Seems like there’s a constant slew of g…

Seems like there’s a constant slew of great posts about what works (and what doesn’t) on Facebook and Facebook Pages (like this one: 5 Things That Don’t Work on Facebook Pages), but what’s missing is the analysis of “why”…

But the why is just not that hard… at least no harder than the why behind Search Engine Optimization, which is why I’m so intrigued by this concept of Networking Engine Optimization (NEO). And after presenting the idea of NEO to audiences in Atlanta and Portland in the last few days, as well as the numerous conversations whose opinions I respect, I’m more convinced than ever that savvy internet marketing people are already thinking this way, we’re just missing the appropriate language. As things settle down next week, I’m definitely hoping to explore this some more!

But in the meantime, would love your thoughts on how a better understanding of the algorithms being the major social networks (twitter, facebook, etc.) could help us improve the content we create…

“How likely is this person to send me business?”

Lately, I’ve been putting a huge focus on thinking through how we (as professionals) can use social networking tools to build and strengthen our relationships... and in particular, our relationships with people who are key to growing our business (i.e. our “sphere” or “referral network”).

And this has led me to my new favorite tool, Gist.  (much thanks to Gahlord Dewald for the intro!)

The main idea behind Gist is pretty similar to other social media aggregators like MyBlogLog, FriendFeed , Seesmic and Google Buzz in that you add all of your other social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) and then use one tool to see all your updates.

However, there’s one HUGE improvement they’ve made.  Rather than forcing you to view updates based on a timeline (i.e. most recent updates first), they allow you to view updates in a “people” mode where you can view all the updates from that person (whether they are on Facebook, Twitter, their blog, foursquare, etc.) based on the importance that you’ve selected. (Facebook has tried to do this with their “top news” feature, but it’s crude at best and doesn’t do a great job finding updates that are important to me).

After a few days of using Gist, I can tell you that there’s no turning back to this style of update consumption.    If I’ve got 5 minutes, then I can quickly navigate all the people that are super-important to me, whereas if I have a bit more time, then I can dive deeper into reading updates from people that are less important.   And because I’m not missing out on updates from super-important people any more, I’m finding I’m MUCH more active on places like Twitter and Facebook because I spend less time sorting through the noise.

However, there is a HUGE problem with the tool.  There are so many options and ways to configure things that it could definitely be off-putting because it can take a few hours of configuring before the system is humming.   Nonetheless, it’s totally worth taking the time, so let me walk you through the steps to setting up a configuration that’s working really well for me.

1) Import contacts (connect) from four main tools:  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Email. For Facebook, Twitter and Gmail (my email), this only needs to be done once and then will get updated automatically afterwards.

2) Configure your dashboard view to get updates.  My configuration is listed below, but the important parts are:

  • show all news, blogs, twitter and facebook updates
  • show people and companies
  • show importance level 1 and above
  • show all tags
  • Sort by “importance”

In other words, just show EVERYTHING and then sort the results by importance.

3) Start prioritizing people within your sphere.  All you need to do is go through your people and start ranking them on a scale of 1 to 100. Initially, I’ve been adjusting EVERYONE’s priority, even if only just a bit to make sure I put some thought into how important this person is to me.  To make this as easy as possible, I’ve been basing my ranking of each person based on one simple question:  How likely is this person to send me business some day?

Here’s a screenshot of my page where I’ve ranked Scotty Brown a 100 (out of 100!).

Using the criteria “how likely is this person to send me business some day?” might sound a bit cold and calculated, but I’ve found it works quite well.  The people close to me (family and good friends) are almost always referring business my way, so they show up highest.   Other people have been ridiculously great to my consulting practice in terms of referring business my ways, so of course I want to see and respond to their updates whenever appropriate.

4) Use Gist instead of Facebook, twitter.com, seesmic, tweetdeck or whatever else you use to check status updates of your contacts.   If you configure things just as I have, you’ll find that there are a ton of updates coming into the system all the time… almost definitely too many to check on a regular basis.  However, there’s no need to read all the updates.  Start at the top (i.e. the most important people) and wind your way down as you have time.

