By Ingrid Menninga

While Facebook personal profiles and fan pages continue to grow in popularity, few sales reps understand fully how they fit into their sales cycle as a successful marketing tool.

The prospecting phase: In the pre-sale phase, prospects use Facebook to do “research” on you.

When people Google your name, one of the highest ranking results will be your Facebook page. Since people are looking for you, make yourself easy to find and present yourself well. It’s also a good practice to send a Facebook request or provide your fan page link to all prospects to make it easier for them to connect with you.

When prospects get to your Facebook page they are looking to learn more about you – what values you bring to the table, how do you conduct yourself, do you seem knowledgeable and professional? Make your page look as good as possible with a professionally designed page or a professional side banner. If you have your headshot on your page, make sure it’s a recent and professionally taken photo and is not the same photo of your personal profile.

It’s also important to ensure that your Facebook posts appeal to your target market – so those exact people who are searching you out and deciding whether to use you as an agent, find information that appeals to them – and makes them more confident in choosing you. For example, if you focus on luxury property sales, make sure your Facebook content appeals to someone looking to buy or sell a luxury property. Showcase luxury homes, luxury design trends and luxury vacation hotspots, or other suitable luxury lifestyle products that are sure to resonate with the luxury market.

During the sale: During the sale your clients are likely updating their social media profiles with details on their move, telling everyone they bought a new house or sold their place, and other related information.  This is a great time to add your comments in response to their posts – things like “good luck with packing”, “so happy to help you find the perfect house”, neighbourhood information that is only available via a Realtor or other “soft sell” updates that let other readers know that you are their chosen Realtor, without asking for referrals. It’s too early for that and could turn off other prospects.

On closing, make sure you add a congratulatory message on your Facebook wall, with your clients’ names tagged.  Don’t give away private information such as listing price, just write something like, “Congratulations to Mike and Sara who are proud new owners of a lovely Victorian in the city. We worked together for one month and found their dream home in a great neighbourhood. Welcome home!”

Within this message you are giving important information – it says you have clients – you’re a successful agent, you are dedicated to finding your clients just what they want and that you are a caring professional. This is just the sort of information other clients and prospects want to know about you.

Post sale: In the post-sale phase, review your database and check in with clients once a year to wish them a “happy home anniversary” with their names tagged on your Facebook wall. You can follow up with a call if you wish, but maintaining this public reminder to your clients’ network that you were the Realtor of choice is very important.

In addition, Facebook is a great way to stay informed on your client’s major life changes that may indicate they are ready for a move. If your clients announce they got a big promotion at work, got a new job out of the city, are having a baby or would love to spend their summers in cottage country, this is your official notice to pick up the phone, reconnect and see if your clients may need your services in the near future. By reaching out to your clients at the right time, you are sending a message that you are in-tune with what’s happening in their life, which will make them feel more connected and loyal to you.

HOT TIP:  You can “tag” someone on your Facebook update by typing @ before their name (without a space between the “@” and their first name). A drop down menu with your Facebook friend’s names will appear. Click on the correct name and your contact will be notified that you tagged them in your update.

Ingrid Menninga is a director at JOLT Marketing (www.joltmarketing.com), where she works with real estate and mortgage agents and organizations to develop their branding and execute highly successful marketing campaigns.

  • Brad R

    I agree with Matt N (Mar.10), there is a balance between the personal and business which Facebook has actually made quite feasible due to the business fanpages.

    I have just shy of 200 "fans" who my wall posts go directly to, but I can't see their personal information (unless they allow me to) – the vast majority I do not add as "friends" – which is personal.

    We do, however, have to be careful about the information we post and Matt points out exactly what we should be doing.

    Remember, Facebook pages is better for repeat business or those people who have searched you out or that you already have some contact with in another way. As I heard it said once: LinkedIn is for people you do business with, Facebook is for people you have done business for and with, and Twitter is for people you WANT to do business for.

  • iSlutsky

    Two things that I would note about Facebook and pages (from a non-Realtor):

    1. Facebook Pages should be niche-outlets. Talking about "real estate in Toronto" will not grab the attention of people enough to "Like" your page. You need to have a more specific focus for your brand, something that people will really want to engage with.

    2. Engage your brand. With Facebook's latest Pages-Update, you can now take your brand outside of just your page. Go to other's pages, and interact with them as your brand. Give your brand a voice and a personality.

    That's all from me.. Buzz out.

