Posts in Social Media
A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your Real Estate Facebook Group
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Facebook Groups have quickly become THE social media marketing hack to connect with and foster relationships with your target audience.

And for good reason.

Facebook Groups are an engaging way to create genuine relationships with people in your community. And because groups are rarely ever about actual real estate know-how, the agents who maintain them find Groups to be a fun way to market their business.

Facebook Groups 101

// What are Facebook Groups?

According to Facebook:

Facebook Groups are the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos and share related content.”

In other words, a Facebook Group is a community group designed to bring people together around a particular topic or interest.

Groups can focus on anything. From online running groups to celebrity fandoms and movie critics, there are Groups for everything under the sun.

// What makes Facebook Groups different from Facebook Business Pages?

The main difference between Groups and Pages is the level of interaction and engagement.

Facebook Business Pages are meant to be informative while the goal of a Group is to be interactive.

Pages are meant to be a public, informational profile about a particular businesses, public figure or entity. Groups on the other hand focus on a topic and the interactions between the individual community members about that topic.

To put it plainly, Business Pages are the equivalent to your business card while Groups would be the natural conversation you might have with someone over a cup of coffee. The business card provides the customer with your professional information while discussion over a shared connection promotes feelings of know, like and trust.

For example, Nikki Klein is a Boca Raton realtor who has grown quite a local following using Groups.

Here you can see her Facebook Business Page alongside the Facebook Group she run called Boca Raton Moms Connect:

Facebook Business Page

Facebook Business Page

Facebook Group

Facebook Group

While her Business Page is all about her real estate business, Nikki’s Facebook Group is about the community she serves - moms in Boca Raton.

And that’s the key to Groups. Facebook Groups are about the community - not your business.

Successful Groups like Nikki’s make it a hard rule of thumb to only post about their business when necessary - which is rarely. Rather they rely on building organic relationships with Group members and just like relationships made apart from the Internet, members in turn learn to know, like and trust first.

Unlike with a Page where people think they’re going to continuously get pitched to, Groups are much more unassuming which leads to people more inclined to join.

Remember: Groups are all about the community behind your topic, not promoting your business.

// Why should I start a Facebook Group?

The benefits of adding a Facebook Group to your online real estate presence are well worth the effort. Let’s quickly list out a few:

  • Community - Groups put you in contact with your direct community, expanding your reach to people you might not have met otherwise

  • Credibility & authority - Groups are a great way to showcase your expertise without coming off as bragging

  • Learning - You get more than you receive. You’ll learn a wealth of information about your audience that in turn improves your content, communications and sales tactics

  • A fun way to market - You get to choose the topic of your group. Many agents find this gives them more incentive to interact and honestly enjoy fostering relationships because it doesn’t feel like a job

  • Endless leads - A well chosen group topic can spell endless leads for you to put your self in front of

  • Referrals & WOM - People in your Group community truly get to know you. This is a chance to build those relationships into your biggest fans

  • Network - Fortune has it that the people in your group are part of amazing businesses themselves and are open to networking

  • Website traffic - With a captive audience at your finger tips, groups can spell out tremendous traffic for your website

Facebook Groups open the door to interacting with your online local community. You get to meet amazing people centered around an interest you enjoy. But as the Group owner, you have center stage.

So while you’re busy working, sleeping, watching your kid’s soccer game or taking that overdue trip to Paris, your Facebook Group is networking on your behalf.

// Knowing when to get started with Groups

Before starting a Group of your own, I highly encourage you to join a few first. Seeing how a group runs will not only give you an idea of how they run but gift you with ideas on how you might want to format yours.

You’ll also see if this is even a good option for you.

While Groups are one of the more fun ways to market, they take time and effort to build. They also take a thick skin - as with anything on social media - Groups leaves you exposed to trolls and the nasty sides of the web.

Sit down with your calendar and schedule in a couple hours a week to posting content and interacting with members.

A good way to work in Facebook Groups is to replace one or two hours a week you would have otherwise spent prospecting and instead dedicate that time building your Group.

Remember Nikki with the mom Group in Boca? She has closed $14million in sales thanks to her Facebook Group.

With numbers like that I would say Groups are worth the time investment.

Getting Started with Facebook Groups

Getting started with Groups is free to do. All you need is a Facebook profile to begin the process.

// How to choose a Facebook Group topic

First things first, what will your Group be about?

What I like about Groups is the endless possibility of topics. From exercise groups to community events and local interests, your Group can be about anything.

Choosing a topic can be a bit difficult. While we want to choose something fun and interesting, we also need to make sure the audience numbers are there to support the Group towards growth.

Otherwise you risk capping the group out at only a few dozen or hundred members. We want to ensure the topic is one that can grow.

