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Facebook has changed our world and it will never be the same. Having watched the movie “The Social Network” in theatres, and numerous times on TV, I am still amazed by the Facebook story. Facebook represents one of the most incredible successes in business history and it has created a wealth of new opportunities for marketing.

In real estate, Facebook can deliver a significant competitive advantage over those agents that are either unwilling to participate or ignorant about its potential benefits. To put it frankly, I believe that the impact of Facebook can be so substantial that the business owner who chooses to ignore it could face bankruptcy as a result.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with my team to review our marketing strategies over the coming year. Choosing between digital marketing platforms and traditional media outlets has never been more challenging than it is today. There are so many avenues for marketing these days that it can be frustrating to try and figure out which is most important.

At the end of the day, however, the real estate business is about building relationships. Understanding that helped me to simplify my decision making process and eliminate a lot of the confusion I was experiencing about the impact of technology on real estate marketing.

No social networking platform or digital marketing system allows us to create, nurture and enhance more relationships than Facebook. My success in our industry began as I developed strong, ‘in-person’ communication skills, including making phone calls, knocking on doors, and delivering listing presentations in front of small groups. The need for these skills will never be replaced; however I do believe that Facebook has supplanted these skills in terms of importance.

Some of the most effective marketing that people can do these days is simply communicating with their clients via Facebook. Of course, marketing through Facebook is not the end-all, be-all recipe for success in every situation, but it bridges gaps and connects people in ways that we never dreamed of 20 years ago.

Making a phone call to my clients is never a problem for me—I enjoy it—however I understand that most of my clients lead incredibly busy lives. The pace of modern life has made it hard for many people to simply take a phone call and chat for a while. I could always text my clients, but the effectiveness of texting a client is hard to measure. Initiating contact through “snail mail” has probably never been cheaper than it is today, probably because it is even more ineffective than it was in previous years.

Utilizing Facebook has made staying connected with my clients easier than it ever was before. By commenting on my clients’ posts and family pictures, and by sharing information about myself, including vacations, activities and pictures, I can form stronger bonds and better relationships with my clients.

Facebook can be an incredibly beneficial form of communication, especially if the other person is an active user of the software. Establishing a relationship with previous clients can be critical to a successful career in real estate, and Facebook can allow real estate professionals to quickly build a sphere of influence without a need to invest a substantial amount of funds.

One of the best aspects of Facebook is that the social networking portion of the site, which I have already described in this article, is completely free and therefore a highly cost-effective solution for marketing. Of course, Facebook also offers a pay-per-click form of advertising that allows for targeted marketing campaigns to specific age groups, geographic areas and education levels. After creating a business page, it is possible to create targeted advertisements at a very inexpensive cost to the user.

Advertising strategies are based on a cost-per-click (CPC) or a cost-per-impression (CPM) basis, with a cost for an impression of ads being the cheapest in most cases. Also, a daily budget for advertisements can be created, to ensure that costs do not spiral out of control, so that advertisements will stop showing when the budget is reached.

With Facebook, it is even possible to track the performance of advertisements. Advanced metrics allow ad managers to check responses to ads, view the reach of their ads, create detailed reports, and view how different advertisements performed during specific times and with specific age groups. This is an incredible benefit, because it allows us, as real estate professionals, to develop our skills with writing engaging advertisements and thus reach more potential clients.

While I have only touched on the potential benefits of marketing through Facebook, and I believe that it is definitely worthwhile to explore what the site offers to a business owner, I feel that I must take the time to explain that it might be a little harder to connect with people than it seems. Realizing that some of the people in our past, including previous clients and colleagues, might not want to be a part of our lives can be difficult. That’s OK, it’s not for everyone. The fact that it isn’t easy is proof that marketing through Facebook is a legitimate and effective strategy.

To build new relationships and strengthen previous ties with clients and colleagues, start small and work on enjoying the many benefits of Facebook. Good luck!

Alan Shafran is in the top 1% of Prudential agents worldwide, President of and Author of Blueprint for 100 Deals.

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