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Your Market Prospects Are Well Within Reach on Facebook

The latest in a series on social networking and marketing new homes.

It seems like you can’t even turn on the news these days without hearing about Facebook, and there is a very good reason for that.

Next to Google, Facebook is without a doubt the fastest growing Internet phenomenon we have seen.

Facebook says it has more than 250 million active users, 120 million or more who log on at least once a day. But before you think that Facebook only appeals to young people, let’s dispel one myth about social networking right now. It’s is not just for kids anymore.

According to two leading aggregates of social media statistics, IStrategy and Mashable.com, the 55-plus and 35-54 age groups — the two groups many, if not most, of us target — are the fastest growing segments of Facebook users, at almost 515% and 190%, respectively. And Facebook is not only growing in popularity, it’s bringing in results.

A few weeks ago, a Realtor® client of mine contacted me in search of a very specific type of home. She had already searched most of the home builders’ Web sites that I had recommended to her, but she couldn’t find exactly what her client wanted.

So, after her call, I posted a status update on my personal Facebook profile and, within 10 minutes, I had responses from four on-site agents who are part of my Facebook network letting me know what suitable homes they had in their inventories. The Realtor® made appointments with two of the agents and wrote a sale from one of them that very afternoon. Since then, the Realtor® and on-site agent collaborated on two more deals.

There’s one more wrinkle to this story. The on-site agent who made the sale was actually off the day I posted my inquiry for the Realtor®. His wife saw my Facebook post first.

So, Facebook works, and it’s rapidly changing the face of business today. It’s helping Realtors® and sales agents find prospects and close sales and Facebook is helping builders and remodelers improve customer service and business. It’s truly an opportunity for you to network on a while new level, but before you jump in with both feet there is a lot you need to know.

Getting Started ― Your Profile Is for Personal Use Only

 

Getting started on Facebook is as easy as going to Facebook.com and setting up a user profile. However, like any other networking site there are certain terms and conditions you must follow.

First, understand that Facebook was created to be a social network for personal use. But don’t let this dissuade you from including it in your viral marketing strategy. A ton of business is being conducted on Facebook. All you have to do is follow the rules.

User profiles must be legitimate, and they have to be for individuals, not companies. You cannot set up a “dummy profile.” If you get caught, and the odds are that you will because someone will report you, your profile will be revoked.

One of the biggest mistakes I see builders making is that they try to set up a profile under their builder name and then try to attract “friends.” You cannot do business on your profile page. If you are strictly posting your listings and information about your company on a profile page — your profile will get revoked. Not only that, you won’t gather many “friends.”

Facebook Is About Conversation

I like to think of Facebook as being like going to a cocktail party. If all you do there is talk about your business, how many people do you think actually will want to talk to you?

Facebook is truly about conversation, about providing valuable and entertaining information. It’s about making and keeping in touch with friends.

But don’t worry, Facebook does have a provision designed for business called a Fan Page. Once you have your personal profile set up, you can add a Fan Page. To create a Fan Page, go to facebook.com/pages/create.php. Many of my clients have created Fan Pages and have literally seen their fans or followers grow overnight.

After creating a base of at least 100 fans, Facebook allows you to set up a vanity URL or Web address that will be easier for you to advertise outside of Facebook.

When creating and building your Fan Page, remember that, even if your page is all about self promotion, if you don’t provide interesting content, you won’t get many fans, and many of those who are your fans will unsubscribe. So be sure that you are providing valuable information ― and having fun ― in addition to any company promotions that you want to share.

For instance, contests on Fan Pages provide home builders with a real opportunity to make fun and meaningful connections with prospects, current and former customers and Realtors®. Contests provide a golden opportunity to craft your brand, showcase your unique selling proposition and stay in the minds of your fans for when they are in the market for a new home or, more importantly, when they know someone who is in the market for a new home.

Fan Pages can also purchase advertising within Facebook. There are multiple options, but ads are highly targeted and are generally provided on a pay-per-click basis, so they are reasonably priced.

Facebook recently created a Face Page analytic tool called “Insights” that provides your fans’ demographics and the number of fans you are attracting as well as the number of interactions your posts are attracting. Insights is a free Facebook service. More comprehensive analytics services, including many that can analyze your entire viral networking campaign, can be purchased from outside vendors.

Facebook’s Challenges and Pitfalls

Facebook is free, which can certainly keep the hard dollar cost to get involved in this type of marketing low, but it is extremely expensive in other ways.

Facebook ― as well as other social networking sites ― requires time and man-hours to research, implement and sustain.

A major pitfall that can potentially do damage to you, your company, your brand and your image is to venture into social networking and create Facebook and other accounts without a viral marketing strategy that clearly defines your goals and the road map to achieve them as well as what paths to avoid.

It also is extremely important to communicate your plan to all your associates and staff members, that you solicit their buy-in and that you encourage and reward their participation and support.

While social media and viral marketing often create more questions than answers, especially for the uninitiated, they really can no longer be ignored and are too important not to pursue correctly, given current economic conditions and viral networking’s vast potential.

Kimberly Mackey, MCSP, CMP, Realtor®, is the founder of Creative Sales Solutions, which provides sales and leadership training in all aspects of business development — including social media strategy and training — and sales and marketing management and training. For more information, visit the Creative Sales Solutions Web site at www.creativesalesnow.com, or visit Mackey at LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/kimberlymackey; Twitter, www.twitter.com/CreativeSales; and Facebook, www.facebook.com/CreativeSalesSolutions.

 
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