Facebook Fan Pages: The Difference Between Asking and Earning.

By Todd Carpenter, Social Media Manager, National Association of REALTORS®

I’m getting a lot of these e-mails lately:

“XXXXXX became a fan of YYYYYY on Facebook and suggested you become a fan too.”

With the advent of fan pages, savvy real estate agents are adopting Facebook as a marketing tool and using these pages to promote their business. I think this is a great idea. However, asking me to become a fan of your page puts the cart before the horse.

What have you done to earn me as a fan? You asked? That’s not enough. I don’t think I’ve ever responded to one of those e-mails.

NAR has a bunch of Facebook pages, but I’m not going to ask you to be a fan. Instead, check out this post from Chief Economist Lawrence Yun about the pressures AMC’s are placing on the market. Or, did you know that our convention department is building out a Facebook page, just for the Annual Conference and Expo?

Do you see what I’m doing here? My goal was to provide you with something you might find useful, and if you do, you’ll likely know what to do next. This is earning you as a fan instead of asking for it.

If I were selling real estate, I would build pages about the communities or activities I market through instead of a page about me. I’d build pages about my market farm, pages about the little league team I sponsor, pages about local garage sales, or for my church. Pages where possible clients find more value than a page about what a great real estate agent I am. That’s earning a following, not asking for one.

Edit – Check out Real Estate Zebra, The Social Media Handyman, and Agent Genius for their followups to this post.

Todd Carpenter

Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of the Data Analytics Group at NAR I'm a twenty year veteran of the real estate and mortgage industry, focusing on technology that fosters relationships between professionals and consumers. I am a subject matter expert in data analytics, online consumer trends, enterprise social media strategy, listing data, agent ratings, and public facing MLS portals.

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  1. Gosh darnit, Todd, you beat me to it!

    I agree with everything, and will go even one step further. . .

    If you are building a page for local real estate information, don’t ask all your realtor contacts to become a friend. Build a following organically with folks to whom the content actually matters. I’m not a fan of real estate in XYZ, USA; not because I don’t like you, but because I just don’t care.

  2. Yes, you have to earn them but you also need to lead them to where your page is.
    I’m not talking about Spam.

    For instance:
    There’s no way I can find a FB Page from your link to Lawrence Yun’s Note.
    The link to the Annual Conference and Expo is a group – not a Page.

    I do agree with Daniel – they should be your local peeps, not Agents from across the country. Instead of a FB widget on your blog that leads to your personal profile, why not change that link to your Business Page? An Agent doesn’t need more “fake” friends, they’re on FB to start that conversation and engage with potential real clients. The Page separates the real friends and family from the potential business aspect.

    You can still be a human, you can still be who you are. By sending potential clients to your Page, they still get all of makes you engaging, but they are not going to see those long lost Beer Guzzling Pics your college buddy just found and shared.

    Last night there was a lot of Fan Page Requests going on. They were primarily so the person could reach the 100 fans to secure a custom URL for their page. That was different. Brad Coy made the cut, Jim Marks is still trying.

  3. Great topic. Todd’s tweet this morning hit me sideways a little, as I was actively trying to get from 94 to 100 fans yesterday myself (to capture my URL), and in a rare move suggested via FB Page Suggestions that some people join.

    On it’s face, I can see how it can be considered spammy. I wouldn’t want someone I didn’t know sending me an email asking me to look at there website. So why did I consider this OK? And why am I not offended when I get suggestions from others?

    To begin with , FB fan pages are relatively new. I’ve got people asking me every day what they are. I don’t know who has them, and who doesn’t. I’m giving a pass during the first 2 innings of this game as we sort out the rules.

    Second, I wouldn’t send a suggestion to someone not in the RE space who I didn’t think was interested. To me, it’s more of a, “hey, I’ve got one of these shiny toys too, check it out if you want.” Maybe the word “Fan” is a misnomer, and should instead model Twitter’s “Follower”.

    Lastly, I think yesterday’s onslaught was somewhat artificial. Many of us were trying to get to the magic #100. Rightly or wrongly, there was a push to get more fans. Maybe some of us who are typically more on the permissive marketing train hit the throttle too hard. I can appreciate that.

    Daniel, you’ve got me completely confused. I didn’t know you had a Zebra Fan Page — until you told me via Twitter. I joined not because you asked me to, but because I like all the other content you’ve provided and until that tweet didn’t know you had one. I am now a FB fan of Inman news. Why? Because you enlightened me to the fact that such a page exists (via Page Suggestion, BTW).

