Facebook has become an integral part of marketing for many realtors. It's a way to spread the word about their services and reach new clients. In many ways, Facebook is the online version of what successful realtors have been doing for years: meeting new people, establishing personal connections and letting them know about their real estate business. But as many agents have learned, it takes more than regularly posting status updates and adding new friends to successfully use Facebook to increase your revenue.
Here are six secrets from agents who have turned Facebook friends into new clients.
Make interesting and relevant status updates
Many real estate agents use Facebook primarily to post their listings or to directly promote their real estate services. But other realtors caution against this strategy and have found that posting status updates that help establish their knowledge in the field, such as trend reports and articles of interest to people buying and selling homes, yield better results. “I also like to post things to do in New York City that can appeal to transplants and prospective clients alike, enriching their reality or feeding the imagination,” says Caroline Bass, senior vice president and associate broker at Citi Habitats in New York.
Let your personality shine through
Because realtors are in essence selling themselves to potential clients, many use their personal Facebook page instead of a business page to promote their real estate services. Nick Jabbour, vice president of Nest Seekers International, uses one page for both business and personal purposes. “It serves as a humanizing factor, where my clients can get a feel for my personality, and potential clients get to know me. I stay fresh in their minds,” Jabbour says.
Zak Bushey, a realtor with Southland Properties, tries to keep his Facebook posts at a 5:1 ratio, with one post being related to his real estate business for every five that are personal or humorous. He says if you make only business-related posts, you come off as cold, but that if you post nothing about your business, then friends could forget you are a realtor. “Unless you make offensive or inappropriate comments...don’t be afraid to broadcast your personality,” Bushey says.
Automate the friend process
One of the best, most useful things about Facebook is that you can easily create a network of potential clients, but to do that you must find people to connect with and send them friend requests. Since it’s easy to forget to send a new contact a Facebook friend request, Jabbour has automated the process. “I use Outlook Connector, so every time I get an e-mail from a potential client or colleague, I can add them to Facebook immediately with the integration without having to search for it,” Jabbour says.
It is also important to connect on Facebook with contacts you make in real life. During the week, jot down the names of the people you meet, and keep any business cards you receive. Then dedicate a day of the week to check and see if your new contacts are on Facebook, and send them friend requests.
Reach out to Facebook friends
One of the most important aspects of using Facebook is to reach out to the connections you make through Facebook and establish a personal relationship. Bushey says that when someone he does not know comments on his page or “likes” a photo, he sends them a private message to follow up or simply thank them. “This gives them a feeling of a personal connection,” he says. He also posts his cell phone number and e-mail address in all business-related posts to encourage potential clients to contact him. Other strategies including commenting on their posts, wishing them happy birthday and "liking" their photos.
Tag posts and photos
Tagging photos is another strategy that agents successfully use to increase the number of people who see their Facebook posts. When someone is tagged in a post, everyone on the other person's or company's friends list also sees the post. “If you're sharing a great news article and that company has a page, tag them so your post is seen on their page, as well as your own,” says Bass of Citi Habitats. You can also use this strategy to tag clients who you are working with, but be sure to check with them first.
One of the most important things when planning your Facebook strategy is to integrate it into your overall business strategy. Facebook should not be an afterthought, but an important component of building a successful real estate business.
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.
Photo credit: iStock