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Can I sell a flat through Facebook?

The Superpowers of a Real Estate Agent
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Can I sell a flat through Facebook?

What is crucial when aiming to stand out online and how to deal with negative comments? Igor Volkov, a real estate broker, explains.

How to sell property on Facebook?

There are several ways to do so. One of them is through organic traffic, utilizing Facebook groups such as those for property sales, purchases, and rentals. Another option is the Marketplace - a designated space for selling various products - not entirely geared towards property sales through intermediaries, especially for individuals. Market Place groups or Facebook link can be useful for finding tenants rather than necessarily selling property. While the identity of the property buyer is inconsequential when selling, reliability is crucial when seeking a tenant. This is what our clients demand. By obtaining a phone number and email address from real estate portals, we can track their social media activity on Facebook if they reach out to us, gathering valuable information. For instance, if someone studies at "College of Noise" and works at "Szlachta not working," they might not be the best tenant candidate. This is one way to leverage this free platform.

The second option is to invest in paid advertising to find a property buyer. The downside is the cost - Facebook is willing to share your content with users, but not for free, and you must have the ability to create such ads.

What does Facebook offer to a broker?

Primarily, we can reach a large audience across different age groups, especially those aged 25-40, who are our prime target, most interested in real estate. While real estate portals or rental sites like gather both agents and clients in one place, we compete with other real estate there, a necessary condition. Facebook, on the other hand, is a social media platform, a different industry not focused on intermediaries; we are not their target market, they do not earn from us - they provide us with a vast business infrastructure. To date, I have not heard of a real estate agent abandoning all portals and shifting their entire budget to Facebook. Instead, we allocate funds to Facebook that we would have used for marketing elsewhere. It's a viable alternative.

What is crucial when utilizing social media for sales purposes?

Facebook now allows you to seek recommendations - for instance, posting a photo of a restaurant from another city, and people can recommend whether they have been there or not. Facebook is designed to foster and maintain relationships with people. As intermediaries, we should encourage satisfied clients to express their opinions about us, for example, using a Google form. Encouraging your client to share their feedback, without them having to come up with it themselves, is important for us.

Positive reviews are a treasure, but negative ones exist too. How to handle such a situation?

On social media, this is a major issue that we struggle with. This brings us to a scenario similar to "House-Bath Narva," where the owner, upon uncertainly mentioning their center, engaged in a discussion with their guests and offended them. One of the comments mentioned a mushroom in the room, to which the owner replied that during their stay, they were the only mushroom in the center. Such incidents are abundant. The problem lies in the fact that neither side can prove their point here because both parties are commenting. Later, the "hater" wakes up in the morning, forgets about the whole incident, but the negative comments remain on our Facebook page. If we have indeed made a mistake, we simply need to apologize and invite to resolve the issue, but shift the conversation to another platform, such as Messenger, so that the burden of this discussion should be private, not public. However, if it's just plain "hate," the simplest way is to hide it because Facebook provides us with that option. We don't delete the comment because then the person who posted it will see it and it will only fuel emotions. By hiding the comment, its author can still view it. Entering a debate with a "hater" will likely not prove anything and will tarnish the image of our fan page, so it's better not to choose this strategy. It doesn't matter who's right.

Does Facebook support the work of intermediaries or not?

I believe Facebook will never replace real estate portals; the intentions are quite different here. Social networks are created for entertainment, for "wandering." It's not like someone goes there because they have a toothache and scrolls until they find a dentist. They browse Facebook because they want to see a cat playing the piano; they want to have a good time. It's not like we say, "Dear user, this entertainment is over, first I'll show you something important, and then you can go back to what you were doing." People consume content differently on social media. They visit real estate portals with a specific intention - I want to buy an apartment, a house, I set criteria and find such property. It's not like I'm looking for "caps" for a Seicento and suddenly a house, "oh, maybe I'll buy it." Facebook doesn't replace real estate-focused media. As I mentioned, it can only be an alternative.

