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.