Are there 5 reasons you do NOT want to create a Facebook Business Page?

homestomperMark 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.

29 thoughts on “Are there 5 reasons you do NOT want to create a Facebook Business Page?

  1. Excellent points. There is too much value in a FB page to pass it up. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard regarding this is “Fish where the fish are”

  2. I can think of a number of reasons to have both a blog and a FB page:
    1. FB allows you to post your events to a group of people who have already expressed an interest in what you have to say and
    2. You can post you blog posts on FB – if you are providing relevant content they will be happy to see it and
    3. If you are focused on SEO rather than community building you are going to have a long road. Your blog will eventually rank well for long tail kinds of things but ultimately it is easier to get the people who “know” and like you to read than to find strangers on the internet!

  3. Mark and Tara: Thanks so much for stopping by… and I agree with both of you. One of the real beauties of being on FB is that it’s much easy to go to the place where your audience is than expect them to come to you! ;) But as you point out Tara, having both a blog and a FB page can make the most sense. The importance of having an active site on a domain that you own shouldn’t be underestimated.

  4. 2 cents:

    Cent #1: The future of online marketing is distributed. It’s my job to find an audience and then present my value to them. Wherever consumers congregate, that is where I will bring my message. The onus is on the business owner to meet the audience on their terms, wherever that may be.

    Cent #2: There is no more powerful source of leads than those suggested by trusted sources. Not the newspaper, TV or radio ad, not even your website or blog–not matter how compelling the content. Getting business through word of mouth, or friend of a friend recommendations, trumps all.

  5. Dustin,
    I enjoyed this post and thank you for the examining the pros and cons of blogs vs. Facebook public profile pages. Since not everyone has the desire or confidence to blog, it occurs to me that Facebook pages may be a good alternative.

    Linda Aaron

  6. Thanks for all of your hard work Dustin, and to those that engage in comments. I look forward to building a page of strong content that is constantly updated with relevant info for my market area. The content here and on calls like yesterdays are very helpful to the process. Stay tuned…

  7. Dustin…I don’t understand what this means…… “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!”

    Are you saying that there is a setting I have to adjust? Also, are you saying that when a FAN leaves a Comment from a Post that I make to the Wall on my PAGE, that all their friends will see this?? I want to understand home my PAGE posts or comments left to my PAGE posts get sent out to my Friends on my Personal Profile page and also to their friends….Is there a white paper or other that you have created??

  8. Maury: Thanks for your interest! :)

    Because you logged into 4realz using Facebook Connect (i.e. Connect with Facebook) you should see the “publish this comment to Facebook” just below the “submit” button. Assuming you leave it checked & you follow the instructions to confirm you want to publish the story to your profile, then a “newsfeed” item will be created with your comment. This item will show up in the newsfeed (i.e. homepage) of all your friends letting them know you just left a comment on this site… along with an excerpt of your comment.

    That’s separate than anything to do with the Fan Pages, and sorry about the confusion. The point I was trying to make with the “Publish this comment to Facebook” option is that Facebook traffic can often be extremely targeted because of your ability to reach one step beyond your direct sphere of influence.

    In other words, imagine that you have a decent size sphere of influence (either friends or fans in Facebook terminology), then if someone in your sphere feels compelled to engage with your content, facebook makes it easy to reach all of their friends.

    The example I gave was a bit confusing because you don’t even have to be connected to me as a friend or fan in order for you to help me reach your friends. All you have to do is join my “blog” community (using Facebook Connect), leave a comment and agree to publish your comment to your newsfeed.

  9. HA! I loved this article so much that I logged in using my Facebook account. I come from Businessweek.com. Over there I use an alias. I do want to keep some anonymity from the internet.

    So, with the article – I loved it. I see the same vision as the author that social networking sites offer unlimited potential. I enjoy reading these types of articles because it conforms to my bias but then again I like to say to myself that my bias is a positive one. Supporting social networking sites is far better than dragging it down the mud.

    Hopefully, after I graduate in college that one of the social networking sites will hire me. Anyway, to Dustin Luther thanks for the article this made me really happy.

  10. Giancarlo: So glad to make you happy! You’re comment gave me a great smile as well. :)

    As you note, one of the most interesting things about the blogging culture is that we often read and engage with people we agree with which can lead to a self-reinforcing culture where we become more convinced of our beliefs the more we read because it seems like everyone agrees… but in reality, we’re often just reading more articles from people we agree with!