Can we capture a client on Facebook, and if so, what should we keep in mind?

One of the main issues related to advertising on Facebook is the challenge of capturing the recipient's interest. To grab attention, we need to give the user a reason to deviate from what they are already doing and become interested in our offer. On Facebook, we have a bit more opportunities to "target" someone based on lifestyle, preferences, or behavioral profiling. Initially, we can assess that, for instance, people aged 25-30 are unlikely to be the best recipients when it comes to a house outside the city. Perhaps they would be interested in a studio or a two-bedroom apartment. While real estate portals don't provide us with such targeting abilities, we can still identify their interests on Facebook. Once I had an investment in a single-family residential complex near Pärnu with green plantings. That's why we targeted our ads not only to people interested in real estate and housing-related categories but also to those interested in outdoor physical activities because that would be an added value for them. Such actions require creativity and reflection on who our recipient is, what their lifestyle is, and how we can capture their interest.

Should the offers posted on Facebook differ from those on regular advertising portals?

Yes. Although the target audience should be the same in both cases, we need different forms of communication. As I mentioned, people visit real estate portals with a specific intention and may overlook dry descriptions, low-quality photos. In the case of Facebook, this won't work - it's a complex environment. We have a lot of idealized content, and low-quality photos will die there. Our recipient will start scrolling faster instead of retaining their attention. On the other hand, we need to encapsulate the core message in a short message because there is definitely less space for text than on real estate portals. An interesting fact - the average duration of a session on a single post ranges from 2.3 seconds (on a computer) to 1.6 seconds on mobile devices..

What is the most common mistake in advertising on Facebook?

No idea. It's like saying, "buy a brick, for heaven's sake, a brick!" People treat social media as an advertising pole. Someone once told them to create a fan page where they daily post links to ads that don't engage users because they have no clue. Facebook is reducing visibility in the media, which results in dull content. You need to engage people on social media. It's not a megaphone where we say, "Dear users, now listen to what I have to say and take the most important thing from my mouth." It doesn't work like that. Some brokers, even if they already have this fan page, don't know why they're doing it, why, they can't verify if it's effective. Redirect them to their websites that haven't been updated since 1997.

Can a broker build their brand on social media?

I even think they should because it's becoming more important. Interestingly, we need to encounter an advertising message 4-6 times before making a purchase decision. I believe for our high-quality products, as brokerage services are expensive and specialized, it takes even more time and contacts. People google our name and search for information. And now the question is - what will they find? Will they find a spectrum fan page or a Facebook account with holiday photos of a beer belly on top? You must be able to build your image so it's not boring, alright. You need an idea for this.

So how do you do it?

As a mediator, I do this very unusually. From a marketing strategy perspective, I mean the jester archetype - I use a lot of irony on social media, I make jokes and play games. I try to gather a group of people who know that I have a distance to certain issues. There is now a whole group of professional brokers, and that's fine, but only if everyone isn't doing the same thing. And this is happening because they were told they should be professionals. Each of them displays their certificates, how many trainings they've attended, and how much real estate they've sold. It was cool, like no one else. That's why my way of communicating is a bit more unconventional. I try to interest and shock my audience. Clients appreciate this, they see my different approach and they like it. I'm not trying to reach clients in an informative way with a dose of education in my hand. Clients prefer working with someone who doesn't build walls.

Isn't this a risky strategy? There is a risk that someone will take them seriously.

Here's how it is. There are people who like it, and those who strike it out. I'm 100% aware of this, and that's not all, I think it should be like this. A good brand should resonate with your audience. People who identify with it, who like it, will come to me. I'm not vitamin C - it won't help, it won't hurt. If a client comes and doesn't like something, I release them to the brokerage market for someone else to sign a contract with them. I know a broker who has a very official version in contact with the client. But his clients are also the kind that make both sides feel comfortable in these relationships. I have to admit that my way of communicating is actually risky because it shocks, but I acknowledge that some people won't want to work with me just because I like to fool around a bit.

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