Facebook Kills the Real Estate Blog

Has Facebook killed the real estate blog?

I got caught up in a conversation with Jay Thompson, the Phoenix Real Estate Guy, about the role of Facebook in real estate marketing. Two things we debated were if it was advisable to add listings to your Facebook Page and whether new agents would start using Facebook as their primary website instead of a blog.

On the subject of adding listings to your Facebook Page (and by Page I mean your Fan Page and not your Personal Profile) I’m 100% certain that you must add listings. Jay is not so sure.

I like the idea that you can show listings (even of no one looks at them). It demonstrates your commitment to marketing real estate and your search box acts as an indirect contact capture form where you can convert your visitors into contacts. I also think that your clients will expect you to market on Facebook and we all know that perception is just as important as reality when it comes to closing a listing contract.

Jay doesn’t think Facebook is meant for listing real estate. It’s a social medium where people want to connect and communicate with each other and not look at listings. Besides, there are already so many better real estate search and listing sites.

What we both agree on is that we have no idea if adding listings to your Facebook Page will actually sell real estate.

This conversation gave rise to a larger conversation.

Is it possible that many new agents will forego the “traditional” real estate blog in favor of a real estate Page on Facebook?

Will Facebook kill the real estate blog?

It’s an idea that I’ve been playing around with for the last year.

The reason it interests me is because it is my experience that 90% of the real estate industry bump into a huge technology hurdles when it comes to online marketing. The primary hurdle is the lack of a credible and effective online presence. Most real estate professionals have some kind of online presence but this is normally limited to a page or sub-directory on their company website.

Few agents have their own blog, IDX search site or website.

It’s not that they don’t want all the online tools but they just can’t afford to hire a developer or subscribe to a service and they don’t have the technical skills to build them.

So they settle for a page or a branded sub-directory on their company website.

If that’s the case then why not settle for a Page on Facebook?

Facebook has more traffic than you can shake a stick at (600 million users), it’s free, it’s easy to set up, it’s easy to manage and it supports applications that allow you to brand and customize your Page,  add blog posts, contact forms and real estate search to your Page.

But more importantly you don’t need any technical skills and you don’t need to hire a developer.

And did I mention that it is an incredibly sophisticated viral communication platform designed to help you connect and engage with friends and fans?

This is where Jay gets very serious about his convictions.

“There’s no way that a Facebook Page can even begin to compare with hosting your own real estate blog and packing it with search friendly hyper local content.

With your own blog you control the look, feel and architecture of the blog. You own it. You own the content. You own the SEO and Google Juice, you own the conversation”.

All valid points! All really good reasons to host your own real estate blog!

Now you need to put some of this is context.

Jay Thompson is The Real Estate Guy, not just the Phoenix Real Estate Guy. He travels the nation talking about blogging and how it propelled his business from a small husband and wife team to a vibrant and successful real estate office with around 30 agents (and growing). Jay dominates local real estate search for the Phoenix area and can track dozens of closed real estate transactions (and closing checks) straight back to his blog.

Jay knows that hyper local blogging works so he spends a great deal of time and money making sure that he turns out a top quality product.

But I think that’s really the point about this article.

Jay and I don’t disagree about whether or not having your own real estate blog works and, if done correctly, will greatly improve your real estate business. If you have the budget or technical skills it is absolutely a no-brainer for you to create a local real estate blog.

However, if you don’t have the budget or technical skills what do you do? If you’re an agent who hasn’t yet invested in your own website and blog can you just use a Facebook Page?

