NAR_grey_logo-01

Nobody Cares About Your Custom Facebook Page

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

This is my opinion, based on anecdotal evidence. If you think you can prove me wrong, please speak up.

All the social media experts are telling you you have to have a Facebook page for your business. Okay, that’s a good idea. But then they tell you to invest time and resources into customizing said Facebook page. They tell you to brand it with your colors and add listing data. They even tell you to direct your non-Facebook Web traffic to your Facebook page via some badge on your Web site, or mention it in your marketing material.

Hogwash. Sure, most of this advice will produce some success, but I’m not convinced it’s worth the return on investment.

Let’s start with branding and customization of a Facebook page. There’s two big reasons why I don’t see this as a priority. One, very few people will ever think to visit your page. They will see the content you post in their own news stream, and they can comment or like it right from that stream. They don’t need to go to your page and probably don’t want to as they didn’t log in to Facebook with you in mind.

Second, even if they do end up on your page, people who are surfing Facebook are expecting a Facebook user experience. A non-customized page looks like the rest of Facebook. That’s often a superior user experience to customizing Facebook to sort of look like your brand. The quality of a Facebook page is in its content, not the fancy colors. Nobody cares about your custom Facebook page.

I also think the idea of publishing your listings on a Facebook page is overrated. If you get someone on Facebook who really does want to look at homes, your first goal should be to get them off of Facebook and onto a platform where you make the rules and can properly ask for the sale. This is most usually an independent Web site.

Finally, the part I like least: promoting your Facebook page through other mediums. This might work for Pepsi, or Ford, or even the National Association of REALTORS®, but you are selling real estate. Your sales cycle is far too great to be directing traffic off of your real Web site and onto Facebook. You make the rules on your site. You can ask for the sale there. You have the most control over moderating user content and delivering a proper real estate search. Why on Earth would you want to throw that away be sending this traffic off to Facebook?

You want a successful Facebook strategy for real estate? Deliver lots of interesting content to the wall of your Facebook page and encourage those reading that content to visit your Web site. There. You’re done.

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.

More Posts - Website - Twitter

Comments
  1. Definitely some good points to consider. I would like to add:

    In order for people to find your Facebook page, so that you can deliver the interesting content and and get them to your website, you have to let them know it exists. That would be the purpose of promoting your page in other mediums. By adding your Facebook page link to your website and marketing materials you are letting people know they can find you on Facebook too. And that may be the place where they choose to start interacting with you.

    The goal is definitely to get people to your website, where you have control. But, you can use your Facebook page to build some trust and relationship first. Then move them to your website.

    Custom landing pages are definitely not required to be successful on Facebook – your content is much more important. But, if you are directing them to the page from an outside source, having a landing page to welcome them and guide them can be helpful.

    Just some thoughts!

  2. Well said Todd, I agree with you on this. We use twitterfeed to push a snippet of all our posts out to Facebook and Twitter, thus redirecting them back to our blog to read it. You need to keep people on YOUR site, not on some other one. Great article :)

  3. Ash

    Great post Todd, but I think you are missing the point of customizing your Facebook page. Its not just to appeal to the people who already are fans (Like you), but to convince non fans who land on your page that you are interesting so they become fans. Its not all about the colors and the branding, but providing an experience that sets you apart from other Facebook pages. One idea I love for a Facebook Fan page is to create a funny and/or interesting video of you talking to your potential fans about why they should join your page. You can setup your account to have people land on this tab when they come to your FB fan page.

  4. Todd,

    I agree that content is far more important than customizing a facebook page. However, I think you are missing the point in that the custom landing page is for people to know what the fan page is about. It takes little effort to set it up and usually doesn’t require any changes. Once I have become a fan, I never see it but makes it simpler for me to know what the page is about before I decide to fan it…

    With vanity URL’s for pages, it is much easier for them to land on a welcome page (describing your page) rather than the wall.

  5. I wanted to be the first to comment!

    You know I’m going to disagree. On a couple of levels.

    1. a Facebook Page creates a level of privacy for you as well as the visitor that your profile could if you managed to get the privacy levels right and FB didn’t change something in the meantime.

