Let’s get the question everyone asks out of the way first: Is there a simple, free show-my-listings app for my Facebook page?
Answer: No, unless your particular IDX provider has created one and failed to put it in the Facebook apps store. There are a few free apps, but all of them require membership to third party sites, or are ad supported, most don’t work, and most don’t even run via IDX but require manual input of each listing and some weird restrictions on your “basic” account. Save yourself the frustration and link to an external page with your listings (I know you’ll still look for that one true app anyway, but at least I warned you).
Here’s where a normal blogger might put a quick rundown of “Why You Need a Facebook Page”, and that might be a wise choice, but I’ve answered the question so often lately I’d rather focus on Stage 2, that is, how to make your Facebook page rock. If you need to know the answer to why, I suggest Jay Baer’s 11 Mind-Blowing Reasons Your Company Needs Facebook. Every drop of it applies to real estate, perhaps especially to real estate. You should also read Mike Mueller’s run down, Why a Fan Page? if you’re still not convinced (at which point I give up).
Don’t reinvent the wheel. When Facebook’s native apps do something well, stick with them. Your Photos tab is the best example of this. Nothing you or your web guys make will rival it, unless you just love paying a king’s ransom for redundant technology. Smart page owners find interesting ways to feature and link to these standard apps, while placing an emphasis on superior content in these decidedly un-flashy frameworks.
Make it look good. Use Photoshop or hire someone to create a landing page that represents you and lets visitors know that your page is going to be better than those boring, static pages other agents have. Upload your image somewhere secure and then paste this basic code into the FBML box you’ve made for this tab (with the URL replaced by that of your image):
<img src=”http://insert.address_of_your_image/here” />
Reserve an SEO-friendly username. When you reach 100 followers, go here and grab a URL (facebook.com/XXXXX) that accurately represents what you do, but also takes into account what people are searching for online. It doesn’t need to include your business name, it shouldn’t be too long, and it should establish you as the authority in whatever space you’re attempting to fill, at least on Facebook. For instance, working with Nanette Labastida, we were able to reserve facebook.com/EastAustinHomes, which is generic enough to be a hot search term, but specific enough to ensure she won’t be competing for traffic with impossibly-established terms like “Austin real estate”. Understand that once you choose, your URL is permanent.
Your page name—separate from your username—absolutely has to include either your name or the name of your business, per Facebook’s own terms of service. You should want this, too. Search engines will associate the more generic terms in your username (URL) with the specific information in your page name. For example, if Nanette keeps up her page with content people like and interacts with fans and visitors, Google will soon associate the search “East Austin homes” with Nanette Labastida, and serve up results accordingly. This is especially true if others link to her page form within Facebook and without.
Wall posts aren’t enough. Whether it’s exclusive information or your contagious charm, people fan-up and stay for a reason. You interact with them, keep them in the loop, ask them questions, and find a way to stay in front of them in interesting ways. Jay Baer, in the post I referenced above boils down an interesting recent study:
9. Wall Posts Don’t Impact Popularity
The Sysomos study also found very little correlation between how frequently the Facebook page admin posted to the wall, and total number of fans. However – and this is important – there is a strong correlation between amount of other content (notes, links, photos, videos) and number of fans.
Thus, if you want to grow your Facebook fan base, it is imperative that you move beyond simple Wall posts and add photos, videos, links and other content.
Think: What are you able to give them that others aren’t? It’s not as simple as reading a blog post and plugging in some badass content. Sit down and think about what you’re offering and how to get it to them.
Your page is about them, not you. So is your business, actually, but that’s another discussion. Keep this in mind as your cardinal guiding principle and your Facebook page will not only rock, but net an ROI that no one can sneeze at.