What should agents know to make the most of their marketing budget and stay out of trouble in 2019? From crafting ads to avoiding fair housing issues, here’s the scoop.

Facebook had been the darling of Gen-Xers and baby boomers for over a decade. It’s reconnected us with high school friends, relatives and old flames that we thought we might never hear from again.

Now you can see someone’s entire life at a glance with only a few clicks. For that very reason, the platform has become a marketer’s dream, providing specific analytics for laser-like targeting.

Facebook also makes it easy to reach millennials by sharing your Facebook ad with your linked Instagram business account and applying the same ad parameters. But what do you need to know to make the most of your marketing budget and stay out of real estate jail in 2019?

Craft an effective ad

With an average adult attention span only a few seconds, so you need to capture your viewer immediately. That means instantly make a personal connection and have compelling, relatable content or your target audience will scroll right on past.

Mobile constitutes a greater portion of social media users than desktop, so your audience will need to click “see more” if your message extends beyond three mobile-formatted lines. Most will not.

For 2019, to maximize results, keep it short, sweet and tremendously impactful. More than anything, focus on the “What’s in it for me?” For your audience to respond to your call to action, there must be a big payoff.

Here’s a hint: The days of “What’s your home worth?” are gone. It’s all about the complete homebuying experience and getting interactive with consumers.

It’s great to gain a visit your website, but what should they do when they get there? How will you capture that lead? If your ad is just informational, you’re raising awareness, but missing a lot of opportunities to connect on a personal level. Be strategic, and you will get results.

Don’t forget video

Especially in advertising, a picture is worth 1,000 words. The same can be said for video. The photo or video should make your audience stop scrolling and take notice.

Bright colors tend to do the trick just as much as composition. Before you go crazy with photo editing, understand that Facebook might disapprove or vastly reduce the reach of your ad if you have more than 20 percent words on your photo or video thumbnail. Facebook’s overall preference is no writing on these.

The Facebook algorithm assures video is still king. Always create a compelling, engaging and colorful video, and know that most viewers will not click on it to enable sound.

An overwhelming amount of your audience will watch silently (80 percent, according to Katie Lance). Create a video that will make sense either with or without sound. But, above all, be real on what you put out to the world. Consumers can spot a fake in a second.

Avoid fair housing pitfalls

Facebook is not a dedicated real estate social media platform. Unfortunately, that means that when it comes to ads and targeting, Facebook gives real estate professionals more than enough rope to hang themselves.

In fact, March 2019 marked the beginning of a fair housing Facebook smackdown initiated by HUD. Licensed real estate professionals are aware of the ramifications of fair housing discrimination. They are severe to say the least.

Targeting certain demographics while leaving out others, whether in print or digitally, will certainly get Housing and Urban Development involved.

Be fully aware that Facebook has the data and targeting parameters you set for all your real estate ads on tap and easily accessible. Never put yourself in a situation where you would need to explain exclusion of protected classes from seeing your ad.

For instance, I was asked recently if in an ad is promoting a 55-plus community, the real estate agent could target those aged 55 and older in the ad parameters when choosing an audience. Absolutely not.

You are fine to state in your ad content that this is a 55-plus community. Leave your targeting parameters open to those who might legally purchase a home.

Keep in mind you might further target by interests such as “likely to move” or “real estate investments,” and that’s perfectly fine. Plus, the person in your audience responsible for the sale of the home in the 55-plus community might have discovered the home for parents, grandparents or friends through your ad. Don’t limit yourself, and more importantly, don’t limit others.

This also means that if your compelling images contain people, make sure you are showing diversity. Always leave out the unacceptable or cautionary fair housing words when advertising, regardless of the platform.

As a real estate professional, you shoulder the responsibility for your ads, their content and their targeting. By having a strategy, following best practices and the law, you’ll get the most bang for your marketing dollar and offer exceptional value to your audience.

Scott Beaudry is a Henderson, Nevada-based broker and the owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Universal just east of Las Vegas. Connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Instagram.

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