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Every time Facebook makes changes to its layout or policies, folks get a little riled up.  The fact is we, as a society, resist change.  That is why some of us still have the “BIG hair” hairstyle from the 1980’s that we wear with pride.  Well, this time Facebook is making changes to its fan pages by requiring all fan pages to go to the new timeline format.  This change has many business owners/Facebook administrators up in arms.

Today, I want to give you a quick breakdown of the major changes you can expect within Timeline:

1.       Cover Photos – Now you can add a big, beautiful Timeline cover photo to your fan page.  I’m not sure just yet how this can benefit those of us in real estate other than to perhaps feature a picture of a different listing there every day or week.  Nonetheless, this opportunity to add some color and dramatics to your fan page can make your fan page look more like a website, at first glance.

2.       Page Tabs – The page tabs are now more prominent and will display at the top of each page.  This better placement will likely result in more clicks.

3.       Page Tab Icons – Now you can easily change a page tab icon by hovering over the page tab photo and then going into edit settings to change the icon photo.

4.       Default Landing Tabs – Gone!!!  Businesses did this to push people to “like” their default landing page.  Those days are gone, but luckily “Fan Gate” pages are here for a while longer.  So now to use Fan Gating, you will need to point a Facebook ad or link to the specific tab from your web properties.

5.       Pin a Post – Now you can pin a favorite post of your page at the top of your page.  This is something that is pretty exciting.

6.       Wider Page Tabs – Another pretty cool feature of the new Timeline is that Page Tabs are now wider.  This will give businesses more room to use on their fan pages.

My personal opinion is this… The new Timeline has some great new features to offer, but we do lose some functionality with the extinction of default landing tabs.  The new Timeline pages will be more attractive visually; however, I find them hard to navigate.  In fact, if my company website was laid out the way a Timeline does, I would have fired my designer.  No, I’m not all against the changes, so at this point I have to say that I am firmly uncommitted regarding Timeline.

I would love to hear your thoughts – good, bad, or indifferent – about Timeline and/or my comments.  If you like it, then please tell me why I should like it too (I really do want to like it).  If you don’t like it, then please tell me what you don’t like about it.

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We all know what a great real estate Facebook fan page looks like when we see one, but we often don’t stop to think about what separates a good Facebook fan page from a great Facebook fan page.  Good fan pages are very well designed and aesthetically appealing, and great fan pages are that with that little extra something something.  If you really want to make your fan page stand out from the crowd, then implement these 5 characteristics into your fan page design. 

1. Purpose – Each tab within your page should have a singular, very clear purpose.  Your “Listings” tab should feature your listings.  Your “Welcome” tab should introduce you to your fans. I know this sounds elementary; however, it is so important that it must be mentioned.

2. Perspective – Your fan page should visually make a statement with awesome graphics, video (if you have a good meaningful video), or even a Twitter stream.  Be sure these elements add to the value of the page instead of detracting from the message of the page.

3. Freshness – Just like bread, your Facebook fan page tabs can get stale.  You must update your “Listings” tab, and your other tabs as well.  When you sell a listing, be sure to mark it as sold or delete it completely from that tab.  When you get a new listing, make sure it is included in your “Listings” tab.  Don’t let your fan page become a ghost town.

4. Branding – I’m not just talking about using your company colors, but also font, logos, images, etc. All of those things should be consistent on your fan page tabs just like it is in all of your other marketing efforts.

5. Offers – A great fan page tab captures a fan’s attention and tells fans of exciting information waiting inside for them.  “Like/Reveal” tabs allow page administrators to restrict content to only those who have “liked” a page.  So, you have to “like” the page to get the goods.

Keep these 5 characteristics in mind when creating tabs for your Facebook fan page.  Having a great fan page on Facebook can be just what you need to increase the number of “likes” you have and therefore increase the amount of interaction you have online with prospective home buyers, home sellers, and referral partners.

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Sometimes I put the cart before the horse.  I’d like to say I do it on purpose, but that is not always the case.  Last week, I wrote about 4 ways to beef up your real estate email marketing campaign.  Well, I had a few agents comment that they do not do any email marketing currently, and that’s when it hit me.  That is when I realized I needed to write a blog to explain to those agents some ways to build their list.  For those of you who do market via email currently, read on through this short blog to see if you can pick up another tip or two.

So, here are 4 tips to build your real estate email marketing list:

1. Be very upfront about how their info will be used by you.  This is very important!  If you start off on the wrong foot and lie about how you will use their email addresses and names, then you will NEVER make a sale to them.  I promise you that you will make a ton more money with your list by selling homes to your subscribers than you will by selling their info to some spammer or marketer.  You must address the potential subscribers fears before you will ever get their info.

2. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.  In order to get their email address you need to let them know what’s in it for them.  Why is it beneficial to be on your email list?  Will it make them more savvy home buyers or home sellers?  Will it save them money? You gotta make it good to get the goods.

3. Consider giving them some sort of a bonus upfront .  How about your latest ebook?  Don’t have one?  Then how about a weekly list of foreclosures in their area?  Or a coupon to the local yogurt shop?  Or a free bowling pass?  Yes it may cost a couple of bucks upfront, but you will make that money up (plus a lot more) when those email addresses turn into sales.

4. Give them the answer to their problem.  That is what they are searching for, and if you can’t show them how you can help them by answering their questions, then you’ll never get the info you want.  In addition you should be able to show them what they are missing as well if they don’t register.

If you build it they will come!  Sales that is.  By concentrating on disclosing your call to action and privacy policy, you dramatically increase your chances of getting lots of subscribers.  If you have a top secret way of getting new subscriptions for your email list, then please leave those tips below in the comment section.

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So yesterday I wrote about 2 ways you can lower your website’s bounce rate off page, and today I am going to give you 3 ways to lower your real estate website’s bounce rate on page.

Let’s get right into it!

1. Purpose Your Page.  Each page of your website should have one clear purpose.  I’m not saying that you cannot have secondary purposes on your page, just be careful that the reader knows what the particular page is about.  Don’t let your opt-in boxes, e-book offers, resources, etc. get in the way of the primary purpose of that page either.

2. Clean Up Your Page’s Layout.  Visitors to your site want to find the information they are looking for in just a few seconds.  If they don’t then they will bounce!  Concentrate on your page’s information into one easily noticed spot on the page so visitors don’t have to search the page to find it.

3.  Match Each Page’s Title to The Purpose of That Page.  This should go without saying, but a web page’s title should tell visitors what to expect on that page.  If you have an “About Me” page, then don’t use that page to feature your new e-book or your new listing.  You can make separate pages for those things if you choose to.

Take 30 minutes over the weekend to make the above changes to your real estate website if you need to. Once you do this, then you should see your website’s bounce rate start to drop and hopefully see your sales start to increase because you’ve created a site where visitors spend their time.

If you have any other suggestions or ways to lower the bounce rate of a website, then please share those ideas below.  Your input is greatly appreciated.

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