To move from one person to the next (and this is critical!), all you have to do is click on the check mark to the right of the “importance” bar (this is the “mark all as read” option).  For example, while I’m reading Linsey Planeta’s updates, if I click on the check mark, the tool will bring up Scotty Brown’s updates because he is the next most important person with an unread update.

And, of course, if I want to respond to any of these updates, there’s always a link that takes me to the appropriate place to respond.

Another useful feature is the “remove” button to the right of the check mark.   This will remove this person’s updates from showing up on your dashboard.   If you find a person or company that you never want to see updates from, simply hit the remove button.  In order to make the tool as useful as possible, I’ve adjusted just about all of my contacts by either revising their “importance” or “removing” them.

5) The hardest part of using gist is configuring the importance for all your contacts and this is only hard because it takes a decent amount of time.  However, if you ignore tags and all the bells and whistles besides “importance”, it doesn’t have to take all that long before you can start using the dashboard and getting some decent value from the tool.  At least a few times you’ll almost definitely want to give yourself an hour or two in order to filter through updates from everyone on your list. Gist tries to auto-prioritize folks for you, but tons of folks from Facebook and Twitter who might be super important to you will likely be have the default importance levels of “50,” “25” or “1”.

The beautiful part of the tool is that once it’s configured, you end up with so much more control over which updates you see.

Here are just some of the most obvious benefits to this style of consuming updates:

  • Better focus: rather than letting the “noisiest” people (i.e. the folks who tweet the most) take up the most mindshare, you can rank those people low on importance and only see their updates on a day when you’re bored and get to the people who rank at lower levels of importance. By the same token, if there are a few folks rarely update, but whose updates you never want to miss, you can make sure to rank them high in importance and you’ll get to see everything they say.
  • Remove noise. If a friend is having a super-busy day on social media, you can quickly scan their updates and hit “mark all as read” rather than have them clog up your twitter and/or Facebook stream all day
  • Network integration. For the people I care about, it shouldn’t matter where they are active (Facebook, Twitter or their blog), I just want a tool to connect with them where appropriate, so I’m loving that Gist mixes and matches updates based on the person, not the network.

Finally, Gist is still in “beta” and there are a few bugs (and they mention they will likely start charging some day).  However, even if they start charging some outrageous amount, or go under for lack of funding, I can tell you that this approach of  filtering people based on the importance you place on them is here to stay.  It’s just too darn useful!

Screw consumers… Let’s use internet tools to do what REALTORS do best!

I gave a presentation last week in Portland where I asked the audience of about 300 REALTORS two questions:

  1. Do you drive most of your business from referrals… friends, family, past clients, other agents, etc.?
  2. Do you drive most of your business by reaching out directly to consumers… ads, online home search, etc.?

A little over half the audience raised their hand to the first question, while under 10% raised their hand to the second, which didn’t really surprise me because I asked a similar (but more convoluted) question in an online poll about a month ago and got similar results (i.e. 58% said referrals).

I think it’s extremely safe to say that in terms of generating business, most real estate agents (and most professionals for that matter), are better at reaching into their network of friends (and friends of friends) to drive business than reaching consumers directly.  And yet, almost all online tools, commentary and critiques of social media within real estate focus on the inability to of the tools to directly reach consumers.  (One of the more eloquent critiques was written by Marc Davison).

Let’s break down the skills and tools that an agent needs to successfully run online campaign that directly targets consumers:

  1. Project management. Hire someone with web design, marketing and coding skills (or sometimes a team of people with these skills) and make sure the site actually gets built!
  2. Writing. Either need to write content, or at least advising and managing the person creating the content.
  3. Online promotion. Either need to optimize your landing pages and drive lots of inbound links to your site (so that you can get free traffic from the search engines) or buy traffic through online ads
  4. Conversion optimization. Optimize your site to get consumers to register (probably through a IDX/home search tool, which also has to be integrated into your site)
  5. Prospecting. Prospect the database of users (assuming your IDX allows for this) and ask them for your business. Otherwise, wait for the consumers to contact you (probably when they “request a showing”).

