I’ll admit it. I’m hooked on Facebook. I somehow missed out the whole MySpace craze (thankfully, visiting a MySpace page now just makes my eyes hurt) – but Facebook has me hook, line and sinker.

Over on the Inman Blog, I wrote a post recently about real estate marketing through social media – where I implied that you should be thinking about marketing your listings in the places where your target markets are these days. Believe me, that’s rarely in the classifieds sections of your local newspapers anymore.

Now, industry social networks like ActiveRain are great for connecting with your peers; but let’s face it, Consumers aren’t hanging out there. If you’re looking for buyers and sellers, in this day and age you need to be a little more creative.

The news that Facebook may launch Local Classifieds got me thinking on how you can take this idea and use social networks like Facebook to really power your business.

Here’s how:

1. Encourage past clients and new clients to ‘friend’ you or ‘add’ you to their networks. Include links to your profile in your marketing materials, business cards etc. Build out a brand new online “sphere”.

2. Creating Groups – This is the most obvious way to use the site. Create a “Portland Homebuyers” group for example and help first time buyers with their questions. Leverage your expertise to become the expert in the group.

3. Creating a unique Group is also a great way to keep in touch with business networking contacts you meet – maybe it’s at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting or even a Real Estate Connect conference. (I’ve set up a SF Connect group, by the way, where I hope we can all meet up). You can engage in post conference discussions, share information in a neutral open forum that doesn’t demand the intimacy of an email or telephone contact.

4. Shares – You could use Facebook to market properties to a select group or share properties with your friends . A handy bookmarklet lets you add external links to your Shares. You could add a link to a property from your own site, even a vFlyer page or Sellsius listing etc.

Think about it, you could have an exclusive Group of Realtors in your market, maybe its even inside a single branch office, and you could share great listings with each other even before they hit the MLS.

5. If you’re a blogger, add your RSS feed to your profile. Facebook lets you add a Blog feed to your Notes. You could find new readers and even drive traffic back to your blog by sharing your posts with your network.

I think that maximizing your exposure on social networks like Facebook are going to be increasingly important to small businesses – especially in industries that are already so network-dependent like real estate. Unfortunately, due to the fleeting nature of these sites, the trick is going to be to stay on top on where everyone is. The real danger is arriving too late and finding your audience has already moved on.

Update: Drew Meyers from Zillow wrote a great post along the same lines – check out How to Productively Take Advantage of Online Communities

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