There was a time when Facebook was seen as the harbinger of a brave new world of unlimited marketing possibilities for real estate professionals. From its broad appeal to its targeting capability to its affordability, many agents and brokers focused on Facebook as the solution to all of their marketing needs.
Indeed, at this point, according to the National Association of Realtors, 77 percent of real estate agents use Facebook, and many feel that it is an essential component of their marketing plan.
However, Facebook is not without its complications. Bad behavior is often amplified. Data breaches are a fixture of congressional hearings and the nightly news. A refusal to fact check makes Facebook’s feed increasingly untrustworthy to many. #DeleteFacebook seems to trend every other day.
Yet the fact remains that Facebook’s lead generation capability is still a force to be reckoned with. How do you avoid the more problematic aspects of Facebook’s model while still taking advantage of its potential as a lead generation platform?
Facebook behavior matters
Best practices for Facebook involve ensuring that you are properly targeting your audience while also staying on the right side of fair housing laws and guidelines.
Here’s how to do that:
1. Know your audience
To use Facebook well, you need to know who you’re talking to. The average Facebook user tends to be older and female, so if you’re looking to reach 20-something renters, you might want to consider another platform.
In addition, take a look at the audience that is already engaged with your content through Audience Insights. You might just find that the people who engage with you are not the people you thought you were reaching.
2. Target smart
One of the most problematic aspects of Facebook’s targeting capability has been its use as a way to virtually facilitate redlining and blockbusting through targeting that excludes people on the basis of age, gender, race and sexual orientation.
This is a violation of Fair Housing Act and professional ethics. Instead of excluding groups, think about who you can focus on, and create and share content that speaks to their interests.
For example, if you specialize in waterfront properties, stop trying to come up with a demographic profile for the average boat owner, and target people who identify as boat owners or who express an interest in boats.
If you specialize in starter homes and condos, focus on renters within a specific geographic area. Think about behaviors rather than demographics, and you’ll stay on the right side of the ethical line.
3. Understand digital literacy
The old adage “Never discuss politics or religion in polite company” has been cited in print since the early 19th century, and it has never been more relevant than right now in our polarized social media environment.
One of the reasons that Facebook is constantly under scrutiny is its tendency to allow questionable content to flood user feeds.
It is essential that you proceed with caution before sharing or commenting on political, social or religious topics. In the absence of Facebook policies requiring fact checking, you just can’t be sure where that clickable factoid you’re about to share came from and whether it is accurate.
Instead, share highly relevant, value-added content that you create, like blog posts or videos, based on your business and your interactions in the community. This will be much more likely to get positive responses and win you new friends on the platform.
Strategies for lead generation on Facebook
To grow your Facebook community and generate more leads, here are five strategies that are sure to help you connect with your ideal audience.
1. Create original content, post consistently, and boost strategically
One way to keep from sharing bad content is to create your own good content. Whether you write a blog, host a podcast or create videos, original content that is geared toward the interests of your audience and potential clients in your community is far more valuable than anything you could share from someone else.
Make sure that you’re posting at least once a day, if not more, and post at a variety of times to see which ones are more effective for your audience. When you get particularly good engagement on a post, let it build for a day or two then boost it in order to reach even more Facebook users outside of your friends and followers. Schedule the boost for two or three days, preferably over a weekend or holiday.
2. Favor video content for higher engagement
More and more, video content is becoming the gold standard of Facebook posts. Even if you are creating primarily written content, distribute it through a quick introductory video to boost engagement. Don’t worry about whether you are camera-ready; the point is to let people get to know you, hear your voice, and find out what it would be like to work with you.
3. Follow the ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ formula
Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice is still the best: Offer value-added content repeatedly before asking for anything or making a sales pitch. The more you give, the more likely people will be to reach out to you and the more favorably they will look at any subsequent call to action.
4. Drive traffic to a landing page or website optimized for lead capture
Don’t think of your Facebook posts as standalone content. Use them as a distribution channel to draw people into your core written or video content, then keep them coming back by making them subscribers or adding them to your mailing list.
Ensure that there is a clear way for everyone who reaches your platform to provide an email address and other contact information, then keep reaching out to them with more great information that is targeted to their interests and needs.
5. Set a goal and tell people what it is
There’s no reason to play coy or pretend that you don’t want anything when you share your content. Ask people to read your blog and subscribe. Ask people to contact you or to come to an event you’re hosting. Always give readers a call to action so that they know what to do with the information you’re providing. The more clear your call to action, the more likely it is to be effective.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr