Thanks so much for the tips.
By now, most of you have heard about Facebook Pages and many of you have set up one or more for your real estate business or local communities.
I noticed that most real estate Facebook Pages however have very little content and low number of Fans. Our RealBird Facebook Page has been growing nicely and I thought I share some of the things that we learned. You may be able to apply these techniques to your own Facebook Pages.
1) Your Facebook Page should be a community, so allow your Fans' posts to show up on your Page Wall
Pretty much most of the real estate related Facebook Pages I saw show only the Page owner's posts. It's a major fail in my opinion. I suspect, that is is due to the fact that this is the default settings when you create a Facebook Page, but also because many Page creators consider their Facebook Page to be just another of their own websites. What you really want to do is building a community and engaging users and nothing engages them more, then seeing that their own voice will be heard, i. e., their posts shown on your Page Wall. They will notice this by seeing other fans' posts being shown and that will encourage them to share as well.
Don't worry about "spam" for the following reasons:
- People only spam when there are enough people to reach with their shady activity. In which case you are already in a very good position.
- Facebook requires authentication for posting on walls, and this closed system approach reduces the chance of outragous spam messages.
- Even with the above mentioned Wall settings, your users' posts will NOT stream into other fans personal profile, nor to your Facebook Page widgets. The incentives are very low for spammers.
- Finally, you can easily delete spam messages and block particular users and if nothing else works and your Page is overtaken by spammers, you can roll back to the default option and show only your own posts on the Wall.
- The gain you get by allowing fans' posts to be shown is way bigger than the annoyance of the unlikely spam activity
To enable this settings on your Facebook Page, use the "Edit Page" link under your logo, then under the "Wall Settings" select the "Posts by Page and Fans" option as shown on the image below
2) Add the Facebook Page Fan widget to your blog, website and single property websites. Add it everywhere !
So where do fans come from? Below is a list of possible sources (not a complete list):
- Facebook suggest your Page to a Facebook user based on some internal algorithm (e.g. their friends are already fanned your Page)
- When somebody fans your Page, this action show up on their friends' live feed
- Fans invite friends to fan your Page
- Fans comment or post on your Page. An action, that is also shown to their friends
- You advertise your Page on Facebook or other ad networks
- Fan Box widgets of your Facebook Page on your websites and blogsThe last one is very important and one that cost you no additional money and can be very significant in terms of aggregating fans from many different sources. For example, we have our Facebook Page widget posted on every possible places. On RealBird.com, on the RealBird member area sidebar, here on ActiveRain, on our corporate blog and other places as well. Many of our RealBird members added their Facebook Page to the RealBird single property websites and RealBird Property Search as well.It is also important to note that the Facebook Page Fan Box widget which actually shows a sample of your Fans is way more productive than just having a Facebook button. It not only provides a one-click fanning option to your website visitors, but it also make your outside websites and blogs more personal by showing faces of real people. This is another undervalued option and most of the real estate sites including major national sites skip this step and only add a Facebook button. If it is technically possible, make sure that you add the full featured Facebook Page Fan Box widget to your blogs and sites, not just a simple button. Conversion rate (visitors to fans) will be significantly higher.
3) Ask questions and add "call for action" posts
Remember, the goal is to create a community of fans, not just a one way broadcasting system. To encourage your fans to participate, make sure you have posts that ask questions. Not all of them will receive replies, but eventually some of them will. But the very fact that you ask questions and use "call for action" terms will make your Facebook Page look more personal and hence increase engagement over time. There are poll applications that you can add to your Facebook Page, but I think the simplest and more personal option is the way to go. Whenever we share a technology or an interesting product on the RealBird Facebook Page, most of the time we ask our fans to see what they think about it or whether they already use it. It is as simple as adding a question to the end of the post with a question mark at the end. A good example is Mike Conner's Living in Olympia Facebook Page with high level of user engagement.
4) "Like" and comment on fan generated wall posts
I noticed on many successful Facebook Pages, that the Page owner replies or at least "likes" most if not all of the user generated posts. Just like allowing your fans to see their own posts on the main Wall, replying to fans is another important way to keep them engaged and show them that their voice is heard. That they are not posting into the void, but there are actual people out there who noticed their posts.
5) Do not overload with auto-posts, but mix it every now and then
There are many ways to autopost your external content to your Facebook Page and they may be useful as productivity tools, but I found myself getting bored on Pages that are clearly automated systems. There are exceptions, e.g. major blogs like TechCrunch, where I do not mind that their Facebook Page is mostly a delivery channel for their blog content, but in most cases, it makes a really boring content and completely not engaging one.
As a rule of thumb, most Facebook Pages should have one or two posts by the owner per day. Remember, the main interface where your fans will see your Page's posts is their own personal Facebook live feed. They may have hundreds of friends and hundreds of fanned Facebook Pages, all of them competing for the same live feed user interface. Don't expect that your content is the most important for them. If you have too much posts on your Facebook Page, it may overtake their personal user interface and eventually they are going to unfan your page or hide your updates. I did that before with some Facebook Pages and not because I did not like them, but for the above mentioned reasons, there were just way too many posts coming in every day. This does not contradict the fact that you allow and show Fan posts, because those are not syndicated to other fans' live feed.
Having that said, you also have to have a consistent stream of new posts. Post too much and they will unfan your Page, post too few and they will forget about you and your brand. For a typical Page, I suggest 1-2 posts per day. It's not a firm number just a guideline, you may post a little more, you may post less, but keep these considerations in mind.
To demonstrate where our RealBird Facebook Page is so far in terms of fan count and growth and for transparency reasons, please see a screenshot of our recent Facebook Insight stats. It shows a very nice growth in terms of new fans and a pretty flat unsubscribe level.Well, this would not be a best-practices post unless I use it to gain some new fans for our Facebook Page so I added our Facebook Page Fan Box widget below and invite you to fan us on Facebook. So here we go: if you liked this post, please Fan our Facebook Page below. It only takes 1 or 2 clicks :) Thanks.