    2. a Facebook Page is indexed by Search Engines. I can run Google Analytics on a FB Page. Not that I am centered on analytics but some people are.

    3. Everything you can do in on your profile, you can do in a FB Page.

    4. Your Profile can only have 5,000 friends – Your Facebook Page = Unlimited.

    5. The more engagement you have in your FB page the higher you will rank in the FB search bar. That’s important. People you don’t know will go to that bar and start typing in their town name – you profile will NOT come up – your Page will.

    6. You can direct the new visitor or not logged in to FB visitor to ANY tab you chose on your Facebook Page as a landing tab. You cannot do this with your profile.

    7. Like your website or blog, your FB page is NOT permission only. Anyone can view it.

    7a. Unlike your website or blog, when someone leaves a comment – do all their friends see that they just did? (this argument is getting weaker with wider FB open graph implementation)

    7b. Unlike your Personal Profile – I would need to ask your permission to connect and that permission has to be granted.

    8. a Custom Facebook Page (landing tab) is something different. It stands out in the sea of mindless drab pages. It offers you (the page owner) the ability to deliver to the new visitor a message as to “WHY” they should “like” your page. Will sending them to your wall or heaven forbid, your info tab do that?

    Why is that important?
    When they do, they just approved your ability to market to them on an ongoing basis. They may NEVER come back to your page again but every time you post to your page wall it will show in their stream. A properly built custom tab not only looks different, it has the same look and feel of the blog or website you want to get them to and it converts visitors to “Likes” (or Fans or whatever you want to call them)

    a Page still doesn’t give you the license to SPAM your fans. It’s just another facet on a very popular site in which to engage people.

  6. Ash – creating any sort of fun videos is a great idea. That’s great content. Great content is what Facebook pages are all about. Also, can you point to any evidence that “creating an experience that sets you apart from the rest of Facebook” converts to more business? It sounds counterintuitive to me. Facebook is already providing a world class user experience. Seems to me that RE agents should focus on leveraging that experience with something they excel in. Great content.

    Devon – I get the concept of building trust. But, I think a personal blog is the best place to do that. IMO, Social Networks should be a funnel to encourage people to come to your site.

  7. I so agree with you. As someone who has seen the value of Social Media, I have not been able to embrace Facebook as the hype says I should. I guess I don’t “Like”

  8. Todd-

    Bingo! Nobody sells a house online. The whole purpose of social media marketing is to create an appointment (F2F) opportunity.

    Create interesting content on your business page wall. If you become a friend of your own business page, then like any other friend, that content shows up on your personal page. If your stuff is good enough people will come to your business page out of curiosity…after enough exposure to quality content. Once there, they MAY become a fan. Or they may not. If they do become a fan, then your content will show on their wall where their friends can see it. That’s where the viral nature comes into play. Having a custom page that looks like your website feeds your ego and IMNSHO doesn’t add to the Facebook experience of your visitors.

    I think a good use of a custom Facebook page would be to create a lead capture page where you offer something of value to the visistor in exchange for their email address. There is a ton of quality material on realtor.org that could be used as the “thing of value”.

    Once you have that address you can send them information about listings, open houses, trends etc. Over time the combination of emails and Facebook content can serve to build the relationship that hopefully will lead to a F2F meeting.

    Another key point is that if you don’t start building ways to saty in touch opurtside of Facebook you are at the mercy of Facebook. And as we have seen many times, Facebook changes the rules frequently.

    Great post and one that has needed to be said.

  9. Mike, we really only disagree on point 8. I said in my post that creating a fan page is a good idea. But what happens next for many agents is the process of trying to pimp out their page with all sorts of stuff. I just don’t see that as a top priority. The content matters so much more.

  10. True – Content is still KING no matter what the medium.

  11. I’ve said this before myself … All activities on social networks should direct people back to your hub. All content should be hosted on your main site and linked back to. Tell people just enough to make them want to click through.

    Own and control your content.

