If you’re still posting your listings and marketing yourself on your Facebook profile page, stop! The play for 2012 is to move your marketing efforts to your business page, but not by using the traditional marketing approaches.
Stacey Harmon has a smart new book out that answers the question, "I have a Facebook business page — now what do I do with it?"
Harmon’s answer is 125 terrific content ideas, complete with samples from actual agents, what they said, the types of pictures they used, and the overarching business strategy.
Her book, "Facebook Page Marketing: Content Strategies for Real Estate," shows you how to create a Facebook business page that will consistently generate leads for your real estate business.
Here are just five of the strategies that Harmon suggests that you can use to create an effective Facebook Business Page.
1. General guidelines
According to Harmon, "Higher engagement means higher visibility for your content. The goal is to post content that, over time, paints a picture of you as someone who is likable, professional, and trustworthy. Your content should also show you as knowledgeable about real estate and the communities you serve."
Harmon recommends keeping your posts short and to the point. The key to success is in being consistent — this means doing four to seven posts per week.
One of the smartest moves that you can make on a Facebook business page is to use the tagging feature.
"One of the great benefits of tagging is that tagged posts show up not only on your wall, but also on the wall of your tagged page."
To tag someone on a Facebook business page, type the "@" symbol before the user’s name that you want to tag. Each time you tag someone, the individual is notified that he or she has been tagged, and receives a link to the post that included the individual’s name. The person receiving the tag has the option to remove the tag.
In terms of who or what to tag, there are hundreds of options. For example, if your title company, mortgage broker, or inspector provides great customer service, tag their business page to acknowledge the great job they did. You can also tag photos of friends, videos, community events, or just about anything else. The secret to using tagging is to explain why you are posting a particular link and to provide a picture or a video to complement that link.
3. Question, question, question
Facebook is about engaging others in a conversation — not just posting information. One of the best ways to engage others is to ask questions.
For example, "Who makes the best pizza?" Alternatively, take a picture of a historical home and then ask, "Who is the architect who designed this home?"
You could also ask people for their opinions with a yes or no question or by polling them for their opinions. Again, the goal is to build engagement.
4. Avoid directly marketing your listings
Harmon encourages real estate agents to show off their real estate expertise, but to do it in away that is about the consumer as opposed to a direct promotion of their listings.
For example, take a photo of something interesting about a specific house — it could be an unusual feature, a shot of 12-foot-tall tomato plants, or perhaps a spectacular sunset from the back deck.
If you want to use an advertising approach to marketing your listings, use Facebook Marketplace rather than your business page. Even then, it pays to follows Harmon’s advice — share something unique or invite people to drop by for refreshments.
For example, I used to serve brownies at my open houses. You could write a post that states, "Hot homemade brownies from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 123 Main St. (unless they don’t last that long)."
You can also post a "Sneak Preview" of a new listing that hasn’t hit the market yet. Sellers often have some work to do on their listings before they place them on the market. You could write up a sneak preview of the listing by posting a picture of one of the rooms or a part of the house that is ready to show. Avoid giving the address — the idea is to pique people’s interest so that they will contact you to learn more.
5. Have fun
Since nothing is quite as engaging as a funny video or picture, it’s smart to have fun on your business page. For example, a number of Realtors have posted a "bad real estate photo of the week." Other examples: post a picture of those raccoons that showed up on the deck of one of your listings, or the homes in the neighborhood that have the most elaborate holiday decorations.
To elicit even more comments, ask questions. Using the examples above, you could post two or three bad photos sampled from the multiple listing service, and ask, "Which one is the worst?"
With the raccoons, you might warn people about the dangers: "Raccoons are cute, but they can carry rabies and may tear up your house and your yard. Would you chase them off or encourage them to come back?" In terms of the holiday decorations, "Which house is the best decorated?"
Creating a Facebook business page is a smart move. With the 125 ideas Harmon has pulled together, you have more than enough to launch a great page with plenty of posts for months to come.