* "Only connect. . ." E.M. Forster, Howard's End

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Friends, Fans & Facebook – Five Ways to Make Facebook Work for You

Struggling to gain momentum with Facebook for business or just starting to figure it all out? With over 500 million members (unofficial numbers point to 700 million users), Facebook can be a powerful tool for your business. Here are five ways to take advantage of Facebook and make it work for you.

1. Say the “right” stuff
Many agents struggle with how to be a real estate professional without being obnoxious. It’s a personal network so we want to come across as human, but we also have a job to do. It’s not always an easy balance and honestly, many agents fail at it.

Avoid blatant self promo on other people’s posts and pages. If you go on my wall or my page and write something along the lines of “check out my new listings or my open house at xxx” or “looking to buy or sell in San Francisco, I can help!” – you end up looking obnoxious. The hard sale isn’t usually effective on Facebook (it’s a social network!), but if you do plan to be salesy, keep it on your own page or profile.
The more interested you are in others, the more interesting you become. This really should be the golden rule of networking, online and off. Buyers, sellers, and really people in general, care more about themselves and their problems than they do about you. Your friends, family and clients are talking and sharing their lives on Facebook. Listen to what they are saying, and when relevant, just in to the conversation, comment on their photos, or answer their questions. Be interested and you’ll be more interesting.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your job. People are fascinated about real estate but try to find a way to pull out the interesting or unusual things that happen in your day.
Consider these two updates: “Open House Sun, 3 bed, 2 bath, 2000 square feet.” Come see it! OR
“Baking cookies for my Sunday open house. Should I bake oatmeal or chocolate chip?”
Which update would you be more likely to comment on?
2. Create Friend Lists

Friends lists can be a powerful way to manage your clients, friends & family on Facebook. You say you aren’t generating business on Facebook, but do you engage with the people most likely
to do business with you? I have to admit that I was active on Facebook for quite some time before I realized that the people I tended to engage with were the people the least likely to do business with me. Two of my best past clients were Facebook friends and we hadn’t communicated on the network in over 6 months. Once I created lists to manage my Facebook friends, I completely changed my Facebook experience and made it easier to connect with the people who matter most. To create a list, go to http://www.facebook.com/friends/ and click +Create A List. Once you have created friends lists, you can view your newsfeed by your lists.

3. Join/Create Groups
Some of our best connections come from our smallest niche networks. Have a group you are actively involved with offline? Create a Facebook group to engage and connect (or join an existing group). I have groups set up for volunteer activities, networking groups, and mom playgroups. Most of the groups I participate in are personal. I wouldn’t sell someone in them because that is not the intention of the group but I can further relationships with people in my sphere and ultimately this helps my business.

4. Create a Business Page
Business pages are a powerful way to connect with your community and they are simple to create.
To create a page, go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the simple, guided steps. Business pages can be an easy and inexpensive (free!) way to update (or start) your web presence. There are numerous benefits to having a business page.

With a traditional website, people often view it once and rarely come back. With a business page, “fans” who opt-in receive your updates in their own Facebook news feed – making it simple for them to get your updates more regularly AND share them with their friends.
Facebook business pages rank well in search engines. An active Facebook page is likely to help you get found by Google and on Facebook’s own search. Make sure your keywords are in your Facebook page name – your page will rank higher in search engines.
Custom vanity domain names are available to help you match your page to your brand. Your vanity URL can’t be changed once it is set so choose wisely. Be cautious not to use a domain name that infringes on someone else’s trademark. To choose your vanity url, visit http://www.facebook.com/username/.
We’ll be discussing business pages in more depth in coming blog posts.

5. Post Great Content
The single most powerful way to have a great Facebook page is to post great content. Great content isn’t about you – it’s about content your readers want and need. Focus your content creation efforts on what is in it for your readers. How can your services help solve their wants, needs and problems? Tailor your online efforts to address your consumers needs and your success rate is likely to rise. Not sure what to say?

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