There are many forms of online marketing that real estate agents can use in their businesses. Some real estate agents take advantage of the plethora of third-party businesses that push their online information to other websites; others rely on ads to advertise their listings, services and websites. Two of the largest components of online advertising come from Facebook and CraigsList. However, as with anything owned by someone else, the control real estate agents have over changes made by these sites is limited and, often, extremely frustrating. Well, they’ve done it again – both Facebook and CraigsList have made some recent major changes that affect how real estate agents can market on those sites.
Back in 2007, Facebook released Facebook business pages, allowing individuals and businesses to more openly tout their wares outside of the Facebook walls while still using a familiar Facebook platform. Since 2007, many real estate agents and brokerages have utilized Facebook pages to showcase their listings, business actions and community involvement. Facebook business page owners were able to track user engagement with the page via Facebook Page Insights, allowing for tweaking of messages and timing to ensure maximum viewership. Many have had massive success with organic reach, encouraged by Facebook allowing new posts to show up in the newsfeed of people who have liked the page.
However, all that has ended. Facebook has recently made a significant changes to its algorithm (again), and many companies have noticed that their usual organic reach of posts has significantly dropped. A study by Ogilvy has shown that this has actually been occurring since October, with some pages’ reach only showing up on 2% of the pages’ audience’s newsfeeds. (Source) Why the continued drop? Facebook isn’t talking, but many advertisers and experts are speculating that it’s to encourage greater use of Promoted Posts and Facebook Ads – both which ensure Facebook actually makes some money back from its businesses. Whatever the reason, if you’re a real estate agent or brokerage that currently heavily relies on your Facebook page for marketing, you will want to rethink your Facebook page strategy. Whether that’s reaching out to your page’s audience to encourage more likes and commentary on posts (thus ensuring more organic reach), or investing more dollars into Promoted Posts and Facebook Ads, you may be disappointed otherwise if you keep using the same 2013 Facebook page strategy.s
CraigsList similarly has been used by real estate agents and brokerages for advertising of listings and brokerage services, as well as reaching out for recruiting efforts. A number of third-party companies have appeared to take advantage of this, including one of the most popular (and owned by Zillow) Postlets. CraigsList took umbrage to the proliferation of CraigsList ads by real estate agents, especially those who had “gamed” the system with mulitple rewrites of the same listing to be posted multiple times a day. So, a few months ago, CraigsList changed what kind of code was allowed in their listings, stripping out the ability to create online ad flyers and embed them in the typical listing, and removing the ability to directly link to outside websites.
Now, CraigsList has gone a step further. CraigsList has changed their Terms of Service to include wording that implies legal action will be pursued if companies and individuals use posting tools and third-party sites to post ads on CraigsList. This means you’re back to writing your own ads AND you won’t be able to embed a link to your website in the ad. What can you do instead?
- Use a lot of high-quality photos. CraigsList allows for up to 12 photos per ad.
- Reference your website’s URL or your phone number directly in the ad. If using your phone number, consider placing a period in between the numbers instead of a hyphen (i.e. 222.123.4567 instead of 222-123-4567). When referencing your site’s URL, tell the user what you want them to do (copy and paste this URL in your browser to see more homes).
- Only post one listing per ad. CraigsList favors those ads and makes it less likely to have your ad rejected.
Remember, the biggest lesson from all of this is…
“If you don’t own the site, you can’t control the changes. Don’t focus all your marketing effort and dollar on sites you don’t own.”