to become ‘pay to play’ once the platform becomes more established and popular.
“Now is the time to start looking at it, finding out how it’s going to work for your business and then leverage that while you can and while it’s still very inexpensive to use that platform,” he said.
“Make no mistake about it, Facebook will monetise it and limit its organic reach like they’ve just done with Instagram and they did with Facebook ages ago.”
According to Mr Cobb, while there aren’t any real estate businesses using the live component with great success yet, Facebook Live still offers powerful marketing tools for businesses.
“Research shows that 80 per cent of Facebook Live videos are watched after the recording. Even some of the big names and influencers on Facebook are only getting 20 per cent of their views live,” he added.
Local agency streaming auctions live
In late May, Raine & Horne Surry Hills became the first Australian agency to live stream an auction through Facebook in tandem with Periscope.
Raine & Horne director of auction services James Pratt said the landmark auction was a preview of where real estate technology in Australia was headed.
“This creates a level of interaction that is totally new to Australian property auctions. It also makes the process more transparent as everyone can see exactly how many bidders are on hand and the bidding sequence, even if you’re in Hong Kong, Hobart or Haberfield at the time the bidding starts,” Mr Pratt said.
He said live social media feeds ensure auction days are more accessible and engaging for buyers, while helping vendors achieve stronger results.
“Using social media in tandem with app technologies such as Periscope enables a property to attract a deeper and wider audience, and it doesn't allow agents or auctioneers to take short cuts.”
Moving from Periscope to Facebook Live
Greg Pearson from Professionals Albany started using Periscope last year and was averaging two videos per week before he moved on to Facebook Live.
“Facebook Live is definitely something very new for us and our foray into it so far has simply been providing some tips to property investors on how to identify a good property manager,” Mr Pearson said.
“What we are going to be doing is basically what we’ve been doing on Periscope with virtual property tours ... so we’ve moved away from Periscope and we’re slowly integrating that over onto the Facebook Live platform.”
Mr Pearson said his agency used Periscope’s live video streaming primarily for conducting tours of vacant properties with potential tenants.
“We would send SMS messages to all of our potential tenants saying that we’re going to be doing a live walk-through tour and then mention the address as well as the date and time of the tour,” he said.
“Then one of the staff would go out, using Periscope, and walk people through the house as if they were standing alongside doing a regular viewing while potential tenants were able to fire these questions back like, ‘Could you go back and show me the fridge space?’ or something like that.”
According to Mr Pearson, live streaming allows for interaction between producer and audience, which is what he hopes to achieve with Facebook Live tours.
“We’ll be encouraging potential tenants to put questions forward like, if they missed something, then asking us to go back and all that sort of thing,” he said.
“With the video we’ve done so far, we had people jump on and look at it but there was no interaction there, so that’s something we need to work on, look at how we can perhaps create questions along the way so there’s some better interaction there as well.”
Mr Pearson said he hasn’t used live video streaming for his sales department but is open to doing so as his agency becomes more familiar with Facebook Live.
“I think it would still be beneficial but we have an older sales demographic who would perhaps not see the benefits,” he said.
“Although we do have a younger team of three females who work together who I am sure will look at this in due course.”
[Related: Can Periscope drive new leads for agents?]