This is a real-life Facebook case study, or at least an example of how not to use Facebook.

Last December, a Realtor stopped by a Facebook group page for a neighborhood in my area and introduced herself by telling the members that she just got her real estate license and is looking forward to handling all of our real estate needs. She said we should feel free to call her because she can take the stress out of moving.

Her post was ignored, but she did not give up. The moderator told me later that he thought she would just go away if she was ignored. He did not realize that she had started a kind of marketing campaign.

She proceeded to post links to national real estate news stories and to market her services. Facebook isn’t just for real estate agents and it isn’t just for advertising. Some people like to use it as a social network.

Group members complained about the advertising to the moderator. The moderator decided to delete the posts, which started a big fight mainly because the agent came back and kept arguing with anyone who suggested that the group is not for self-promotion, or suggested that she had stepped out of line.

There were discussions about censorship and freedom of speech, and those who had complained about the agent stayed out of it until it was over.

The agent has not been heard from again and has not posted in the group — where she would still be welcome if she had something to contribute other than advertising.

New businesses are often mentioned in the group, and members are encouraged to buy local, yet there is almost no self-promotion. Some people never catch on to the not-so-subtle difference.

Some business owners will announce coupons or discounts or a new product or service, but these business owners contribute much more to the group than business announcements.

It is always wise to lurk in a group and read and learn before posting. The rules are not always in writing, but there are always rules.

Last week, another new business owner joined the group. He introduced himself as a new neighbor.

He stated that he is interested in getting to know his neighbors and told the group a little about himself and his family. He commented on how much he is enjoying reading posts on the group page because they are helping him learn his new neighborhood.

He mentioned his business and provided a link to a business page and let everyone know that he is open for business and ready for it.

His business page was nicely done, with photographs of his work and information about the services he provides.

Instead of assaulting us with information about his services, he gave us the opportunity to decide if we want to learn more by providing a link that we could click or ignore.

Both new neighbors promoted their businesses. One started a fight and the other made some friends.

One had a personal profile on Facebook and used it for advertising and bombarded the group with advertising that some did not want to see.

The other business owner gave us a choice. He offered a link to his page so we could choose to learn more.

I noticed that many of my neighbors "liked" his page. Most members promote local businesses and prefer to buy local, but none of us has joined the group so that we can be "advertised at" every day.

There are real estate agents in the group both commercial and residential. Some advertise homes they have listed that are in the neighborhood and even announce open houses. That type of information is welcome if the real estate is in the neighborhood.

The new agent was taught by her brokerage to use social media for business. She was taught to use new media for old-school, in-your-face, interruption-based advertising.

I don’t know anyone who joins a Facebook group so that they can be advertised at by a Realtor. When you get down to it, advertising is not very social.

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