Using Facebook as a primary listing strategy

16th June 2020

There is no escaping Facebook, it is part of our personal and professional lives. By strategically utilising the tools it offers, real estate agents can connect better with their community, grow their audience and effectively market property. In this episode of Digital You, powered by LJ Hooker, social media coach Valentina Borbone explores the tips and tricks to unlocking Facebook’s marketing potential. With host Steve Carroll, founder of Digital Live, Valentina reveals how to boost your post views, the reason why the first hour is critical for getting traction, and just how much you need to spend on a Facebook marketing campaign to sell property.


Steve (00:00):
So, here’s a question. Do you remember when you first joined Facebook, when you first signed up for Facebook? Now, whether or not you love the platform or hate it, you can’t ignore it. There’s no escaping Facebook in your personal and work life. Now, most of you who are listening to this podcast will surely be part of the Facebook community, and it is evolving all of the time, but how do you list properties on Facebook to maximize the exposure and get real good value for money?

Steve (00:38):
My name’s Steve Carroll. I’m delighted to be talking about Facebook today with Valentina Borebone in the LJ Hooker recording studio in Sydney. Valentina is one of the leading social media coaches in Australia. She knows everything there is to know about Facebook. We’re going to talk about selling property, listing property and using Facebook properly. Valentina, hello.

Valentina (01:04):

Steve (01:04):
So, let’s kick off with, I don’t understand Val if I’m really honest with you, this organic versus sponsored versus paid marketing, what’s going on there? What’s the difference?

Valentina (01:16):
Okay. So, firstly organic means free and organic simply means that it’s grown all on its own without having to put any paid money behind it, your paid or your sponsored is the same thing. It is different to boosting, so whilst they both use money, they do have different ways of doing things. So, to explain organic, when we had Facebook come onto the market 15 years ago, like most new platforms they’re free to operate, free to have profiles. And what they saw was businesses jumping on board, not just individuals, and building this awesome network and connection. So, just like any other media publisher, don’t forget that they are a media publisher, that’s why it’s called social media. They decided to monetize that platform and they said, “Wow, you know what? You’ve built this awesome audience, good on you. But now you can pay to talk to them.”

Valentina (02:06):
Now that’s no different to TV, or to radio, or magazines, or newspapers. So, I don’t really think it’s that obscure that Facebook turned around and said, “Great. Now you want to talk to your audience. You can pay for it.” We just got so used to something that was free. Now again, you think about newspapers, they’re now behind paid walls for a digital edition. You can pay for it to buy it in the newsagent or you can pay for it to watch it on your digital platform. So, is it any different? Not really at all. But what you do find is organic reach and this is where a lot of people get confused is, Facebook is allowing you to still post as a business and I’m only talking about business pages, they are allowing you to post for free, but only to reach a certain proportion of your audience. So, that percentage net is now down to one to 2% of your total audience base. So, if you’ve got 10,000 followers or fans, only one to 2% will organically see that in their feed. Now, seeing it in your feed and actually having consumers see it themselves are two different things. So, that’s what you have to keep in mind, that it’s not going to reach everybody for free that’s why we have to sponsor or boost a post in the first place. So, that’s the big difference with organic.

Steve (03:18):
Okay, Val. So, what we’re saying here is, just imagine I’m a real estate agent, I have a real estate business in Brisbane, and I’ve got this community, this Facebook community who are connected with me through my business page. Let’s say the community is 1000 strong and what you’re saying Val, is if I write a post, only a few of those connections are actually going to read it if I’m relying on it being free and that’s what we call organic.

Valentina (03:50):
That’s right.

Steve (03:50):
So, I have two options really, I can boost the post

Valentina (03:54):
Or you can sponsor.

Steve (03:54):
… or I can spend some money sponsoring the post. Can we talk about both?

Valentina (03:59):
Absolutely. So, firstly from an organic point of view, if you do want to try and maximize how many people get that. So, I’ve seen some posts reach 5% of an audience organically and that is because the first hour counts. So, the algorithm on Facebook says, “If you’re going to get a lot of traction early on.” So, the moment I post and so I’ve got people commenting and sharing and then tagging other people and there’s lots of conversation happening. Facebook’s going to reward that post by pushing the algorithm into more of your organic reach. So, more of my friends or connections, will actually see that start to appear because there’s a lot of noise happening. So, if you can get that happening within the first hour of posting that’ll work to your advantage, the other option is the boost or paid option. So, firstly boosting simply means that you’re going to put money into talking to more of your current fan base. Okay? So, it’s more of your already connected people will actually get it in their feed. So, that’s a nice way of saying, “My warm audience.” More of my warm audience will actually get part of this message.