    So where exactly are the lines? You can tweet your fanpage URL, but can’t use FB Page suggestions? You can suggest a fan page for the online community you manage, but not your own business?

    I agree with the concept of EARNING the right to have fans, I’m just not sure how strongly I feel that the Suggestion concept flies in that face.

  4. Usually, I’m all over new Social Media stuff. Lots of people I respect are creating Fanpages and asking me to join. I do so because I support the person and personally find them valuable. However, what value is there in my joining your fanpage, if I’m a member of your FB friend list? Isn’t that were the engagement that I seek as a “friend” would be found?

    Here’s my earlier Twitter comment: “Can you really call it a “Fan Page” if you created it yourself? Shouldn’t it be an “Narcissism Page”? #fb”

    I see the value for an event or large company/group; but individual agents I suppose I don’t get it. I also don’t know how much value my being a fan would be, if I’m the fan of 2000 people/things…

    Our Association has a Fanpage and we use it as an online meeting place, but I wouldn’t got there to connect with a friend – I’d go to their profile page.

  5. “Last night there was a lot of Fan Page Requests going on. They were primarily so the person could reach the 100 fans to secure a custom URL for their page. That was different.”

    Mike, This is sort of the worst part about it. The rush for fan page URL’s is creating a backlash against fan pages. These requests are now headed straight to my “bacon” folder in Gmail. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with both you and Daniel. If you sell residential real estate, the most important fans you can get are local people who are interested in what you talk about. If you engage them and provide information of value, they will become a fan naturally.

    Is it worth it to violate standards of engagement and potentially offend our fan base (or potential fan base) just to get a vanity url? Couldn’t we inform people that we have a page and what we plan to include on that page. See if it sparks an interest?

    Today, I will become a fan of some people’s pages. Not because they asked me, but because I know they will provide information that is worth my time to look at. As I said on twitter –if I become a fan of everyone’s fan page on facebook, doesn’t that minimize the value of me becoming a fan?

    I think it does. Compel me, don’t tell me.

  7. So, yeah. I agree with you guys and it makes great sense in the context of the last 6 months or so when I was thinking… “I’m so NOT a fan of yours” everytime I received one of these page requests.

    But, the last 24 hours has clearly been a different matter.
    For me it’s been about not only getting my own custom URLs together (with 100 fans) but also helping all my friends get there too!
    It’s been a very fun, very social PARTY the last 24 hours. And it was a blast watching everyone get to 100 and get their URL. In the end, this is a small group of friends around the country helping each other and it was awesome (I think).

    The timing of this post might suggest that you don’t agree with me (about last night)?

    So, aside from the gold rush fun, I TOTALLY agree. I’m not a fan of your page unless your page kicks ass.

    Maybe the filter is this… “do I know you well enough to ask you to just fan me anyway”?

    If I do know you well enough, then just “fan-me-cuz-I-asked-you”.

    If not, then man you better have some good content.

  8. I completely agree with the article. Facebook is a tool and can be used for many different ways but asking people to be fans only works with those who truly are fans. I mean as a Giants fan there’s no way that I would respond to a Dodgers “fan request”. The Giants have earned me as a fan through the years. Not so with the Dodgers. I have many happy clients and most have become Facebook friends of mine. We may do business in the future again (hopefully) but we are connected on Facebook as friends. And, that’s the way I like to conduct my business…among my friends. If they are my “fans” too that’s terrific but they are definitely friends first!

  9. I’ve been trying to be supportive of my Friends by being their Fan. Hopefully this doesn’t mean I will be getting duplicate content in my newsfeed, though. But I’m sure the un-Fan button works, too, so that’s easily corrected as it becomes necessary.

    I created my Page so that I could have a place to post business stuff without worrying about wearing out my welcome with my Friends. That’s not to say that I don’t talk any business on my personal Profile, but I am trying to keep it a little more personal. However, I am trying to avoid posting the same stuff to the Profile AND the Page.

    I have not gone after my agent friends to become my Fans because I wasn’t sure it would be appropriate. The few who have become a Fan did so of their own accord…some, undoubtedly to return a favor, which is appreciated, but there is no ill will felt toward those who don’t feel compelled.

    Good post. This is a conversation that needs to happen.

  10. Very well put Mr. Carpenter. It seems that too many people are “asking” for stuff these days rather than earning it — if you deserve to be followed, I’ll find you.

