Are Facebook Ads Worth It? Navigating the Digital Marketing World As A Real Estate Agent, Investor, WholesalerKatt Wagner
If you haven’t already heard, this Thursday’s (8/29/19) Live Mastermind Q&A call we will be fielding any questions related to Social Media or the parts and pieces of our Probate Marketing System (The partners are all out to sea, so myself, Jordan, Natalie, and Darci will be taking the reins!)
In anticipation for this week’s upcoming call, Renee Kische asked a few questions in our Mastermind Group she was hoping I could answer on the call. Well, I’ve had so many points and nuggets pop in my head over the last few days! This morning, I decided writing it out would really be the best way to give a comprehensive answer.
Renee is in a competitive market and looking for insight on how she can best spend her time and money as she grows her footing in the Probate niche, both as an agent and an investor. In short, she is asking:
Are Facebook Ads Cost-Effective?
It is my opinion, generally, that the success of Facebook ad campaigns falls on a very broad spectrum, with high success and low cost-per-action existing as an extreme outlier more often than not. Especially since Renee is in Los Angeles, one of the hottest markets for digital and social marketing agencies AND where everyone seems to want to be a real estate agent without doing much more than throwing thousands into a marketing budget (must be nice, right?), Facebook is probably
one of the most saturated marketing channels for general real estate services near her. Even in smaller markets and less-competitive niches, a successful Facebook ad campaign requires the correct targeting, intended goals, sales copy, value pitch, placement, and the list of factors goes on.
What About Becoming the “Digital Mayor” of Your Niche? Is That More Cost-Effective Than Running Ads on Facebook?
If you’re not familiar with the Digital Mayor concept, it’s something Gary Vaynerchuk coined during the 2016 Inman Connect Conference. The idea posits that creating highly-local content, distributing and promoting that content, and engaging with your community through online channels will allow you to become a sort of expert and leader in your community, and you can in turn use that reputation in marketing your own listings and services.
You can read Gary’s own words on what it means to be a digital mayor here.
For those of you reading this that aren’t enthused about gambling away thousands of dollars into Facebook ad spend, you might be thinking this approach is a great alternative because writing is free. While I encourage getting involved in your community and sharing your experiences through meaningful content, I see three major chokepoints people (consistently) run into when trying to become their market’s digital mayor:
1) Underestimating the time (and money) it takes.
You’re running around visiting restaurants and local businesses, trying to take the perfect pictures to use in your posts, and then you’re trying to find enough time to write about it. When all is said and done, how much time did it take you from start to finish? Scale this up to doing this 2-3 times a week on a consistent basis. What’s your time worth? This is in addition to the cost of anything you’re paying for in the process.
2) Becoming “Me” focused instead of community-focused.
If you’re writing from your real estate page about your opinions, your favorite things, your itinerary etc… You have to do so with an immense amount of creativity, zest, and tact or you’ll find yourself entering “join my fanclub” territory. The goal is to become the leader in “community expert” territory – leadership is a dynamic! Instead of visiting all these places with the purpose of writing about them later on your Facebook Page, why not immerse yourself in the moment, build rapport and focus on networking while you’re visiting new places, and write a review for the business on Yelp, Google, or that business’s Facebook page with an account branded to your business? These are the places people looking for reviews will be most likely to see your review anyway (not your personal pages) – so use that space as free digital marketing real estate AND earn the gratitude of business owners you just met at the same time.
3) The content isn’t reaching enough people, or the right people.
A major component of becoming the digital mayor is distributing and promoting the content you already spent time creating. If you aren’t promoting and distributing your content, the time you’re spending to make the content in the first place is a waste. To boost your content to a wide enough audience from a personalized business page will almost always require a significant budget, which defeats the whole purpose of the digital mayor strategy in the first place.
So, How Can You Use Facebook to Grow Your Business Without Spending A Ton of Time Writing Content and Money Promoting It?
The solution I’m getting at isn’t just to say “Ah, to hell with Facebook!” It’s a powerful platform that provides you with a different type of reach door-knocking, cold-calling, and direct mail marketing simply don’t provide. Most people have a personal facebook account, and a good amount of realtors/investors have a professional Facebook page branded with their name or their business name.
Is that enough? How do they work together? Where do I start?