    That’s a tough pattern to break, but a fascinating one nonetheless!

  11. I was a panelist on the 4Realz call and I think I was the only skeptic of the group, although Reggie Nicolay seemed a bit reserved in his enthusiasm for Fan Pages. I look at it this way… having ‘Friends’ is more rewarding than having ‘Fans’ in real life – same goes for Facebook. The question is not should I be on Facebook as real estate agent, YOU SHOULD. But I don’t think you need a ‘profile’ and a ‘page’. It’s confusing to the FB marketplace, I expect facebookies think along the lines… “where should I get updates from Brad? his profile or his page? Isn’t he cocky asking me to be a fan when I’m already his friend! I sure don’t want to sign up for marketing spam.”

    FB ‘pages’ seem to be better suited for Companies or perhaps Communities. Instead of starting a personal FB page about your real estate business, consider starting a FB page about your community, city or specific neighborhood? This seems like a better way to use Fan Pages, in my opinion.

    Now it is possible that FB creates some new functionality that makes Fan Pages more attractive to real estate agents, but until then – I’ll just be kicking it with my ‘friends’.

  12. I’d like to follow up on something that was briefly touched upon by Reggie (I think) but also needed to be discussed.

    When you have an update from a FB Page, that message goes into the fans “Inbox”. Many people have the notifications set so that they’ll get an email when someone comments on a photo or such. They’ll also get the same email when a FB Page has an update.

    If you are doing regular updates with your Page you need to keep this in mind.

  13. Brad:

    The main thing you’re missing out on by doing what you suggest is the ability to regularly market to me. For very good reasons, we’re “Friends” on Facebook, but if you did regular updates around your local market (like a couple a day), then I’m either going to “hide” all your updates or even unfriend you if you start sending me regular emails. Friends don’t market to their friends… especially when it’s irrelevant.

    However, if you created a fan page and kept your business updates there and your business updates were relevant to me, then I’d be more than happy to become a fan of your page. Again, relevancy is key… and the “opt-in” nature of fans means you can safely market to them without pissing off your “real” friends

  14. Mike: Great point about the email updates… I try to keep my updates far and few between so that they mean something when I send one.

    It’s also worth noting that Reggie was just wrong when he made his comments about being able to message more than 20 people at a time if you use a list. He sounded convincing because he had numbers (something like “your list can have up to 1500 people”). I’m not sure where he got his information, but it doesn’t jive with my experience and when I just tried to test it out by sending a message to a list with 150 on it, I got this message:

    cannot add list: you may only message up to 20 people at once

    Cannot add list. You may only message up to 20 people at once.

  15. We thought a lot about how a business might successfully engage their facebook community as well as how to bridge the gap between the facebook site and one’s own site.

    For instance, in one scenario we’ve taken the approach that the branding for a content news feed posting on Facebook should be the custom widget for that video or document. Once the nes feed item is clicked, the Facebook member is redirected to a custom player which resides on the agent’s or broker’s web page rather than on the Vidlisting site.

    We think that this scenario gives a business oriented Facebook member the maximum opportunity to capture the content viewer on their own site however they best see fit. The content becomes a lure that helps bridge the gap from a Facebook member’s own facebook account, news feed, or fan page to an agent or company website.

    facebook becomes another place to be dicovered and Vidlisting becomes a simple facilitator for customer capture without diluting the member’s brand. There are a couple of examples of what I talking about in my feed (and my friends’ feeds) as well my profile this morning as part of our testing (facebook name: A.J. Grey) .

    Our app will be live on Monday, 4 May. Hopefully, this will add to the body of discussion of how to leverage Facebook for one’s own business.

    Tony

  16. Talking specifically about real estate, as opposed to other businesses, the benefits of touching your “met” database in FB or other social network far outweigh any SE prospecting. There just is no SEO comparison to the value of being connected personally to clients and potential clients thru friends, fans, and friends-of-friends. You are virtually in front of them every day! Buying that type of marketing would be hugely expensive. My goal is to do everything I can to make sure all my former clients, friends, and met database are linked to me.

    I don’t see any compelling reason to have a separate page for my business because so many of my FB friends are already former clients with whom I’ve developed a friendship and so many of my friends know just what I do and that it is a part of my life. Hopefully I make the content interesting enough that they enjoy it as much as a client does, and hopefully I make it personal enough (but not too much!) that my clients grow more comfortable with me as they get to know me better.