  11. “Brad Coy made the cut”

    Facebook changed the rules to claim a vanity url the day of, from 25 fans to 100. I thought this might be important (not sure it really is) since I work in a competitive market. How competitive? Well, by the time I went to claim my url, the two that I wanted were claimed by individuals with the personal url “rush” a couple weeks ago.

    I did my best not to be too spammy in my efforts to achieve 100, first by contacting 368 people directly and explaining to them what I wanted to accomplish by gaining 100+ followers. Followed by keeping a sense of humor about the whole mess on twitter and facebook for a couple hrs. throughout the evening.

    Up to this date, I have politely rejected almost any and all requests for fan pages I don’t care to be a fan of, I would only expect any one else to do the same.

    Furthermore, I agree with everything everyone is saying here. I will only be practicing my best instincts in working with Facebook Fan Pages to provide value to whomever becomes a fan of the page. I think Fan Pages, if used correctly, have great potential.

  12. I’m hoping that most of you would agree that the whole social media space including facebook is about sharing yourself as a real person. The whole fan page for individuals strips that mentality when you ask… “… suggest you to become a fan of XYZ”.

    What does it mean to be a fan of a person or company? Is the fan truly engaged in your page for content on a regular basis? In my opinion… to get wrapped up in pages as a business tool is like jumping on a bus without any destination. If everyone else is creating FB fan pages do something different. Be unique, not different.

    Todd, I like your approach upon building pages for the community activities and not use personal branding. A paradigm switch for most but I’m sure will pay off big dividends.

    The personal profiles, connections, and real conversations are what are helping real estate agents make money. Take the FORD (family, organizational, recreation, and dreams) approach with FB when prospecting with individuals on FB.

    Thanks Daniel for posting to your FB status update. I would have overlooked this discussion otherwise.

  13. While I agree in principal with what everyone is saying here this is not about getting fans as a way to engage other professionals, this was simply using your network to help overcome an artificial barrier to entry created by Facebook to claim a valuable asset. So sure – engage the hell out of anyone else and earn the right to fans in the future; but hopefully friends can step up for one another to help them claim important online real estate (see Brad Coy’s and Matt Fagioli’s comments) when artificial restrictions are keeping them from potentially improving their livelihood. I fanned everyone who asked last night. I probably won’t stay; but I hope they got the URL they wanted or needed for their business to continue to succeed.

  14. Morgan, I wouldn’t risk annoying even one member of my sphere of influence to secure the last few letters of Facebook’s URL. Bet hey, that’s me.

    However, I’ve been having this conversation with people for the last few months. Last night’s rush was simply the catalyst for finally writing this post.

  15. Many great points here. Fan pages serve many, many purposes. People join for many different reasons. While it’s easy to jump to conclusions and make quick decisions about these popular Facebook tools, the bottom line for any business is to generate REAL fans. Facebook fan pages are just one of many tools with which to reach your goals. Think of your fan page as a tool, not the end goal. If your final goal is to get people to become fans, challenge yourself to take the next (and very critical) steps. What do you offer your fans? Why would they come back? How do you make it easier for them to tell friends and family about you? Most importantly, treat your fans like you would want to be treated. At the end of the day, effective online social media marketing works just like real-life marketing, except for when you are sleeping.

  16. New new to FB Fan pages, I recently set ours up and understand that it can serve a number of purposes. I have been and will be offering value and content for others and hope they will check us out. I learned several days ago that we would need at least 25 fans to register the page, and then this morning that FB changed that rule and minimum to 100. What? So I am like Jim Marks and have not yet made the cut. Have asked others to join our Fan page with the idea to reach the 100 level and secure a custom URL for the page. Once I reach the FB 100 required minimum, I will stop asking for fans and will work with FB to provide value for others.


  17. I’ll jump in here too. I’ve had a page for quite some time. Can’t even remember how long. Up until last night I’ve not pushed or promoted it with any frequency. It had slowly grown from 1 to 5 to 15… All the way to 63 or 64 (I can’t remember exactly). I was (like Brad) under the impression that the “magic” number was 25. Most of my 63ish “fans” were local friends & even some I don’t know who’ve stumbled upon it. This is a good thing since it’s why the page is there. To provide real estate related information for the Vancouver, WA area.

