When it comes to building a Facebook Group most agents will see it as a luxury for those who have a dedicated marketing assistant or work with a social media agency. Others will see it as not entirely relevant for their lead generation or something only e-commerce brands should focus on. The fact is Facebook groups are a massively under-utilized organic lead source in real estate, and therefore a huge opportunity for you!
In this article we are going to show you how to:
- Start a community people want to join
- Attract your first 1000 group members
- Get members to engage and be active
- Generate leads from your group from day one
But first let’s look at just four reasons why setting up and cultivating a Facebook Group is something you should certainly be doing right now.
WHY HAVE A FACEBOOK GROUP?
First, Facebook wants you to be using groups and building communities of engaged individuals around niche topics. Strengthening the relationships between individuals with content is the whole reason behind their recent algorithm changes. Changes which make it increasingly difficult for brands and business pages to reach their audience organically. Content shared through groups will be prioritized by the algorithm and therefore much more likely to reach your followers who are also part of your Facebook group.
Second, setting up a Facebook group is an excellent way to introduce yourself and your services to a new group of people, while stamping your authority as the expert in your geographic area or professional field. Take a quick look to see if anyone has set up a real estate Facebook group in your farming area. The chances are they haven’t, and the space is wide open for the taking.
Third, groups are a fantastic way to set up a pool of prospective clients you can engage with in a meaningful way on a regular basis, by offering them value and irresistible offers. You will most likely have a CRM in place where you follow up with your potential clients every 30 days or less. But interacting with leads in a CRM is simply a back-and-forth conversation. By creating a Facebook group, you cultivate a space where your prospects can interact with one another as well as stay in soft contact with you.
Lastly, by creating a lively and engaged Facebook group you have a ready-made audience with whom you can test new marketing offers, messages and other ideas you want to roll out to a wider audience without worrying if they will work.
IDENTIFY YOUR PERFECT MEMBER
Before you start adding anyone and everyone you know to your new group, take some time to identify who it is you want to target. If you create a small group of like-minded people, the chances are very high that more will follow. If you begin with the wrong person in mind you will end up monitoring a group of people you have no interest in working with. Here are a few questions you should consider:
1) Who do you want to attract?
2) What is the niche they want to identify with?
3) What is their passion?
4) What outcome do they want from a group?
Once you have solid answers for each one of these questions it is time to start your Facebook Group. However, there is one more thing to keep in mind – and it is a golden rule…
DON'T START A GROUP AROUND YOUR BUSINESS
It is important to remember that social media users are hypersensitive to marketing tricks such as sponsored content, sales calls and ‘reaching out’ messages in their DMs. They want to join a Facebook group because it is relevant to their needs and interests and will not want to spend their online time in a group which is too focused on your business.
Remember to make your Facebook group POP - you need to build your name and content around a Pain, Outcome or Passion.
When naming your Facebook Group and deciding what its focus should be it is important to keep it off-brand but on-topic. Let's say you're a listing agent based in the fictional suburb of Oak Park.
No: John Smith (RE/MAX Oak Park) Listings Group
Yes: Oak Park Residents & Real Estate
find congregation points
Now you have your ideal member in mind, you know what they want and the perfect name for your group it’s time to start searching where potential members might gather. For the purposes of this example, we’re going to assume you’re an agent looking to develop more listing leads. But these techniques can also be transferred to recruiting as a Broker/Owner.
1) Start with your cold email list. As you already have an extensive list of prospective and past clients you can call upon, why not start with them? With your cold email list (but let’s drop the cold – as you already have a relationship with them) you can simply get in touch and ask them if they would be interested in joining a new Facebook Group for residents interested in Oak Park Real Estate. Your success rate will surprise you.
2) Facebook ads – look at who has interacted with your Facebook Ads in the past, which audiences and demographics are present. Create a retargeting campaign to hit those same people again and create a lookalike audience from that campaign to reach new people with similar interests.
3) Content – when your potential customers and group members are looking for information – in this case real estate in Oak Park – they will almost certainly Google something like ‘community groups oak park’ or ‘resident groups oak park’. If your group is set up correctly, your URL will appear top of the list and be of the highest relevance. If your group is of a broader interest such as ‘real estate pro tips’ then try reaching out to blogs and other websites to feature you in articles such as ‘Best Online Communities for Realtors’. These websites are always looking to update content and find new groups.
4) Links - add the group invitation link to all your current social media profiles and email signatures. Cross promoting your Facebook Group and attracting those who already engage with your social profiles is another way to harvest low hanging fruit and increase your initial member count.
