Developing highly successful and engaged Facebook groups takes time, commitment and a value-added perspective. Stacey Soleil shares tips from the best-of-the-best groups and the real estate agents who run them.

Love it or hate it, the reality is that a large percentage of people still leave a Facebook tab open on their computer all day while they are at work, which means there’s still very much a reason to try and capture some of that “I’m bored, please engage with me” attention.

In fact, according to DataReportal (a data reporting site whose reports are produced by Simon Kemp and the team at Kepios), the number of people who use Facebook each day is 1.968 billion, and the share of Facebook’s monthly active users who log in each day is a whopping 67 percent as of July 2022.

So how does one tap into this attention database and make it worthwhile? Let’s navigate some of the suggested best practices when it comes to successfully building a local or community Facebook page. First things first, you need to make sure you pick a group name that your target audience will relate with.

Before writing this article, I did the following research to gather useful data regarding, “How To Build A Successful Local/Community Group.” First, I published a poll inside a real estate-centric community that I run with over 11,000 members asking, “Who runs a successful local/community group or page on Facebook?”


Next, I went on a keyword search inside of Facebook to see what amazing examples of local communities I could find to share inside this article and lastly, I Googled “Best Facebook Groups for (insert city)” to see what results would pop up.

My poll rendered a few examples of incredible success (which I will certainly share with you all down below), however except for receiving feedback from a select group of real estate professionals, do you know what compelling intel I found organically on groups run by real estate agents?

I found out that most public real estate groups are not very compelling at all. Instead, they are either a ghost town or simply a scrolling feed of video content, push posts and the occasional personalized post, with most posts having very little likes or engagement whatsoever.

Moreover, when I searched for community groups by city, I did find numerous active and engaged groups for every major city with thousands of members, but most of these groups were not run by real estate agents.

In fact, upon digging a little deeper, I found out that many of the most successful groups are run by stay-at-home moms or retirees. That tells you a little something about the time commitment these types of groups require.

So, what exactly was I hoping to find? I was hopeful that all of the best city groups would be owned and operated by real estate agents and that these savvy agents would readily stand out as the recognizable leaders of these communities.

My goal was to be able to peruse their feed to find the perfect blueprint to share back with our Inman community at large. Thankfully, I was able to find a fantastic example to share with all of you; however, I also learned that it took this community over seven years to reach the momentum they have now. It’s well worth it, but good intel to have if you’re starting. 

Lurkers and communities

An example of a community that targets a very specific area with a relatable title is Grand Rapids Informed.



This highly successful community group was created by real estate agent Mike Smallegan of Smallegan Real Estate – Keller Williams Grand Rapids, who said: “We have actually just started using it (our Facebook group) to generate leads. Grand Rapids is a city of 300k and 1.1m in the metro area. We are doing weekly videos about events around GR (Grand Rapids), and I’m getting noticed publicly.

“I started in 2015, only because there wasn’t a Grand Rapids Informed group, and there were several other smaller city groups for nearby cities. Once the 2020 pandemic came about and people were stuck at home, my local group started growing. And now it’s the biggest group in the city.”

Smallegan does something like the following every week:


Best practices for your Facebook group

If you decide that you’re going to invest your time, energy and budget into creating a local or community group, make sure what you create and what you deliver are in alignment.

For example, if you create a group called “Best Places To Go In Tulsa,” and all you do is post homes for sale, expect to have crickets inside your community and, even worse, understand you’re at risk of losing the trust of the consumer.

Create a community with the mindset that your ideal member is smart, dialed in and interested in substance. So that being said, a “Best Places” group would be best served by creating categories or units for the group first.

Reference Facebook’s best practices for setting up units to organize content here. Realtor Emily Anderson likes to structure her categories with an eye-capturing photo with text overlay (easily done in Canva).

