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Futurebook: 5 Facebook Trends and Why They’re Good for Agents

By Colin Ryan

Industry News

Facebook's post-IPO future is bright for real estate agentsFacebook’s current IPO projections may be somewhat lower than initial reports suggested, but $96 billion is nothing to scoff at. In fact, it would put Facebook’s market value relative to earnings above all but three companies on the S&P 500. I’d say that calls for the opposite of scoffing.

Of course, Facebook’s ambitions don’t end there. Mark Zuckerberg has big plans for the future of his company, and he’s already taken several steps toward realizing those plans. The question is, how bright is that future for real estate agents looking to generate leads and market their properties online? Let’s take a look.

1. Mobile

As of a couple weeks ago, about 500 million monthly active users access Facebook from mobile devices. That’s up from the 425 million cited in Facebook’s IPO filing in February, and more than half of its over 900 million-strong user base. Consequently, a huge part of Facebook’s strategy going forward entails proving users with a richer web experience on their tablets and smartphones. A huge recent development on this front, of course, was Facebook’s billion-dollar deal for photo sharing app, Instagram. We’ve already discussed why Instagram’s acquisition is a good thing for real estate agents, but the mobile push also goes further. Facebook’s mobile app, for instance, has experienced a major overhaul recently in terms of both visuals and features, and you can expect even more improvements in the coming months, as well as a push to monetize mobile with ever-improving ads. More on that later.

2. Geolocation

Instagram, of course, is the exception when it comes to Facebook’s acquisitions. Meanwhile, geosocial app Gowalla, which was acquired by Facebook last year, harvested for talent, and shut down, is the rule. Nevertheless, Facebook suggested that “the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time,” and this has already started to happen. In March, for instance, Facebook introduced the ability to add location tags to “any photo, link, or status written from an app.” Now, instead of being segmented into a separate app, location is deeply embedded in the storytelling capabilities of your Facebook timeline. Real estate is, of course, all about location, and so Facebook’s continued efforts to develop its geosocial aspects will be hugely beneficial to agents looking to give customers more ways to interact with and experience their listings.

3. Groups

Facebook Groups have come a long way since their college days, when useful groups were overshadowed by silly ones like “Brian Jones Should Shave His Mustache.” Today, Groups are a way to compartmentalize an increasingly vast and borderless Facebook landscape, which is crucial for real estate agents looking to target local markets. Groups like Tech Support Group for Real Estate Agents have already begun to benefit agents on the professional side, but as agents look to target their communities more effectively, you can expect to see more consumer-side groups being used in a variety of ways: as focus groups, for promotions and content marketing, etc.

4. Targeted Ads

Monetization has always been a slippery subject for Facebook, and it continues to be a thorn in Mark Zuckerberg’s side. Facebook generates over 82 percent of its revenue from advertising, and made $9.51 per user in the US and Canada in 2011. Over the past year, the company has taken some steps to expand ads, including increasing the number of ads per page from four to seven. With a user base approaching a billion, however, expansion has its limits, which is why Facebook is already taking steps to improve behavioral targeting in its Ads API, allowing users to show their ads to people most likely to take any number of specific post-click actions. With better targeting, agents will realize a more significant ROI with Facebook ads, reducing the amount of time and money they must spend cultivating their own communities.

5. Native Search and Video

The nature of online search is rapidly changing, and while Google tries to shoulder in on Facebook’s social media dominance with its Search Plus Your World feature, Facebook has begun to do the same from the other direction. But this is just one of several important efforts Facebook is making to keep users from leaving the site. Thanks to Instagram, for instance, users will no longer have to go elsewhere to share and edit photos. Apps like Socialcam and Viddy are integrating with Facebook in ways that external sites like YouTube don’t, and you can expect Facebook to aggressively expand more native video solutions. The bottom line for agents: you’ll get more time and more opportunities to engage users.

Have other ideas about the future for real estate agents on Facebook? Tell us in the comments!

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