    What I enjoyed most about Thursday’s show was the discussion about Static FBML and adding RSS feed and IDX to my FB page. I think putting these in tabs will be a great way to give my clients and friends resources to use (they are ALL going to be interested in the market or buying/selling a house sometime), brand me as a local market expert, and encourage folks to follow thru with ME as opposed to another realtor. The IDX on my website gets plenty of users, but I like the conversion chances better for someone who uses it on my FB page. My next 2 projects are get my Mueller map posted and get IDX on my FB page. BTW, can’t I put my Mueller map on my FB page in a tab somewhere?

    Thanks for some practical, helpful discussions. I really enjoy your (all of you) work.

  17. Dustin: (sorry this is a long response, but one I think worth scanning at a minimum)

    I know that as friends. (emphasis on the period) our relationship grows over time, thru communication (even disagreements), and you certainly don’t want me to ‘market’ to you. I wouldn’t blame you for ‘hiding’ my updates if what I shared was not relative, interesting or valuable. But if you were going to ‘hide’ my updates as a friend, then you certainly wouldn’t want to sign up for market updates as a ‘Fan’ on my new FB Page.

    What I really mean to say is that social networks should be for ‘network’ing and not marketing, whether it’s a profile or a page. People don’t join associations, clubs, or real world groups and then go to the weekly or monthly meeting meetings with market updates. They go as themselves to develop relationships. Of course, part of who they are is their career and part of ‘some’ of their conversations will be about their job/business, but to have a marketing in a social network just seems counter-productive to the real value of building relationships.

    Therefore, in my opinion, real estate agents should not use Facebook (or Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…) as marketing channels, but as networking opportunities. A chance to learn from others, make new contacts, grow their sphere of influence, and add value to others in the network. Promote what others are doing, share what is happening in their communities, stand up for causes, raise awareness to issues of concern, be personable and develop true relationships with past clients, old friends, future referral sources, etc…

    As for using ‘pages’ on FB, definitely go for it at the company level and perhaps start neighborhood pages for your local markets (because it’s hard to be ‘friends’ with a company or community). I still say keep your personal business as part of your profile, it is a part of who you are and a great chance to put personality into your personal service brand. Trying to separate business and personal in a social network would be like joining a softball team and never telling your teammates what happened at work that day or how the local market is doing. Furthermore, showing up at game time each week with planned market updates would just be silly.

    As a true friend, you know I am not trying be a pain. I think a healthy discourse of pros and cons on using FB Pages for Realtors is worth debating in public. (and I always reserve the right to be completely wrong)

  18. Well, I have over 250 fans on my facebook page, and many of them are not ‘friended up’ with me there. Which means, I didn’t ask them to be my fan, they found me on their own. As did many of my local people, past clients, non Realtor types. I can also tell you that I have more people clicking through to read entire blog posts from my fan page and from the Networked Blogs app on facebook than I do via my RSS feed, which is still healthy. What that tells me is that folks are more apt to pay attention to my blog via a social network that they are already visiting several times a day than they are from subscribing to the blog itself. And the facebook links are opt-in, they ask to receive them.

    Obviously this is still a very new way to put links, small tidbits, etc in front of people that will appreciate them, but I’m taking an “if it keeps working, I’m going to keep doing it’ attitude.

    For the record, I invited a few folks when I first set up the page to get the ball rolling, but the vast, vast majority of them found their way there on their own, and clicked “become a fan” without me asking them to do so.

    Just my two cents.
    ~H.

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  21. Dustin, Thanks for focusing us on what Facebook is good for. I know I could spend more time on Facebook and I definitely would if Google could crawl the content on pages.

    That said, thanks for pointing out there’s still value there.

  22. I love all the feedback… and so sorry if I haven’t been following up with everyone. I really have enjoyed getting so much wonderful feedback.

    An: In terms of google, they can definitely crawl the Facebook Pages (while doing nothing special, google has found 9 of my pages in the past 2 months)… Nonetheless, if you’re reaching out to your FB community in order to get SEO benefits, you’re probably going to miss out on using facebook where it’s most valuable… i.e. reaching a very targeted audience (i.e. friends of fans).

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  25. To me facebook is just another form of texting. I don’t spend that much time on the computer and use the computer for information and e-mail only. Please cancel me

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