    Enter 9PM last night… They changed the rules! Ugh… I’ll say thank you to my friends from around the country who stepped up to help me get to the “stupid” number 100. Hopefully you find value there and if not, please dump me and I promise to not be offended. The most interesting thing about the “rush” is that almost all of the new fans I obtained as I reached 100 were local friends and followers on Twitter who had no idea my page existed! This is cool since they are the ones it is designed for.

    I agree with Matt that it was a ton of fun helping and watching as each tried to reach their goal and yes, Brad Coy had some of the best tweets of the night last night!!!

    Thanks again to those who helped me get “VancouverWARealEstate”. ;?)

  18. I am guilty as charged.. I tried to convince myself that if I asked nicely and truly committed to earn the readership that was pledged I was different. In essence, I was like everybody else…Afterword, I reflected…and actually felt bad….no. terrible for the process. I freakin know better and have worked way to hard to earn the reputation I have. I would have lectured others for behaving as I did. In every rush, Gold, DotCom IPOs, or Tulip Bulbs people rationalize against their better judgment to get what is deemed valuable and the same happened today.

  19. This has been a great discussion. I learned at least 2 things yesterday, which makes it a great day:

    – Some people are annoyed by Fan Page suggestions, so….don’t do that. Ever. And certainly don’t do it if you’re one of the folks who have railed against it on Twitter or the comments here.

    – Some people (myself included) justified sending out ANY fan page suggestions (I sent out about 15) by using the FB URL deadline issue. In truth, it doesn’t matter. If you are committed to building a permission asset, build the permission asset and if it’s good enough people will find it.

  20. Thanks Todd for helping real estate agents to stay relevant and current. You, along with all of the commentors here, are bringing up great info!


  21. It’d be cool if people posted in the comments Facebook Groups or Pages that they’ve created that have been successful. I think it would give us ideas of groups or pages we could start in our own communities.

  22. Facebook has a long list of email notification settings. As an avid user of the utility it’s something I’ve taken advantage of being as any and all notifications on FB can be considered spam and or annoying, like Mob Wars, Vampire Clubs, throwing sheep, pokes, and the occasional here’s a picture I took of the back of your head at 30 feet in a group of people notification.

    Go to settings > notifications > and select on or off for to adjust your noise level.

    Again, I agree with the difference between asking and earning as stated in the post. But, Facebook is inherently built on the idea of networking and pinging you in a variety of ways which can be annoying to a fault to say the least.

  23. Wow! This topic really created a buzz 🙂 I hadn’t thought much about it before now, but I have become a “fan” of numerous people and sites because I know, like and trust the person making the request. I believe that’s the secret. You either have to have great superlative content – or you have to be someone that the recipient of the request is happy to become a “fan” of blindly, so to speak. Seems like most agree with these thoughts…

  24. That was interesting. I play more on Facebook than do actual Real Estate, so I didn’t join it to sell, sell, sell and reiterate I AM A REALTOR (LOL). I joined it to be social and have more play friends than business friends. Fun part is, my play friends are hiring me. Haaaaa! They IM me there and DM me listings all day and know the exact moment I am on-line. They e-mail me if I don’t show up and actually say I haven’t seen you on Facebook. Guess who doesn’t have a listing on her CTannSTarr page anywhere? (ROTFLMAO). How’s that for irony? 🙂 I guess I’ll have to check the Outside Blog Minion Report to see if there may be a listing or two over there. I don’t think so, but I do post other people’s links on my pages, sooooo I may be wrong about that. Oh well… 😀

    Awesome post. Enjoying the commentary. 🙂

  25. “If I were selling real estate, I would build pages about the communities or activities I market through instead of a page about me. I’d build pages about my market farm, pages about the little league team I sponsor, pages about local garage sales, or for my church. Pages where possible clients find more value than a page about what a great real estate agent I am. That’s earning a following, not asking for one.”

    If you’re doing all of this how do you remind those fans you’re a Realtor? Isn’t the real key to interacting with your sphere group to remind they you’re a Realtor and if they know someone selling or buying a home to refer you?

  26. I’m new to the real estate scene but it seems there is a fundamental shift going on.

    The shift seem to going from the me to we.

    What can create to engage the end user.
    What resources can I share.
    What news is vital to educate the community.

    So instead of my face it’s the face of the community that I’m in.

    And I’m just an ambassador.


  27. The trend seems to be growing even years after this article was first posted. Marketing on the internet for Realtors is about creating value to the consumer. Anytime you can create valuable content and seamlessly integrate it on Facebook, Twitter, websites, youtube etc. you can’t loose. Once you create value, clients come.