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Facebook ran damage control through much of last year in an attempt to regain its users’ trust after their most recent scandal. As they release a new, refocused design, it seems like they are still on this path.

At their F8 conference, Facebook revealed the new look and focus of their platform. According to news sources, Facebook is “placing groups front and center as a cornerstone of how it wants users to think of the main Facebook app.” They’re also attempting to shift users away from using the platform as a news source in the hope of moving them toward communities.

What does this mean from a real estate perspective?
In light of these changes, there are a few ways that agents can take advantage of the sense of community that is being fostered. Groups will now be featured more prominently on users’ newsfeeds, which means they’ll see group posts more frequently. As an agent, creating groups that focus on your local area can help you to interact more with your Facebook followers, establish yourself as a local expert, and allow you to establish trust with prospective clients.

Before you begin, there are some important points to consider to make sure you’re spending your time wisely. First, set a goal for your group. What do you hope to gain as a result of this effort? Are you planning to build your client list, gain contact information for your database, get more Facebook followers, or create more brand exposure? This will help you determine what and how often to post and who you hope to target.

In addition to this, when naming your group, it’s important to consider who you want to attract. Think about how users will search when looking for local groups—city, county, suburb—and build this into your name.

Finally, determine whether your group should be public, closed or secret. For our purposes, a closed group is probably the best way to go. To help you get started, here are three different group ideas that can be tailored to fit your needs:

  1. Neighborhood Group
    A local neighborhood group is a perfect place to start. Again, think about who you’re hoping to target as you create your group. To help boost your initial following, invite your local friends to join and ask them to share with their friends. It would also be a good idea to create a few posts asking members to recommend their favorite spots or businesses around town. Users who are looking to move to the area can also ask for advice from you or other members to create more engagement. By doing this, you’re able to build relationships with prospective clients, stay top-of-mind with current ones, and welcome new locals to the area.
  1. Buy, Sell, Trade Groups
    Another idea is a buy, sell, trade (BST) group. A group like this can help foster a sense of community, especially if members are encouraged to organize group or neighborhood sales. This is also a great opportunity for an agent, because it can help you keep an eye on members who are looking to buy or sell a home. If you’d rather make it more tailored to your community, you can focus on something specific, such as cycling equipment or baby items.
  1. Niche Groups
    Finally, you can develop a group that pertains to something you care about. One idea is to create a local parents’ group. Members can share their favorite kid-friendly restaurants, best parks in the area, or organize mommy-and-me events. If your kids have four paws, you can create a pet group where followers can offer pet sitting services, review the local dog parks, or just share pictures of their fur babies. Use any of your interests to help you build a community and a following that can benefit your business.

Even though Facebook is still a great way to reach new clients, it’s perfectly understandable if you’re not ready to invest in your social media presence right now. If you need help with building your social presence, let Homes.com help! Our team of social media experts can help you find and engage with your audience. Learn more about Homes.com Social Fuel at Marketing.Homes.com.

Patty McNease is vice president of Brand Marketing at Homes.com. For more information, please visit marketing.homes.com.

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