Late last week, Facebook made a huge announcement about some major algorithm changes that will be headed to their newsfeed. What followed that news story was a collective freakout session among marketers and other businesses, including many real estate agents. After spending some time listening to the Facebook experts like Mari Smith and digesting what they had to say, I’m here to weigh in on what this means for real estate agents on Facebook, and how to work with this “New Normal” that Facebook is presenting us with. Here are my key takeaways.
This Facebook Change is a GOOD thing.
Some of you early-ish adopters of Facebook may remember a time where Facebook was only about connecting with friends and family, sharing lives, sharing photos. Recently I joked with a colleague, “Remember the good old days when Facebook used to be fun? You know… before all the businesses got in and ruined everything.” To be quite honest, Facebook was becoming a dumpster fire of noise, “fake news” and mind-numbing posts that you just scrolled through to pass the time. People were beginning to spend less time on Facebook. Personal connection or any real, meaningful conversation was becoming more scarce. So Facebook saw that something was broken and now is stepping in to fix it.
What changes are coming? Well, Facebook says they are going back to what they’ve always been about… real personal connection and engagement with your friends and family. Your newsfeed is going to change in a big way, and you will likely see fewer posts from businesses and brands. Frankly, I am looking forward to the changes and I am not freaking out about it at all. I see this as an opportunity to innovate and change the way we do things on Facebook for List to Close Inc. and our real estate agents.
Time to Be Creative, Engaging and Authentic
In the statement from Mark Zuckerberg himself, he says, “The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people”
The key takeaway from this is what is considered “public content”.
A typical post from a real estate agent might be a link to their blog, link to their lead page sign up, or other “salesy” type content. These types of posts do not usually drive conversations or meaningful interaction. Real estate business pages that are putting out content that people are not interacting with WILL see a significant drop in their reach. If conversations aren’t happening on your page and no one is interacting with your posts, you will take a hit from this change.
This means all your posts need to encourage people to interact, encourage conversation. This also means that you as a page owner will have to have more of an engaging role in your business page. Be present on your page, be authentic. No automation or robots allowed.
Facebook is a “Pay-to-Play” Space – You Need a Facebook Ads Budget
If you haven’t yet made a budget for Facebook ads, well now is the time. This has been coming down the pike for a long time as business pages have seen organic reach continually drop. Facebook has pretty much given the final warning that brands that want their “public content” seen will have to spend on ads. The free ride is over.
It is very important to be strategic about your ad spend, however. Don’t boost and make an ad for every single post on your page. And don’t spend on ads to increase your “Likes” on your page either. I have always said to our clients that the best use of their Facebook ad budget should be driving real leads to their real estate website. Use Facebook ads that send users to a Facebook lead form, your newsletter sign up, a landing page to a special list of homes, or any other enticing lead capture form on your website. Even your ads for listings should always send them to a lead capture form. Spend your money on capturing the actual names and emails for your list, not on Facebook Likes. You own your list, but Facebook owns your Likes (more on that in a minute).
Embrace Facebook Live
If you haven’t noticed, videos are probably making up the majority of your Facebook newsfeed. Live streaming is leading the pack. A key part of Facebook’s change announcement is this: “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.“
What the above is telling us is that their algorithm favors live videos because they tend to get more engagement. So bottom line, Facebook Live should become a significant part of your Facebook marketing strategy in order to get in front of your audience and have more interactions.
Email Marketing and building your list is more valuable than ever.
This Facebook change should be a clear reminder that you should not have all your eggs in the Facebook basket. This shows that your marketing efforts should be diversified and focused on building that list and getting them into your playground.
Here’s the thing… Facebook is Rented Land.
All those likes and followers on your business page, are not owned by you, they’re owned by FACEBOOK. Facebook can go poof tomorrow and then what happens? All those likes and followers you may have spent so much effort (and possibly ad money) to gain would be gone. How many of those people who like your page are on your actual email list? If you haven’t given it much thought before, I am sure you will now. It would be smart to consider spending your ad budget to encourage those that already like your page to join one of your list magnets.
Your email list is gold.
List building should be your top priority. That is the way you can continue to market to your prospects and clients on YOUR terms. Get them to come to YOUR playground, your website, your blog, and if your Facebook page vanishes tomorrow, you will be OK because you have built that list where you can continue to reach them.
What should Real Estate Agents do now on Facebook?
If you have done a good job with engaging content on your business page, then you will do just fine. For the real estate agents that don’t have much page engagement, it is time to change your strategy. Katie Lance wrote this fantastic article about the Facebook algorithm change and spelled out exactly what real estate agents can do now. I highly recommend you give the whole thing a read.
Here are my final thoughts on what agents should start doing right now on Facebook.
- Authenticity Is key – Drop the Automation! Nobody wants to interact with a robot on Facebook. If you are auto-posting articles and content, please stop. You need to be present on your business page, be real, and put out content that drives a real conversation, be less “salesey”, and add more personal flair.
- Look at Facebook as a CRM and Connect with Your Clients – Be sure that you are friends with your past and present clients. Create a list of your clients on Facebook so that you can easily keep up with them. Then make sure you actually interact with them. Don’t just “like” a post of theirs, but make a comment, have a conversation and share their content. Real estate is a relationship business and this is about building relationships.
- Embrace Facebook Live – As mentioned above, Facebook live tends to drive more engagement and conversation, so you should be using more of it. Keep it interesting, keep it authentic. Do make sure your live videos reflect your personality and you will attract people that want to work with you.
- Facebook Ads – Time to fire up that Facebook Ads strategy now. Spend that ad money on content that is actually going to drive leads to your playground. Start by focusing on the warmest leads. These are people that already like your page and content. Your goal should be to get them on your list.
So now it’s time take a deep breath and stop the panic. Focus on using Facebook to build those important client relationships. Make sure Facebook is just one piece of your well-rounded marketing plan that drives people to your website and your list.
What to do next?
- Download our Facebook Ads Planner to take the guesswork out of planning your next campaign
- Contact us to book a free consultation to see what we can take off of your to-do list today.
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- How Real Estate Agents Can Authentically Connect on Facebook With Clients - March 9, 2018
- Facebook Algorithm Changes and What it Means for Real Estate Agents - January 18, 2018