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Facebook: Marketing for Your Buyers Now

B.J. Bounds
Aug 02, 2012

Have you stubbornly refused to jump on board with social media? Do you dismiss all entreaties by friends and family members to sign up on Facebook? If so, it may be time to rethink your stance, particularly when it comes to your mortgage business. In 2011, first-time homebuyers made up 40 percent of the market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average age of those buyers was 31 years-old. Ninety-five percent of those first-time homebuyers under the age of 44 used the Internet to buy their homes. According to CheckFacebook.com, 52.9 percent of Facebook users in the United States are between the ages of 25 and 54. NAR reports that 55 percent of repeat buyers in 2011 were in that same age group. What does this mean to you? Your buyers are on Facebook ... you should be too. Facebook is no longer about keeping in touch with high school classmates that you possibly didn’t like anyway or reading inane updates from third cousins you’ve never met. It’s a viable business tool for today’s business climate. And the cost? Your time and energy. Facebook is your platform to jump straight into a built-in network of clients, potential clients and referral partners. Facebook is ready-made to bring you business; you just have to learn ways to harness its power for your needs. Friends vs. foes We’ve all been in businesses that keep tip jars on the counter, right? Sometimes that first dollar bill is put in there by the manager or owner. Why? It’s seeding the jar. Put something in there and more will follow. That’s the concept with setting up your Facebook page and getting all your friends and family members to “Like” it. The pages they “Like,” including yours, will show up for all of their friends to see, and even non-friends who land on their pages. It’s a silent word-of-mouth referral system. Now that you’ve seeded your page with Likes, you can figure out who is coming in and following you. You can discover your “foes.” Take some time each month and find out who is following you on Facebook. You might just see some of your competitors on your list! That means you’re doing something right and posting information your clients (and everybody else) finds useful. If you see new visitors, make sure to send them a note. If they are former clients or maybe someone who applied but didn’t follow through, look them up in your LOS database and tailor your message to them; let them know you remember them. A personal touch goes a long way and they will be happy to refer you to their Facebook friends. A simple updated status like “Wow, the broker that did my last home loan (@yourname) remembered my anniversary” can work wonders! Quality vs. quantity Think about time with your family. What is more meaningful to you: spending hours watching TV in the same room every day or sitting down to dinner for 30 minutes each evening? Is quantity more important than quality or is quality the most impactful? I think you’re going to find that a balance of both is the best driver of your Facebook success. It doesn’t matter that your first followers comprise your entire network of friends and family. Even those will lead to other followers, as their networks see that they’re following you and might visit. Having a large amount of followers helps you on the marketing front just from sheer numbers. Visitors cannot help but think you’ve got something special they might be interesting in too! But inevitably, growing your fan base leads to a more rewarding crop of followers, which is the quality of followers you need for business growth. You cannot have one without the other, and you definitely want to have both. Decide your priorities and make a plan for the growth of your base, then set your goals accordingly. Private vs. public For every intelligent, thought-provoking comment or question, there is a “loud” obnoxious one. Often “haters” take to the Internet to hide behind obscure user names to target companies, whether they have a legitimate complaint or not. With Facebook, there is little anonymity. You always know who is posting on your page—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Like with the subject of quantity vs. quality, there is a delicate balance to responding to attacks or negative comments. You must be very carefully to address the issue without alienating your network audience. Like many of our actions in life, our tendency to air our dirty laundry and view that of others (think Jerry Springer) must be tempered with the need for professional decorum. So what does that mean? If you get a negative comment on your Facebook page—and you probably will—you should address it privately, but respond to it publically. In other words, if you don’t recognize the user, do your research. Search your LOS database, your CRM, use Google, whatever tool you have at your disposal to figure out what experience you have had with the commenter. Then, contact that individual, privately and directly. Once you have spoken, respond publically via your Facebook page that you appreciate his or her concern and hope the conversation you had was beneficial and resolved any outstanding issues. If it was a legitimate complaint, you have resolved it and your followers know that you have addressed it behind the scenes. If it was not, then you have given your commenter a gesture of goodwill by not exposing the true nature of the comment and it might even help you gain favor in the future. You vs. an army If you remember the old shampoo commercial where the model said she would tell her friends about it "And they'll tell their friends—and so on, and so on ...?” The concept is about referrals and word of mouth marketing. You don’t have to build your Facebook page alone. Use your army of referral and business partners. If you have a Facebook page, chances are they do as well. You can help each other by building credibility through comments, original posts and links. Levy the time, talent and resources of your partners. They may have access to news and updates that your followers could use too. Using Facebook between partners is the easiest form of sharing and business promotion that you can do at no cost. It’s easy to do and it takes no time at all to post or repost helpful information for your followers and fellow industry professionals. Join groups relevant to your business and participate in their discussions as well. These “conversations” can go a long way in helping you build your network of referral partners. Then vs. now Nobody goes into business to fail. No matter how you conducted business in the past, it’s important to consider all available tools that will help you grow your business today. Not that you have to participate in every social media outlet that exists, but being selective and strategizing your growth plan is very important. If 95% of the target demographic is using the Internet to buy a home, then that is where you need to be. Narrow that down to the percentage of users on Facebook, and you’ve found an excellent starting place. Facebook is very popular for personal use, but has gained tremendously in popularity for business in the last few years. While it may irk you to jump on the bandwagon previously reserved for teenagers and college students, now is the time. Market your business; grow your business—by being where your clients are. Facebook is right for you right now. BJ Bounds is senior marketing communications specialist for Calyx Software. In addition to media relations and copywriting, BJ is a contributing author to the Calyx Software blog, CalyxCorner. She has more than 10 years of experience in sales and corporate marketing with a focus on technology that spans several industries. She may be reached by phone at (800) 362-2599 or visit www.calyxsoftware.com.
Published
Aug 02, 2012
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