Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.
Turn Raving Fans Into Raging Business
Facebook can be a valuable business tool if used correctly. That means being passionate and personal.
April 1, 2011
Today it’s not a question of whether or not you use social media in your marketing, but rather how to do it in a way that doesn’t become a worthless time suck. One way to make your social media presence work is to use it as an outlet for your passion and expertise.
Want to know how one individual used this approach to develop a Facebook fan page that has more fans than the National Association of REALTORS®, Realtor.com, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA, RE/MAX, and Keller Williams combined? Read on.
300,000-plus Fans — and Counting
Doug Newby, a broker in Dallas, is passionate about distinctly modern residential architecture. His Web site, ArchitecturallySignificantHomes.com, reflects this in a big way. So it was natural for him to start a Facebook fan page on this subject as well.
He created the page in July 2009 and says he had a heck of time just trying to get the first 25 fans so he could secure his “ModernHomes“ fan page name. But eventually, it took off, and how: As of March 13, 2011, his fan base exceeded 300,000. This is an unbelievable number when you consider that the typical sales associate Facebook page rarely has more than a couple hundred fans.
In case you’re wondering if this has done anything for his business, consider this: He’s a one-man shop in the highly competitive Dallas market. Even so, his Web site sees in excess of 25,000 unique visitors a month and his search-engine rankings for high-end modern-luxury homes outposition thousands of practitioners and firms in the same area.
Here’s an explanation of how his Facebook page achieved these results and how you can apply those techniques to your own Facebook business page.
It’s All About Value and Targeting
Viewing the posts at Facebook.com/ModernHomes is like walking through the Louvre of modern residential architecture. The photos are phenomenal, and Newby’s explanations of each are like what you’d hear from a museum director who loves what he does. People who have an appreciation of really distinctive modern residential architecture are in awe of what they find here and enthusiastically share it with their friends on Facebook. This is one of the reasons this page has gone so wildly viral. Most of what’s available here is highly targeted and perceived to be of extreme value by that target market.
One of the most common mistakes made by sales associates who launch their own Facebook business pages is posting material that has little value or relevance, like how great a salesperson they are. Quite frankly, most people couldn’t care less about your latest, greatest listing.
And focus is important, too: If you’re all over the map where subject matter is concerned, it’s going to be next to impossible for you to post content that will be well received and passed along, which helps your fan base grow virally.
The take-aways here are:
- Make your page about some niche or specialty about which you are absolutely passionate.
- Post inspired (or at least highly interesting) content to the target market you are trying to reach and grow.
Other Ways to Grow Your Fan Base
Without question, the viral growth of Facebook.com/ModernHomes is an outlier and isn’t likely to be replicated by several other real estate practitioners and companies. But even if you get a fraction of the growth that Newby did, you’ll be able to reap substantial benefits for your business.
Here are a few ways to grow your Facebook fan page:
Member-only Content: Create one or more sections of your page that can be seen only by members of that page. The key here is to let potential members know you have extremely valuable info for them in there. You can see an example of this by going to www.Facebook.com/OnlineDominance and clicking the “Cool Tools” link on the left side of the page. This particular part of my Facebook page has effective, free tools that can help you boost your online lead conversion (among other goals). This strategy has helped increase my Facebook fan base by a factor of 10 in just about 12 months. You can see the details of how to set up your custom tabs so they work this way by clicking the “Custom Tab Secrets!” tab on my page.
Ask Open-Ended Questions: Once or twice a week, ask an open-ended question of your fan base. You’ll be amazed at how interactive your members will be if you ask the right questions. (Keep them simple and engaging, however.) This is very important, because the more interaction your page receives, the higher up your posts will be in the personal areas of your members’ Facebook pages. This means your content will get more face time. One of the things you will notice about Newby’s ModernHomes Facebook page is that he posts content regularly but not often. It’s his members’ comments that drive the relevance of his page more than anything.
Reference Other Pages in Your Posts: First of all, take the time to join and regularly engage with other Facebook business pages that cater to your target market. Once you do, you can then reference them in your page’s posts and have them automatically show up on their page. For example, I’m a fan of most real estate franchises’ Facebook pages. This allows my posts to show up on their pages by including a “@” in front of their page name; when I do that, Facebook will automatically crosspost it on my page. (Watch a short demo video to see how this is done. Here is the screen shot of the post on the RE/MAX page immediately afterward.) This means the post on my OnlineDominance page now gets face time (and credibility) with the membership of the groups I referenced. Note: Be careful how you use this strategy. If your posts are spammy (i.e., not interesting or self-serving), you will likely be banned from the page in question.
Show Interaction: Set up your fan page wall so it shows all posts, not just yours. People like to see others interacting, not just your comments and wisdom. Now some “gurus” may tell you that this is dangerous because you never know if someone is going to put something offensive on your page. While this is true, as page administrator you have the ability to be notified of all posts as they happen and remove them (and yes, even ban users for life). In my view, it is worth the risk.
Turning Fans Into Business
While it is certainly great to have a ton of fans and likes on your page, it’s much better to turn fans into clients. Your Web site is still the center of your online universe with respect to the value of your services and how you get people to engage with you. Therefore, it’s important to consider how you can drive your Facebook fans back to your Web site — and ideally, to sections of your site where they will directly engage with you by completing some kind of form.
Very few people have really done this effectively. Even Newby will be the first to admit that his Facebook page lacks in this area. This will only work if your site has something of value for people to check out. This means you must have “irresistible offers” that they will find extremely compelling.
Your social media efforts are an important — and now very necessary — component of your overall online marketing strategy. Don’t do it just because “everyone else is doing it.” Have a plan of execution that is proven to build your fan base while at the same time creating new business.
NOTE: Mr. Internet®, RUSSER Communications, its staff, and officers receive no compensation whatsoever from any third-party vendors (unless he/they are directly involved with the creation and/or improvement of a vendor service or product), and make no recommendations as to the suitability of the products or services mentioned in this article. Always thoroughly investigate any product or service before trying or purchasing it.