None of these skills are particularly hard, and I’ve seen agents with almost zero internet experience pick them up and start generating business in less than half a year. However, I’ve seen way more agents get frustrated at the lack of results afte they “master” only one or two of these skills…

For example, I’ve seen agents spend two years just trying to get a good site built (project management #fail)… or they get a beautiful site built for them, but never add any content (writing #fail)… or they write well, but don’t know how to get anyone to link to their content (promotion #fail)… or they get people to their site, but don’t give users a logical way to register (conversion #fail)… or they get people in their database, but aren’t setting appointments (prospecting #fail).  In other words, none of the skills are all that hard, but they aren’t necessarily intuitive to everyone either.

Now, let’s compare that to the skills and tools used for a referral campaign that’s the bread and butter for most agents:

  1. Networking. Make a connection with friends, family, past clients, other professionals, etc. (could be through events, organizations, or outreach via postcards, etc.)
  2. Sales. Ask them for your business (or more likely, if they know of any business they can send your way)

If it’s not obvious, the skills that drive the bulk of real estate business today (i.e. referral business), are vastly different than the skills needed to convert consumers into clients on the internet… so no wonder most agents get frustrated when their initial internet activities don’t effectively reach online consumers.    It’s a completely different set of skills.

    Instead, if you’re an agent that does most of your business from referrals, you should be thinking “how can I use internet tools to reach and build my referral network?”

    And the answer to that question is definitely something I’m going to continue exploring in the near future.   My opinion is that the tools currently marketed to real estate agents do really crappy job of building up a sphere because they almost inevitably focus on helping REALTORS reach consumers directly.  When I searched for a referral networking tool last month to feature in this article: Getting Serious about Lead Management, I couldn’t find one that I liked well enough to mention.

    However, I’m going to write a post in the next day or so on a new favorite tool of mine: Gist.   It’s the best sphere building tool I’ve used, because of the way it let’s me filter through people within my network based on criteria that I set… a feature simply not available on tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Seesmic, TweetDeck, etc.

    I’m going to be presenting the general idea mentioned in this post at lots of conferences in the next few months (Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Toronto, etc.) and more than your agreement, I would really love to hear your critiques…

    Where are the holes in my argument?   Am I screwed up thinking agents should forget focusing on reaching consumers directly and instead focus on building up their referral networking?

    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.

    Small Biz Win for Dell!

    I was pleasantly surprised to find an uptick in interest (including more than a few emails!) from people over the past day or so regarding my toolshed where I’ve summarized some of the best technology and marketing tools for real estate professionals.

    Checking my stats, I noticed that most of the traffic was from Facebook, so I immediately assumed it was from my Facebook Page, which really has been growing at a ridiculous rate lately… (700+ fans in the last week alone!) However, looking a bit closer at the stats, I noticed the ToolShed was featured by Dell’s Small Business Facebook Page.
    Dell Small Business Link to 4realz

    How cool is that! Thanks Dell! I’ve put a lot of love into that page over the past year, so it’s much appreciated that you picked up on the work that’s gone into it!

    And truth be told, almost all of the information on the page came from things learned from hosting 4realz Roundtable conversations last Summer… so I thought I’d take this chance to also share my appreciation with the real estate professionals who took part in that fun endeavor last year!

    <shhh> don’t let the Dell folks know I run my small business off a mac… although I do have a Dell projector that rocks! </shhh>

    Are you leaving affiliate money on the table?

    Last week, Morgan Brown and I hosted a presentation at RE BarCamp LA on affiliate marketing… The premise of the conversation being: are you leaving money on the table by *not* accepting affiliate links on your site?

    I asked Morgan to join me because I’ve been impressed with how he monetizes his DIY loan modification post and he didn’t disappoint during the conversation. You’d have to ask others to give a less-biased account, but I thought he rocked at describing how he manages to monetize traffic that comes to his site in a way that doesn’t conflict with any of his values and actually compliments the services he is able to offer his readers.

