Technology

Now Facebook’s a tool for sniffing out real estate leads

Agents can search friends' News Feeds for keywords indicating who's in the market

People love to blab on Facebook, and much of what they share is “content” that can reveal they are looking to buy or sell a home. Until now, there hasn’t been a way to quickly filter for such content.

But that’s changing as Facebook rolls out new search functionality that lets users search News Feed content based on keywords.

Starting Monday, Facebook users should be able to filter their friends’ posts based on phrases like “sell home” or “buy home,” opening up a window that allows them to see who in their network might be open to hiring a real estate agent.

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Sharon Steele, a Westfield, New Jersey-based real estate agent who runs a Facebook group with nearly 12,000 likes, says the new search functionality could be a powerful lead generation tool for real estate agents.

“I find it amazing that we will be able to search through our friends’ posts looking for specific topics that they have talked about (i.e., real estate needs, engagements, pregnancies, job changes), and perhaps position ourselves to be of value to them,” said Steele, a sales associate at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

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Facebook users have been able to search for people based on their location, interests, gender and a host of other criteria since Facebook rolled out Graph Search in early 2013.

Graph Search helped real estate agents make themselves more discoverable to users. Some agents may have even used the search tool to pinpoint friends who might be likely to buy or sell based on their demographic characteristics or interests (e.g., the search query “my friends who are divorced”).

But by making their friends’ posts searchable, Facebook has made sniffing out leads much easier for real estate agents.

In addition to allowing agents to hunt down buyers and sellers on Facebook, the update to its search tool also may make it easier for agents to reel in potential clients.

Steele notes that the changes could allow consumers to more easily find posts that published on her community information Facebook group.

Many marketers currently stuff posts that appear on websites with keywords in order to increase the likelihood that they’ll appear high in search engine results. It seems likely that the updates Facebook has made to its search tool might now lead marketers to weave more keywords into Facebook posts.

“If they can search the hundreds of posts I have made over the years and come up with just the information they are looking for about a local business or event, I would think that would be a huge benefit,” Steele said.

TechCrunch’s Josh Constine thinks Facebook’s new search functionality represents a challenge to “Google for finding answers and Twitter for checking real-time chatter.”