Valentina (05:01):
Then you’ve got sponsored which says, “I can now reach people outside of my current fan base.” Now, if you’ve already got fans, they should hopefully be engaging with your content on a regular basis and some of them will actually seek it out. So, when you have sponsored content, you’re actually trying to find more people who are not part of that original fan base. And now what’s a beautiful thing about that is being able to say, “I’m not just going to target people in this, let’s say geographic region, I’m going to target people based on their interests, but I’m also going to target people based on friends of friends.” So, the warmest audience possible really, outside of your current connected audience, are friends of those connected audience. It’s our consumer behavior to feel connected, and to feel wanted, and to feel part of the same community. So, the moment we see that 10 of our friends all follow a certain page, our natural consumer psyche says, “I want to be part of that too. I’m also going to follow that page.”


Valentina (05:55):
So, there’s a big difference between boosting and sponsoring, boosting doesn’t necessarily work in the way that people believe it does. It’s a very easy button when Facebook puts it right in front of you and says, “This post is performing 95% better than any other post you’ve ever put up.” Isn’t it funny that when I do that on my business page, it comes up with every second post I put up. Now I’m smart enough that I check my analytics and I follow my analytics as religiously as I do, the who is following me? Not a lot of people do that. They see the shiny boost button and it says, “Just put an extra 10 or 20 or $50 into it. It doesn’t feel like a lot of money and people push that button. Now the way I look at it, whenever there’s an easy to push button by a platform that’s easy to generate revenue from. Don’t push the button. It’s the hardest thing for people not to do because they think it’s the easiest thing for them to achieve their goal, it’s the easiest thing for Facebook to achieve their goal, which is money,

Steve (06:49):
Right, Val. So, I’m going to ask you another question. We hear a lot of agents now talking about using social media, in particular Facebook, to kick off an ad campaign to sell a property prior to it being advertised on one of the big portals. Now, if you’re going to do that, you’ve got to do it well, otherwise you’re just wasting the money of the vendor, you’re wasting your time and so on and so forth. So, how much money should an agent be allocated for each property on Facebook?

Valentina (07:25):
So, it is a little, how long is a piece of string? Because we’re talking about audience sizes. And if we’re talking from, let’s say Queensland, Brisbane versus Bowral, Southern Highlands, I’m talking to a very small audience in Bowral than I am to Queensland potentially. So, to give you some fair figures, $50 on a boosted post will get you a decent chunk of your own audience following. $200 for a sponsored post will get you a decent reach volume as well. So, if you’re looking for a broader audience I would say, “$200 is a great starting point for a sponsored ad and it’ll actually go quite far.”

Steve (08:02):
Right, excellent. So, I’m an agent and I’m talking to a vendor about a campaign and Facebook is going to be a big part of the program. I should be talking about at least 200 to $250 for us to get real traction through Facebook.

Valentina (08:20):
Absolutely. And there’s two parts to this as well. So, the first part is what’s called data collection, or you might’ve heard the Facebook Pixel, which I know I’m sure we’re going to talk about today. But the Facebook Pixel is a small piece of technology that is generated from Facebook and it gives you a code and you put that code on your website and that tracks a visitor who has come from your Facebook page and gone to your website. Now, if the user has actually taken that step to go, “Hmm, this is in my feed while I’m sitting on the couch and I’m interested enough to click.” That data is being captured on your site. The best part of that strategic is to then say, “Let’s now use the data from the Pixel that knows who’s come to our site, interested from some activity and let’s retarget them.” So, it’s actually then where, most people call it stalking around the internet or following you around the internet, you will then see that property or that brand in different places, not just on Facebook. And that’s what’s enabling it to happen. So that’s, again, a warm audience. If someone’s looked at a property in your market, they’re likely going to be interested in several properties within that same market and the Pixel allows you to retarget them in that way.

Steve (09:27):
Okay, Val. So, installing this on Facebook, is that a complicated thing? Is it really essential?

Valentina (09:35):
It does need a web developer to put it in. So, it’s not complicated, it takes less than 15 minutes. By the time you log in, put the code in, it’s a copy and paste straight out of the code generated by Facebook, so it doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s not complex you just need to know where to stick it onto your website.

Steve (09:50):
[crosstalk 00:09:50].