  12. Todd, A great read!.. I’ve been sort of lost lost in the maze of ideas around customisation and making our business pages ‘different’. The bigger picture of content being king is no doubt where its at. If I may I’ll use a great Australian saying that applies really well here… “A pig with lipstick is still a pig”

    Thanks for a great article!

    Cheers!

    Peter Brewer from Australia

  13. Agreed, but I still the non-fan pages are a great way yo connect with folks online. I try to “friend” website leads on Facebook, and I’ve had some success converting them.

  14. What about the argument that you are talking about real estate business and those who say you need a pretty custom Facebook page are talking about building community?

    What do you say to that?

    I said “Hogwash”

    Then again I don’t understand Facebook much.

  15. Oh come on… don’t say nobody. Certainly the person with the custom FB page cares! Next you are going to say that nobody cares about the glamour photo on your business card or the fact that you were the #1 REALTOR in Your Corner of the World.

    I’d have to agree that the main purpose of my FB page is to use valuable and interesting content to drive people to my busines hub which is my blog or website.

  16. I think that any form of advertising is a plus. Facebook is free, why not utilize it, and invite your friends to be fans? Someone always knows someone looking to buy or sell a home, and I have gotten several inquiries, a potential listing and a closed sale, and some referrals just sitting at my PC in the evening chatting and socializing with people I know.

    In this market I would use any and all opportunities at my disposal. It couldn’t hurt! Good Luck to you all!!!

  17. Todd,

    Could you please clarify for us exactly what you mean by Facebook Custom Pages? Based on the comments, it sounds like there needs to be a clear definition of exactly what it is you are saying nobody cares about. Is your definition of a Custom Facebook Page a tab within a Business Facebook Page created with custom FBML/HTML that most use as a landing page to persuade someone to “Like” the page? Or is it the entire Facebook Business Page platform itself, including all of the tabs, applications etc? Sometimes it sounds like you are an advocate for the Business Page platform t and just don’t see a point in the custom landing page tab, while at other times, and in some of your responses to comments it sounds like you aren’t an advocate for the entire business page concept and are saying that we only need a personal profile. Before I share my thoughts, I’d like to make sure I am commenting on the correct point.

    Thank you!
    AK

  18. Sam Zivot

    Social media is not about short term sales success. It’s about creating and fostering relationships, with an expectation that these relationships could turn into future clients or recommendations. If you use Facebook to provide valuable real estate information and insight, people will regard you as an expert and surely think of you, when it is time to buy/sell their home.

    It’s not just an exercise in sales, it’s an exercise in relationship building and personal branding.

    The biggest mistake of the social media amateur, is thinking that it’s going to have an immediate impact on sales/bottom line. Depending on your industry it may, but ultimately it’s about building goodwill and making connections to people. Social Media is not a path to instant success or super stardom. It’s a long term business function, that you must stick with for the long term to expect results.

    Provide your fans/followers with real value and industry expertise and you’ll get real value in return. This is not advertising, it’s a conversation and your business is just the sponsor.

  19. Wow Todd,

    I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite a while and share a lot of your thoughts. The first thing that struck me when I saw the welcome pages that people are setting up was that it was almost anti-Facebook. It really started taking you away from the Facebook experience and now dropped me back in display advertising.

    Mike Mueller is working pretty hard on these customizations and has some very valid points. My main concern is “first impression”, if that first impression is so alien to the Facebook experience than maybe that welcome page customization needs to be re-thought. I’m not picking on Mike’s designs, he showed me what he was doing in Phoenix and it is very interesting and I can see the benefits however I’ve been slow to accept the welcome page as it has not hit me as natural to the Facebook interface. That really has nothing to do with the designs I’ve seen but more that its not what I expect to land on when navigating through Facebook.

    I reserve the right to be wrong, ;)

    I think there is a place for Facebook business pages-fan pages or whatever you want call them. See, what most people don’t talk about is the huge voyeur society that lives on the Internet. Just because you have one or two comments and a few likes on something you put on Facebook, doesn’t automatically mean no one’s watching. The participators are the tip of the iceberg. The voyeurs or lurkers are consuming a far larger chunk of the discussion than you’ll ever realize. The business-fan page gives the voyeur population an unobstructed view to watch safely from the distance.

