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Facebook Algorithm Changes and Your Business Page

January 14 2014

point2 Facebook AlgorithmIf you have a Facebook Page for your real estate business, you might have noticed that things are a little quieter there than usual lately. Less likes, fewer comments, decreased numbers in "x people saw this post" blurb at the bottom of your status updates.

We've noticed it, too, and it was making us sad, so we went looking for answers. "Maybe we're being less helpful than usual," we thought. Or less witty than usual. Or posting at all the wrong times.

Well, as it turns out, it's not us – it's them.

Facebook recently released an algorithm tweak that primarily affects business pages. And they were awfully quiet about it. So here, in case you missed it, is the when, what and why of recent Facebook changes. And how you can work to counteract any damage that's been done.

When

On December 2nd of last year, Facebook changed the way it decides which stories you – and all of your friends and fans – see in your News Feed.

What

The posts you see in your Facebook News Feed at any given time are determined by an algorithm, similar to how Google surfaces search results. Facebook periodically alters this algorithm to change the way posts are shared in the News Feed and, ideally, improve user experience.

Why

In this December blog post, Facebook shared that they decided to tweak their algorithm to surface more "relevant news" and "high quality content." Although they didn't advertise the fact, the immediate effect was a drastic decrease in organic (read: free) reach for business pages – up to 80% in fact!

One reason that Facebook would want to decrease organic reach for business is to encourage marketers to spend money on ads. In an article entitled Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy AdsFacebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads, a spokesperson is quoted as saying, "We're getting to a place where because people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen is to pay for it."

It's an understandable decision that makes sense on paper. We agree that most Facebook users probably want to see more content from their friends than they do from businesses. And we get that Facebook wants to keep users happy and make more money. But it's still frustrating.

Real estate agent pages, when done well, are about community and local resources – not spammy ads. And now all the people you know who actually took the time to like your page because they want to hear from you will see less of what you post. And that's a bummer.

How to Deal

There's nothing you can do to reverse this change but you can find ways to counteract its impact on your social media presence:

Pay - We know it's exactly what they want you to do, but – done strategically and in moderation – we have to agree that it's a good idea. For just $5, your posts can reach hundreds of additional people who could become fans and clients. The "Boost Post" feature isn't limited to new posts; you can also boost post you have recently written. Try boosting a post that has a few likes or comments already and see how it works to engage a larger audience. If you do this just twice a month, your business can expand its reach to thousands of new people for less than the cost of lunch!

(Worth noting: boosted post exposure varies by business. The more fans you have, the fewer you can reach with just $5. For example we have around 4,700 fans and, right now, $5 reaches a maximum of 420 people. But a page with only 54 fans can reach up to 1,700 people for $5 – dramatically expanding their reach to a much wider group of prospects. Hover your mouse over Boost Post at the bottom of one of your recent status updates to see how many people Facebook will show your post to.)

Make the most of it - How many of us are maximizing the Facebook interaction we actually do see on our business pages? It's time to reevaluate the way you use Facebook. When someone comments on one of your posts, do you respond kindly and quickly? You should. If someone you know in real life likes or comments on one of your posts, use it as an opprtunity to connect with that person offline. Give your friend or family member a call, use the subject of the post as an icebreaker and schedule a time to meet or call again soon. You never know when a friendly chat will lead to a referral or other business prospects.

Focus on other networks - Although many social networks are gradually making the transition to pay-to-play platforms, there are still plenty of free social outlets that work for real estate. Divert some of the energy you usually put into Facebook into one of these social channels to make new connections without spending a penny:

  • Google+: Google+ is run by Google so the immediate benefit is that almost everything you add is indexed into search results, meaning that your blog posts, neighborhood videos and client interviews become searchable more quickly. To see how other agents are engaging with Google+, we recommend joining an active community, like the Real Estate Community. This group is incredibly welcoming, and it's a great place to discover new marketing tips and tricks. For more Google+ tips, check out this blog post.
  • Pinterest: We get hundreds, sometimes even thousands of visitors coming to our blog from Pinterest each month. Pinterest is a great place to share tips for buyers and sellers, things you love about your local community, home design tips and beautiful photos of listings. Check out our boards to see how we use Pinterest and find a great collection of articles about Pinterest for real estate herePinterest for real estate here.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a place where you can interact with colleagues, clients and even industry leaders and organizations in real time. It's free, fast and takes very little time to use. Here are some Twitter tips for real estate agentsTwitter tips for real estate agents to help you get started or refresh your knowledge.

How are things going on your Facebook business page? What other social platforms are you seeing success on?

To view the original article, visit the Point2 Agent blogPoint2 Agent blog.