    My interest in talking about affiliate programs, however, wasn’t just to learn from Morgan. I recently helped design an affiliate program for one of my clients that I think would be of interest to real estate professionals and I wanted to bounce the idea off some people at the conference. The feedback I got was great, so now I’m hoping to get a few more 4realz.net readers into the program…

    With the relocation.com team, I made a two key requests for the widget:

    • It needed to provide a complementary service that would complement a REALTORS website and
    • It needed to pay realtors for leads (none of the usual “drive us leads and will give you a pretty map” that most real estate widgets deliver)

    widget-on-rcgI’m super pleased to say that the relocation.com team implemented things flawlessly… I’ve had the widget up on EVERY blog post of RCG for a few weeks now (check out the right-panel of this post for example) and have enjoyed getting the relocation.com emails every time a new user requests a moving quote!

    Back to the two key points… I’d argue that the relocation.com widget offers an extremely complementary tool and I know for a fact that it pays. The reality is that for most consumers (and even realtors), finding a quality mover is often a crapshoot. Who to recommend and why??? When you tap into the relocation.com database of movers for your clients, you get a few benefits: 1) they thoroughly vet each mover in their program, 2) they insist each mover in their program agree to abide by their Consumer Bill of Rights, and 3) they remove movers when they get complaints. I’ve spent a decent amount of time with the relocation.com team and I feel very comfortable saying they take their reputation for recommending quality movers seriously.

    So what does it pay? Well that depends on the type of lead that you send them and they’ve documented it pretty well on their sign up page.

    The moving widget is available in two forms… You can either get it as a WordPress plugin that easily integrates into your sidepanel or they can give you the javascript that will let you put it in individual posts (or on non-worpress blogs!) like this:
    Moving Companies

    If you’d like any more information on this widget, just let me know! And if/when you’re ready to get yourself signed up for the relocation.com affiliate program, head over to their sign-up page where you can register for the program!

    4 Levels of Social Media Connections

    dale-chumbleyI was chatting with Dale Chumbley about Facebook Pages and how we’re both using them to reach out to our respective communities when he touched on an interesting topic… He said about 1/3 of the folks who became “fans” of his page were not his “friends” yet on Facebook.

    I’ve had a few conversations on this topic lately and I’ve boiled down the different types of social media relationships into the four most common types and given a bit of an explanation about the implicate meanings behind each type:

    1) No connection. This one seems to be obvious… but there could be a number of reasons you don’t connect with folks. Most of the time it’s because you simply don’t know them, but maybe it’s because you don’t like them, don’t think they’ll add value to your network or, even worse, view them as spam.

    2) Follow. This is the Twitter model and the connection is probably one of the “weakest” ones out there.   You could have any number of reason to follow someone and it’s completely one-way.  There’s no reason to expect that just because you follow someone that they’re going to follow you back, be interested in you, or even take time to learn anything about you.

    3) Fan. This is the model used by Facebook Pages.   While functionally it is identical to a “follow” connection (i.e. a one-way connection with no reverse interest implied whatsoever), there’s a value judgement implied when you become a fan of someone.  Whereas it often only takes one interesting tweet to get me to “follow” someone, it takes a bit more before I’ll become a “fan” of someone.

    4) Friend. This is the model used by Facebook Profiles, Digg and many other social networking sites… and clearly implies (and most likely requires) a two-way relationship.  However, the term is so often abused (I’m just as guilty as anyone else of becoming “friends” with people I’ve never met and am likely never to meet) because I thought I might find some value to having them in my “network” in the long run.

    Similar to Dale, a little over 1/3 (30 out of 85) of the people who have become “fans” of my Page are not “friends” with my personal Profile. This tells me that based on their actions, a fair number of folks feel more comfortable becoming “fans” than “friends” with someone they don’t know.

    Almost all of these people are professionals I *would* have connected with on Facebook (via a “friendship”) in the past, but I’m so much happier to have them separated on my business page so I can begin to do a better job separating my work life from my personal life.

    Also interesting is that from a marketing perspective these relationships imply different levels of business outreach. When someone becomes a “fan” of my business page that definitely implies an “opt in” to a certain level of marketing that is not necessarily part of being a “friend”… or even a “follower”.

