In February of 2021, Facebook made the very sudden and surprising decision to block all major Australian news content from its platform.
With little warning, Facebook profiles of the major TV channels, newspapers and even industry publications disappeared, as did every post we had all shared on our own profiles, sourced from those media outlets.
A week later, the drama subsided, with Facebook reinstating the news. The social media giant also returned to the negotiation table, reportedly reaching agreements with several major media outlets to remunerate them for their shared news content.
As real estate agents, there is a lot we can learn from what happened over these two fascinating weeks in February.
Most importantly, we can better understand how we can get more out of our social media practices and how we can make social media work harder for us.
Share your own content when you can
There’s nothing wrong with sharing news from other social media profiles or websites that create content relevant for your followers. It shows you have your finger on the pulse and you know what is happening.
There is something not-so-effective about sharing content from other sites, that you actually can (or do) produce yourself.
In reviewing agent forums and social media profiles during the news ban, one thing became clear – too many agents, who have their listings published on their own website, are choosing to instead share those listings from realestate.com.au and domain.
As you likely know, both realestate.com.au and domain have links to major media groups, and as such, both were considered news outlets for the purposes of the Facebook ban.
When that occurred, posts from both profiles disappeared, as did anything you shared from their websites – including some of your listing posts.
Sharing a link on Facebook does more than just engage your Facebook audience, it also delivers traffic – visitors – back to the website that is the source of the link.
When sharing your property listings, always use a link to the listing on your own site, not on the site of a major player like relestate.com.au or domain, so you and you alone benefit from your hard work!
Share more than just sales content
Something else that became abundantly clear during the Facebook news block was just how much agents rely on listings for their content.
A quick browse through most of our members’ profiles, showed in 90% of cases, almost all content posted was sales content – new listings for sale or rent.
Facebook designed its platform to create community, so needless to say, it favours content that does exactly that.
While you can and should post some of your listings – and you absolutely should pay to advertise some of them to the very specific audiences you can reach on Facebook – you should also be (more) frequently posting content that shows your expertise, knowledge and personality, paints you as approachable and adds value.
These posts build your community and the positive perception of you and your agency.
Plan content in advance
Finding enough content to post on social channels is time-consuming. One little post here and one there can mean 15 or 30 minutes here and there. Five or more posts in a week really adds up!
Sourcing and creating social content and coming up with your post commentary requires being ‘in the zone’, just like writing a listing ad does.
Jumping into the zone to do a post, going off to do other things, then trying to jump back into the zone again, can take more time than simply planning, creating and posting all your content for a week or a month, in one go.
To save some time, try creating a content calendar at the start of the month. It lists all the days in the month, all your channels, and becomes a matrix you can fill with ideas and post content.
Your calendar can be created really simply in an excel table, or you can use a free planner like Hootsuite to create posts and schedule them, so you don’t need to worry about it again until next month.
Example excel: DOT (source Hootsuite)
Example Hootsuite (source Hootsuite)
Don’t forget to also schedule in your paid social media campaigns.
As we have mentioned in the past, the Facebook algorithm favours friend and family content, so paying to reach more people is the most effective way to get your brand and your listing out there.
Above possibly everything else we learned in February, is that paid and earned media channels, like Facebook, are unpredictable.
We don’t own them, we don’t control them, and as such, there’s nothing we can do if they just decide to switch off one day, with no warning. But where will that leave us?
Many real estate agencies rely heavily on only one or two channels to promote their brand, most often, social media and email.
When thinking about building your business and your brand, consider adding more channels to the mix, so you have a strong combination of owned, earned and paid channels that will reach larger volumes of people and engage them more effectively.
Photo by Solen Feyissa