    Matthew Slutsky

    w: http://www.BuzzBuzzHome.com
    f: http://www.Facebook.com/BuzzBuzzHome

  • Lewis Nelson

    Facebook, is not private and no realtor should think that in anyway any information disclosed there will not be used for ulterior purposes. The care and diligence required for any professional using social media makes these client contact methods totally useless or very dangerous.
    REALTORS in Ontario are legally prevented from advertising a home as sold without the written consent of both buyer and seller. Making statements like sold over list is a clear breach of RECO. We could argue the no address or no photo argument but if your recent sales are trackable anywhere or somewhere, you could/should be sued by buyer or seller for damages.

    Facebook has a system in place and operating that is collecting information on you, your family, your facebook friends and any clients communicating with you. The more posts you make the more information they are gleaning. This is Big Brother beyond what was projected by fiction writers decades ago. Why bring it into your business???

    Want to be a "groovy new socially techwise realtor" then learn to txt and group txt. Those communications are all privacy protected by the CRTC because you PAY for them. Use a PAID email account, not hotmail, gmail, etc. because they are fighting to know more about you too. Blog on your own url.

    We must research these topics on our own because we are getting no clear legal opinion or leadership on these matters from our Associations. Instead we are seeing courses offered promoting social media with no discussion on privacy and confidentiality or data collection.

    We must take action to weed out and insulate ourselves from the unprofessional practices in our industry before it is too late.

  • Ingrid Menninga (JOL

    Great points! I agree with Matt N's comments that people often want to share the news that they just bought their dream home.

    For those that don't want to share, I've often found they aren't on facebook, they have very high privacy settings, which limits access to how you can interact with them, or they only accept friendship requests from close friends. Of course there are some exceptions, but we've noticed these trends in general.

  • Carolyne L

    To Steve Jones, in particular – the forum in general.

    I tend to agree. One of the things that, I believe, contributed to my own personal success in the industry, is that although I can and do talk openly with people, and speak my mind candidly when called upon to do so, the fact that I respect privacy in an absolute fashion, and remain neutral at all times, in no small measure was noted by my clients.

    I consider it vital to keep their confidences and not share their personal information, situations, reasons for buying, reasons for selling, etc. – the fact that they have bought and have not yet sold is no one else's business, is just one example. WHY would an agent share that information? But does . . .

    My thoughts tend to run in what I call the "bricks and mortar" arena. To me, personally and in business, a property is worth what it is worth. Nuts and bolts. Why, how come, what for, people are buying or selling it – and it is just "my" opinion – has absolutely nothing to do with it all. However, I do know that in the industry, my thinking is oblique.

    More than once I have experienced agents coming to the office thrilled to have a new listing, telling colleagues that the house needs to be sold – just bring an offer… Dr. Jones (phantom name) is getting divorced; his wife just left him and cleaned the bank accounts so he has to sell. I remember vividly the first time I heard this, and had trouble wrapping my head around why an agent would say such a thing – thinking his personal business had nothing to do with the value of his house. Sadly this type of conversation pervades our industry.

    I have not yet joined the social media systems. I am not saying I won't, but I need to have a better understanding of why some of the information is shared. And social media, to me, represents an opportunity to engage in conversations that are sometimes – when the person carrying the tale doesn't know the whole story can, and will, invent the rest of the story… sort of like a party game where one person tells the next person a secret story, and it gets passed on. At the end of the circle of people, the story is told aloud. To the shock of the first person, the story is very different than how it started out.

    I am not meaning to sound critical, because we have some absolutely fine individuals in our industry, no question about it… but "stories" need to be shared in private; their own and everyone else's. There is nothing private about the social media.

    Just my thoughts on the topic.
    Cordially,
    Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com
    Serving Burlington and Brampton ON CA

  • Steve Jones

    I wouldn't want to interact with my realtor through facebook because my facebook page contains too much content about my "personal life" (e.g., correspondence with friends, information about personal things I'm doing, etc).

    I would not want to be tagged by my agent with an announcement about a home I bought. Absolutely not. This would probably give rise to privacy issues as well. Essentially, personal information of mine (who I am and the fact I bought a house) is being used without my consent for marketing purposes.

    • Matt N

      I am a real estate who uses facebook and it is a great tool to connect and stay in touch with. my clients as well as freinds and family.

      Personally I have a separate business page that is only for clients and people who like me as an agent. So if your my client and you want to interact with me about real estate you can like my page.

      Also I do announce sales but I never include the address or the clients name. I will post something like "just sold my clients home for over list price ". Some people will automatically comment on that post to let people know I did a great and thank me for the great service and other clients don't comment and they remain anonymous.

      Steve I can understand your wish for privacy but other people like to share the fact that they have bought there dream home or that there real estate agent did a great job. When you post correctly people can make there own choice about how they want there face book experience to be.