    They’re far more many people who want to stick their toe in the water before jumping all the way in. As for generating business off Facebook, I found a very particular formula that really involves old-school business relationship skills to leverage your personal Facebook page. It all goes back to working your core sphere of influence which should all be your Facebook friends.

    I believe more people log into Facebook when they first get up in the morning before e-mail. e-mail has become a chore where the social connections of Facebook and the goings-on are more exciting than your inbox.

  20. AK Stout – I am not against Pages in general. I said so my post. However, I do think some people are spending to much time trying to make them pretty and not enough time trying to make them relevant, entertaining, or informative.

  21. People today want to avoid “advertisements”… that is what TIVO is all about. Doing more in less. I think you do yourself a dis-service by posting your new listings on FB. It comes across as “advertising” where posting a comment about helping someone buy or sell does not. Friends want to know what is going on, but they don’t want to see your ads flashed all over the place. Social media is just that… social. And that social “in” gives you room to make other “ins” with people if you are not pushing advertisements.

  22. Interesting that anyone could say such a thing Todd and Mike Mueller says:
    May 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    All these are very valid points and it quite obvious Mike is getting after the search engine market. My FaceBook page went to number 3 in a weeks time…….

    Please see comments below Mikes…..

    I wanted to be the first to comment!

    You know I’m going to disagree. On a couple of levels.

    1. a Facebook Page creates a level of privacy for you as well as the visitor that your profile could if you managed to get the privacy levels right and FB didn’t change something in the meantime.

    2. a Facebook Page is indexed by Search Engines. I can run Google Analytics on a FB Page. Not that I am centered on analytics but some people are.

    3. Everything you can do in on your profile, you can do in a FB Page.

    4. Your Profile can only have 5,000 friends – Your Facebook Page = Unlimited.

    5. The more engagement you have in your FB page the higher you will rank in the FB search bar. That’s important. People you don’t know will go to that bar and start typing in their town name – you profile will NOT come up – your Page will.

    6. You can direct the new visitor or not logged in to FB visitor to ANY tab you chose on your Facebook Page as a landing tab. You cannot do this with your profile.

    7. Like your website or blog, your FB page is NOT permission only. Anyone can view it.

    7a. Unlike your website or blog, when someone leaves a comment – do all their friends see that they just did? (this argument is getting weaker with wider FB open graph implementation)

    7b. Unlike your Personal Profile – I would need to ask your permission to connect and that permission has to be granted.

    8. a Custom Facebook Page (landing tab) is something different. It stands out in the sea of mindless drab pages. It offers you (the page owner) the ability to deliver to the new visitor a message as to “WHY” they should “like” your page. Will sending them to your wall or heaven forbid, your info tab do that?

    Why is that important?
    When they do, they just approved your ability to market to them on an ongoing basis. They may NEVER come back to your page again but every time you post to your page wall it will show in their stream. A properly built custom tab not only looks different, it has the same look and feel of the blog or website you want to get them to and it converts visitors to “Likes” (or Fans or whatever you want to call them)

    If a person shows up as 1, 2, 3, 4 on Google when it is searched and number 3 is FB hmmm how can that not be good? The ability to communicate with 800 people at a time and put information out that you want and need to get out and it is OPT IN and free is a home run but better yet can be VIRAL if done right…….
    I am sorry I just have no idea what in the world would make you say they don’t care. If they didn’t care they would stop joining the OPT IN SITE………HMM #3 on Google that people pay through the nose to be and mine is free 2xs for two different sites one is very high end in Orlando, Florida and again free. I also because of the site have hundreds of High School age kids whose parents live in those High End Homes. The Idea being why don’t you check out this site Mom or Dad it is about the Butler Chain of Lakes you need to be on it. I will also hold events via this FB page to get the attention of all involved which will cements my name with the Butler Chain of Lakes. Social Media is on FIRE and is advertised on World Wide Networks everyday sometimes 10 to 15 times a day. FaceBook has 410,000,000 members which 45 to 65 percent are online every minute of the day………Hmmm I am sorry but to think nobody cares about your FaceBook custom page would be like saying nobody cares about anything so why try. I put together a $100,000,000 Auction is Orlando Florida 2 years ago and would have been chomping at the bit to have the FaceBook portal be as popular as it is now. I think Todd when you say things like you did in this article you give a pass to people who have no idea but should be finding out how to tap into their portion of a 410,000,000 possible market check out my web page which is a Real Estate Social Media site………called Get Global Exposure.