Additional examples you might consider leveraging could be; Best Picnic Spots, Best Restaurants, Best Parks, Best Trails, Best Auto Repair Shops, Best Doctors, Best Bookstores, Best Toy Stores, Best Ice Cream Parlors, Best Schools, Best Community Watch Programs, Best HOAs, etc.

 

Take the time to brainstorm what best places you’d want to highlight and be strategic about it. A strategic example could be: If you have a category inside your community such as Best HOA or Best Community Watch Program, now when a new listing or open house occurs within those areas, it would make sense to feature that home and tag it with the coordinating HOA or Community Watch category, without your post coming across as spam.

It’s also notable to add that you must make sure your “best of” categories are highly inclusive so you are not alienating or marginalizing any members of your community in the process of choosing who you think is “best.”

Engaged

Keep in mind that successful communities are engaged communities, and there’s no better way to generate engagement than to ask questions that your members at large will care about.

Some examples might be:

“Do you find your commute to and from work takes substantially longer than usual due to the recent increase in traffic at the intersection of 5th and Main Street?”

This question is very specific, and it will garner a response from a very targeted audience within the group. Additionally, this feedback may even serve useful for the community at large to bring to a local town hall meeting. (A fantastic way for a local real estate agent to show up as a community leader, by the way.)

Another example might be:

“Who’s interested in entering to win one of the following Fall Harvest Gift Baskets? To be entered, fill out the following form. (Insert Google Form here – Bonus points if that form automatically delivers the intel back into your database) Drawing will be done as a FB Live inside the group next Friday at 3pm, must be active in the chat of the FB Live to win!”

This question is great because it’s supported by a visual (the baskets you’re giving away), it has a call to action, and it provides clear instructions that will allow you, as a real estate agent, to lead capture as well as guarantee future traffic to an upcoming post.

Team Lead Crystal Smith at RE/MAX Executive shared something similar in her recent post to the community group Residents of Sudlersville. (See photo below.)

Be nice

Author of the best-selling book, “Too Nice for Sales,” Barry Jenkins of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and Ylopo Realtor in Residence, shared his views on group engagement and said, “I actually don’t overthink things. When I think I have something valuable to share, I share it. I feel bad for business owners that are trying to grow-engagement-to-grow-engagement. That sounds so hard! I’d much rather share when I am excited about something.”

I also learned that for many real estate agents, their local or community group serves as an SEO tactic for their website, YouTube channel or social media sites.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with leveraging this tactic. In fact, it would appear vital if you are trying to create steady traffic back and forth between your sites. It’s simply an important distinction to consider if you are going to take the time to build out a community as a piece of your overall business plan.

I interviewed real estate agent Jason Galaz, who’s the team lead of Find A Home, by eXp, and he shared: “I am actually building hundreds of pages and groups to generate traffic to multiple websites across the country. I currently have over a quarter million followers in this realm and expect to grow that 20x.

Folks like to look at homes. Sometimes luxury, other times super deals, yet others want to dream about simpler and prettier farm life. I am able to make properties go viral every week. The largest was 99,000 shares on FB.”

Other teams are creating Facebook Groups to provide training, sell coaching or leverage as a recruiting tactic for their own business growth.

“Posts that gain the most engagement are posts where we share tips and strategies that are working (for us), especially if we’re giving away templates or physical examples people can use,” Gabriela Gil, database manager at The Novello Group, shared.

“We have gained so much business from Facebook groups and social media in general. We mostly get coaching clients, podcast guests, and agents that purchase our scripts, courses and books. For us, I would say that it isn’t necessarily the facebook group engagement that generates our success, but the content that we put out over time.”

Long story short, building a community is an investment. As long as you’re willing to take the time to map out your process, be inclusive, be strategic, be engaged and be incredibly patient, you can certainly leverage a Facebook Group as a meaningful arm of your business model moving forward.



Author Stacey Soleil is the Head of Community & Industry Relations for www.followupboss.com as well as Inman contributing writer, national speaker, RRC Adjunct Instructor & WomanUP! Wavemaker.

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