Mark Echenrode listened to our conversation yesterday and went on to point out 5 very interesting reasons that real estate agents should NOT set up Facebook Fan Pages:
- Why? Why would a prospect (or even a client, for that matter) want to become a fan of an agent?… [I took a bit of liberty in summarizing this first point, but it's an important one, so I wanted to include it]
- Traffic: If you’re trying to build up your fan pages then that means they need traffic. Now, we all work to get traffic to our own websites and blogs but by diluting your traffic getting activities by splitting up the clicks – send some traffic to your website, others to Facebook – you have to work twice as hard for the same results.
- Content: Your Facebook fans are probably looking for exclusive content. As time pressed as we are, you now have to create content for both your blog and your fan page. By publishing original content to your fan page your blog loses out on the additional content. If you’re simply posting teasers and redirects to your fan page, why bother with a fan page?
- SEO: Building upon the previous points, there’s no SEO benefit to Facebook fan pages. The links are no-follow. Again, you’re cutting your blog/website off at the knees here.
- List Building: You may be building a list of fans on Facebook but you’re relly not build YOUR list. It’s Facebook’s. You’re denying yourself a highly profitable business asset by not building your own in-house mailing list of folks interested in what you have to say.
He makes some very interesting points, so I’m going to take my best shot at providing the “other” side.
Why? The ONLY reason I could think that someone would want to become a fan of your business is if they are getting some benefit from it. On my Page, I do my best to regularly provide useful tips, links, advice around social media marketing. I’d like to think that if you’re wondering how to do a better job marketing your small business online, then you’re going to be a smarter person by becoming a fan of my page, following the links I provide and engaging with the community I’ve created.
Is it possible for a realtor to do the same with a community that they’d like to create? I definitely think so, although I think we’re just at the very beginning of marketing with Facebook Pages, so what those communities look like and how people will engage on those communities is yet to be determined.
Traffic. I’d go the other way and say that if you don’t have a plan to tap into the massive traffic that Facebook can send you’re way, then you’re missing out.
When I first started blogging on Rain City Guide 4+ years ago, I got new readers because other bloggers either linked to me or google sent me visitors (a small portion of which became regular readers). Today, the game has changed. Many of the good real estate bloggers have become so SEO focused that they almost never link out to other bloggers, so that source of new readers is gone… and while google can still be a great source of new readers to your site, the social networks, and Facebook in particular can be an incredible source of traffic.
And what’s so interesting about the traffic that facebook sends you is that it’s often the “friends of fans” which is so much more targeted (and often so much more relevant!) than anything google can send. By simply allowing users to notify their friends when they leave a comment on your site (as I do with both RCG and this blog!), I’m allowing people to easily reach into their network to notify them about my site. This type of targeting is something that the search engines could only dream of!
Content. The content of your FB Page should be totally different than the content on your blog. It’s two different beasts serving two different purposes. If I’ve got something interesting and informative that’s completely original content (especially stuff I *hope* other bloggers might link to!), then I write a blog post like this. However, I come across links all the time that I think my community will find interesting. I *used* to blog those as one-line updates and became known as a microblogger before just about anyone in real estate had even heard of twitter and similar services.
However, those small updates were only going out to the people who received my RSS feed… and while I’ve always had a decent number of readers, the reach I have by using my Facebook account instead of my blog to give these micro-updates is incredible. My guess is that the number of people in my community who will ever subscribe to an RSS feed will never get above 10%… But based on the number of people who have facebook profiles, my ability to reach a MUCH larger audience by using FB for similar updates is tremendously higher. And I see that already with my updates. I haven’t quite had my business page for 2 months and most of my micro-updates get comments with many of them soliciting an active conversation.
Despite the fact that I’ve got more “followers” on twitter than “fans” on Facebook, the conversation around business type topics are already much more active on Facebook. People subscribe to my Facebook Business Page with the expectation I’m going to provide them with helpful business information. When I deliver on that promise, my community is built. Most of the people (and by that I mean probably 75%) who follow me on twitter are spammers or people trying to game the system in order to get as many followers as they can. These people are totally irrelevant to my business and it shows in how they never interact with my tweets.
SEO. This is a huge weakness of using Facebook to market your business. Facebook is optimized to get Facebook to rank well, not your site. Totally agree with that one. In many ways, you just have to bite the bullet and accept two things. 1) The quality of the traffic you will be able to generate from Facebook is so much higher and relevant than google that it’s worth taking the SEO hit and 2) the interest you’ll be able to generate from having an active community around your Facebook Page will mean that you’ll be able to generate more inbound links from people in your community than if you didn’t have that community. I’m convinced of the first point, and the second point will work for some, but definitely not most.
List Building. Here’s an area where I think you’re missing out on the true benefits of Facebook. Getting people to self-identify themselves and provide you with information like their name, their facebook email (or at least enough to send them emails when ever you want), their sex, their location, their photo, etc. is TRIVIAL when compared to your blog. All a visitor has to do is click the button “become a fan” and they’ve given you permission to market to them. Stay relevant and interesting and they’ll likely stay fans for years to come, which means you can let them know about events, blog posts, awards, testimonials, etc… and you can target those messages in some pretty interesting ways.
At the end of the day
It’s not an “either/or” game where someone is either going to register on your blog and give you information OR they are going to sign up for a Facebook account. The number of people with Facebook accounts means they’ve already made the choice to be there. If you can use short updates to both build a community there and also drive interest in your business, it’s an obvious win-win. And what’s so fascinating about Facebook is just how easy they’ve made it to reach out to new people in a highly relevant and targeted way thanks to things like the “friend/fan” recommendations and the highlight section of the homepage.