By BRAD SELBY
Editor’s note: Brad Selby is head of product for Roost.com. Read a related guest perspective by Selby, "Take your real estate biz viral on Facebook."
As a Realtor, you may want to get rigorous in optimizing your marketing efforts on Facebook to develop the largest audience. As your audience gets larger, it will naturally grow faster. The larger it is, the more incremental business you’ll gain.
The best way to get shared beyond your immediate graph is to engage with people.
This concept is pretty straightforward: Post good stuff and people will share it (by commenting on it, "Liking" it, or explicitly using the "Share" function). Comment on other people’s posts, and you’ll strengthen your relationship with them and start making an impression on their friends.
But you could spend all day commenting and posting, and your number of fans may be not be growing as fast as it might. What can you do?
One quick thing is to take a look at the "Post Quality" rating on your page (it’s in the left column near your "Fan" list box). This takes into account how people react to your posts: whether they tend to hide your posts or interact with them. This is directionally valuable at best.
Numbers, metrics, tracking
Look at numbers, change your behavior. Right now, Facebook doesn’t make this easy, so you’ll have to do it somewhat manually. You’ll want to keep an eye on two major things: audience (fans and visitors) and interactions (comments, Likes).
Facebook Insights. You need to spend time here. This is where you can see how effective your marketing campaign is, and you should look at it frequently. Facebook revamped this monitoring tool at the f8 conference, though it’s still very much a work in progress.
Go to Facebook Insights and select your page, and the next step is to watch the most important graphs.
1. Fans and visitors vs. posts. On the main page, you’ll see the first graph, titled "Fans." This displays total Fans and "Daily Active Users" (DAU). DAU tells you how many people have interacted with your Fan Page in some way. (This does not include interactions with stories you post that end up in Fans’ feeds.) It’s obvious that you’ll want to keep an eye on the number of fans, but you’ll also want to track DAU, specifically your Engagement Score.
2. Engagement Score. Your Engagement Score shows the percentage of fans who engage with your page on any given day. You can determine this with the simple formula: Divide the number of Daily Active Users by the number of Fans.
If you have 100 Fans, and two engage with your page, your Engagement Score that day is 2 percent.
If you have fresh content in your feed or on a tab, and if you promote your page actively, your Engagement Score will rise. If you post spam and have a vanilla page with little information, it will be low.
Ultimately, your Engagement Score is indicative of whether or not you’re gaining and retaining valuable Fans who will share your content, or if you’re catching people briefly and then losing them.
3. Churn. The number of users who actively "churn out" — "unfan" you or hide your posts — from your Page is extremely instructive. Click the "see details" link next to the "Fans" chart (or click "Fans" in the left-hand navigation bar).
Now look at the "New Fans" chart. This will give you the number of New Fans per day, along with the number of "Removed Fans." Subtract the removed number from the new number and you’ll get your Net Fan Growth.
You should understand your average net growth and then keep an eye out for spikes in either new or removed Fans. If the former spikes, figure out what you did and do it again. If the latter spikes, knock off or tweak whatever you did before.
4. Posting Frequency. Churn and engagement are interesting by themselves, but they’re much more actionable if you consider them against how many times you post in a day. Say you typically post twice a day but decide to perform a test by posting similar content five times a day for one week.
If you net more Fans, and your Engagement Score rises, it’s probably worth trying an even higher volume of posts. Eventually, you’ll reach your optimum posting frequency. If your posting frequency varies day-to-day, plotting your Churn and Engagement Score against each day’s number of posts can give you an idea of how many times you should be posting per day.
Certainly, this isn’t an airtight science, since some posts can go viral and your development dynamic changes as you become more visible, but it’s a useful directional analysis.
Interactions — Likes, comments, unsubscribes/hides — tell you how much people are engaging with your posts. It doesn’t have much to do with your actual Fan Page unless users are interacting with your posts on your page.
Most of the time, they’ll be interacting in their newsfeed. (Unless you have a hot discussion forum, which is hard to develop into a large and growing asset.) Facebook does not make tracking interactions easy. At all.
The data in Insights is aggregated by day, which isn’t helpful understanding how your audience is responding to different types of posts. There is some data available on the last 10 posts, but the Insights tool breaks frequently and, even if it works consistently, you’d need to track more than your last 10 posts. As a result, I recommend you track what you post manually for a couple of weeks to see what works.
1. Bucket your posts into meaningful groups and track how people respond to them.
Some types include:
- News: Real Estate
- News: Finance
- News: General
- Question (e.g. "What’s your favorite ice cream place in Orinda?")
- Real Estate Tips
- New Listing
- Fun (viral videos, funny articles, real estate-related "lolcat" pictures, etc.)
Decide to post at least one of these a week. For each of your posts, wait a day or so and then manually record the number of Likes and comments it received.
After a few weeks, figure out the average interactions per post type. Post types that fetch more interactions, on average, are better for you. Do those more. Crushingly, you won’t be able to track "Hides" or clicks, but explicit positive feedback via interactions is indicative of value.
And once you get a sense for what works, you can sit back and execute for awhile, rechecking your post type efficiency occasionally.
2. Keep an eye on "Mentions." You can find this on the "Page Activity" chart, at the "Interactions" subtab. This is the Twitter-esque "@user" references to your page. Most pages don’t get a ton of these right now, but the Mentions you do get give you a lot of visibility.
This set of tracking should start you down the path of better understanding how well your marketing is going and whether or not you’re spending time on activities that matter. Even if you don’t consider yourself a stats person, go for it.
Start slow and build up your understanding. You’ll catch on, and it should even become a rush to see how your creativity is allowing you to win Fans and influence business. You’ll invariably become more interested in and sophisticated with analytics as you go.
It’s pretty good now, but it’s just getting better
Facebook is fantastic for Realtors and small business folks of all stripes, and it’s just going to get better. Developers are building on top of Facebook’s pages, ad platform, and Open Graph right now, and in the coming months tools will improve drastically.
Soon, you’ll probably be using a sophisticated Facebook marketing tool and wonder what you did before Facebook marketing.
There simply won’t be a more efficient way to promote yourself and get word-of-mouth business. And while great marketing tools are on the way soon, there’s no time like the present to use existing tools and your own smarts to optimize your effort and take yourself viral.
Brad Selby is head of product for Roost.com.