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.

4realz Roundtable is Back: Using Facebook Pages to Generate Business!

[Update: What a great roundtable discussion. Thanks so much to Reggie Nicolay, Ricardo Bueno, Loren Nason, Mike Mueller, Stacie Wells and Brad Nix for joining the roundtable! If you missed the call, you can now listen to a recording via the TalkShoe widget to the right.]

Inspired by a conversation with Ricardo Bueno, I’ve decided to bring back the 4realz Roundtable radio show for a ONE more show!

This Thursday at 2pm PST, we’re going to have a conversation with real estate professionals on how to use Facebook Biz Pages to market yourself and I want you to take part!

Taking part is easy, but there are so many ways to take part it can seem a bit confusing. To simplify things, I’ve tried to break down the most common options here:

  • To simply listen to the conversation from your computer, return to this blog post at 2pm PST (5pm EST!) and click on the play button of the widget in the top-right of this post! This will stream the conversation to you through your computer!
  • To simply listen to the conversation from your phone, at 2pm, call this number: (724) 444-7444 and use this call ID: 20339. You’ll then be able to listen to the entire conversation from your phone (or more likely speaker phone!)
  • To listen to the conversation AND join the chat room, head over to the 4realz Roundtable TalkShoe page a few minutes before 2pm. As soon as you’re logged in, you’ll be able to start chatting with everyone else who’s logged into the call. You’ll also be prompted to stream the call on that page. While it’s not necessarily, I recommend that you sign up for a free TalkShoe account because it will let the rest of us identify you easier within the chat room!
  • To talk part in the call AND join the chat room, a few minutes before 2pm, call this number: (724) 444-7444 and use this call ID: 20339. Then join the chat at the 4realz Roundtable TalkShoe page to let me know you’re on the call. I’m not going to let EVERYONE who’s interested be on the call at all times (the quality deteriorates quickly with too many people), but I will unmute people as they let me know (through the chat room!) that they have an interesting question to ask and/or some insight they’d like to share.

Hopefully, you can see that taking part is really not that complicated… For most folks, listening to the conversations while taking part in the chat room is the best option!   Because the 4realz Roundtables attract some great people within the industry, I think you’ll find we’re going to have a great conversation where we’ll be able to share some great insights!

So far, I know that Ricardo Bueno will join me on the call, and I’m pretty sure Loren Nason is going to join to talk about some of the ways he’s been adding interesting apps to business pages.   In addition, I’ll be updating this post to add a few more people as we get closer to the call. If you’re doing some interesting things with Facebook Pages and interested in sitting at the roundable, let me know in the comments!

By the way, if you’re new to the concept of the 4realz Roundtables, check out some of the conversations we had last year where I was able to bring together some really great people talking about all kinds of interesting real estate conversations. If my consulting work hadn’t ramped up in such a major way, I’d probably still be doing these conversations on a weekly basis because they were so much fun (plus, I learned a bunch each week!) Some of the topics we took on last summer were:

Facebook Takes Another Step Toward Merging Functionality of Pages and Profiles

Anyone who’s been following this blog knows I’ve been playing pretty heavily with Facebook Pages as a marketing tool and think the tools have already surprised Twitter as a micro-blogging tool in terms of functionality (and in many ways, even utility).

This morning, I noticed that Facebook has now taken it one step further. In the area that used to be reserved for making “friend” recommendations, they’ve now started including profile Pages!

fb-profiles-pages

This rocks and I’m sure will make it even easy for people to gain traction on their profile page. And if you want to join my page as the community I’ve created explores how to use social media and Facebook Pages to generate business, then head over and become a fan!

By the way, I really want to thank the 200+ people who have become fans over the past few weeks. It’s been fun to watch as more people join because the conversations have obviously improved. It seems like almost every micro-blog post, video, link, etc. is generating a conversation, which just rocks from my point of view!

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! 😉