Nothing beats hitting the phones and meeting people, but Facebook can also be a source of new business – provided agents are willing to play the long game.
There’s good news and bad news for agents who want to turn Facebook into another lead generation channel. The good news is that it can be done. The bad news is that it won’t happen overnight.
Facebook offers a massive network of potential clients. As the social media giant explains, companies can use Facebook to drive online sales, increase local sales and raise brand awareness – with little to no outlay.
REB spoke to two industry figures who are both experienced Facebook users to find out how agents can build an engaging online presence.
Don’t expect an immediate pay-off
Console marketing manager Fiona McEachran has a simple rule for Facebook: agents will get out what they put in. Ms McEachran, a prolific social media user, explains that targeted content and consistent posting will generate results. Agents who post whatever and whenever the mood strikes, on the other hand, will be unlikely to make an impact.
Ms McEachran says agents should resist the temptation to just dump their listings on Facebook. Instead, they should post about things that are happening in their community.
She describes Facebook as “top-of-the-funnel marketing” – a place where you create engagement and trust rather than rake in leads.
“Just post things that are relevant to the lives of the people in your postcode,” she says.
“You need to share content that your customers will like and appreciate and comment on and ask questions about. Weather, for example, goes crazy; especially if there’s extreme weather.”
Ms McEachran says agents should also pay attention to their main demographic. For example, real estate professionals who work in hipster communities might share street art and the latest coffee places, while agents who specialise in the retirement market would post content that would suit older people.
She warns agents against expecting an immediate pay-off from Facebook. Agents who want to generate leads from Facebook need to invest time in building a following and warming them up.
“If you can only post on Facebook twice a week, then do it twice a week – but make sure it’s every week,” she says.
“It’s the same as personal relationships where you go out on a date and another and another, and then you don’t contact the person for a long time and they think you’ve died. Consistency is key.”
A conversion success story
Ryan McCann from First National Cleveland in Brisbane says his office has secured appraisals and listings through Facebook. He says this success is not due to volume – the office posts no more than three times per week – but a steady flow of attractive content.
“We get content that comes from head office, which includes the bank rates and things like that. We also try to include some novelty things, a bit of humour and things like that, so it’s not too mundane,” he says.
“I remember when our local coffee shop was robbed – we donated some money to them and we paid $50 for a cup of coffee. It was just a little story with a photo with the guys who owned the coffee shop.”
Mr McCann says First National Cleveland also enjoyed success with a campaign based on the acronym ‘YOLO’ or ‘you only live once’ – but with a twist.
“We got some flyers done up that were professionally produced and used on the internet. It had a big First National logo and it said ‘YOLO: You Only List Once when you list with First National Cleveland’,” he says.
“Head office said it was one of the top engagements they had on their entire Facebook page and we got two appraisals off it in the first week.”
Mr McCann says that although the office is careful not to do too much self-promoting on its Facebook page, it does post listings. That could include anything from entry-level homes that would entice first home buyers to prestige properties that make perfect click bait. The page is also used for testimonials.
“We had a good sale last week with a record price, so rather than just having the big sold sign flash across the site, we actually imposed the text message that the owner sent us, with their permission, which said they were really happy that everything had gone well and they didn’t expect it to go as well as it did,” he says.
Facebook explains how to crack its code
According to the Facebook website, more than 1.3 billion people use the social media site to connect and 64 per cent of those people visit Facebook every day.
Facebook says that businesses can target audiences based on location, age, gender and interests to help reach people more likely to be interested in the business.
“Build lasting awareness and tell your brand’s story with engaging video, photo and link adverts,” Facebook says.
Facebook also has conversion tracking and advert managers, so organisations can find out when someone sees their Facebook advertisement and then goes to their website to make a purchase or register.