If you would like to find out more about how to generate real revenue on Facebook, read on. Jimmy Mackin is no ordinary 26 year old. Based in Boston, he has thousands of followers in the Real Estate Industry in the United States and worldwide as a result of his passion to share his deep knowledge of the digital marketing space, and in particular how businesses should use Facebook to engage customers. Story by Samantha McLean.
I haven’t met Jimmy Mackin in person, but in all honesty it is very easy to feel like he is a good friend that I have known for ages. If you are a member of the “Tech Support Group for Real Estate Agents”, currently sitting at more than 2,000 members on Facebook, and you will understand what I mean. Mackin started this group in response to a need for agents to be able to engage with each other on broadly on the subjects of technology and marketing – without the noise of constant advertising. There is no self-promotion within this group of any kind, just problem solving. The group now contains more than 20,000 lively threads on all matters to do with technology and real estate.
Mackin is also the co-founder of two Facebook applications – the MLS App (for searching property on Facebook), and more recently the Lead Generation App, both of which are focused on taking fans and followers on Facebook and converting them into tangible business leads. He also is a key contributor to the very popular “Inman Next Agent” site on the subject of digital and Facebook marketing.
How did it all start? “Well we (myself and my business partner) got started with a really small idea about two years ago”, says Mackin. “I saw that real estate agents were jumping on Facebook, and I was surprised … I didn’t really understand why they were using this college social networking site! At the time, I knew Facebook was open to the public, but still it just didn’t make any sense to me. So, we began digging a little bit deeper, and we realised they were using it as a networking tool, a tool to connect with consumers. From there we saw an opportunity to create business applications on Facebook to help them do this.”
If you are an agent with a presence on Facebook right now, chances are you will be trying to either build your fan base or generate leads in some way. I mention to Mackin that there are a lot of Agents in Australia doing this, and ask him – given this current trend – is it possible that something like Facebook might replace an Agent’s website?
“Our inspiration has always been to help agents capture leads on Facebook, and it’s a really simple idea. Would Facebook ever replace someone’s website… I don’t suspect it will, but we do see Facebook becoming increasingly more important in engaging a potential audience and becoming one of the main spokes in an Agents online ‘hub’.”
There is no doubt that Mackin’s success can be largely accredited to his passion for the space and his genuine desire to help people. “You know social media is amazing,” he tells me, “to think that you, a magazine editor in Australia, and me, a 26-year-old marketer from Boston would have even connected a few years ago without social media, you know the possibility is pretty remote. And yet, here we are…”
However, with the passion for the space does come a bit of frustration. “There are a few problems with real estate agents on social media right now, and it’s something I call ‘the arms race’, where everyone appears to be in pursuit of this magic number of getting 5,000 fans or 5,000 friends or 5,000 followers on Twitter or whatever it might be, because we think that somehow this equates to success. Unfortunately, this is just a lie that’s been propagated by people in the social media realm where they’re saying, here’s 20 ways of getting new fans, or here’s 10 ways of getting more followers, and frankly Samantha, its all nonsense. If you have 5,000 followers it really means nothing; it’s not going to help your business in any way. And, I think what happens is with this ‘arms race’, is that it detracts us from the real goal of social media which is making real connections. You obviously cannot be connected to thousands of people and have real connections.”
I point out that Facebook’s recently enhanced ‘lists’ feature has changed things significantly; and that it’s much easier for users to completely ignore business pages and focus more on their close circles of friends. I ask him how he thinks Agents on Facebook should address this problem, and without hesitation he has the answer – and that is ‘Back to basics’.
“Lets talk about marketing first – online, you really have to earn people’s attention and the only way you can do that is by solving people’s problems, by providing something of value; something that’s helpful. You can’t do this in a random fashion, which I see a lot of! And by ‘random’ I mean posting to Facebook, a couple of updates every week or so, and then kind of checking back a month later – there has to be systems in place in which you execute on an agreed or documented marketing strategy.”
“I simply see content at the core of my marketing strategy, or anyone’s marketing strategy for that matter. I distribute this content that I’m creating through different channels like Facebook and Twitter, or even by email.”
The email reference surprises me a little, and I mention this, and I ask him if he thinks that people really read all their email these days, particularly from campaigns and the like, and his response is simply – “If your marketing strategy is to solve people’s problems by providing valuable content, people will read your email. It is just another way to reach an audience – maybe not as sexy as social media – but still very powerful. If they are engaged, they will read your email.”
“The problem with social media is that the attention is really fleeting; we know that we’re only reaching at any given time between three and a half to seven per cent of our fan base, so we really need to be capturing email addresses in order to enable both a wider and deeper level of engagement with them.”
Again, problem solved – with the Lead Conversion App, which has just been released. “I’m really excited about this product, it has worldwide application, not just to Real Estate, and we’re rolling it out here in the next couple of days. It addresses the most basic need to do with Facebook marketing, which is that most people don’t capture any leads on Facebook. And lets face it, Facebook is a great place to capture leads because the users information will already be pre-filled in from their account details, so they can essentially with one click of a button, click register and they can sign up for your services.”