TREAT EVERYONE LIKE A VIP
You’ve located your perfect audience group and you’re attracting them to your group via email, social link, content, and paid ad – now it’s time to keep them coming back for more. It all starts with the first contact. Make sure you respond to group membership requests within half an hour or at least an hour (during working hours). You need to make everyone who joins your group feel special. Welcome each member and give shoutouts to new members. Try connecting them with one another and spark conversation just as you would at a convention or open house. Tag members who may be able to help answer questions or contribute to a specific post topic. Show individual appreciation and help keep conversation going wherever you can.
DON'T CREATE AN ECHO
One of the quickest ways to lose group members or engagement is to simply post the same content from your Facebook page into your group. While it might seem like an extra effort to think of new and exciting content for a new social media stream it is less work than you may think. Your Facebook page is the public window on the world where only the best branded and storytelling content should go. Your group is your private community where you can get away with being more informal, more open, and more inquisitive. Here you can ask questions and stir up discussions (but do not get into politics or other divisive issues). A post in your group could be ‘what is your favorite Burrito place in Oak Park?’ or ‘How much do you think property prices have increased in the neighborhood?’ and let people know the results.
A fun way to generate new engagement prompts is to start typing a question about your niche into Google and see what comes up. For example, why is Oak Park… so expensive, so sought after, safe to live. You get the idea.
Don’t simply post articles or recently added listings. It’s also important to leave ‘Admin Post Approval’ off. People want to feel their message will be heard without being approved first. Don’t assume you know what your audience wants – better to ask them with a poll. Don’t let just anyone into the group – protect the quality of your community above all else.
START CREATING VALUE
OK you’ve heard this phrase a thousand times and it doesn’t get any less vague or buzz speak, but creating value is quite simple. You can easily replace the phrase ‘create value’ with the phrase ‘give your members something they want for free’.
Value can also be as simple as having a meaningful conversation. A great way to do this is to set up intake questions which potential group members need to answer to gain access to your community. Not only does this make it easier to keep the quality of your group high and learn about members interests, but also gives you a starting point to welcome them and begin talking to them about something they can relate to.
When it comes to providing something which your community can use at no cost, try having theme days and resource giveaways. Good example ideas would be referral Fridays, business recommendations (with coupons), DIY tips and local volunteer weeks. Don’t forget the type of free resources all current and prospective homeowners love such as: market updates, home valuations, market comparisons and so on.
START GENERATING LEADS
It is possible to generate leads using Facebook groups and you will see results. However, you will need to have followed all the steps and advice so far for this last section to be effective. You will not be able to turn group members into leads if they do not invest themselves in your group, if the community is not managed satisfactorily, if the content is not relevant and the group topic is too sales. What’s more, bad word of mouth will spread and new members joining your group will dry up.
We’re going to look at two ways you can start separating those in your group who are potentially going to buy or sell in the future, and those who are just there for the social aspect. These two methods are called ‘hand raisers’ and ‘chat conversations’. Do not start posting this type of content as soon as you launch your group. As with offline leads, you will need to build up a rapport with your audience first.
Hand raisers – these are posts where you ask your audience if they would be interested in a certain offer or service. This could be something new you are thinking of adding to your current offer or something you have been offering for a while. An example of a hand raiser would be…
“Need more space for home office or a growing family but don’t want to leave Oak Park? Who here would be interested in knowing how many three-bedroom properties are available in our neighborhood right now? If I put together a quick video on that over the weekend, would you want to watch it? Put UPSIZE in the comments if this is something you would like to see.”
And just like that you have the names and messenger contact of people who have opted in to learning more about upsizing in your farming area. It’s time to move them over to a Chat Conversation.
Using the video (or other piece of media/data) you have promised as an ice breaker, start a conversation about why they love the neighborhood, why they might want to upsize and how long they have been in their current address. Make them aware of other threads or information in the group they may have missed. Find out what they do for a living and be sure to ask if you can add them to your list of contacts for the future.
THE NEXT STEPS
I hope to have shown you the huge value of starting and maintaining an engaged and value-oriented Facebook group. If you are inspired to create your own and start generating Facebook leads the organic way here are a few points to keep in mind as you plan your next steps:
- Get a good idea of who your perfect group member is.
- Build the group around their pain points, outcome, or passions.
- Invite them in the places they congregate.
- Provide a VIP experience.
- Create value.
If you do all of these things and run your group with transparency and community in mind it will become another valuable lead source for your business.
Don’t forget to join the RE/MAX Europe Agents Group for more insightful content and to connect with your colleagues across the continent.