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Facebook and real estate marketing are a match made in social-media heaven.
For Carrot members, Facebook is the third highest source of new leads, outperforming Google AdWords as well as organic search from both Bing and Yahoo:
All told, Facebook has generated 12,176 new leads since January of this year alone. And that’s leads. Not traffic, not visitors, not followers, not fans … real leads.
Imagine the difference a few hundred new leads could have made in your business over the last year. Image what they could do for you in 2017.
Simply put … that kind of lead-generating faucet is absolutely transformative.
So how do we do it? I’m glad you asked.
Why advertise real estate on Facebook?
You may be wondering what makes Facebook such a phenomenal place for real estate advertising.
At the risk of stating the obvious:
- Real estate is personal. Facebook is personal.
- Real estate is emotional. Facebook is emotional.
- Real estate is visual. And Facebook is visual.
However, not all Facebook content is created equal.
After analyzing over one billion Facebook posts from roughly three million brands, Buzzsumo discovered that the three most engaging post types overlap perfectly with those three qualities: (1) questions, (2) images and (3) videos.
Of course, the obvious question is: why do you need to pay for ads if Facebook is tailor made for the types of posts that come up naturally in real estate?
Facebook “organic reach” is dying
To determine what posts you see — and more importantly, what posts your audience doesn’t see — Facebook’s algorithm uses what’s known cognitive computing; in simple terms, machine learning. These algorithm’s learn by testing and figuring out how people respond to those tests, because Facebook is all about providing relevancy and rich experiences for the people who use it.
Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story.
When it comes to companies and brands — as opposed to personal profiles — the average organic page reach is tanking while Facebook’s stock prices continue to climb.
This inverse relationship is no accident.
As Convince and Convert recently explained, Facebook “is banking on the dominance of social selling and could basically care less how your company’s non-paid, organic efforts suffer as a result.” In other words, the free (Facebook) lunch is over and if you want your posts to reach your audience … you have to pay to play.
Your goal must always be to get people to engage with the stuff you post. But make no mistake, the deck is stacked against you. As a real estate investor posting on Facebook, your fans only get to see a very limited number of your posts.
And that’s where understanding Facebook ads becomes so vital.
Facebook also allows for fine-grained ad segmentation based on just about any demographic you can imagine; this is especially powerful for targeting and retargeting specific real-estate audiences.
On top of that, Facebook ads remain the most economic choice among both traditional and digital media.
While you should certainly invest in an “organic” presence on Facebook, those 12,176 leads I brought up earlier are driven by ads.
Setting Up Facebook Ads
You can begin running Facebook ads with either your personal profile or through your business page; however, using a business page — i.e., Fan Page — gives you far more customization options.
When setting up your account — which Facebook makes incredibly easy — be sure to specify under Billing both an overall “Daily Spend Limit” as well as an overall “Account Spend.”
Doing this ensures you’ll never go over budget. If you’re just starting out, experiment by setting a modest budget so you only pay when you reach $50-$200.
Facebook Ad Types
The biggest distinction in Facebook’s ad types is between (1) “Boosting” and “Promoting” existing posts … and (2) creating and running an ad.
The global click through rate for something like Google is a stark 0.20%. That number gets even more disheartening when you limit results to the United States alone:
The good news is that, according to SmartInsights, all three types of Facebook ads far outperform that average:
Notice the distinction between the Power Editor, Promoted, and Boosted. While there’s a place for each in your Facebook mix, because this is a post about ads — and because that’s what we use here at Carrot — we’ll just focus on the Power Editor.
Facebook’s Ads Guide walkthrough the various placements and even includes annotated examples of each type:
When selecting your ad type, the primary question is, “What’s your goal?”
Goal 1: Drive Traffic
(1) Domain advertising.
The simplest of all Facebook ads, domain advertising places your ad in the right-hand column. It’s unobtrusive, inexpensive, and perfect to get your feet wet.
(2) News feed advertising.
This is the most popular Facebook ad method. Along with driving traffic to your website or landing page through the link, image and “Learn More” button, the ad also includes options to like, comment and/or share.
Ads featured in the news feed have a 44% higher click through rate than right-side-column placement as well as a five-times-higher conversion rate. With this type of ad, you can include high-quality images, your logo, a custom message, and a link to your website through the “Learn More” button.
Goal 2: Generate Leads
(1) Carousel ads.
These ads are placed in the news feed and investors or agents can promote up to five properties at once (or feature multiple images of a single property). Each image may also include a unique link and title:
(2) Lead ads.
Just like the name implies, lead ads focus exclusively on generating leads. By setting up lead ads, your prospective buyer or seller can complete a signup form without ever leaving Facebook itself. This offers less customization, but is perfect for Facebook mobile users:
(3) Canvas ads.
Canvas ads are only available on mobile and appear in the regular news feed. The great thing about Canvas ads is they look like a normal post. Prospects can swipe through a carousel of images, tilt the image in different directions, and zoom in or zoom out.
For you this means advertising a property listing with multiple images as well as videos, unique descriptions, individual prices, or even a map of the area … all without your prospects needing to leave Facebook. If viewers are interested, they simply have to click on the call to action button.
Goal 3: Likes or Followers
(1) Post page like.
This is an ad type for any page position, either in the news feed or the right hand column. You create a custom post and — while it includes a call to action button — priority goes to “Like Page” in order to build your Facebook audience.
(2) Video page like.
These are the same as post page like ads, but instead of using an image, you’d use a video.
Goal 4: Attend events
(1) Event ads.