We also don’t want to make our group too broad where we’re pulling in people from all over the world. While it’s great to have a group with thousands of followers are, it doesn’t do anything to help your real estate business.

Here’s the winning topic formula:

YOUR CITY/GEO-FARM + YOUR INTEREST/HOBBY/TOPIC

The possibilities are endless with this formula along. For example, I live in South Florida and I love to scuba dive. I could make the Facebook Group ‘South Florida scuba divers’.

I fully support and encourage using your favorite hobby or interest as a great place to start a topic brainstorm.

Why? Because you’re going to voluntarily show up to perform that hobby anyway. Being able to consistently show up for your audience is where quality marketing takes hold.

Your day is full as it is. The last thing you want to do is add one more work task to it. So don’t. Instead engage in that activity you love. Not only will you meet new people within your community to join you on these leisurely pursuits, but you’re doing something good for your business in the process.

Here are a few ideas to get your brain going:

  • [YOUR CITY] Garage Sales

  • [YOUR CITY] Mom Meetups

  • [YOUR CITY] Beer Lovers

  • [YOUR CITY] Runners

  • [YOUR CITY] Crime Watch

  • [YOUR CITY] Bookclub

  • [YOUR CITY] Green Thumb Gardeners

  • [YOUR CITY] Volunteers

  • [YOUR CITY] History Buffs

Your assignment right now is to make a list of at least five Facebook Group topic ideas.

// Think of a name

Don’t underestimate the power of a name. It can mean the difference between being found and disappearing into Internet limbo.

If you follow the formula above of [YOUR CITY] + [HOBBY] and can get the name to a T, stick with it. This will be a dead ringer for organic search results within Google and plainly spells out what your group is all about.

If it’s taken, you may want to either narrow your topic down even more, add a personal take or rethink the topic all-together.

For example, if ‘Boise Mom Meetups’ is taken maybe narrow in more by focusing on working moms. Group names such as ‘Boise Working Mom Meetups’ or ‘Boise Mompreneurs Unite’ not only capture the audience but also connect more powerfully with the target audience.

// Create the group

Alright, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of setting up a group.

Login to your Facebook dashboard. In the top navigation bar you’ll see ‘Create’. Click on ‘Create’ and then click on ‘Group’ in the dropdown bar.

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A pop-up will appear. You’ll need to add a little bit of information about your Group.

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Input the name of your Group and add a couple friends who will be interested in joining the Group. You can always add more people later but during setup you have to at least add one person.

Next you’ll be asked what type of Group you want to create.

  • Public: Anyone can find the group, see who's in it and what they post

  • Closed: Anyone can find the group and see who runs it. Only members can see who's in it and what they post

  • Secret: Only members can find the group, see who's in it and what they post

I recommend creating a Closed Group.

Your audience will still be able to find your Group but all posts will be kept private. This creates a level of exclusivity that entices people to join your Group because in order to see your content they have to. Otherwise they could absorb your content without actually joining the Group.

A Closed Group also gives you another level of control in monitoring the Group and keeping it safe & enjoyable for your members.

The last step on this page is to check the box for ‘Pin to shortcuts.’ Your Group will now be pinned to your Facebook dashboard for quick access.

Only thing left to do is click ‘Create’ and voila! Your new Facebook Group is born.

Optimize Your Facebook Group for Business Success

Congrats on your shiny new Facebook Group! Now it’s time to optimize it for business success.

Jumping into your Group for the first time, this is what you’re going to see:

step-by-step facebook group real estate setup_03.png

You can get pretty creative with customizing out your Facebook Group but there are a couple place you’ll want to put your focus on first.

// Group Description

On the righthand side, click on ‘Add a description.’

The description shows when people join your Group so we want to make sure this is filled out and entices people to join.

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Below the description is an area called ‘Location.’ You’ll 100% want to add the location to be included in local search results.

// Cover Photo

Now we need to add a ‘Cover Photo’

You’ll want to add a photo that relates to the topic and tone of your topic.

Scroll on over to one of many free photo stock shops. You can try Pexels, Freepik & WikiCommons just to name a few.

Download a high-resolution version of the photo you choose. The Facebook Group dimension size is 1640 x 856 pixels and your image will need to be able to fill that space, otherwise you risk it looking pixelated.

Once you’ve chosen & downloaded your photo, click on ‘Upload Photo’ and add your replace the default photo with your chosen image.

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I found a beautiful image of Harpers Ferry from Wikicommons and uploaded it to my new Group. You can drag the image around and resize it to fix it appropriately in the frame.

Once you get it to a place you like, click ‘Save Changes.’

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At this point, the basics of your Facebook Group are set up and it’s pretty much good to go!