Valentina (09:50):
Absolutely. If you’re going to do any type of retargeting or data capture, you need to have the Facebook Pixel installed.

Steve (09:57):
Excellent. My name is Steve Carroll and I’m here with Valentino Borebone. We’re talking about Facebook. Now, I want to talk about video because one of the things that drives me crazy when I go onto Facebook is I’ve got so many people shouting at me. They’ve got their mobile phone out and they’re doing this video and the angle of the phone makes their head look really big. How should real estate professionals be using video properly on Facebook?

Valentina (10:25):
So, your description was really interesting because if you’re already, I won’t use the word offended, but if you’re already looking at that going, “What are they doing?” Imagine how their audience is feeling. So, if you want to portray a professional position of who you are, then your output needs to be representative of that. So, when it comes to video, yes, we are all armed with video technology in our mobile phones these days. It’s where the authenticity comes from where we’re saying, “We don’t need to have full production value videos made of properties.” Particularly on walk-throughs and things like that. But there are some certain key aspects of video that needs to be considered. The first one is that a lot of people will be watching video on their social media without sound on. So, we’re doing that in transit, we’re doing that sitting on the couch whilst we’re watching TV, whilst we’re helping kids with homework, whilst we’re cooking.

Valentina (11:10):
So, the idea that we can have that sound playing is probably not reasonable. So, that’s where closed captioning comes in. So, having the actual words coming up at the bottom so I can still watch those valuable videos, but I can read what’s happening. The moment that I can’t read what is happening in a video, I don’t watch that video. That’s a very common consumer behavior. We definitely don’t want auto play on where it just plays without our choice, we want choice when it comes to our videos. So, valuable content definitely, second is sound, then you also have light. So, people forget that when they’re on their mobile phones, that the light might not be that great. If it’s a really poor quality video, if it’s really dark, people again will switch off from watching that.

Valentina (11:52):
If it’s a walk-through make sure it’s a useful walk-through, actually show things in their proportion, don’t dawdle, have a script ready in your head, that does not mean holding a piece of paper and scripting. But if you’re going to take someone through a walk-through on a video, make sure that you actually know what you’re doing and have thought it through. Yes, we can be really quick with video. It’s really easy to just pull something out and go, “Hey, here I am and this is what I’m doing.” But a lot of people can stumble with that. So, you don’t have to be a professional videographer either, but looking down the barrel of a camera so that people can see that they’re actually connecting with your face and you talking to them, that’s number one and making it short. So, when it comes to property, we’re not ready for a 10 minute video on Facebook where that’s not the reason that we’re there for.

Valentina (12:34):
So, don’t forget the purpose of why people are on this social platform in the first place. They’re not there to be educated as such and sit through a 40 minute webinar on Facebook, that’s not what we’re doing. We can be teased to the webinar through Facebook, but we’re not going to sit there and watch it. So, consider that with your property. You could consider, a 30 second, 40 second, one minute, two minute walk-through and then taking them to a different destination if they’d like to see more or in a different environment. Now, from my own experience in property, I could pretty much get through a walk-through even without it being on video, live in a house in 10 minutes and that stopping and measuring and everything. So, if I’m just doing a literal stick my head in a doorway, look at a property. I should be able to get that done pretty quickly. So, consider that when you’re doing it in your own video.

Steve (13:22):
Righto. Okay, Val, that makes complete sense. Now, Valentina, you spoke at Digital Live last year and you spoke about the importance of Facebook Live. And you talked about how the algorithm, the Facebook algorithm rewards users of Facebook if they are producing Facebook Live. Can you explain firstly, how the Facebook algorithm rewards? What do you mean by that? And secondly, how do you produce Facebook Live that has real impact?

Valentina (13:55):
Excellent. So, if you consider again, that social media is a media, that means that they have competitors and the competitor for Facebook, which owns Instagram, is Google and Google owns YouTube. So, there’s a big competition that’s going on, which is the second screen outside of the TV, which is our mobile phone and where we spend our other time outside of TV. So, on second screen, we’re now competing for video audience and that’s because it’s the second screen, just like TVs, video plays on YouTube, or it could play on Instagram and Facebook.