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open an account on Facebook at www.Facebook.com
  2. Create a Page for your business from your Personal Profile  or by going to www.facebook.com/pages
  3. Name the Page the same as the name of your business and get a unique username (you first need to beg, borrow and steal to get 25 people to like your Page)
  4. Pimp your Page with your branding, contact details and personal information
  5. Add the Notes application to your Page. You can add blog posts to the Notes application.
  6. Add the MailChimp application to your Page. You can add an online email capture form using Mailchimp which is free up to 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails
  7. If you’re a Realtor add the Realtor.com See My Listings application to your Page, or
  8. Add the Roost Listings application to your Page, or
  9. Add the Static HTML application to your Page and insert an image of your company real estate search box or IDX search box into the Page. Make sure the image links back to your company or IDX search box.
  10. Send out 20 friend invitations a day through your Personal Profile and then invite your new friends to become fans of your Page.

It’s a simple formula and I think it will work. Not as well as your own real estate blog but better than just a silly page on your Company website.

About Ross Hair

Ross Hair is completely bald, a full time real estate investor and broker and founder of Social Media Marketing Camp.

About Jay Thompson

Jay Thompson is a nationally recognized awesome guy and real estate blogger aka the Phoenix Real Estate Guy.

18 Replies to “Facebook Kills the Real Estate Blog”

  1. Terrific discussion Ross. And thanks for the Roost mention.

    I thought you might find this ActiveRain thread from a post I did a year ago or so interesting. http://activerain.com/blogsview/1656401/get-ready-to-care-about-edgerank-more-than-seo. Different but related topic.

    I agree with you – the Phoenix Real Estate guys of the world can get tons of leverage out of blogs still and I think Facebook opens up even more for them.

    But the average REALTOR is not Jay T. Nor will they ever be (I’m not ever going to hit a 90 MPH fastball at this stage, no matter how hard I try). Facebook is an amazing alternative for that person. Free, engaging, network driven, with elements of CRM baked in. And there are lots of tools to help folks use it more effectively…

  2. Interesting article Ross, and I think you’re both right…and you’re both wrong. You see, Jay is right that you should not put listings on a facebook page (at least not directly). You should have a blog whereby you can post listings, and all sorts of useful information about your real estate market. The key is to provide your readers with solid content that will truly give them a reason to read. If you mix in your listings to this blog, it will be fantastic. Now, as for facebook, you’re absolutely right as well…you need to have a Facebook page because that’s where the people are. However, you don’t want to put your listings there. You can bring them up in conversation, or post your blog posts that contain your listings, but for the most part you want to keep things social and actually interact with the people that visit your page (this is after all social media isn’t it). If you have your blog automatically post to your facebook page, and keep all of your other posts social, you will start to generate an audience. That way when you do put a blog post with your new listing up, people are actually going to look at it because you’ve developed relationships with them through your many conversations, and they know who you are. This is very different than simply putting your new listings on your facebook page and expecting miracles to happen.

    Here’s the bottom line. You need to think of facebook as your conversation and relationship building medium. This is separate from your blog which is your information and content medium. The true power is when you co-mingle these two concepts together bringing the audience you build on facebook to see the content you build on your blog. These two concepts work for real estate AND any other business that you can think of.

  3. I think the real estate blog how I have seen them NEEDS to be dead. If you have a good hyper-local blog- that is where I think the sweet spot is for “blogging” in 2011. I’m talking interviews with the Mayor, video coverage of festivals– honestly– it shouldn’t be a real estate blog– but a blog about your community, sponsored by you, the real estate pro.

    But to the point of the article. Yes, be on Facebook! “Be where your clients are”– and many of them are on Facebook.

  4. I agree with this 100% “There’s no way that a Facebook Page can even begin to compare with hosting your own real estate blog and packing it with search friendly hyper local content.

    With your own blog you control the look, feel and architecture of the blog. You own it. You own the content. You own the SEO and Google Juice, you own the conversation”.

    Facebook is for your sphere of influence, people that already know you in my opinion while blogging is not only for those people, but for people that didn’t even known your name until they found you via a search engine.

    I’ll take both, thanks!

    Shanna

  5. Ross -this is a really great post and debate that I think many of us are having lately. All things equal, owning your own content and self hosted WordPress blog is really the ONLY way to go.