// Advanced Facebook Group Optimization

We don’t want to stop optimizing just yet. There are a few more advanced ways you’ll want to optimize your Group.

Beneath the Cover Photo click on ‘…More’. A dropdown menu will appear. Then click ‘Edit Group Settings’.

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Let’s walk through a few key settings and put them to work for us.

Group Name

Under ‘Group Name’ you’ll be able to edit your group name if for some reason you ever decide to do so.

Now, next to the name you will notice a blue icon. This is the icon that will appear next to your Group. However, this is the default setting and most Group moderators never bother to edit it. Click on the arrow next to the icon and choose a new icon that matches the tone of your Group for an extra boost to stand out.

Group Type

There are a few different ‘Group Types’ to choose from that will affect the layout of your Group.

  • General: Grow and manage your group with the standard set of group features

  • Buy and Sell: Create and manage sale listings

  • Gaming: Link group to a game & host tournaments for members

  • Social Learning: Organize posts into a unit or series of units that members can see

  • Jobs: Get templates with job salary, location and hours. Show a list of all open jobs

For most Groups, I recommend staying with the ‘General’ settings until you build your Group out more. Once you have the hang of Groups, you may decide to organize your Group more specifically if it falls under one of the above categories.

Description

We’ve already filled out the ‘Description’ but it’s possible to optimize it further.

The description is a good opportunity to add more information about the Group including what members can expect, weekly posting events, promotion opportunities, rules and even a little introduction to you.

Tags

Tags help Facebook categorize your Group and help people find your group who may be looking for it.

Linked Pages

This is a BIG opportunity to promote your business.

You can link your Business Page to your Group as a moderator. You’ll then be able to post, comment and interact with Group members on behalf of your business. Also, your business will be displayed prominently across the Group’s main pages.

Another big benefit is ads. By connecting a Business Page you’re able to promote your Group with ads if you decide to do so.

Web Address

Right now your Group URL looks something like this:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/316036766003767/

This does nothing for you in organic search. Click on ‘Customize Address’ and create an SEO-friendly URL.

For example, once I filled in the Web address my URL is now

facebook.com/groups/harpers.ferry.garage.sale


And that’s it! You’re all set up.

Time to let the real fun begin of promoting and engaging with your Group. Once members begin to accumulate, you’ll start seeing engagement take off.

So tell me, do you have a Facebook Group you want to share with our community? Leave a link below in the comments.

Save Time Marketing Your Real Estate Business with Social Media Scheduling Apps
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“There just aren’t enough hours in a day.”

“Marketing is a full time job in itself!”

I hear this from nearly every one of my new real estate agent clients during our first week of working together and I empathize with you completely. In my ideal world, days would be at least 36 hours long. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with cramming 36 hour days into only 24.

With such hectic days, it makes you wish you could clone yourself just to knock out those pesky tasks you only mildly enjoy so you can focus on your bread & butter. If you’re here, my guess is marketing may be one of those tasks you would rather delegate to your cloned self.

Today I’m tossing one of my favorite marketing hacks at you: social media scheduling apps.

Social media scheduling apps that let you bulk schedule your social content so you can set it and forget it.

Personally, while I love Instagram and social media, I’m more excited to interact and engage with my audience than I am to post. Posting stresses me out and makes me feel like I’m wasting valuable time I would rather use chatting with you guys. I get caught up wondering what to post, when to post, did I even post at all this week!

Bring in social media apps, which take away the guess work.

Using Apps to batch social media posting

Social media is an interactive, lead generating machine. It should be treated as more than just some box you check off and be on with your day. It’s important to be intentional with the content we’re posting, when and why. This means having a content calendar for what we’re posting and when.


Not sure how to get started with your social media strategy?

Download the 30-day Content calendar & Planning Guide


But we don’t want to stop everything we’re doing on a Tuesday at 3pm just because data dictates that’s an optimum time to post.

Instead, we’ll use the process of batching to post content consistently.

Batching is a productivity and time management tool where you group similar, reoccurring tasks together and knock them out all at once. It allows you to maximize your time and brainpower for concentration while decreasing distraction and the brain-drain that comes with shifting from one task to another.

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Social Media Batching Tools

Before we can begin batching out our social media, we’ll need to put together our toolkit.

There are a couple different social media schedulers out there to choose from but these are the ones I use and love.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the original players as far as social scheduling apps go. It’s also one of the most robust. Hootsuite lets you manage up to 10 social profiles all from one place.

Later

Later is another scheduling app just like Hootsuite, except that Later is optimized for Instagram. There are a couple features Later has that you won’t find in Hootsuite, such as the ability to preview and edit the visual look of your Instagram feed beforehand.