    If you’re ready to explore how different professionals are using Facebook Pages, start following (i.e. become a fan!) of these pages:

    And while you’re exploring, you should probably also check out the page I created for my listing syndication tool.

    Did Facebook just usurp Twitter in providing a micro-blogging platform for the masses?

    I’ve been using Pages on Facebook for quite a while (the NY Times even featured me in an article around a biz page I created on FB almost a year ago), but it’s only with the most recent update by Facebook that I think everything clicked…

    With the new design of their homepage, just about all the technical functionality of Twitter is built into Facebook, except FB has made it even more useful from a marketing perspective.     I’m of the opinion that Facebook has hit the sweet spot in terms of micro-blogging for the masses. Here’s why:

    • While Twitter’s command-line style communication (i.e. commands like “@” and “d” make sense only after you’ve been initiated), Facebook offers a cleaner interface that allows for better photo, video, and link integration
    • While Twitter rocks because it feels like all the “cool” kids are on the service, Facebook hit the masses a long time ago and has more active folks that twitter ever will.
    • While Facebook *should* have been all over integration with live events on other websites, it was FB who first nailed this when they linked your status updates with the live video feed of the inauguration (the traffic results were mindblowing)
    • While people have tried their darnedest to improve twitter by adding groups and highlighting “best of” content, it’s really Facebook who has nailed this with their latest updates.  If you run a page (i.e. you have “fans” instead of “friends”) your updates end up in your friend’s newsfeeds. If you’re interesting, then your stuff will be featured in the “highlight” section of your fans (and potentially their friends!). Obviously, going viral requires you to be interesting to your audience, but that’s as it should be!

    fan-me-on-facebookI’m obviously smitten with Facebook’s latest updates… Not so much because I like the idea of giving so much marketing power over to the Facebook gods (I don’t), but because they’ve made it way too tempting and some early movers will most definitely do well in this space.

    However, to be fair, there are some issues with using Facebook in place of twitter. Here are some of the things I’ve run into:

    • The main issue I have is one of terminology.  If you want to follow my updates on FB, you’ve got to become a “fan”. On twitter, the barrier is lower in that you only need to “follow” me and not put such a positive judgement on our relationship.  The result is that getting people to follow your updates is a bit tougher on Facebook, but the quality of people following you should be much higher!
    • FB users can’t treat your Page like a profile in some key areas like photo tagging and putting you into lists
    • Managing a profile for a client can be awkward.  For example, I’m an “admin” on a page for a somewhat popular author.   As an “admin”, I’m only allowed to leave comments in his voice, although sometimes I’d really like to take part in the discussions under my own voice. Considering creating two profiles is against Facebook’s TOS, this is a bummer.   I need to be an admin for this profile in order to make sure things stay clean (i.e. delete spam, install apps, etc.), and would really love a way to toggle between my personal profile and the admin profile.

    As you can see, my complaints are pretty darn minor, and definitely not going to stop me from playing more with Facebook.  If you want to follow along, become a fan!

    Plus, I really want to say thanks to all the folks who have become fans so far! As an experiment, I’m going to use the 4realz blogroll to give a little something back to folks who become fans — a homepage link!   It may take me a few days to link out to all the folks who have become fans, but I’ll continue to work at hitting this moving target!

    Why bother with Facebook Pages?

    Call me crazy (you won’t be the first), but I think Facebook nailed it with their updated news feeds and new functionality of their Facebook Pages. But before I can explain why, I need to give some background on the difference between a Facebook Page (also called a Public Profile) and the standard Facebook Profile.