    Obviously we all need to have a strong social media presence and I encourage all Realtors / businesses to have a Facebook page.

    I agree with you about FB being simple and free … but let’s be honest whether you are going to have a WordPress blog or Facebook page you need to have some technical skills, primarily for html and image design.

    When it comes down to it (Blog or FB) … you need nice images, optin forms, idx links, plugins / applications, etc….

    the best solution (in my opinion) is Realtors must have a self hosted WP blog and FB page. The first step is to create content that provides massive value, focus on results first and design last.

    thanks for writing this post

  6. Jay is right about Facebook owning your friend list, and the look and feel. Should they ever decide for some reason, they can remove your entire FB presence and thousands of friends and fans instantly.

    With that said, I believe that there is a place for your listings and all things real estate related on FB even on your personal page. People dont want to be sold on Facebook but they do like to look at pictures and interact with their friends who might happen to be real estate agents who have awesome pictures of cool houses sometimes.

  7. Many many Realtors are now using social networks in vain hopes to try and finally catch up with the technology world. Sadly as it is blatantly apparent: most of them have no idea how to properly use those networks.

    I think blogging and facebook both have their place in a social media strategy. When used effectively, and in conjunction, they can be two of the most powerful means of creating content and driving traffic to gain leads and exposure for ones listings.

    I would argue that if I had to pick just one (despite the appeal of bejeweled blitz) I would like choose and recommend a blog. As you mentioned blogs offer a greater capacity to control the look of the site, and for the most part create more visually appealing content (facebook notes is pretty lame, and adding custom tabs to a fan page still requires some html or design skill). I’ll make no argument that for getting the traffic base and interacting on a regular basis, publishing listings, and quick links Facebook likely has a strong advantage. However, that said in the broader picture blogs allow users to create site depth and make use of canonical url structures which can prove to be very effective for search engine optimization. (listen, you can hear the Realtors eyes glazing over)

    But truthfully, why settle for just one? Use them both and leverage the advantages of both for the best results…now if only I could figure out how to herd kittens. ; )

  8. Being an investor and not an agent I see the need and value in using both.
    What I notice is most people who have blogs have them setup wrong to maximize their effect. Keywords, Page Rank and other factors can be obtained quickly by having a properly setup site. If more and more people use Facebook as their main site for marketing it doesn’t allow them to truly brand themselves nor does it allow them to target leads or capture the like a WordPress based site would.
    So I hope they move over to Facebook that way I can DOMINATE the blogsphere.

  9. Jenet …. Aweber is vastly superior to MailChimp. But MailChimp has a much larger free thresh hold.
    If budget isn’t a problem I recommend the following (in order):

    Aweber
    Constant contact
    Mail Chimp

  10. Brian,

    There is absolutely a place for listings on Facebook … just don’t expect to sell real estate on any social network.

    Putting listings on a Facebook Page (not your personal profile) is a passive lead generating tool.

  11. Hi Alex,

    Good to see Roost gathering a head of steam again.

    There’s no doubt that a hyper local blog really works … but it takes a great deal of work.

    Bloggers like Jay et al earn their success.

    P.S – I kept Roost on as Sponsor for SMMCamp 9. Can we give away a few accounts?

  12. Hey Ross!

    Great blog post. You make some very interesting points as to the obstacles a real estate professional must overcome to familiarize themselves with online marketing mediums. What would you suggest is the first step a real estate agent or professional in the industry should take to break out of their comfort zone? I think the biggest problem is not a real estate agent’s lack of know-how, but their need for a “quick-fix” and “quick return”. Building an online presence, as I’m sure you know better than anyone else, requires investment and time. You’re not going to become a Ross Hair or PhoenixRealtyGuy over night. That’s the way it is with Facebook as well. Just because you create a brand new Facebook page today, it doesn’t mean you’ll get 10,000 fans or people liking your page right away.

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