  23. Integrating Facebook and a social media strategy is obviously very important. I would say that before you spend money to spruce up your page, just make sure that you are strategically using Facebook otherwise you wont be as effective. OpenHousesInc.com holds a social media and technology training for real estate agents which is completely free of charge. If you’d like more information on upcoming events, check out, events.openhousesinc.com

  24. I agree completely. For the vast majority of Realtors, Facebook is a black hole of lost time. There are many more proven and effective ways to prospect, network and advertise.

    Somebody said:
    > If you use Facebook to provide valuable real estate information and insight, people will regard you as an expert and surely think of you, when it is time to buy/sell their home.

    BS. Maybe, if they don’t de-friend you first because they’re tire of reading all your real estate related crap. That’s exactly what one of my wife’s friends did. She said she de-friended all her Realtor friends because of all the garbage she had to read daily.

    Steve

  25. It’s pretty simple:
    1. Create and post content that is useful and of value to your audience
    2. If you want to use a form for people to fill out, have a page that mimics your personal web page, or want a landing page for you to link to for users use a custom FB page.
    Don’t do #2 without #1. But #1 can help make it easier for people to contact you, add their name to your email list, invite their friends to like your page.
    Do you have to have #2, no
    will #2 help you if you don’t do #1, no
    will #2 help you if you also do #1, yes, because you can offer more ways people can interact with you.

  26. I agree, can we not just have some things just for my friends and family? I want to communicate with friends and get caught up on the things they are all doing.
    NO COMMERCIALS or more junk to filter out. Get a web site and that’s enough.

  27. Todd,

    First thing I did after reading your article, was to go to your Facebook profile. You said “very few people will ever think to visit your page”, maybe I am just one of the few, but I use Facebook to check out everyone I am thinking of doing business with today. I have lots of new clients tell me that one of the reasons they decided to do business with me is because of what they saw on my Facebook page, which does have my branding information on it alone with a lot of great content.

    Great content alone will get you a little business, great content combined with great branding will get you a lot of business.

    I have also found that having my Facebook page on my brochures, website etc is a powerful direct response hook, that gets the people who do not respond to traditional offers to take that first small step towards you.

    Since you have made your Facebook profile page private, I guess you don’t want others to learn to much about you. Another social media expect that is not very social. Needless to say I did not press the friend button.

  28. Gina

    @ Steve Crossland: I completely agree with you. I’m a Realtor myself and I actualy defriended a few of my friends because their articles were too often and more times than none, not very informative OR repeat articles. Solution: Making only a Real Estate Facebook page for clients, networking, etc. and keeping your personal Facebook page for friends and family.

  29. I agree with using the standard default format for pages. I do not think people want to see a website format on Facebook. I could not agree more!

    -Keith

  30. Aurora Couture

    lol, this is an angry post.

  31. Todd,

    You are right…it serves no purpose to most people, because most people do not know how to use their social media sites to generate income. If there is a promotion, or a strategy behind using Facebook for your business, then it makes sense to customized for Facebook business fan page to give the best first impression possible.

  32. Social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. Thanks.

  33. We’ve put together a similar article called “Facebook Strategy for Realtors” which touches on a few different items: Using your Facebook Page’s wall for informal discussion, news, and educating people; posting some biographical info to help people get to know you on a personal level; and posting relevant and interesting content to achieve “top of mind” status. Check it out: http://biglikeco.com/facebook-page-strategy-for-realtors.php

  34. Very good article. I’m going through some of these issues as well..

ADD YOUR COMMENT