There are four pieces your digital presence should include when it comes to Facebook, and while you might already know what personal profiles, business pages, and groups are, I’m going to show you how to fit all the pieces together in a way that makes the most sense for your watch and wallet.
Let’s go through each part’s function, potential benefits, and role in the big picture:
1) Personal Profile
Your personal profile is your friends, colleagues, and typically people you know personally. This is the core of your sphere of influence. This is where you get to be you the most. My personal advice here? I don’t want to see you post 600 times if you know anyone looking to buy or sell, call me!!!! But share your funny open house stories. Share pictures of the family you just helped move into a new home. Make it about memories, laughs, and conversations here and less hard marketing.
2) Personalized Facebook Business Page
This is your “Katt Wagner – Your Guide to Space Coast Homes” page. The title of this page AND the page description will contribute to your search visibility both in Facebook AND Google! Keywords like Real Estate, Buy, Sell, etc can go in your description. Keep in mind that this page is really for people who are finding you through word of mouth influence. When your friends tell THEIR friends about you because they’re looking for a service you provide, they are going to tag you or your page (or both if they’re facebook savvy), or give your name if it’s a conversation happening outside of Facebook. This page exists as a sort of landing page for people who will be searching for your name specifically, to give them an introduction to who you are, what you do. Make sure you have a profile picture, cover photo, description, and any other relevant profile information filled out accurately. Since Facebook AND Google both use page descriptions in their indexing, a description is a good place to include a few “title” keywords – Realtor, Buy, Sell, Home Value, whatever you choose. Create a few posts with valuable content just so people have a few things to scroll through when they first visit your page. Make sure you direct people to the appropriate place(s) to learn more or take the next steps if they need your services.
The goal with this is to give people a place to find you on facebook when they are already looking for you by name, or at the recommendation of a mutual friend. We want to provide enough content for a first time visitor to “get the idea” and get excited about how awesome what you do is and get them somewhere else to contact you or follow you permanently. We don’t want this page to become a tedious thing to manage – There really isn’t much benefit in trying to squeeze out slightly-relevant content like “5 ways to re-use this household object!” on a page called “Katt Wagner.” Nobody is going to pay attention.
+Bonus Tip: Facebook changed the way their recommendations work a few months back. Now, whenever someone tags your business page, Facebook counts it as a recommendation! This boosts your visibility and credibility.
3) Non-Personalized Business Page (But still has a solid purpose/brand identity).
Above, I made the argument that having a personalized Facebook Business page is important for word of mouth referrals/tagging within Facebook. But while your Personalized Business Page can help contribute somewhat to your search visibility, the visibility of that page will be limited or next to nothing for people who aren’t searching for you by name.
Non-Personalized business pages are your gateway to connecting with people who are searching for what you do – and even moreso where you do it. Two things I want to add here: First, most people aren’t going to go to their Facebook toolbar to search for “real estate, investor, property help, probate…” they’re probably going to look for their area; Second, people are more likely to search for those same keywords in a search engine, and because search engines give more weight to local results, your Facebook Business Page can give you an opportunity to rank in the top results. Make sure you fill out location information on your business page or you will miss this opportunity.
These pages are pages like “Best New York Homes,” “Palm Bay Property Solutions.” “Bay Area Living.” These titles all capture an area and will be visible to anyone searching their neighborhood name in the Facebook search bar. But people searching “Palm Bay” might not be interested in Property Solutions, and that page likely won’t get many likes from cold searches. However, someone might come across that page who does have a need, and the likes you do get will have a higher intent to do business with you. On the other hand, something like “Best New York Homes” might get a TON of attention because people are interested in cool architecture, interior design, luxury homes, HGTV type things. But you’ll get a lot of likes from people that have no intention to buy.
In general, I recommend having a business page for each business entity you work under, as well as a separate page if you work in two distinct markets. A good rule of thumb: If you have a separate website or a separate business card for it, you should probably have a Facebook business page to match it.
+Bonus Tip: You can recommend/suggest each of your pages from any other page you own/manage. If you’ve ever seen the “Suggest pages” on the right hand side while looking at a Facebook page, this is where your other pages will be shown. You can also share content between different pages if you’d like.
But How Can I Keep Up With All Of These Pages?