Both Hootsuite and Later have free and paid accounts to suite your needs and budget. I’m partial to using Later just for Instagram while keeping Hootsuite for everything else.

Again, these are my personal favorite schedulers. If there’s one you use and love that I didn’t mention, please share with us in the comments! We’re always open to new things.

Gather the content

Next it’s time to gather the content.

It’s smart to get in the mindset of thinking of everything around you as a potential piece of content. Have a place to collect pictures, quotes, information, reports, videos, news and all other manners of content. I suggest using Google Drive or DropBox.

The purpose for gathering all our content in one place is so we’re not scrambling to come up content at a moment’s notice. This is also the sort of task you can delegate out to an assistant or intern when the time comes.

Write your captions

Add context to your content.

An image, listing link or video title can only do so much. Captions are what will entice your audience to engage with your content. This is a great opportunity to show off your personality and enforce your brand story.

Add Hashtags

The last step in the puzzle is to add relevant hashtags.

Hashtags are the filling system of social media. When you add #DCrealestate to a caption, it signals to the social media platform that this piece of content has to do something with real estate in Washington DC and is more inclined to showcase your content to that appropriate audience.

The verdict is constantly influx with how many hashtags to add to any given piece of content but it’s best to use more local-specific hashtags than broad or national hashtags.

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Now you know how to quickly market your real estate business using social media scheduling apps.

But I know it can still be a little confusing figuring out exactly what sort of content to post and when. That’s why we’ve put together the 30-day Content Calendar & Planning Guide to spell it out for you exactly.

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The Most Underrated Instagram Feature You're Probably NOT Using
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Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms with over 1 billion monthly active users.

Chances are, you’ve either jumped on the bandwagon or have at least thought about it. Maybe you haven’t joined because you feel like you’re late to the party. Valid. With over 95 million new uploads a day, it’s not unreasonable to feel lost in the noise.

But what if I let you in on a new Instagram feature virtually no one’s using? A feature that will help you stand out from the crowd, reach an untapped audience, appease the algorithm gods and takes only seconds to set up.

I’m talking about the Instagram alt text feature.

At the end of 2018, Instagram launched a new feature to make the app more accessible to visually impaired audiences.

With more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairments, we know there are many people who could benefit from a more accessible Instagram.
— Instagram

You may be wondering why this matters. Of course, I’m going to tell you.

As the Internet continues to mature, it gets smarter. We’re seeing algorithms adjust heavily for ADA compliancy. It’s as if Google, Facebook, Amazon and all the other web heavy hitters sat down together and asked, “Okay, how can we make the Internet more accessible for impaired audiences.”

When a person with a visual impairment interacts with Instagram, a screen reader reads the content aloud to them. What the alt text feature does is allow you to fill this in for the end user, otherwise AI is used to give a vague description of the image.

Taking a few seconds to fill out the alt text feature is the difference between the end user hearing, “a man in a room,” and “ Portland real estate agent Oliver Jackson showing a new 2 bedroom 2 bath downtown listing to a young couple.”

Not only have you just provided a delightful experience to a new audience member but you’re attaching that description to the image as well.

In this day and age, the best companies embrace diversity and disability. Every customer they’re not reaching is a customer they’re losing.

A few do’s and don’ts of the alt text feature

DO start using the feature today. As we know, digital marketing takes time to build. Implement this strategy today as a simple way to get ahead of the curve.

DON’T keyword stuff your images. Keyword stuffing has been a big SEO no-no since the beginning. Use keywords where it makes sense or risk being penalized.

DO use descriptive keywords. Use your keywords to enhance the description of the image. Rather than saying something like, “Patricia Newman leaning against a balcony rail.” Say, “Real estate agent Patricia Newman leaning against an oceanview balcony of the Miami skyline.”

DON’T add long-winded descriptions. Instagram caps the description at 100 characters. Keep it short, sweet and rich in visual imagery.

DO think about the end user. What’s in the photo? What would the viewer focus in on? Make it descriptive and tell them exactly what’s there.

DON’T stop there. Think about other ways you can make other areas of your web presence ADA compliant.

Research is still out on the exact benefits of utilizing the alt text feature but it can’t hurt to be one of the few who masters this easy Instagram strategy first.

How to add Alt Text to an Instagram photo

Adding alt text to an Instagram photo is a fairly simple process.

Photo courtesy of  Instagram

Photo courtesy of Instagram

Step 1: On a new post, tap ‘Advanced Settings’

Step 2: Tap ‘Write Alt Text’

Step 3: Tap ‘Write Alt Text…’ next to the photo and write your description

Step 3: When finished, tap ‘Done’ at the top right corner of the screen

Step 4: Tap the back arrow ‘ < ‘ in the left corner of the window to return to posting your photo

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