    A Facebook Page is geared toward giving businesses, brands, public figures, etc. a way to engage an audience on Facebook. With a Standard Facebook Profile, you make “friends” and engage with people on a very one-to-one level. With a Facebook Page, people become “fans” of your page, which doesn’t require you to connect with them at all… In many ways, it becomes a “broadcast” tool similar to twitter, but like twitter, you’ll need to engage with others, be interesting, etc. in order to get any real value out of the tool…

    And here’s where it gets interesting…

    Like a Standard Profile, Facebook Pages allow you to give status updates, share links, create videos, host discussion boards, and generally interact with other people (your “fans” in this case) in much the same way you might interact with them if you were friends. To get an idea of how you might use features like this, check out my Facebook Page:

    fb-pageIf you check out my “wall”, you should notice that since I created the page a few days ago, I’ve left status updates, recorded videos, shared links and generally interacted with people in much the same way I might interact with people using my “personal” profile… (note: you’ll need to be logged into Facebook to see all of the updates)

    However, this begs an obvious question… if these Facebook Pages are just like your personal profiles, why bother?

    I can think of three reasons:

    • Unlike a standard profile, Facebook Pages are public and get indexed by the search engines
    • With a Page, you *can* send updates to an unlimited number of fans, whereas (I’m pretty sure) Facebook limits you to sending messages to 20 friends at a time
    • Because people become “fans” of a page, you won’t need to follow them back in order to have them follow you

    This last point is extremely important to me because as I hit up near 1000 friends, my news feed is getting pretty polluted with updates from people I have no connection to other than we both travel in online real estate circles.

    Interestingly, I reached the point on Twitter where there was too much noise a few months ago when I was following around 1000 people. At that point, I would see so many automated tweets (i.e. “just posted on ActiveRain…”, “view my latest blog post at …” and “view my latest listing at…”) that reading my twitter feed felt like a chore.

    At one point, I unfollowed a ton of people (over 700), and now that I much more cautious about how I follow, my twitter experience has improved 10-fold as it’s now much easier for me to follow and engage in interesting and (sometimes) meaningful conversations…

    Returning to Facebook

    Going forward, I’m going to be using my Facebook Page to give online marketing and online real estate tips, links, videos, etc, and my Personal Facebook Profile to connect with family and close friends. While it might seem a bit mean, over the next few weeks, I’m going to “unfriend” a bunch of folks (probably hundreds) whom I simply do not have a personal connection to…

    Obviously, I highly encourage anyone reading this post (that means YOU!) to become a fan of my page… and order to give you some encouragement, I can tell you that my plan is to keep the page interesting and worthy of your attention by posting a steady stream of social media links, commentary and videos in a similar (but cleaner!) way that that I was using the 4realz Hotlist.

    In the big picture, I’m going to continue to reserve 4realz.net for my “big” ideas, and share my little insights over on my FB Page.

    One more thing…

    If you made it this far on this long post, I figure you must be a glutton for punishment, so I thought I’d indulge you with a video I posted yesterday on my Facebook page. This video highlights 6 ways Facebook Pages excite me in a similar way that business blogging did nearly 4 years ago when I started Rain City Guide:

    n20186119572_5897jpgP.S. Did I mention that Scotty Brown and I both published our pages around the same time (over a cup of coffee the other day)? He thinks that just because he’s a Reality TV star he’s gonna end up with more fans than me. We can’t let that happen, can we? Go become a fan!

    P.P.S. I also want to thank some of the folks who first signed up to be my “fans” like Alex Scoble, Scotty Brown, Cecilia Camps, Bob Maiocco, Susie Blackmon, Ines Hegedus-Garcia and Victor Lund. Each and every one of you rock! 😉

    Now Open! The 4realz Bookstore

    Early today I was having a conversation with Eric Bryn on twitter when he said:

    have you read Guy Kawasaki’s book Art of the Start’?

    which was all the impetuous I needed to finally get around to publishing my very own online marketing bookstore here on 4realz. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing ever since I built a similar (Amazon-powered) bookstore for a client, but just never took the time to do for myself.

    4realz-bookstore-screenshot

    So far, I have three categories of books:

    • Online Marketing
    • Starting Your Business
    • Blogging

    and only two books in each category.   My idea is to limit the books under each category so as to make it a “best” of breed books…

    Nonetheless, I like the idea of adding a few more books to each of the categories and potentially even another category of two, so if you have a book that should be included because it’s been particularly inspiring to you, definitely let me know!