In the second of my two-part series on real estate social media marketing, I look at why Facebook paid advertising is a necessity if you want to gain maximum exposure and build relevant audiences for your real estate brand.
Read part 1 first, Facebook marketing – how to reach more people for free.
Anyone who uses social media as part of their real estate marketing strategy knows that Facebook is by far the most effective social channel. But the days of being able to promote your real estate business successfully for free on Facebook have well and truly passed us by. In the words of social media marketing guru Mari Smith: “Organic reach is so 2012”!
Any reputable digital marketer will tell you that if you’re serious about your Facebook real estate marketing, these days you need to Pay to Play.
Facebook real estate is in short supply
If you think of spaces in the Facebook News Feed as real estate, it’s easy to see that there is intense competition for a very limited amount of space. 293,000 status updates and 136,000 photos are posted on Facebook every single minute – and that number is growing all the time. Facebook now has over two billion monthly active users. So the more connections you have, the less room you have in your News Feed for everyone’s posts to be visible.
“Competition for people’s attention is intense – 293,000 status updates and 136,000 photos are posted on Facebook every single minute.”
Facebook, therefore, has to give priority to the posts it thinks you will most likely to want to see. There just isn’t enough space for everyone’s content to be shown, so posts from your friends and family are given priority over content from the brand pages you follow.
Many posts from your real estate agent Fan Page are unlikely to be seen at all by your followers – and reaching your fans is becoming harder as Facebook puts in place more features to encourage us to pay to reach our target audience.
Warning: your real estate marketing content may disappear
Following a trend started by the likes of Snapchat and WeChat, Facebook is now considering moving different types of content into separate Feeds within its website and app. A Facebook trial is underway in six different countries, to see what happens when content from brand pages is moved out of the News Feed completely. Pages in the six test countries have their content shown in the Explore Feed, while high-quality long-form posts and original videos are being made available in the Watch Feed.
These two new Feeds have different purposes:
- Explore Feed is a channel where users can discover content from pages that they don’t currently follow but might interest them, along with content from the pages they do follow.
- Watch Feed is Facebook’s TV and publishing channel, intended to rival the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Google and Apple.
Daniel Danker, Director of Product at Facebook, describes the Watch Feed as, “a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and earn money for their work.”
Moving content from pages into these two new Feeds is predicted to have a detrimental effect on the organic reach of brand content, as these Feeds are not easy to find. The Explore Feed is tucked away on the left-hand side of Facebook’s website or under the “Explore” tab on the mobile app, while the Watch Feed can only be found within the Video tab. Publishers in the countries where the trial is taking place are already reporting that their organic reach has fallen by two-thirds as a result of the changes.
The only way businesses in the test countries can now get their page content onto the main News Feed is by paying for it. While Facebook says it currently has no plans to introduce these changes in any other countries, the trial must be happening for a reason, and it’s best to be prepared.
Why Facebook paid advertising makes sense
Even though these changes might not happen in Australia and New Zealand, organic reach for page content has still dropped dramatically. Today you’re lucky if your posts reach 100 people without needing to pay. So it’s worth putting a few ad dollars behind your posts, which can quickly boost a posts’ reach to 1,000 people or more in a matter of hours. Even if you don’t have much social media advertising experience, this is a realistic figure to aim for. Even better, these 1,000 people won’t be random – they’ll be a targeted audience who are highly likely to be interested in your services or your client’s property.
“Putting a few ad dollars behind your posts, can quickly boost a posts’ reach to 1,000 people or more in a matter of hours.”
My team and I achieve several times this reach for our clients because we run Facebook advertising campaigns day-in-day-out. So if you are struggling to get my recommended results, contact us for training and support.
What’s the cost of paid Facebook marketing?
You may think boosting your Facebook posts is an unnecessary cost, but it is still relatively cheap compared to many other forms of advertising. As much as we enjoy complaining about the cost of advertising on the real estate portals, in a few years, we’re likely to be reminiscing about how cheap it once was to advertise on Facebook! Ad prices will rise over time as competition on Facebook from other real estate agents in your area increases – this is why it’s essential to create a Facebook ad budget as a priority now. You can start building your audience while prices are still relatively low.
“Create a Facebook ad budget as a priority. Start building your audience while prices are still relatively low.”
Your budget doesn’t have to be enormous. It depends entirely on the number of people you want to reach. You can see an estimation of this figure before you publish your ad so you can adjust your budget accordingly. Naturally, the more people you aim to reach, the more expensive your ad will be. You will never be able to reach 100 percent of your target audience because the cost of your ad multiplies seemingly exponentially as you increase the reach. So it’s essential to stick to an affordable budget.
Be savvy with your real estate Facebook marketing
As with all types of digital marketing, the aim of social media marketing is ultimately to bring audiences across to your website. Once on your website, you can work hard to turn them into subscribers by encouraging them to sign up to your email list and text message alerts. It’s worth remembering that your audience on Facebook, just like your audiences on search engines and real estate portals, are not your own – you have to make an active effort to convert them into your own audiences. Relying completely on audiences from social platforms is like building your house on rented land – the lease may expire, and the cost will almost certainly increase.
“Social platforms are like building your house on rented land – the lease may expire, and the cost will almost certainly increase.”
Spending money on Facebook paid advertising is a way of paying to acquire new customers and subscribers – it’s essential to monitor your Facebook marketing campaigns and work out how much it costs you to bring each user over to your website and convert them into a subscriber to your email list. Then compare your Facebook advertising costs to other paid advertising campaigns you run to ascertain where your real estate marketing budget is best spent.
Get the most out of your social media advertising
If you don’t want to boost every post, but still want to get the most out of your advertising dollars on Facebook, you should put money behind your most impressive content that’s taken the longest to create. This way, you have the best chance of seeing a return on your investment, plus ensure your high-quality content will reach more of the right people.
There’s also no reason why you shouldn’t share your content across multiple social platforms. Save your advertising dollars for Facebook and at the same time make the most of the free exposure currently offered by other social networks, such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter – where you don’t yet have to Pay to Play.
The social media landscape is changing. It’s harder than ever to gain any kind of organic reach. But Facebook ads still have a relatively cost-effective ROI, as long as you make an effort to drive these leads to your website and grow your own audiences from there. While we “watch this space” and wait to see how Facebook’s playing field continues to evolve, you should be making the most of the current landscape and bringing in as much new business as possible while you can.