Valentina (14:27):
So, the reward of an algorithm simply means, the more time Facebook can get you spending on Facebook, the more valuable the sale of their media is to an advertiser. So, they don’t want you to put up a YouTube video on Facebook. End of story. They will, in the algorithm, demote you from showing up in organic results for doing that because you’re doing is pushing those eyeballs to their competitor and they don’t want you doing that, so. When they introduced Facebook Live and every other part of the platform, no different to Instagram releasing IGTV and Stories and Live, same as Facebook, they’re saying, “Use our tools and we will reward you by pushing that content further in the algorithm to be seen by more people organically.” So, it’s essentially saying, “Use our stuff and we’ll kick you up higher in the algorithm, use a competitor, we’ll kick you back down again.”

Steve (15:22):
Got it. So, we talked about organic reach and what you’re saying is that, “Facebook Live will enable your organic reach to go further.” It’s like a gift from Facebook.

Valentina (15:33):
Look and they do that through notifications as well. So, they start to tell your followers that you are going Live, that there is a Live, that it’s coming up, that you’ve logged in. So, it’s starting to do some of your own marketing by saying, “Okay, we’ll tell people that you’re about to do this.” So, that when you do go live, it rewards you and you get the viewership because you as an advertiser as well, doing this Live, if the moment you see that you’re getting this traction and people are watching, you’re going to do more of it. So, they’re going to reward you for using their stuff.

Steve (16:00):
Okay, Val, I get that. But what if I’m not good in front of the camera? I’m shy, I don’t look like a supermodel. Any advice?

Valentina (16:12):
Yeah, you don’t have to look like a model, but own it. And when I say, “Own it.” I struggled at first to be on video. I hate looking down the barrel of a camera. I don’t like people turning and looking at me in an audience, which is funny when you’re standing on a stage and suddenly you’ve got 500 people staring at you, but you do have to get used to it but admission goes a really long way. So, if this is your first time to go on camera on a Live, actually say, “Hi, I’m a little bit nervous this is my first time. Gosh, I hope this goes okay.” All right, so let’s just get into it. Don’t dawdle, don’t waffle and just get on with it. So, each time you do it you will get a little bit more comfortable.

Valentina (16:47):
My best tip with that is practice. Practices as you’re driving, practice when you’re going for a jog, walking the dog, in front of the mirror brushing your teeth. I do it when I’m gardening, I’m watering my garden and I start rehearsing what I’m going to say and finally I stumble on the words, “Hi, my name is Valentina Borebone.” And then I just sort of stop. So, it does take some practice to say, “This is just who I am and I will get better at this.” Don’t don’t fear. It’s like everything else, we’re always afraid of the unknown and what we’re uncomfortable doing, but you can’t get past that unless you practice.

Steve (17:15):
Excellent Valentina. So, just before we close off, if we go back 12 years ago, the real estate industry had to get their head around real estate portals. It was an industry that understood print really well. It was now all about understanding portals. We now, as we move into the next decade, without question real estate agents now need to understand the shift to social media, in particular Facebook, what are three golden tips for our listeners? What should they be doing right now, as far as Facebook is concerned, to really get going in 2020?

Valentina (17:56):
So, my three tips, number one would be to start following other people, actually watching what other people do, what smart people do. If you think somebody has got a great profile in the industry, start following what they do, watch and learn from other people. Second, give it a go. You’ve actually got to be there to make a difference, which comes back to some of the other things that I’ve talked about around consistency and frequency. So, the algorithm the way it’s working at the moment, if you’re not there at least three times a week, you’re wasting your time. So, if you’re not prepared to commit to that, I wouldn’t even bother starting with that, but that’s also going to hurt you as well. Third thing is look at consumer behavior. The portals are still a really important part of consumer everyday life. We have our platforms for social, for relaxation, for inspiration, for aspiration.

Valentina (18:45):
It’s not really a functionality tool in terms of if I’m going for a mortgage, the first place I’m going to look is probably Google search for bank loans. I’m not going to jump on my Facebook and go, “wonder where there’s a really good bank loan going on.” And it’s similar with property. We say it’s a functional transaction, but it’s a very emotive transaction. I think that’s what a lot of agents have forgotten, that it’s a very emotional purchase or sale of someone’s home and memories and upbringing, not necessarily just a financial transaction. So, the portals come into play to say, “Inspire me and show me what’s available.” But then I’m only really wanting to transact with someone that I trust and that’s where social comes into. So, I’d be looking for other people, I’d be posting with consistency and I’d be playing around with every tool that’s available. See what you become comfortable with and keep practicing.

Steve (19:34):
Excellent, so much great content, great information. Valentina, thank you so much for your time today.

Valentina (19:41):
You’re very welcome.


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