For physical events — like showings, open houses, or buyers or sellers seminars — event ads are especially powerful at targeting audiences in specific location.
Once you’ve created your event on a Facebook Page, you can simply pay to “Promote Event” or you can build an ad for the event itself through the choices above.
Even more digitally savvy, such events don’t necessarily need to be physical. In the first virtual open house tour in 2015, traffic was directed to this page:
Starting your Facebook Ads
Step 1: Understand your objective
I’ve already said this, but it bear repeating: before you do anything, you need to know what you want to achieve with your ad.
For instance, is your goal to get more page likes — which I only recommend if you’re trying to intentionally build a large Facebook following — or is it to get more people to a specific landing page?
Your goal will determine which kind of ad to use. And once you know the right end result, Facebook makes it easy to create the right type:
Step 2: Focus on creating eye-catching visuals
Visuals are what make or break every Facebook ad.
Despite our natural instincts, I’ve found that using pictures that look amateur or are made to look amateur actually work better than using professionally edited images.
From a psychological point of view, people are on Facebook in a very personal capacity: to keep up to date with friends and family. They’re not there to buy houses or view listings. So when an image looks like you or I just took it and uploaded it ourselves — especially if you select an ad type that is featured in the news feed — it feels less like an ad and more like it belongs; as if a family member or friend uploaded it instead of a business.
Here’s another little trick to use on your ad picture.
Edit your picture with a very small, bright colored outline like you see on the right. I suggest using a lime green, orange, or something bright other than red. The human mind is conditioned to subconsciously notice circled and outlined things because your mind associates that outline with something that must be important.
Think of it this way: when you read a magazine or thumb through the classifieds, how do you remember which items are your favorites?
You circle them.
Images in Facebook ads are not “one size fits all.” Each goal has its own specific proportions that Facebook recommends:
We’ve already covered a number of ads that feature properties themselves. But don’t stop with the traditional fare. Instead, experiment with unique imagery like these examples of organic real-estate posts that went viral:
Step 3: Write attention-grabbing copy
News feed ads don’t give you much room for creativity. Each element is strictly regulated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop your audience in their tracks:
(1) Headline: 25 characters.
To attract buyers, think about what would catch the eye of your local community.
As you know, when somebody is looking to buy real estate, they want to connect with real and above all trustworthy people. That should be well expressed in your short ad. Titles such as “Looking for a Home?” “Where are the best schools?” or “Behind on Payments?” are all attention grabbers that lean on the most popular type of post on Facebook — questions — while at the same time attracting the kind of customer you’re looking for.
(2) Message: 90 characters.
Your Facebook ad text should be brief and to the point. If the real estate that you’re selling has something unique, let your audience know. Make sure to mention the city or neighborhood, and add a call to action.
(3) Link descriptions: 90 characters.
Here’s what all three of those look like in action:
Write the ad copy based on the needs and desires of your target audience. Never make it about you or your real estate business.
A brilliant example of this comes from Rentec Direct, who provide property management software. Their two most profitable ads — at first — appear to have nothing to do with selling property management software:
Notice that with both they directly address a need — or more accurately, a pain — their target audience already feels. These kind of well-crafted ads are exactly what you should be creating as well.
Step 4: Targeting the right audience
Facebook ads let you laser target the audience of your choice.
When you create an ad, you can isolate the people you want to reach based on a host of factors:
The options can feel overwhelming, so here are some tips on the most important factors
Age: the age range should be chosen according to the price of the home and the neighborhood. If you’re listing an inexpensive college home, range it from 18-25. If it’s a roomy family home, range it from 30-45. If it’s only one bedroom home, set it for 45 and over.
Location: select the exact city and state as well as the surrounding area where the real estate is located.
Interests: this one is tricky. If there’s a local college in the area, then make sure to include that college as an interest and all of its athletic teams. Same goes for families, bachelors, and retirees. Think of places near the real estate property that your audience would frequent and include them. This puts your ads in front of the people who liked other Facebook pages of these places.
Facebook ads show up on the pages of people based on who they are and what they’re interested in, so that’s what they see is — here’s that keyword again — relevant to their lives. This is good news for real estate agencies, because your money works to bring in more of the right people, instead of just anyone who may give you a like, but would not become a buyer or seller.
Facebook ads also have a “likely to move” category. If you pull zip codes for certain areas, together with the “likely to move” behavior, you can really narrow your target audience down:
Targeting is massively important to your Facebook ad success. As Nathan Miller from Rentec Direct told me:
I’ll be honest … the first ads we put on Facebook almost made us abandon the platform altogether. We spent thousands and receive maybe two conversions. It was by far the lowest converting ad spend we had ever experienced.
The answer to a successful Facebook campaign turns out to not be the amount of cash thrown at it, but the power of Facebook’s targeting. You want 100 people who are very interested in your product to see your ad and the other tens of thousands who aren’t not to.
We accomplished this with Facebook’s lookalike audiences and retargeting. These changes were so simple, and we overlooked it for months.
Our conversion rates have increased by a factor of 40, and our costs per engagement have gone down at the same time.
Audience matters so much, we’ve even written an entire post about How To Use Facebook Retargeting Ads To “Fetch Back” More Real Estate Leads.
The Leads Are Waiting
It’s true … Facebook and real-estate marketing are a match made in social-media heaven.
Since January of this year, Carrot members have generated 12,176 new leads through Facebook alone. And remember: those are leads: not traffic, not visitors, not followers, not fans … leads.
Tapping into a platform like Facebook and coming back with hundreds of new leads can transform your business.
So get started today … and be sure to share your own tips or questions in the comments.