Back in 2008, I told a crowd of REALTORS® in Chicago that if they went to church every Sunday and implemented a concerted effort to sell real estate, that they were probably going to go to hell. Of course, REALTORS® who participate in church (or really any sort of a community) often find themselves in a position where a fellow community member becomes a client. If you’ve done a good job of building relationships, it’s almost inevitable. Building your sphere of influence is a great strategy for long term success in real estate, so tactics like participating in church, or Facebook, or the toastmasters club are great options for generating plenty of new business. 2008 was the first year that agents started adopting social networks, and many had great success in building relationships.
Five years later, imagine the church has grown. They moved into a bigger building. They have a Sunday school, big screen projectors and a state of the art audio system for the choir. If you took a look at all those changes and decided that now is the time to start passing out listing brochures at church, guess what? You’re still going to go to hell. It’s an unwritten rule defined by the culture of the community. People go to church to worship with their community, not to search for a new home. A bunch of technical upgrades won’t change that.
So why would we think it’s any different for Facebook? The network has grown. It’s tools have improved, and many are trying to figure out how to better leverage Facebook as a marketing platform. Inman News ran a story this week titled Facebook’s new timeline could be a boon for agents. I disagree.
Like a church, Facebook has unwritten rules that are defined by it’s culture. Rule number one is that people don’t go to Facebook to buy stuff.
Delta airlines built a Facebook store that would let consumers shop for flights without leaving Facebook. It failed. 1800Flowers thought people would buy flowers on Facebook. They failed as well. Coca Cola, JC Penney, Nordstrom, Old Navy and countless others all set up shop on Facebook, only to pull out later. People don’t go to Facebook to buy stuff.
Think about it. If you wanted to buy a book online, would you go to Amazon or Facebook? If you wanted to buy a car, would it be CarMax.com, or Facebook? If you wanted to buy a home, would Facebook be the natural place for you to look first? Of course not.
Exhibit 3-19 of NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers charts out the “websites used in a home search by first-time and repeat buyers.” The percentage of online homeshoppers who used REALTOR.com or an MLS based site was over 50%. The percent who cited Facebook and other social media sites was 1%. People don’t buy stuff on Facebook. That includes homes.
Can you use Facebook to build your sphere of influence? Sure. Can you use it to show off your domain experience? You bet. Is it the place to market your listings? That really depends on your audience, but be careful. Facebook has it’s own version of hell.
Over the next week or so, many stories will be written about how to leverage Facebook’s new timeline features. While reading it, it’s important is to step back a second and consider what *should* you do, and not what *can* you do.
Photo: Creative Commons license via Flickr user birgerking.