Unless you have the time to create and curate content for a business page, business pages are best used as a sort of landing page. People want to fill their Facebook feed with content they find interesting, and unless you have the time to post consistent valuable information from your business page (like a news or radio station Facebook page might do – and remember, they have whole teams of contributors and social content pros to do so), your goal of building a huge general audience on your Facebook business page(s) will probably end in disappointment. Again, the function of a business page is to be found by people who already have some idea of what they’re looking for, to convey value within a few seconds of a reader landing on the business page, and to direct them on where they can go to learn more (your website, or a platform like YouTube that you consistently utilize) and what to do next if they are ready for your services.
The easiest and best use of your time is in a fourth piece – Facebook Groups.
4) Facebook Groups
This is where we turn Gary V’s “Digital Mayor” concept on its head. Here at step 4, we have two major obstacles:
- What do we do to capture the audience that either 1) doesn’t know you personally, or 2) Isn’t enticed to engage with your real estate pages because, let’s be honest – how often does anyone tune into a branded business page reposting generic 3rd party blogs on “5 ways to re-use this household item”??
- How can we build an audience, build a brand, build a network without gambling thousands away into Facebook ad spend or becoming a full-time content creator?
My answer here is to create a Facebook group centered around your community. Keep it general and make sure the Group Name includes the neighborhood/area people will search for to find it:
The Cocoa Beach Facebook Group
All Things Orlando
Glen Cove Neighbors
Greater Rochester Community
If your community already has a group like this, well, most people looking for groups on Facebook will join more than one, anyway. You might even want to consider collaborating with the other group’s owner.
Unlike a Facebook Page, Facebook groups allow (and encourage!) members to post content, engage with others, and have conversations. Groups provide the biggest opportunity for you to grow an audience, expand your network, and become a trusted expert in your community – all without having to create and curate tons of content the way a “digital mayor” would. Instead of constantly covering community events or writing reviews of local restaurants and hoping someone finds it and follows you to keep reading your opinions, you can bring a group of people together who can start and carry these conversations on their own.
Think of it like a social Chamber of Commerce for the vendors you’ll bring on board, and a 24-hour block party/community resource group for your general audience. It’s worth it to reach out to a few related but non-competitive vendors in your area, tell them about your group’s purpose, and ask if they’d like to take on a moderator role in exchange for bringing value to the group. Don’t forget to ask them to invite their Facebook friends to join the group as well!
There are so many ways to get a group engaged – Encourage members to ask for recommendations and post their own, share events they know are happening this weekend, etc.. Keep it light and fun. We are always shocked at how our group members are already carrying conversations before we’ve even had a chance to get on Facebook! Group members can provide such tremendous value and experience on their own – something they wouldn’t be able to do if they only liked your business page!
+Bonus Tip: Create the group from the profile/page of your choosing and the group will highlight it! In the top right corner, it will show your audience “Group Created By: _____” and give you some bonus recognition.
+There are so many things you can do in groups: Watch parties, Live Videos, Invite Email Contacts to join, share content from other places to the group, etc…
+A good rule of thumb is if it reads like a Craigslist ad, it probably doesn’t bring value to the group. Encourage people to share and participate without flagrant self-promotion. Don’t be afraid to moderate – and hey, if you see someone doing some tacky marketing in the group, is there an opportunity here to build a relationship by starting a conversation with them? Maybe they run a classic automobile restoration company and are trying to get their name out there – Could they add some curb appeal at your next open house, and could you share with the group the awesome response your guests had to Jim’s restored 1967 Ford Mustang? Now you’re sharing great experiences and have a new friend in the neighborhood.
With the Right Approach, These Four Pieces Will Work In Harmony Without Consistent Input.
Take the time to set pieces 1-3, particularly your business pages, up properly: Fill out your basic information; add contact information; get your profile images up; and make 2-3 posts so people see some meaningful content when they first visit any of these pages.
Once you do that, you can share content you’re creating anyway to these pages, but you do not need to expend time and money playing social media content wiz.
With your digital presence established on Facebook, get focused on immersing yourself in the community, and view your Facebook group as your digital neighborhood. This time spent will yield much greater rewards, both intrinsically and extrinsically.
Oh, and one other awesome perk? There are all sorts of ways you can use group audiences for targeted ad campaigns (i.e. cost-effective ad targeting!) – this topic will likely become a Tips From The Trainer post on its own soon ;).
So there you have it! The Best Bang-For-Your-Buck on Facebook is To Use It To Immerse Yourself In The Community Digitally.
Thank you for your question, Renee Kische!
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