According to Facebook, there are 14 million people in Australia who use their platform, 11 million of whom return to it on their mobiles several times a day. But is Facebook a social application or a business tool? The answer is both. It is a social utility that real estate agents can leverage to reach a mass audience that is local, mobile and social – if they know how.
Here is a quick snapshot from Facebook of how Australians are using it to connect with each other and to business, and why you should be paying attention to this social platform: 83 per cent of people in Australia are connected to small and medium sized business via Facebook. Sixty per cent of people who discover a business or product on Facebook remain on the platform to learn more and/or go to the business/product website.
With such a major share of the Australian audience, Facebook provides a powerful communication channel for agents to connect with their market. However, Facebook is a busy place and it is becoming increasingly difficult to be noticed. “There are over four million active advertisers on Facebook worldwide who use the platform to help achieve business objectives, such as reaching new customers and driving awareness of its products and services,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
Facebook is a place where real estate agents must compete with other advertisers as well as family members, friends, holiday snapshots and the Kardashians. In order to stand out from the crowd, here are some best-practice tips for agents to make the most of the platform.
1. Be Visual
Video is a great way to grab the attention and interest of your community on Facebook. Video can capture the personality of your business and tell more complex stories about your offerings in a simple and engaging way. Video tours of properties allow buyers who can’t physically view property to understand price.
Facebook’s Live Video Streaming capabilities have enabled Raine & Horne Surry Hills to open up their activities to a digital, social marketplace and engage with a local, mobile, social audience. The agency uses video to run live auctions, with the community often commenting and thanking them. A live video interview with property investor Zaki Ameer has received over 1.5K views.
“Social is not here to take away our day to day activities, only to amplify what we do and why we do it,” said Jason Ballo, Raine & Horne Surry Hills.
2. Audience targeting
Audience targeting helps you show your ads to the people you care about. When you create an ad you have the opportunity to target it to people based on location and demographics like age, gender and interests. You can even target audiences who are in a certain life stage, like those ready to purchase a home.
For real estate agents, geo-targeting by location is a particularly powerful tool that you can use in conjunction with other targeting options. In the Location targeting section, you can enter the name of one or more cities or postcodes to show your ads to people in those locations. After selecting a location, you can then choose a radius, or you can choose to exclude a location that falls within the area you’ve chosen.
Another option is to target customers using a Custom Audience. This allows your advert to appear in the news feed of people you already have on your database. Not only does this save you the trouble of emailing them, you’re also able to profile a property they will be interested in based on the information you have already captured.
3. Use Messenger
Customers increasingly prefer to communicate with businesses the same way they talk to their friends and family; through Facebook Messenger. It’s a good idea to start using the Messenger function to communicate with both potential sellers and potential buyers. Customers can initiate private conversations with business pages in news feed ads via the call-to-action “Send Message” button, making it easy to ask specific questions about their situation.
You can also use Messenger to reply to public comments with a private message, helping to solve individual customer requests more efficiently and without becoming public. To reply privately to a customer’s comment, you can simply click the new “Message” option and a private message thread with the customer will open. The message from the page includes a link to the customer’s comment for reference.
To help you respond quickly to common incoming messages, you can now also create and save responses to frequently asked questions through the Messenger app. You can also edit saved responses before you send them, and Facebook has recently updated the admin inbox to allow you to archive, delete, flag and mark messages as read, unread and spam – much like email.
4. Pay to Play
Facebook has an Adverts app that allows you to pay to boost a specific post to a specific audience. The app monitors spend and analyses the organic and paid reach of that Ad to calculate engagement and return.
Over time, with the increase in Facebook users and the over-population of content to the platform, Facebook has altered its algorithm so that advertising content appears less and less in people’s news feeds. What this means for real estate agents using Facebook to advertise is that the organic (free) reach for business ads has dwindled. Without paid boosting, many business posts will simply not appear in the news feed of much of the Facebook audience.
Facebook defends its algorithm on the basis that its purpose is to provide the best experience for its users – which in turn sustains the businesses that use it to advertise. Boosting is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional print distribution marketing and, with the ability to target your audience based on location, age and interests, boosting can be highly effective for agents to reach the right people at the right time with the right information.
5. Get Savvy
In the quickly evolving world of digital marketing, staying on top of the tools and opportunities offered by the Facebook family of products and services can give a competitive edge. To get the most out of Facebook you can sign up to Blueprint, offering online learning modules that provide detailed information on how to use the Facebook platform to drive your business.
With over one million course enrolments, Blueprint has helped businesses of all sizes succeed through their e-learning modules.
If you want to go one step further, Blueprint Certification is Facebook’s global credentialing programme for business owners – aimed at those who want to ensure their knowledge and skills of the Facebook family of products is as advanced as possible. This includes advertising and business tools on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.