Ah, Facebook. That place we all go to engage (or avoid) our high school chums, grow virtual vegetables, crush candy, wish each other happy birthday… it’s like a gigantic party of one billion people rocking along 24 hours a day.
But it’s not all fun and games. Facebook is serious business, especially for those that want to take advantage of the vast amounts of potential clients collected in one place. For this reason, Facebook is the greatest marketing tool ever conceived. So, despite all the funny cat videos and viral Bieber mugshots, it’s time you considered Facebook in your marketing plans, if you haven’t already.
Of course, introducing your brand to one billion people can be a bit intimidating. Wouldn’t it be great to get a little advice before you dip a toe in the water?
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Why advertise on Facebook?
- Two questions to answer before getting started
- It’s Facebook. There are guardrails.
- Measuring ROI
- Hey, what about Boosting?
Why advertise on Facebook?
Here’s why. You can reach tons of eyeballs for relatively little money. Facebook offers the lowest CPM (Cost Per 1,000 ad impressions) in advertising history. Even if you’re not thinking of using Facebook ads long-term, it’s a good exercise to gain some working knowledge on the world’s most powerful marketing platform. Run a test ad. You have very little to lose.
It’s super easy to launch an ad on Facebook. For a lot of people it seems that creating an ad on Facebook isn’t the hard part (which I’ll get to in just a bit) but creating an effective ad can be somewhat mysterious.
Why? Because people get ahead of themselves. They build and publish their ad, then struggle to make sense of the results – if they look at the results at all. Before launching your ad, always define your goals. You’ll then be prepared to actually analyze the results.
Two questions to answer before getting started
- Who’s the audience? Knowing who you want to reach with your Facebook ad is critical. It’s so important, in fact, that Facebook makes you define your intended audience during the ad building process. So, if you’re not sure who you want to reach, Facebook will help you decide.
- What’s the message? What are you trying to communicate? When people see your ad, what do you want them to do next? Kind of important, yes? Maybe you want more Likes for your business Facebook page? Maybe you want people to click and visit your website? Maybe you just want people to know that you exist? Establishing a purpose makes ad creation and recognizing ROI easier.
It’s Facebook. There are guardrails.
Facebook makes it very easy to create an ad. If you’ve already made the decisions regarding your audience and message, it’s even easier. They even make a few decisions for you!
And that’s worth a word of caution. For the typical agent or broker hoping to see instant sales from a Facebook ad, this is where the ROI begins to get a bit fuzzy. In the image above, you can see that Facebook is guiding you to a series of pre-selected potential ad actions. The expectation here is that, by running an ad, you’ll get more Likes to your Facebook business page or drive traffic to your own website, more RSVPs to your event, etc.
All of those are great options, but realize that Facebook is steering you into a set of specific directions. Yes, they may be predefined, but specific actions (channels, so to speak) allow Facebook to provide excellent analytics. Like a lot of things on Facebook, the constraints might at first appear limiting, but there’s usually a good reason.
Now let’s look at how Facebook guides us through the targeting process. The image below is a screenshot as I choose my target audience to gain Likes to my own business page. I can deliver my ad to people within my market area (Huntsville, AL) and even target individuals by age, gender, language, interests… and behavior!
Think of the possibilities. Create specific ads run for certain areas of your market. Create specific ads run for target demographics. There are 15 different types of ad formats you can choose from on Facebook. We’ll cover the ins and outs of how to choose the one that’s right for you in a future post.
To wrap up this point, I think it’s worth noting something I felt as I created my own ad. I’m a regular Facebook user and I’m sensitive to the amount of data they have collected about me and my family. Privacy is an issue for me and I think about it a lot.
But here’s the funny thing. When you think like a marketer, suddenly privacy is out the window and targeting takes over. The deep knowledge Facebook has about each of us becomes a bit less unnerving when, as marketers, we can use all that information to our own advantage. I wonder if you go through a similar transformation when running your ad.
Establishing a return on investment of a Facebook ad can be tricky for real estate professionals. The average broker or agent isn’t marketing an app or tracking special promotions or offers, so the value of an impression or click can be tough to determine. Again, setting expectations early will mitigate later frustration. Particularly when those expectations include something like, “This ad will make us more money instantly!”
People who try to set revenue expectations are setting themselves up for failure because people aren’t on social media to buy. It’s better to look at numbers such as engagement rate, referral traffic and audience reach. – Eric Siu, CEO of Single Grain
This is great advice to the real estate professional looking for ROI from a Facebook ad. Instead of launching an advertisement and waiting by the phone for the next client, consider Facebook ads as an opportunity to drive and build your brand.
Having said that, for the more technically advanced brokerages, there are other ways to use Facebook ads and generate serious ROI, but doing so goes beyond a simple ad purchase. Some brokers, like this one, are using targeted Facebook Ads and passing clicks to third party platforms. The creative use of links from these platforms drive visitors directly to the content the broker wants to promote and moves the lead accordingly.
Bottom line here, ROI can definitely be realized in a big way. Setting initial goals, then establishing how those goals will be measured, will determine exactly what ROI really means to you. ROI won’t likely be the same set of metrics from broker to broker.
Hey, what about Boosting?
Boosting? Yes, Boosting is when you write a status update from your personal or business page then pay Facebook to “boost” that post to a wider audience. You can see from the image below that the targeting options, compared to those for an ad, are well, limited. If you think of a Facebook ad is a nice well-aimed shot.
Factor in the 24-hour duration of a Boost plus a relatively smaller set of analytics, and you can see that it can’t compare with the value of running an ad. Apples and oranges really. Boosting might really be a nice option for your more immediate messages to a more general audience. For example, you might temporarily Boost a single listing. Copy and paste the listing URL from your IDX platform or MLS public portal and stick it in a status for a quick Boost. Or write a nice brief description of a home to promote an upcoming open house. You get the idea.
The real estate professional would be well served to utilize Facebook advertising based on price alone. You can reach so many people for such small money that it seems silly not to have at least part of your marketing budget going into Facebook ads. Spend as little as $50 per month and deliver a well-targeted message to tens of thousands of eyeballs. Those of you still wondering how any of this translates into sales have a valid concern. Facebook is still much more appropriate to those seeking awareness versus repeat, consistent client conversion. Still, using Facebook to drive awareness by sending Likes to your business pages and clickthroughs to your website is a sound strategy. Allow your other marketing efforts to take it from there.
- Learn everything you can about Facebook ad offerings and keep up with the regular policy changes
- Start by establishing your audience and message then place a test ad and closely follow the results
- Learn how to read the analytics and spend low amounts at first, increasing your investment as you see success.
- Keep a record of your spending and track ROI as closely as possible
- Repeat what works
Important Note: The material here is both brief and will someday soon be (at least in part) outdated. For the latest Facebook advertising info, go here.